State Recruiters Use Unlikely Source to Win Jobs: Locally Made Art

Business-minded individuals know the old adage is true: you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. And so if a company wants to improve customer loyalty, it’s important to go above and beyond. When Alabama business recruiters try to reel in brand new or expanding organizations, they know how critical it is to make a lasting and unique impression.

That’s why these Alabama recruiters rely on some of the finest artists in the state. When they want to present a foreign dignitary or company official with something special, Alabama-made art gives them the edge.

Some recruiters prefer to present pottery. Back in 2015, visiting dignitaries at the Japan-U.S Southeast Associations (SEUS) gathering received a teacup, handmade by a potter in the Black Belt. At that same event, Chairman Okamura was given a tea set and bowls that were commissioned from a Leeds-based potter.

Others like to give sculptures made of blown glass. While glassblowing has been around since the establishment of the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC, Alabama artisans showcase how relevant and beautiful this form can be. And local recruiters will jump at the chance to share it with visiting company officials.

While more than 50% of Millennials and Gen Xers say that cost is a barrier to leisure travel, the trips the state’s recruiters take are all business. Even so, the gifts they bring are all about enjoyment.

When an Alabama delegation traveled to Tokyo this past fall, Toshiba Corp. Chairman Tadashi Okamura was presented with a stunning glass water bowl. Honda officials were also given an Orbix sculpture, inspired by the whitewater of Little River Canyon, during a visit to their automotive headquarters.

In Alabama, even writing utensils are extraordinary. Local artist Joel Lockridge uses the wood from whiskey barrels to made his ink pens. Artisan Phil Morris also uses materials with an interesting history, like wood sourced from a dogwood tree that was downed by the Tuscaloosa tornado in 2011. Their pens have often been favored by the state’s business recruiters looking for a unique and meaningful gift.

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, notes that these Alabama-made pieces and the artists who made them are important to the economic success of the state.

“In Alabama, there is no shortage of talented people who are dedicated to their work, and much of their art and other products receive international acclaim,” said Canfield. “As we look to bring more companies and jobs to Alabama, they serve an important role by helping us tell the state’s story in a unique way.”

Recruiters feel that these one-of-a-kind gifts show just how creative Alabama can be. Although these gifts are carefully carried across the world, these pieces illustrate the spirit of the state they call home.