Winning Hand for Touchstone Energy Members

A sample of the front and back of one of the playing cards being give out at regional meetings. (Photo By: Touchstone Energy)
A sample of the front and back of one of the playing cards being given out at regional meetings. (Photo By: Touchstone Energy)

There’s an old adage about “playing the hand you’re dealt.” In this case, it’s a winner.

Owen Electric Cooperative counts one of the world’s biggest playing card manufacturers as a key account. And that company was happy to assist with a Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives promotion.

It all began in May, when Touchstone Energy was “looking for a new way to engage and energize its members” about its many programs and resources, said Anne Harvey, director of member relations and communications.

That included changing the way Touchstone Energy engages with its co-op members at NRECA regional meetings. At a brainstorming session, staff decided to create decks of playing cards featuring brand trivia, resource descriptions and contact information.

For example, the four of clubs spotlights the Digital Media Playbook that co-ops can use. The king of spades is the “Who We Are” card highlighting the co-op business model, and the five of hearts features the Touchstone Energy Balloon program.

Starting with Regions 1 and 4 in Pittsburgh and continuing with the four other meetings, everyone entering the first general session receives a playing card from a Touchstone Energy-branded deck.

A sticker on the back of each card invites recipients to visit the Touchstone Energy area during meeting breaks, when they can get a complete deck of cards.

Playing the Cards Right

In the search for a vendor to produce high quality cards at a fair price, Touchstone Energy discovered that the United States Playing Card Co. (USPC)—whose iconic brands include Bicycle and Tally-Ho—has been located in Erlanger, Kentucky, since 2008, and is served by Owen Electric.

“When we heard this request from Touchstone Energy, it wasn’t difficult reaching the right people, and they were more than thrilled to help us out,” said Mike Stafford, Owen Electric’s manager of business and government relations.

The co-op maintains “a very strong relationship” with USPC, which is one of its top 10 largest electric loads.

“We have worked with them in the past on a number of issues: energy efficiency, power quality, rates, rebates,” said Stafford, adding that USPC has “been eager to assist us in the past with several different initiatives.” USPC cards have been used as giveaway items during various economic development engagements throughout Kentucky and across the country.

“They serve as a reminder of the manufacturing prowess in our region,” said Stafford. “Most folks probably own a deck of playing cards, but I bet many of them don’t realize that many of these decks are manufactured in Erlanger, Kentucky.”

Harvey described the cards as “co-op born and bred,” and called it “a perfect example of the power of collaboration amongst co-ops.

“Owen Electric was able to strengthen its relationship with a key account while providing increased revenue to a local business, and Touchstone Energy was able to support its member co-op while securing a high quality, cost-conscious promotional piece,” said Harvey.

“Everyone is a winner, especially the Touchstone Energy members who will receive a deck of cards to promote programs and the cooperative difference.”

Michael W. Kahn is a staff writer at NRECA.