Weeks before the long-winded acceptance speeches, Mike Baron and the staff at Hollywood Trophy are busy assembling and engraving awards, preparing their prizes for the spotlight.
Located on Western Avenue in Koreatown since 1934, the business sells, rents and creates products for award shows, movies and television. Its trophies have been given as honors for everything from excellence in cinema editing to the best belly flop, and have been hoisted, caressed, kissed and adored.
“The basis of our business is that everybody likes to see their name on something,” said Baron, who has owned Hollywood Trophy for the last 35 years. “It’s something they can have the rest of their life. People look at it very favorably because of the way people are. They like having other people see their name in a pleasing way.”
Baron has been in the business since he was 16 years old, when he became a delivery boy for a jewelry engraver. He said he eventually learned how to engrave, and that led to tampering with trophies. At 20, the Southern California native was hired by F H Noble, which had locations in Hollywood, Glendale, Lancaster and Granada Hills.
After opening a retail store in Glendale in 1965, Baron and his two business partners purchased Hollywood Trophy, a “depressed business” across the street from its current location. The partners have since been bought out. Despite its condition at the time, the business was able to return to its “glory days” shortly after they acquired it, Baron said.
“We attribute that success to the fact that we are centrally-located between most of the major studios,” Baron said.
He said Hollywood Trophy supplies the awards at several events, including the Miss Universe beauty contest, the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) Awards and the American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards. Baron said the business once supplied the Grammy Awards, and his late business partner, Robert Graves, actually designed the mold for the first Grammy.
While the award shows are an important part of the business, Hollywood Trophy designs items for movies and TV every day. Baron said staff members are completing an order for the new HBO show “Luck”, and hundreds of their products were shown in “Jerry Maguire”. Oftentimes, the business supplies awards and trophies, but it can create wall décor and signage as well.
Baron said Hollywood Trophy gets its fair share of off-the-wall requests. He said the business has created an 8-foot trophy for “Glee”, and it supplied 1,000 12-inch screws for a “Get Shorty” promotional event. “Seinfeld” producers once requested a shopping cart on top of a trophy, so staff members found and purchased a Barbie shopping cart that they plated gold, Baron said.
“You have to be inventive and clever, as well as sell the studio awards,” he added. “We do such unusual things.”
In lieu of purchasing awards or trophies that will only be used once, film and TV companies sometimes prefer to rent. Baron said the business has a large inventory, with trophies and awards from different time periods that could be used in movies and shows based in those eras. Baron said many TV shows — such as “CSI”, “The Closer”, “Revenge”, “Brother & Sisters”, “Harry’s Law” and “NCIS” — have taken advantage of the rentals.
“We pride ourselves on having a tremendous inventory,” he said.
Hollywood Trophy is proving to be a good filming location as well. Baron said the U.S. Postal Service has filmed a commercial there, and NBC’s “Love Bites” has filmed some episodes at the business.
Baron said staff members do not manufacture the trophies; they’re considered assemblers. However, technology has enabled the business to expand its offerings and reproduce products exactly, he said. Thanks to a new laser engraver, Hollywood Trophy can engrave just about anything, Baron said.
“The computerized age has affected our industry for the better, but we still have a ways to go before we’re up to speed,” he added.
Baron said he plans to retire in the relatively near future, and is hopeful that he’ll be able to hand the operation off to his son-in-law, Tim Greenwood, who currently works at Hollywood Trophy.
The business is located at 1151 N. Western Ave. For more information, call (323)469-3959.
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