Choose your dates:

  1. Tuesday, June 25, 2024

  2. Wednesday, June 26, 2024

#detailsmatter – Employee Recognition

The story behind our varsity jackets

At many companies, employees earn recognition for years of service.  You’ll find these in the form of a special pin to wear on their name tag, or their name engraved on a plaque within the back office.  In true 21c style, we couldn’t let an opportunity like this pass with just a simple pin.  Where did we land?  Keep reading to find out.


Our years of recognition program is yet another great idea hatched from our co-founder, Steve Wilson. So we asked him: “What’s the deal with the 21c varsity jackets?”


Q: Steve, what was the thought process around the years of service recognition at 21c?

SW: I was working with our Chief Brand Officer, Molly Swyers, as we were approaching the 4 year anniversary of many teammates at our original 21c in Louisville, KY. With all due respect, I’ve always thought of our team as a fraternity of misfits.  At 21c, everyone feels like a part of a team, so much so that we use the word “teammate”, not colleague, not team member.  We are all teammates.

Thinking about teams took me back to high school. I remembered watching all the letterman in my high school get jackets.  Those jackets were like a badge of honor; a way to visually show your accomplishments to fellow classmates.  I wasn’t on any teams in high school so I wasn’t able to earn one and that stuck with me.

So, we landed on varsity jackets to commemorate 4 years of service.  One of the best things about the jackets is that they get to live on.  Each year, we hold a teammate rally, where we give out varsity jackets to all those celebrating their 4th anniversary with the company, and we distribute new patches to the teammates who already have their 21c varsity jacket.     The new patches are designed to reflect an annual theme.  The jackets are great quality and our teammates get to customizie them by choosing either leather or thick wool felt sleeves and how they want their name embroidered on the chest.

Q: How has this been received with the team?

SW: We are so proud of our people, and our people are so proud to work at 21c.  The sense of belonging, the sense of achievement is evident the minute a teammate puts on their jacket for the first time.  You see them all over our properties, which not only showcases the pride the teammates have wearing them, but also the amazing tenure we are so lucky to see across our teams. Each year our properties and our corporate office hold rallies to hand out the jackets and the patches. This year, all jackets given featured a patch of a penguin wearing a mask!


To date, 21c has handed out 329 varsity jackets across the properties and home office.  On top of that, we’ve handed out 30 10 year patches.  Our fraternity of misfits is going strong!