Thursday, October 27, 2011

Final Selling Week Countdown! Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

Traditional Final Orders are due next Tuesday, November 1st.  Here's your chance to make your final push for last minute sales!  Encourage your organization members to give it one last shot this week and weekend.  Your Fundraising goal can easily be achieved with a little motivation!

Contact your Customer Service Rep if you have any questions or need assistance submitting your Final Order, 800.446.4229. The Final Order Form is up on the Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser website, for your convenience. You can also fax in your Final Order to 763.434.4611 or mail to our address, 14630 Highway 65, Ham Lake, MN  55304.  We're here to help!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How many of you have a mother? - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

We’re now in the ‘ramping up’ stage for Wreath Production; each day another part of the operation begins as we train the returning employees from last year and new recruits to each respective part of the operation. Many of us have been working on this year's season for months. Hundreds of thousands of bows need to be tied and millions of jingle-bells need to be wired onto the pine cones. And, don't forget about painting the Classic pine cones. Now there's a job. If you needed to white-tip paint hundreds of thousands pine cones, how would you do it? We've had to improvise all sorts of creative solutions for quality crafting large quantities of wreaths, sprays and centerpieces for prompt delivery, and we all take great pride in our work.
Victorian Wreath, pictured with lights

Every Friday during the season is 'Donut Day'. While each staff member enjoys a well earned donut, I give the latest news, review safety guidelines, recognize some workers for outstanding performance, etc. A number of times during Donut Day Fridays I drive the point of quality craftsmanship home in a number of ways. My favorite is: "How many of you 'all have a mother?" After asking this question, one at a time the hands go up, but invariably, one or two don't raise a hand. So I ask them, "Do you mean that somehow you got here without having a mother???" Everyone giggles, and then I drive the point home: "OK, each day you all are going to see thousands of wreaths being fashioned. If you are working on a wreath that you wouldn't want to display on your mother's front door, that is a reject. Try again, because every single wreath is going to go on someone's mother's front door." They all get the point, and after break they go back to their jobs with a renewed sense of pride in their work. It is a good feeling.
Patented Packaging

My brother Chris and I, along with some very creative teammates, have devised many clever 'inventions' such as our 'patented' shipping container.  Dozens of small enhancements add up to the highest quality wreaths in the marketplace - something our staff is extremely proud of. Here is a comment forwarded to me from one of our marvelous Customer Service Reps:

"I spoke with a woman today that has been with (a competitor) for her group's past wreath fundraisers. I asked her why their group chose Mickman Brothers this year, and she said that their wreaths had come from their previous supplier all crushed every year, and she spent more time fixing up the wreaths than selling them. She is very excited to be with Mickman Brothers this year and loved our website. She is also happy that we take getting the wreaths to our customers in great condition so seriously! Thought I would pass this on to you."

All of us at Mickman Brothers are excited about this Wreath Season; we hope you and your Fundraising Organization are too! 

John S Mickman

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fundraising Step 3 - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

Schedule Selling and Update Meetings

Selling Meeting Highlights:
  • Track the progress towards your Fundraising Goal using the Fundraising Tally Spreadsheet
  • Answer any questions and provide selling tips
  • Check the status of member's orders.
  • Complete the Guesstimate Form located under Tab 2 in your binder prior to the Final Sales week.  The Guesstimate Form will also be available on the Holiday Fundraiser website starting October 17th, click on Customer Login to find the Guesstimate Form.
  • Plan your Final Order Meeting - this should be before November 1st (when Final Orders are due).
A complete description is available on Page 5 of the Fundraising Guide.  Have frequent meetings to discuss and ensure your Group's goals are met.

Brothers - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

My mom and I disagree about how old we were when my brother Mark and I embarked upon our first long distance hitchhiking excursion back in the late 60's.  She says I was about 13; I'm sure I was no older than 11 and our dad though that was about right.  My brother was 20 months younger than me.

At any rate, we had talked out parents into letting us stay a few days longer at our 'rich' cousin's lake house near Crookston, MN - about 300 miles from our house in the Twin Cities.  How were we going to get home?  We were going to hitchhike.

On that fine July day in the late 60's when we started our journey, Uncle Jack dropped us off at an unremarkable intersection in the Red River Valley - pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  There wasn't any traffic, and Mark and I got into a discussion of who was the better hitchhiker.  I was older and had hitchhiked home from school way more times than Brother Mark, but Mark was adamant that he was better at getting rides.  Being extremely competitive in everything we did, we ended up making this into a contest - a long distance race; the first one home would be the better hitchhiker, the winner of the race - no bones about it!  We flipped a coin and Mark won.  I slipped into the cornfield to await my turn on the old, potholed, ribbon of highway.

The first vehicle to come by was an old, beat up pick-up truck which stopped and picked up Mark.  Bad ride, I thought to myself; that guy isn't going to go very far.  I jumped out of the cornfield and waited for my ride.  The next car was a guy going 30 miles down the road and I grinned and waved to Mark in the old pick-up truck when we passed him along the way.  I was sure I was going to win.

My second ride took a little longer to get, and while I was waiting, Mark passed me by in the front seat of some car with a lady driving.  Shoot, I wondered how far she was going to take my brother!  We played 'leap frog' 3 or 4 times like this, each time waving to the other brother with a big grin, each of us gloating big time when we were in the lead.  This was a great race!  The day was warm, the sky was blue and all was well with the world.

Finally, some distance north of Little Falls, I picked up a ride with 2 guys in a new Plymouth who said they were going all the way to 'the Cities'.  These guys were really surprised that a little kid like me was hitchhiking all the way from 'Up North'.  I told them all about my cousins and how I talked my dad into letting me make the trip - not saying anything about my mom who didn't like the idea at all, or my brother Mark, who I knew at the moment was in front of me somewhere.  After quite a conversation, they offered to go out of their way and drop me at an intersection only about a mile from our house.  Way cool; I was going to win.  There was no way Mark could catch up now!

Unfortunately, on our way through Little Falls, I saw my brother a few blocks ahead, hitchhiking near a stop light.  The two guys saw him too, "Look at that", the driver said.  "Another little kid hitchhiking.  Let's pick him up."  I was horrified!  "No, don't pick him up", I stammered.  "There isn't any room back here for another person", and I stretched both arms as wide as I could reach across the huge back seat.  The two guys gave me a puzzled look, eyeing the skinny little kid with a crew cut in the back seat of the huge Plymouth, and said, of course there was plenty of room.

Extreme frustration set in and I realized Mark and I hadn't thought of the possibility of both of us getting a ride in the same car all the way home.  When Mark got in the car, I immediately explained to him that this was actually 'my ride'; that I got in the car first, so I must be the winner.  "Na-ahhh", Mark said.  "The first one home wins the race, and we aren't home yet" he said.  Sometime during this sophisticated discussion, the two guys looked more closely at us and realized that we were brothers.  When we explained that we were in a hitchhiking race they had a hard time believing us.  But, here we were; how else could they explain how two little kids were hitchhiking alone through Minnesota?

Mark and I had to make a revision to the rules; The first one of us to actually touch the front door of our house would win.  Nope, not the first one in the yard; the first one to touch the door.  OK, so this was going to end up being a footrace.

After a long ride, the Plymouth finally pulled to the shoulder of Highway 65 at Mississippi Street in our hometown of Fridley.  We were both so keyed-up and jumpy we could hardly stand it.  Before the car was completely stopped, both of the back doors of the Plymouth flew open and we both flew out at a dead run, each of us carrying our dirty clothes and a swimming suit in brown paper sacks.  We lived a mile away from the intersection and we were both great runners with lots of races behind us.  But this one was different - our biggest race ever.

We were neck and neck, running as fast as our young legs could carry us.  My legs were burning and my lungs were bursting, but I couldn't let my little brother beat me.  I pushed even harder, dredging up every last bit of strength I could muster.  Mark was doing the same.  Our young hearts pumping harder than they had ever pumped before.  Sweat kept running into our eyes, blurring our vision and burning as we wiped it off with already wet forearms.  Block after block we ran through total exhaustion; can you picture this?

At last we rounded the final corner into the neighborhood, and I could see our house.  I had an idea of dropping my paper bag as soon as we got to out yard to lighten the load, sure this would help me win.  Mark had the same idea and dropped his bag too.  As we raced up the gently sloping yard, I thought my legs would give out, but we both kept running as fast as we could.

My last idea was that I wouldn't actually climb up the front steps; I would jump across the steps to get just a half second advantage and touch the front door before Mark.  My timing was perfect, and at the base of the steps, I jumped as hard and long as a could, reached my arm out, and touched the door with just the tips of my fingers.  At that exact moment of glory, I looked to my right and Mark had done the same thing.  We both had touched the door at the exact, same, moment!  Unbelievable; the race had begun hours before, hundreds of miles away, and had ended in an exact tie!  We were both kinda scraped up from our skid across the concrete steps and completely out of breath, but as we laid there we started to giggle - and the giggles turned into laughs, and the laughs kept up until our sides hurt.

There is nothing else like brothers growing up together.  Sometimes 'partners in crime' when something goes wrong, they are ferocious competitors when the opportunity arises.  But, brothers are first of all best friends, discovering their world together with all of its wonder and adventure, developing passions and comradery that will be shared through a lifetime.  I'm so glad my brothers and I shared those years together so long ago.  I would not be the person I am today without them.

John S Mickman

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Without a Clue - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

When we were little kids, my dad purchased a number of large parcels of land on which to grow Christmas Trees.  In hindsight, it wasn't for the money, he did it so us boys would have work to do - with him.  We had a great time and learned to love what we did - together.

Early one fine Sunday morning back in 1962 when I was 12, dad told my brother Mark and me to drive our small Massey Ferguson tractor from one farm to the other farm.  I couldn't believe my ears; we were going to get to drive all the way to the other farm, about 10 miles, all by ourselves!  Actually, I was the oldest brother, so I knew I'd get to drive the whole way...

Well, the battered old tractor had no muffler, no lights or signals.  In addition, the whole idea was to get the disc implement, which was wider than the tractor by about 4 feet on each side, to the other farm. Although there were a lot of turns, Mark and I both knew how to get where we were going, and away we went.  I drove while my brother stood on the clutch platform and leaned against the starboard fender.

We had to yell to hear each other over the din of the un-muffled engine and the clanking of the old tractor as we bounced down the road.  We were laughing and giggling the whole way and everything was going great.  Some of the farm dogs along the way chased the tractor, barking all the while; about what, we didn't know.  The sun was shining on our young bronzed faces and we were in charge; life was good.

Then, a mile or so before we arrived at the other farm, I looked back at the disc (which stuck out 4 feet!) as we passed by someone's mailbox that was kinda close to the road.  At the last second, I jerked the tractor to the left and the disc barely missed the mailbox.  Whew!  Mark saw it too, and we looked at each other with a sigh of relief.  We were OK, but I was thinking about all the other mailboxes we had passed over the course of the past 9 miles.  Mark was thinking the same thing, and we whispered to each other about the possible horror of it all several times during the day.

When it was finally time to go home, we piled into dad's old '59 Chevrolet Apache Panel Truck and headed back the same way as we had come that morning.  Mark and I were absolutely petrified to see many, many men along the route fixing their mailboxes.  After a few miles, dad commented on what a coincidence it was that all those guys chose that particular day to fix-up their mailboxes.  Mark and I looked at each other and were both too scared to say anything.  We never told him.

After all these years, I still feed bad about it.  So, if you were one of the dads that had to fix-up your mailbox along Co. Rd. 5, near Isanti, on a fine June Sunday afternoon back in 1962, I apologize.  We didn't do it on purpose; we were just a couple of kids driving an old tractor up the road on a sunny day - without a clue.

John S. Mickman

Fundraising Tip #3 - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

Review your Tip Sheet

Check the progress of your members:

Have your fundraising organization members double-check that they have contacted all the names on their 'My Customer List'.

Fundraising Envelopes/Order Forms:
Review each member's envelope/order form to be sure they are filled out correctly.  Remind them that emails will be useful for announcing Delivery Dates and for next year's Holiday Fundraiser as well.

Generate enthusiasm:
Your members are looking to you for encouragement.  Keep your goal in sight (paid expenses to boy scout or marching band camps; uniforms for dance teams, sports teams and marching bands; or any other expense your fundraising group may have)!  If they understand what the goal is, they will be more excited to achieve success!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fundraising Tip #2 - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

Partner with a Business Buying Partner!

Do you or someone in your Organization know someone that:
  • Owns their own business?
  • Works in Sales?
  • Works in Real Estate?
  • Has Vendors or Customers?
Holiday Gift Products are the perfect Holiday Appreciation Gifts!

We can customize a program to git the needs of your Buying Partner!

With each Holiday Gift purchased, a tree will be planted in honor of the recipient.  Click here to view the recipients of past Christmases.

Call the Mickman Brothers Customer Service Team with any questions. 1.800.446.4229 
Follow us on Twitter @XmasFundraiser

Are We Having Fun Yet? - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

When we were kids back in the 1950's & 60's, our parents had a part-time Christmas Wreath Business.  Our dad worked as an aeronautical engineer at Honeywell and our mom was a stay-at-home mother with four wild boys and one nice daughter.  Mom kept the books, contacted customers and answered the phone.  She still works in the wreath business calling on interested fundraising chairpersons!  This year at age 86, she will call over 2000 people!

Some of my earliest memories are of the big truck that would arrive at our house to deliver the bundles of Balsam Boughs (wreath greenery).  It was a Big Truck - especially for young boys.  The driver was a little old, leather-faced man named 'Harry the Horseman'.  We never saw him without a cigarette dangling from his lips and his voice sounded like a goose fart on a muggy morning.

When we were old enough, my dad would schedule Harry to deliver the boughs when my brothers and I arrived home from school.  I was probably about 9 or 10 when this part started.  Climbing up this big old flat-front Mack Truck and throwing bundles of boughs from way up high was something we really looked forward to.  Sometimes the neighborhood kids would come to help with the unloading.  "Are we having fun yet?" was the infamous phrase toward the end of each 5-8 ton load of boughs.  We were always dog-tired, but we made a game out of it and loved jumping around on the big piles of boughs.

The next step was to load my dad's smaller trailer with boughs for distribution to the 'Wreath Makers'; this was called going on 'The Route'.  These Wreath Makers were all stay-at-home moms that made wreaths in their homes to earn extra Christmas money.  There were about 20 Makers that we would make weekend and evening 'Routes' to - dropping off boughs and pick up undecorated wreaths.  There were small groupings of Makers in a few different neighborhoods.  Between Makers, my brother Mark and I would get to ride in the back of the open top trailer lying on the boughs and telling stories.  Yes, we were having fun!

Upon arrival at each Maker's house, our dad would count the wreaths which were in stacks of 4 high, stored on the shady side of the house or garage.  A big Maker could make over 100 wreaths in a week.  After 'the count' dad would go inside to talk to the Maker and sign a 'pick-up slip'.  This wouldn't take long, and while he was busy talking with the lady, my brother and I would unload the specified number of boughs from the trailer and pick up the wreaths.

Picking up the wreaths involved reaching into the center hole with your wrist, grabbing the bottom wreath, picking up the stack of 4 wreaths and putting them on a 2-by-2 (which we called a 'stick').  A full 'stick of wreaths' was 18.  When we were small, my brother and I could only handle one stick at a time; when we were older we could carry 2 sticks between us.

These jobs were always fun until the snow came.  After a snow storm, the boughs would be all ice caked and heavy, and the twine would break if we pulled on it too hard.  Then we had a mess.  And when we picked up the wreaths with a fresh coating of snow on them, our wrists would become ice packed just above our wet, woolen mittens.  We dreaded that part, but what were we supposed to do?  We sure couldn't tell dad we didn't like it, for he would surely tell us that this would toughen us up and give us more character.  My brother and I always agreed that we could do with a little less character and a little warmer accommodations!

Many, many times after a really long, hard Route, dad would stop at the local 'Embers' cafe and buy us each a blueberry sundae.  They used real blueberry syrup and put a lot at the bottom, then ice cream, them blueberries on top with whipped cream.  A bright red cherry topped off this treat and it was always exciting to see the smiling waitress bring our sundaes over to our booth.  My brother and I always looked forward to this treat during which we'd talk over the events of the day on the Route with dad, and laugh and giggle about all the funny things that inevitably occurred.  Dad had a big, easy laugh and he sincerely loved spending this time with us.  I'm sure we were a wet, cold mess among all the 'proper' evening customers that were there for a night out, but I don't remember being bothered by that even one little bit.  I'm sure my dad wasn't bothered either.

'Are we having fun yet?'  I am, I hope you are too!

John S Mickman
Follow us on Twitter @XmasFundraiser

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Misplaced Medallion - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

The following letter was sent to me a few seasons ago by a young Cub Scout after their very successful Holiday Wreath Fundraiser had concluded.  The publication, and my response, was agreed to by Daniel and his parents.

My letter back to Daniel:

"Dear Daniel,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me.  I am so sorry that your medal was lost - and lost on the special awards evening.  I can just imagine how sad you were.  As you see, I have been able to replace your Gold Medal which is enclosed.

It is a great honor for me to make this medal replacement to a person that has worked so hard to achieve this level of excellence.  When I was your age, I too was a Scout that sold Christmas Wreaths, and I remember how much work it was.  To sell 54 items is a feat achieved by few.

It is unlikely that you will be selling Wreaths when you are an adult.  However, the same focus, hard work, planning and execution it takes to sell wreaths are all character traits of a leader and a successful person.  When you choose your future career(s) please remember to choose something that you enjoy doing.  When you are doing something you enjoy, it is not called work; it is called living a successful life - no matter how much money you have.

Congratulations, Daniel.  I wish all good things for you in the future."

NOTE: An Awards Recognition Ceremony is a great way to reward your members for the hard work they did for their Holiday Wreath Fundraiser.  Establish an Awards Program based on unit sales and you'll create an opportunity to win.  Recognize your members and they'll respond with their best efforts. 

John Mickman

Fundraising Step 2 - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

Plan your FUN-draiser Kick-Off Meeting!

Invite the Fundraising Committee and all of your members to the Kick-Off Meeting.  Call and email everyone so they can be sure to attend!  This is a really important step for your boy scout troop, cub scout pack, high school marching band, church youth group, hockey or any other Fundraising Organization!

Meeting Agenda:
  • Remind everyone WHY: you are doing the Fundraiser.  Motivate them to sell!
  • Explain the Fundraising Programs: Use your Program for Success (located in the folder you first received) as a guide.
  • Discuss the Sales Incentives: Get your members pumped-up about their Fundraiser!  Are you giving out awards or medallions to top sellers?
  • Product Knowledge: Review your Sales Aids and explain the products, their prices and delivery.
  • Explain the Goals (or set them).
  • Distribute the Fundraising Tip Sheet: Have your members fill out their 'Customer List' and get everyone started selling.  Review the Schedule of Events Calendar.
  • "Role Playing" of an actual sale: Practice what you'll say to your customers.
  • Share your tips: Have previous top sellers discuss what made them successful.
  • TIP: Encourage your members to get their Customer's email address.  This will be useful for announcing Delivery Dates and for next year's Holiday Fundraiser!

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Fundraising Season Planner - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

    Why is it important to sign up now?  Follow this general timeline to keep your Fundraising Organization on track for a successful fundraiser!

    • TODAY: Fill out your Fundraising Data Sheet
    • Next Week: We'll send out your Fundraiser Kit to arrive at your shipping address within 5 to 7 business days.  This will include the Fundraising Guide explaining all 7 steps.
    • Mid to Late September: Schedule a Kick-Off Meeting with your Organization Members to distribute Sales Brochures and other fundraising materials and share all important dates.
    • Late September/October: Selling time - This is best accomplished in a 2-3 week window.  This amount of time keeps your members motivated.  Schedule a few Update Meetings to review your goal numbers and answer questions.
    • Late October: Schedule a Final Order Meeting during the last week of October to collect orders and payments (if you're participating in the Holiday Gift Program).  Final Orders are due November 1st.
    • November/December: Orders are shipped either to your organization for distribution or directly to your customers!
    • Late December/January: Awards Ceremony to recognize your members for their hard work!

    Follow this link to fill out your Fundraising Data Sheet!

    All of us at Mickman Brothers look forward to working with you.  If you have any questions, please contact us at 800.466.4229.  Our hours of operation are 8AM to 6PM CDT.

    Fundraising Tip #1 - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

    Schedule a Fundraising Event!

    Promote your boy scout troop, high school marching band, christian youth group, or other fundraising organization by organizing a Fundraising Event!  Contact your Customer Service Rep to request a Sample Wreath for your event and watch your sales soar sky high!  800.446.4229

    Church Services:
    • Weekly Announcements & Bulletins are a fantastic way to advertise your sale!
    • Take advantage of the coffee and refreshments area; set up your Holiday Wreath order form there!
    • Use a Sample Wreath so customers can see what they're buying.  The quality of our products from the pine cones to the ribbon is the best in the industry!
    • Distribution to your Church customers will be a breeze since they will all be there every Sunday!
    School Events:
    • Choose one or two events to sell at, sporting events always draw a good crowd!  You can have your customers come back on your scheduled distribution day to pick up their wreaths or offer to deliver them to their residence.
    • Set up your Holiday Wreath order form near the entrance so everyone will see you!
    • Use a Sample Wreath to display during your sale.
    The following are great ideas for our Holiday Gift Product Program.  Just have your customers fill out the Holiday Gift Order Form, sign the card and submit their payment.  You mail the forms along with payment and we do the rest!  This will eliminate Delivery to out-of-the-way addresses.

    Community Businesses:
    • Ask your local businesses (grocery store, cafe, bank, etc.) for permission to set up an area to take orders for your Holiday Fundraiser.  
    • Use a Sample Wreath to display!  This is a superb selling tool!
    Other Location Ideas:
    • Parent/Teacher Conferences
    • School Plays
    • Fall Harvest Festivals
    • Halloween Parades and Events

        Heavenly Rewards - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

        After working with our Christmas Wreath Fundraising Chairpersons for most of my life, I have to report that you volunteers are some of the biggest-hearted, and honest people I have ever met.  At the same time, the neighbors we have around us are great to work with, and we all go out of our way to help each other.  Put the two together, and you end up with a fantastic combination.  To wit:

        Many of our local and Midwest customers choose to pick up their orders instead of having us arrange transportation.  This usually works quite well, but I have to admit that many of the contraptions that arrive remind me of the buggies my dad used to use back in the 1950's.  We always have a lot of bailing twine handy to lash the boxes down on open, flat bed trailers; we've gotten very good at knot tying and I'm pretty sure most customers arrive home with their entire order intact.

        A couple of years ago, two good buddies from a Church Youth Group in Iowa pulled up in an old, enclosed church cube van on Saturday - just before we were closing for the day.  They had some transmission trouble on the way up they explained, but finally made it.  Well, we loaded them up and their very large order barely fit (with some custom packing by yours truly). 

        I was out by the van when they started up and waved goodbye.  They only made it about 50 feet when their transmission stopped working altogether.  After a short conversation, the fact was revealed that neither they nor their church 'transportation fund' had any money.  Hmmmm... Now there was a problem!

        So I called up my old buddy Guy Bleckenger who owns a car repair shop down the street and asked if he could come over and look at the van.  He came right over and made the dreaded proclamation that the transmission was toast.  I explained to Guy that no one had any money and asked how much a used transmission with labor would be.  He told the three of us, and it was much more reasonable than one would have thought.

        Then, one of the church guys asked Guy if he needed any carpentry done, because both he and his buddy were professional carpenters.  "Well yeah," Guy announced.  "I need to have a big expansion to my shop sheet-rocked."  In short order, Guy and the 2 church guys had it all worked out.

        Guy towed the van to his shop, then went to the junk yard to pick up the used transmission.  The church guys jumped right in and started to hang sheet rock.  When I left them at about 6:30PM, everything was well under way.  By Sunday (after church services) the two church guys were on their way back to Iowa, with a fine, used transmission and Guy had his new shop completely rocked with the first coat of tape applied.

        All the players won, once again.  The Church Youth Group had a very successful fundraiser, the Church got a new (used) transmission, I got a very loyal customer and Guy Bleckinger got his new shop rocked.  Hopefully, we'll all get our heavenly rewards too!

        John Mickman

        Thursday, September 8, 2011

        Glittered Cones - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

        My Gramma started her wreath business in St Paul during the Great Depression; it helped immensely to sustain their family.  She and my grandpa never worked for anyone, and always earned their living with a string of small businesses.

        By the time my brother Mark and I were old enough to work (in the mind of our family) at the ages of about 8 or 9, we were borrowed to Gramma and Grampa to help during the summer in their various businesses. Grampa’s Bleach business (Hydro-Bleach) as well as Gramma’s Wreath Business were the two pursuits we worked at during those years in the 1950's.

        What did we do in the Wreath Business during the Summer? Well, painting and glittering pine cones of course. It went like this:

        Grampa would get his old 50 gallon drum that had a lid, and bring it to the top of the slope that descended to the lake they lived on, Lake Owasso in Shoreview, MN. Then, Mark and I would dump a bunch of cones from burlap sacks and pour some white paint into the drum. After securing the lid, we would roll the drum down the hill, mainly holding it back so that it didn't roll over us and end up in the lake! On the trip down the slope, the cones would bounce around inside the drum with the paint so all the tips would be painted. When we got the barrel safely to the flat spot just before the lake, we'd stop the drum, pop open the lid and dump the cones on the big sheet of plastic. Gramma would then use a shaker to shake silver glitter onto the cones. Mark and I thought they looked pretty cool! Then, he and I would roll the drum back up the hill to do another batch.
        In the hot summer sun, the cones would dry rapidly and the four of us would periodically gather them together and put them back into the burlap sacks. Grampa kept the supplies coming and carried the finished cones to the top up the hill. "Boyz-oh-boyz, those cones are heavy" he would say to Mark and me. During those years Gramma made about 5,000 wreaths a year, and wired 5 cones on each wreath - we painted and glittered 25,000 cones each summer!
        Gramma and Grampa made this project fun and we could easily see the fruits of our labor. When we got too hot we went swimming. When we got too tired we all rested. There was no rush, but Grandma was very picky about the 'look' of each cone. We always did a good job, and although we didn't earn much, my brother Mark and I always had our own money.

        Today was one of many 'Pine Cone Painting' days at Mickman Brothers. We do semi-truck load per day with a machine we invented that does a wonderful job. Some years ago I remembered glittering cones with Gramma and experimented with adding that process to our pine cone painting program. Our Wreath Production Supervisor, Berta, came up with a couple of good ideas that helped the process immensely.

        So now, all of the Classic Style Wreaths and Sprays you order have white-tipped, glittered cones and they look awesome. To my knowledge, we are the only large wreath company in the nation that adds this, what I think is a great accent, to their pine cones.

        All thanks to Gramma. I hope you like them!

        John Mickman

        Fundraising Step 1 - Mickman Brothers Holiday Wreath Fundraiser

        If your Fundraising Organization has signed up for our Holiday Fundraiser you may be wondering "Now what?"  Schedule a Fundraising Committee Planning Meeting for your boy scout troop, high school marching band, church youth group, hockey team, or other fundraising group.

        Meeting Agenda Guide:
        • Determine Group Goals: What is your goal? The Fundraising Tally Spreadsheet is an excellent tool in determining how to attain your goal.
        • Determine Selling Prices for Each Product: We recommend a profit of $5-$7 per item (make sure you have included shipping costs and bag costs as well).
        • Determine Additional Sales Tools and Accessories Needed: Do you need Door Hanger Notices or Posters?
        • Create Sales Packets: Help your members get organized! Have your committee members fill out all the pertinent information on your: Sales Aids; Holiday Gift Order Forms; Tip Sheets; Fundraising Envelopes; Door Hanger Notices; and any other Sales Tool as it applies to the brochure you are using.
        • Distribution & Delivery Address for your Shipment: Where will it be convenient for your members to pick up their orders?
        • Determine Meeting Dates and Other Major Dates: Fill this information in on Page 2 of your Fundraising Guide located in Tab 1 of your Holiday Fundraising Organizer. This information should also be included on the 'Fundraising Tip Sheet' calendar.

        Thursday, September 1, 2011

        Fundraising Testimonial - High School Gymnastics Team - Wreath Fundraiser

        Testimonial submitted by Christy L. of the St Francis Gymnastics Team:

        "Flipping Out over Mickman's Fundraiser:

        St Francis High School Gymnastics Team
        The St Francis High School Gymnastics Team has been selling wreaths through the Mickman's Wreath Fundraiser for over 11 years!  The Mickman's Fundraiser has been the biggest and most important fundraiser for the SFHS Gymnastics Team over the years and is of great importance to the team primarily because it helps to cover the cost of important assistant coaches fees which must be covered by the team and the team's booster club.  The two assistant coaches are critical to the team for two reasons: providing support for safety is a huge component to the sport of gymnastics; in addition they assist the head coach by providing additional coaching.  That ability to provide quality coaching has helped this team to achieve the status of North Suburban Conference Champs six years in a row!  The fundraiser also has helped to provide funding for new leotards for the team.

        Working with Mickman's could not be easier!  The fundraiser packets and fundraiser tools and spreadsheets are easy to use and easily accessible by mail or on their website.  We have a customer service representative assigned to our group which ensures we receive special attention and understanding of our order, and the free delivery to our designated distribution site is an amazing service provided by Mickmans!

        In addition, for two years now - a local business has used the wreath fundraising program for Christmas gifts to their customers.  Their main customers are Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ruffed Grouse Society, Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Delta Waterfowl and more.  These customers are very 'green' friendly and conservation oriented.  They really enjoy the 'Plant a Tree' program set up by this fundraising program.  The corporate offices of these previously mentioned organizations proudly have their wreaths decorating their spaces and giving a refreshing pine scent.

        The Mickman's Fundraiser provides our SFHS Gymnastics Team with a way in which to raise important funds for our team, through an organization that provides a quality product that customer love to receive, with great environmentally friendly features!  It has been, and will continue to be a great fundraising option for our team!"

        Congratulations to the St Francis Gymnastics Team on your past accomplishments!  We wish you continued success in all of your fundraising efforts!

        Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

        Pine Cone Pickers - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

        We use over 1,500,000 pine cones on our Christmas wreaths and accents each year.  Have you ever wondered where all the pine cones come from?  Hint: There is no such thing as a Pine Cone Store.

        Back in the late 1950's and 1960's our dad, John Victor Mickman, would drive all us boys out to the Black Hills of South Dakota - the closet location to Minnesota where one can find Ponderosa Pine Trees.  Actually, the reason they call them 'The Black Hills' is because when you see them from a distance across the prairie, the profuse quantity of Ponderosa Trees make the Black Hills look black!

        My dad had a full time job as an engineer at Honeywell, and he would take his 2 week vacation to bring us out there to get the Ponderosa Pine Cones we needed for the Wreath Business.  It would take most of this time to 'pick' a load of cones in his BIG trailer; he would then take it home to Minnesota and leave us boys in the Black Hills (living in a big army tent) to pick another load (or two) depending on how many we needed.

        The first couple of years we did this, dad left just my brother Mark and me out there; the first time we stayed alone we were 10 and 12 respectively.  Mark and I were best friends, but we were also high spirited brothers, and there were many times that we got into fights over one thing or another.  One afternoon we really got into it.  Tempers flared right into the night and we just couldn't get over it; we went to bed still mad at each other.

        The next morning I woke up in the tent and immediately felt there was something different happening.  I crawled out of my sleeping bag and looked out the tent's door flap and saw that Mark was up already getting ready to start up the old Coleman Stove to make breakfast.  He was perfectly still and looking out over a small ravine that had a barbed wire fence on the other side.  There, standing still at the edge of the fence was an albino deer and her albino fawn.  They were both looking directly at my brother and me from a distance of not more than 60 feet.  None of the four of us moved for over a minute; we were entranced with the sight; the deer were surprised to see 2 young boys in the middle of nowhere, and my brother and I of the sheer miracle of nature at our doorstep.

        After a short time, the two deer effortlessly hopped over the fence and bounded across the field into the woods.  We never saw them again.

        After they disappeared, Mark turned to me and asked, "Did you see those deer?" "Yeah," I replied.  "Did you see they were pure white - they almost glowed?" Mark started pumping the stove up again and said, "They were albino deer.  I bet we're the only ones in the whole wide world that have ever seen two albino deer!"  And off our young boy chatter began, the fight from the past afternoon and night forgotten forever.

        Two independent young brothers, alone in the wilderness, having to deal with all that life was throwing at us.  We needed a miracle, and it could not have come at a better time.

        John Mickman

        Thursday, August 25, 2011

        2011 Group Spotlight Winner - New York Cub Scout Pack - Holiday Fundraiser

        Congratulations to our 2011 Group Spotlight Winner, New York Cub Scout Pack 173!

        Testimonial submitted by Regina M, chairperson of Cub Scout Pack 173:
        "Dear Mickman Brothers,

        Pack 173 has been associated with Mickman Brothers for the past 3 years.  We read your advertisment in the Scouting magazine and were instantly taken with your affinity for Scouting Organizations.  In the fall of 2008, we contacted you and began working with Susan, one of your account managers, who is just delightful.  Right from the beginning, she explained the easiness of working with you, the sample products, explained the types of programs, and was available for any questions we may have had. 

        Our first year we kept it small and made a profit of $700.  The second year, we advertised more aggressively and doubled our profit - $1500!  But it was the return customers, that were actually looking for us as early as September, that was amazing.  This past year, with as many repeat customers and more exposure, we made approximately $2300 profit! 

        Pack 173 at a fundraising event!
        There is no denying that your wreaths are beautiful and many customers tell us they still have their wreaths up until the beginning of March and they look as great as the day they got them!  The cub scouts and leaders are out there in October selling the wreaths at masses, using your beautiful sample wreaths, in addition to packback meetings at the school and setting up a table at our school/parish craft fair.

        On the day of distributions, as you can well imagine, it's all hands on deck and this had now become our largest fundraiser for the Pack.  Additionally, we referred your products to another school in the area who on their first year beat our best year's profits!

        With this money (made from the Holiday Fundraiser), our dens are able to fund many activities for our cub scouts - from crafts to trips and a year end carnival!  We so appreciate our relationship with Mickman Brothers and are looking forward to another successful year! 

        Regina M
        Boy Scouts of America Pack 173"

        Thank you, Regina and Cub Scout Pack 173, for choosing Mickman Brothers Holiday Wreath Fundraiser for the past 3 years!  We wish you continued success and look forward to working with you during the upcoming fundraising season!

        The First Christmas Wreath - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

        So, as my Grandma told the story to me many, many years ago, this is how our family business was borne.

        "When I was a young girl in Norge (Norway) back in the late 1800's my mother used to make a wreath each year from evergreens we children would gather from the forest alongside the fjord on which we lived.  It wouldn't take many boughs, and I liked gatheing them.  When I was older, my mother showed me how to make the wreath that we would display on the door of our small cottage each year.  Ours was a tough life and all of my brothers eventually died at sea, as either fisherman or merchant sailors. 

        After I met your Grandpa in England in WWI, we moved to America and, because the people in New York told us there were many Norwegians living in Minnesota, we moved to St. Paul.  Our small family had a hard 'go of it' during the Great Depression as did all of our friends.  However, each Christmas I loved making a nice wreath and hanging it on our front door; as it always reminded me of my own mother so many years before.

        One year when your father (John Victor Mickman) was about 12 years old, he came home from school and saw my nice wreath on the front door.  He wanted to buy a Christmas present for me, and had an idea that maybe he could sell that wreath down the street to someone.  Well , that is just what he did.  He walked down Summit Avenue where all the rich people lived, until someone purchased his wreath.  (My dad said it was James J. Hill's daughter, founders of the Great Northern Railroad, that purchased this first wreath.)

        With his newly earned money, your dad went to a store and purchased a lovely set of porcelain figurines - the set that I have on my bedroom bureau.  The sales clerk was kind enough to wrap this gift for your dad, and he came home and presented it to me.  Well, I knew your dad didn't have ANY money and I pinched his ear until he told me how he got the money to pay for the present.  He finally confessed that he had taken our wreath off of the front door and sold it down on Summit Ave.  I couldn't imagine that anyone would want to pay money for such a thing, and asked your dad if he thought he could sell any more.  He said he thought he could sell as many as I could make.

        So, your Grandpa, your dad and I gathered as many boughs as we could and I made wreaths out of all the boughs we could find.  Your dad was able to sell these wreaths as fast as I made them, and he sold every single one - we didn't even have a wreath on our own door that year (of 1934)."

        We hope you and your fundraising organization (boy scouts, girls scouts, church youth group, high school marching band, and every other fundraising group) will be as successful as my dad in your wreath selling adventures! 

        John Mickman

        Thursday, August 4, 2011

        Fundraising Hints: Organizing your Fundraiser - Mickman Brother Christmas Wreath Fundraiser

        As the Fundraising Chaiperson, everyone will be looking to you to come up with an organized, well-thought out fundraiser that will run as smooth as possible.  And with a little planning and effort, this is completely the case!

        First, set your fundraising goal.  What kind of funds do you need and what are the funds being used for?  Are your boy scouts trying to save up to attend the next National Scout Jamboree?  Does your Swim Team or Hockey Team need extra funds for gear, traveling, or practice time?  Maybe your Church Youth Group really wants to plan a Missions Trip?  Set your goal.  Stick to your goal.  And let your group know what they're working toward.  The reward is all the motivation they need!

        Second, sell to meet your goal.  Sounds simple.  It is simple!  How many items does each organization member need to sell for everyone to reach that goal you have set?  Let your group members know what their individual goal is, and most importantly, make it achievable.  Maybe you need to have more than one fundraiser to meet your goal.  That works too!  Just make your efforts attainable or your group members may get discouraged.  Fundraising should be FUN!

        Third, set your timeline.  Get your members excited about their goal, let them know how to attain their goal and keep them all enthusiastic for a two to three week window of time.  Short and simple!  The excitement can fade pretty fast, so keep your fundraiser going, get it done and celebrate when your group reaches their goal!

        Congratulations!  Your (boy scout, hockey player, church group, etc.) has the means to do a little something extra special this year!  What an achievement!

        If you'd like more information about Mickman Brothers Christmas Wreath Fundraiser, please visit our website at your conveneince,

        Contributed by Sara Laning

        Thursday, July 21, 2011

        Fundraising Hints: Finding Volunteers - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

        You've volunteered to be your Fundraising Chairperson.  You may have even chosen the Fundraiser your Organization wants to do.  Can you handle the entire fundraiser by yourself?  Will anyone be able to help you?  What's the best way to get other parents or organization members to help out? 

        Let all volunteers know that they can job-share.  One person can do a good job, but two people can do a fantastic job!  This can encourage those volunteers with a limited time schedule to sign up.  Knowing they can share their responsibilities with another individual will ease their concerns.  However, be sure to keep both volunteers on task and make sure they're communicating amongst each other to keep your timeline running smoothly. 

        Organized Fundraisers can draw more volunteers as well.  Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly update emails and/or meetings are crucial to keep all volunteers up to date on important deadlines and more importantly, lets them know how the fundraiser is progressing.  Are your organization members reaching the fundraising goal?  Do you need a meeting to motivate your boy scouts, church members, or other organizational members?  Keeping everyone up to date on how your Fundraiser is progressing keeps them on task and makes it easier for your volunteers to know what's expected of them.

        Personally ask volunteer candidates if they can help.  This sounds simple and straight-forward, but it's often overlooked because the Chairperson doesn't want to 'bother' anyone.  When you can speak face-to-face with boy scout or marching band parents, church members, coaching staff or other volunteer candidates, you can answer their questions and show them what this Organization is all about!  Enthusiasm is contagious!

        Now you've gathered up your volunteers.  What next?  How do you get your fundraiser organized?  What kind of goals do you set?  Is there a timeline you need to follow?  Right now is the perfect time to gather information and choose your Fall Fundraiser.  It's never too early to get your scouts, cheerleaders, hockey players, youth groups and any other Organization ready to go!

        If you'd like more information about Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser, please visit our website at your convenience,

        Contributed by Sara Laning

        Wednesday, July 13, 2011

        Evergreen seedlings planted all over the Nation! Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

        Mickman Brothers has funded the planting of over 200,000 evergreen seedlings in the states of:

        Chris Mickman planting seedlings in MN.
        Arizona: Apache-Seagraves National Forest
        California: Plumas National Forest
        Colorado: Pike National Forest
        Florida: Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest
        Indiana:  Indiana State Forest
        Minnesota: Sand Dune National Forest; George Washington State Forest; Hibbing area; many others!
        Tennessee: Cherokee National Forest
        Vermont: Green Mountain National Forest
        Virginia:  Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest
        Washington: Wenatchee National Forest
        Wisconsin: Chequamegon National Forest

        Mickman Brothers plants a tree seedling for every Holiday Gift Product purchased.  Fundraising Organizations: boy scout troops, girls scout troops, cub scout troops, high school marching bands, sports teams, church groups, schools and many other groups make the planting of all these evergreen tree seedlings possible through their hard work and fundraising effort!

        Organizations just like yours have raised funds of over $40 million to fund their activities using our Christmas Wreath Fundraiser!  Get your Free Information packet today,  

        Friday, April 29, 2011

        The Christmas Wreath Spring Rite - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

        Shared by: John Mickman

        Back in 1970's, Mickman Brothers was operated out of the small farmstead where my family lived. The old farmhouse had sloping floors, breezy windows, a dark narrow staircase - and lots of love. My wife and I had 4 beautiful children, Heather, Maegen, John Jr. and Mariah - all 2 years apart. The office was behind the barn which was put together around hand-hewn timbers secured with wooden pegs. Our place was pretty cool and life was good.

        Starting a new business was a lot of work, but since my office was at home I was able to spend much time with the kids. They all worked in the business as they were growing up and they all learned to enjoy doing a job well done.

        Being the oldest, Heather was quite precocious, learned to 'be in charge' early in life and always had a lot of questions. When Heather was 4 years old, the whole family went shopping on Holy Saturday afternoon to pick up groceries for the next day’s Easter Dinner (since I was the oldest brother, all these family gatherings happened at our house).

        This particular Holy Saturday was cold and blustery, like many Easters in Minnesota. After many trips from the VW bus into the kitchen with the groceries, I was looking forward to nice cup of hot coffee. But, when I went to close the kitchen door, I saw that Heather was still standing outside in the cold, warmly wrapped in her red & white checkered winter parka with the red beanie at the tip of its pointed hood. Her plump, rosy cheeks were about the same color as the red of her coat and her little red mittens. She was just standing there, looking quite forlorn - like she had just lost her favorite doll.

        Her look was gently tugging on my heart-strings; something was wrong and I needed to fix it. "What's wrong honey", I asked as I kneeled down beside her. As she looked at me I noticed a tear in the corner of one eye. "Oh nothing daddy", she replied. "I'm OK."

        I looked at the house as she had been looking, and everything seemed to fine to me; the only thing that was a little unusual was that our Christmas Wreath was still on the door. It looked great, still green and full and I had seen no reason to throw it away - being a frugal person that had been trained by parents that had gone through the Great Depression.

        "Come on Heather, please tell me what's wrong. I can tell you are worried about something", I asked again. "Well", she replied, "Do you think that maybe the Easter Bunny won't bring us Easter Baskets tonight when he sees the Christmas Wreath on the door?"

        I looked at the wreath on the door and I felt a little tear forming in my eyes. With all the problems in the world and with me trying to scratch out a living with our little family business, my daughter helped to bring the really important things back into focus. "Heather", I said as I held her little face between my well worn, calloused hands, "I don't know for sure if that wreath will scare the Easter Bunny away. But, let's not take a chance. You and I are going to take that wreath down right now - just in case. What do you think about that?"

        In return, I received a daughter-to-father smile that only dad's get to experience. A smile from way down deep in your daughter’s heart that fills you up like nothing else can. Beaming in this way Heather said, "OK daddy, let’s do it right now". Then, together my daughter Heather and I took that Christmas Wreath down and put it in the garbage can.

        So began the John Mickman Family Tradition of displaying our Christmas Wreath on the front door of our home until just before Easter Sunday - just in case it scares the Easter Bunny away.

        This plan worked well for almost 30 years. What happened? Well 12 years ago, not long before Easter, a family of wrens built a house in the wreath on our door and started their own family. And now, each Spring the wrens build a nest and raise a family in our Christmas Wreath. All guests to our home think we're a couple of pine cones short of a full wreath, but we have to keep our wreath up well into May each year as the young chicks break open their shells and grow strong enough to fly away.

        So now, the Mickman Household displays our Christmas Wreath from November to May - over half the year. Some say it's crazy - right up until the time I tell them the story of my little girl Heather who was worried about the Easter Bunny!