Off-Kilter Kit Concepts for Your Next Event

Kit ‘Er Done – Kit-Packing done right. 

From the scheduled to the unexpected, partnering with Thysse on your next custom kitted project can create an unforgettable experience.

In the final months of the pandemic, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) set Thysse loose on a project that posed both a creative and logistical challenge: Design and ship 1,500 “Work From Home Kits” for a virtual conference to connect with attendees outside the digital realm. The box design and its contents would build excitement around the event, keep the mission top of mind, and give a nod to event sponsors.  

Rolling out a project of this scale is no small feat – but the real clincher? CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) would take place almost a year into the pandemic. After many months of Zoom calls, virtual museum tours and a shameful number of Tiger King episodes, audiences were running out of steam on screen time. The box needed to make attendees feel like they were part of an experience – and the final product didn’t disappoint. Conference attendees reported feeling valued, excited and pleasantly-surprised as the custom, colorfully- printed boxes began to show up on their doorsteps.  

While in-person pandemic restrictions have thankfully loosened in most states, our work with CUNA got us pondering the near-limitless potential for events both in and out of virtual channels. Let’s just say our brainstorming got a little out there, but sometimes thinking of the wackiest ideas can lead the way to a uniquely wonderful execution. 

While you start wondering about ways to wow your audiences, enjoy the finalists on our short list of off-kilter kits: 

The ‘Brew Buddy’ Kit

Since we know there are really only two kinds of people in the Midwest, those who know a lot about beer and those who want to know more about beer, let’s hop to it first with a kit whose potential could be tapped at any time. Whether you’re a local brewery owner rolling out a new flavor or an event planner with a penchant for planning parties that include a beer tent, this custom caddy could easily drive and improve brand awareness. Pitcher it now: Thysse can source, design and distribute sampling kits to accompany your best brews with merch such as:

  • Wooden tasting flight trays (complete with nifty erasable chalkboard labels)
  • Beer-tasting guide books outlining pour techniques and aroma/taste profiles 
  • Pub glasses or snifters to suit every taste from Belgians to Stouts
  • Branded bottle opener/corkscrew combos for a one-pop-top-shop
  • Brew-branded coasters to relinquish rings 
  • For the die-hard hops fans, throw in Electrolyte tablets & sunglasses, after a day of drinking, they’ll love your brand all the more for the additions

‘2nd Time’s the Charm’ Kit

Fair warning, this one goes to a dark place pretty quick. Bear with us, we did say we’re trying to get weird to get the juices flowing. Imagine your law office specializes in divorce proceedings. It’s safe to assume that the majority of your clients are less than thrilled to walk through your doors to discuss the impending dissolution of dreams and their life partnerships. Yet… think for a moment how uplifting it would be for your clients to receive a goofy gift box on such a downer of an occasion. We’re picturing a package prepared with:  

  • Branded wine keys for the first celebratory nights of freedom
  • A sampling of artisan chocolates for dinner a delicious snack 
  • Soothing bath salts to drown particularly pesky memories 
  • ‘Legal Steps to Freedom’ checklists to guide clients through the process 
  • Finally, throw in branded tissues for… allergies and other ailments

Employee ‘Welcome Back, NOW GET TO WORK!’ Kit 

Thanks to an onset of new job openings, targeted recruiting efforts and a wave of mobility-craving millennials, employees these days have options – and they know it! Employee appreciation is an increasingly important focus for companies large and small aiming to retain (and recruit) top-notch talent, and let’s face it, the return to the office for many of your employees will be a mighty shift from the sweatpants-wearing luxuries of yesteryear. What better way to ease the transition than with a quirky ‘welcome back’ kit to get everyone back on the same page? ‘Woo’ returning employees with a kit that includes: 

  • Mini Nerf® guns and a round of darts for a cubicle war of epic proportions
  • Hair salon gift cards to get those unruly locks 9-5 ready [insert Chewbacca vocalizations] 
  • A bag of local gourmet coffee to power through morning rush hour
  • A printed ‘welcome back’ message to frame a united front 
  • Stress balls in the shape of a random quirky animal – we prefer gorillas, but that’s just us

‘Cutting Edge DIY-er’ Kit

You don’t have to be the sharpest crayon in the toolbox to know how to paint furniture or raise a pole shed, but having the right tools of the trade can certainly make you look like one! If you’re an event planner tasked with putting together a trade show for the tool and hardware industry, why not put together a custom box to show off some handy new innovations in the industry, inspire attendees to tackle a new project, and give your event sponsors a shout out? Need some ideas? We’ve got the fix!

  • A pocket-sized mini leveler to make sure that surface is flat-out perfect
  • A flashlight with a bendable mount to light up those hard to reach corners 
  • Bandaids – for those occasional, almost-lost-a-finger-but-didn’t, moments. 
  • A handy new multi-tool for the jill or jacks of all trades
  • Mini retractable measuring tape keychain to measure twice and cut once!

If you made it this far, it’s safe to say you see where we’re going with all of these. Creating a lasting experience with your brand can be industry-relevant without replicating your competition’s swag bags. Did our list of extremely-specific-yet-highly-unlikely options spur a kit idea you’d like to try? Do you need to keep that project you delegated to the receptionist from turning into an utter kit-tastrophe

We get pretty amped up about putting together custom kits and we’d love to help! Our team of promotional services experts has the know-how, space and resources to create your custom kit from packing and design to shipping, and all the crinkle-paper tornados in between. Drop us a line or check out our promotional services page to learn more.

Experiential Design Dream Team: Defined.

We thought a few introductions to the team who tinkers with your brand translations was in order. After all, we’ve been playing them up as guides and experts of brand expression, but often they get reduced down to job title when we boast about our unique experiential design makeup. For one blog only, we’re putting a temporary spotlight their skills and storied pasts because it’s about time we bragged about these creative minds.

Loren Zemlicka | Principal

Loren Zemlicka, Design Principal

First up, the guy who started the foray into experiential design at Thysse. A creative in one way or another for most of his life, Loren brought his 20 years of graphic design experience and creative direction to Thysse in 2013 and only looked back to bring a few friends along for the ride (more on them in a moment). A renowned Play-Doh sculptor in his early years, he’s since moved on to molding enterprise brands into hierarchical masterpieces and has been known to moonlight a blog or two. Never content to master one skill, his efforts now stretch to encompass print design, web design, video production, copywriting, photography and of course, experiential (environmental) graphic design.

Geoff Sabin | Principal

Geoff Sabin, Principal Architect

Geoff Sabin’s a little shaggier these days than his picture would suggest, but he’s still got the same focus and drive on every project as he did on day one. Geoff joined our team shortly after its inception, and our house band has been thanking him ever since. Our principal architect by day, and on Rhythm Guitar and Lead Vocals by night/is-it-actually-really-early-the-next-morning, Geoff brings over 20 years of design and architecture experience to the Thysse crew. He can design a building, move on to design everything inside and outside the building, and then finish with  a design of the invitations for the grand opening. Geoff infuses creative energy into everything he does and has a very specific taste in pens – the now-discontinued Yasutomo Lupro Niji Stylist Markers to be exact. We’re still warring with the guy on eBay for the last box….

Kris Marconnet | Senior Designer

Kris Marconnet, Experiential Designer

Kris excels at visual branding elements in corporate, education and healthcare settings. A practicing lawn artist, she’s mastered the intricate turns and specific step counts to create an exact match to the revered Scottish “Royal Stewart” tartan in her own backyard. This latest design received modest praise from the neighbors, though they’re still a little leery after the more controversial piece, “Reclining Nude Eating Grapes.” We wish Mrs. Jensen well in her recovery… What were we doing? Ah yes, bragging about our master illustrator and logo developer. Probably swearing like a sailor internally that she’s the first designer on the list of praise, we’ll have to bribe her with cans of Bubly to make up for it. Like a silent assassin, her 25 years of accomplished design work often speaks for itself.  

Julie Kimmell | Project Manager

Julie Kimmel, Design Project Manager

We want your project to be beautiful, but we also want to be sure it stays on schedule and budget too. Hailing from the picturesque shores of an Illinois farm and a life spent raising hot dogs and bears, Julie is our professional creative management maven. We’re thrilled she left a string of Amazonian corporations, the three-martini lunches, fashion model shoots and glamorous haute-couture lifestyle behind to join our team; who doesn’t long for a hard hat now and then? With over 20 years of experience in creative and schedule wrangling,  Julie supports the team with financials, project planning, estimating and documentation on every design project and thankfully runs that weekly status meeting with military precision.

Allyson Casey | Concept Designer

Allyson Casey, Experiential Designer

We probably shouldn’t brag about theft on here, but you could say we stole Allyson away after collaborating on a multi-year project. Maybe stole is a bit harsh, we are pretty irresistible after all. She joined the Thysse Design crew in 2018 and brought her wealth of knowledge as a designer, art director, and artist along with. She’s also got a penchant for obscure indie folk music. If it’s got guitars, mandolins, or fiddles, you can bet it’s on her Spotify playlist. Typically armed with a cup of coffee and at least one AirPod in, she can nail a brand’s essence in record time, and translate it to walls, windows, and more. We usually pause the stopwatch for that second part.

Evan Hildebrand | Architectural Designer

Evan Hildebrand, Architectural Designer

Mr. Texas Panini himself, Evan comes to us from…Ohio. We’re kidding of course. This renowned humorist and ultimate frisbee cutter graduated Summa Cum Laude, with Distinction from University of Minnesota. Writing that out seems prestigious and oddly NSFW all at once… degrees and an eight-semester Dean’s list streak in hand, he then secured a sweet gig as a Design Associate in – you guessed it – Dallas, Texas. After perfecting his pronunciation of “y’all,” and confirming his cowboy boot size,  Evan hopped back to the Midwest and joined Thysse Design to specialize in 3D design, modeling, and rendering

Jen Braga | Marketing Director

Jen Braga, Marketing Director

We don’t make it a pattern, but sometimes we like the people we work with enough to hire them on our team. She’s been a project manager, designer, brand manager, and marketing specialist, and has a terrible golf swing, so we thought it’d be best to combine it all into one role on our team. Jen is a University of Wisconsin MBA graduate specializing in marketing and branding. She understands the importance of powerful storytelling, targeted messaging and may use the term “unaided brand awareness” approximately 23.5x more often than the average person.

Angie Biermeier | Designer

Angie Biermeier, Experiential Designer

We round out introductions with our very first Thysse Design hire. Angie came from the print design, copy layout and logo development world, and has since broadened her skillset, working in the built environment to create facility branding programs. Think that’s impressive? Wait till you see her Donnie and Marie memorabilia collection. With over 20 years of design experience, we’ll listen to her talk about the Osmond lunch boxes, coloring books, framed (and signed) 8x10s all day because when it comes down to it, Angie is a technical production artist wiz. Truly, her art file setups are a thing of art.


So there you have it, the team who draws the connection between material and messaging, and brings your brand into a new plane. In addition to these key personnel, we also have a staff comprised of a skilled craftsmen and women who love what they do. It is a team woven together with collective expertise and bound by satisfaction of a job well done.

Sound like a crew you’d like to kick it with even when the projects get hard? See if you have what it takes to join the team.

Curious to learn more? Let’s talk. We’re not salespeople. We’re just a bunch of passionate designers who love to talk through a project.

The Road to Solar Power

Thysse’s solar panels are live.

One glance at our new facility and it’s apparent that we’re invested in solar for the long haul. The panels take up the majority of our production facility’s rooftop, and glimmer with the slightest hint of sunlight. The spectacular team at Arch Electric helped us get them up and running in the fall, and we couldn’t be happier with the result. The layout, track install, and fastening of the panels took about 7 weeks, and as of November 24, 2020, the panels were live and Thysse began officially drawing solar power from our own grid.

See more in our joint press release here.

But let’s take a step back and walk through what it took to get to this point. Interest in creating a more sustainable building, including solar panels, has been a part of the vision for this campus from the beginning. As various components of the project came together, it was not a question of “if” solar would be installed, but “when?” and “how?” especially as COVID turned many plans around. When we moved into the building in late July, it was unknown when we would be able to implement them into the roof of the structure.

To plan accordingly and install solar properly, Thysse needed multiple partners in the renewable energy industry. In mid 2019, Thysse began working with Legacy Solar Cooperative to find a way to replace some of our conventional energy with clean power. Legacy Solar Cooperative is a Wisconsin-based co-op that provides solar products/services. The co-op is a natural partner for Thysse in this effort, as their intent is to bring people together to support solar and other clean energy initiatives.

The co-op does not endorse every solar project in Wisconsin, they require that co-op support be reserved for projects that will last a minimum of 40 years, giving dual meaning to the term “sustainable energy.”

In August of 2020, Thysse was notified that the USDA would be awarding us a grant through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The REAP program assists businesses pursuing projects relating to energy audits and renewable energy development by providing grants to fund a portion of the projects. REAP also supports rural and small business by funding purchases and installs of renewable energy systems to make energy efficiency improvements.

With the USDA assistance, Thysse began work with our install partner, Arch Electric, to expand our emphasis on renewable energy by creating an install plan for the approved solar panels. Arch Electric specializes in energy storage solutions, utility solar, commercial/industrial solar and storage, along with operations and maintenance services. The company is considered the largest vertical provider of solar in Wisconsin and its mission is to educate, inspire, and power current and future generations to choose a clean, sustainable form of energy.

Arch Electric installed a whopping 850 panels which are expected to produce approximately 350,000 kWh annually.

The solar panels that have been installed on the roof are defined as by bi-facial, photovoltaic PV panels. These specific panels are considered an innovation in the solar industry, because while they can generate power directly from the sun, they can also generate indirectly from reflected light. This improvement allows panels to produce 10 – 20% more power and helps the panels shed snow faster in the winter, both allowing for increased energy absorption. We can attest to this final fact, as Thysse is still drawing power daily, even in the dead of winter. All of our panels remain clear, while many other rooftops are still covered in about 10” of snow.

We now have a live feed of our daily production and usage over at Solar Edge, and will soon have a direct feed on our site’s (currently-under-construction) sustainability page!

Let’s break down some of that unfamiliar terminology. In the most basic setup, solar panels are installed on a rack system on the roof to have greatest sun exposure potential, and this physical setup is combined with an inverter system to generate electricity for a facility. Depending on the amount of power generated, these panels can offset some or all of the necessary electricity consumption for the building, reducing the reliance on the city grid. During peak sun exposure and production for our facility, we’re covering about half of our energy needs with power drawn from our solar panels. In periods of lower energy usage, our panels are producing more energy than we’re consuming! During periods of non-activity/power usage, like weekends and holidays, our excess power goes back to the city’s grid.

If that sounds like an impressive setup, it is! Put into concrete numbers: our current facility is triple the size of our previous building, the Netherwood location, and uses roughly the same amount of electricity. That’s already cause for celebration, however, the specific solar panel set up at Thysse will produce the clean energy equivalent of planting over 6,500 trees.

That means we’re sequestering over half a million pounds of CO2 every year!

As Thysse has grown, we’ve continued to evolve our machinery and processes to be more efficient and sustainable both for the environment and for the longevity of the business. The panels are a critical step toward offsetting our emissions footprint and producing our own clean power continue the Thysse legacy of innovation and focus on our people.

Thysse Unveils New Campus and New Capabilities.

New Address, Same Thysse Culture.

Monday, July 27 marked the next chapter in the Thysse legacy. The company opened the doors on its new headquarters, a 95,500 square-foot building in Oregon, WI. The new campus, situated just a stone’s throw from the previous Netherwood location, is the third expansion in seven years to support Thysse’s enhanced services and growing lines of business.

The building itself is as functional as it is visually impressive; featuring 2 glass lined stories and triple the production space. The new location brings together a full in-house design suite for Thysse’s Experiential Graphic Design team, moves all production, specialty graphics, and fulfillment services to a single site, creating greater efficiencies for Thysse’s customers, and enhances the close team culture for its employees. For President Jason Thysse, this is the real measure of success,

“Since my grandfather started Thysse in 1941, this company has always been about the people. We designed the new campus with both client and employee needs in mind, and the result we’ve realized with the team of Thysse architects, designers, and assistance from OPN Architects is a dream come true. We are very excited for this next chapter in Thysse’s story!”

Fleet of Thysse delivery trucks at new campus

Director of Operations, Nick Brevik knows that the new campus will start showing a return on investment almost immediately,

“The move to a larger space that can house all our services in one location minimizes our logistical inefficiencies. We’ll be able to reduce travel time, particularly in fulfillment, and we’re able to increase our service offerings, adding on foil stamping and embossing capabilities starting in August. The bigger production space allowed us to bring in a larger format and faster press, as well as the prepress workflow to support it, effectively doubling our offset printing rate. The move also increased fulfillment storage by 30%. Thysse has always looked for the best way to meet our customers’ current needs, while simultaneously planning for their future; this move is a continuation on that promise.”  

Thysse’s new address, as of July 27th, is 780 Cusick Parkway, Oregon, WI 53575.

Production space in Thysse's new campus

Although the building was completed for Thysse, it wasn’t done alone. The project had many partners involved including: The Village of Oregon, Oregon Community Bank, Wisconsin Business Development, OPN Architects, Newcomb Construction, and Thysse’s very own Experiential Design Team. Thank you for your support and assistance along this journey!

To stay up to date with what’s happening at Thysse, stay tuned on our social channels and at www.thysse.com.

Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin | Instagram

For more information, contact Jen Braga, Thysse, at 608.249.6951.

No Handshakes? No Problem.

Handshakes are so… last year. 

Historically, the act of shaking another person’s hand is a greeting known to spread peace, friendliness and overall goodwill. Unfortunately, the handshake is also a great way to spread germs. In the midst of a highly contagious virus outbreak, avoiding physical contact with others is more important than ever. Fortunately for you, Team Thysse has created a list of nine handshake alternatives to use the next time you’re in need of a touch-free greeting. 

1. The Nod

Cool people have already been doing this for years. You may want to practice this one in the mirror a few times to perfect the momentum of the upswing. Bonus points if you say “sup” while doing it.

Gif of man doing the nod
VIA Giphy

2. The Vulcan Salute

Even if you’re not a Star Trek fan, you’re probably familiar with this greeting. It means “live long and prosper,” which is quite fitting for these uncertain times.

Spock from Star Trek doing the Vulcan Salute
VIA NBC

3. Air Five

Also sometimes known as the Jim and Pam high five. No germs involved.

Gif of Jim and Pam from The Office doing an air high five
VIA Giphy

4. Namaste

A subtle bow with palms pressed together. It simply means “I bow to you.” If Khloe can do it, so can you.

Gif of Kourtney Kardashian doing a namaste bow
VIA Giphy

5. The Fake Shake

Go in for the classic handshake, then “SIKE!” We advise not to use this one during a job interview.

Gif of man doing a fake handshake
VIA Giphy

6. Blow a Kiss

Real kisses are definitely off limits during a pandemic, but fake kisses can be just as sweet. We also do not recommend using this one during an interview.

Gif of Ham from The Sandlot blowing a kiss
VIA Giphy

7. Air Hug

An air hug is a simple and effective way to show affection without touching. Non-huggers rejoice.

Two women air hugging from a distance
VIA Getty

8. Point and Wink

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Something about the added hand gesture makes it so much better than just your average wink.

Gif of a man doing the point and wink
VIA Giphy

And last but not least…

9. Finger Guns

You heard it here first. Coronavirus made finger guns cool.

Gif of Wheeler from Red Oaks doing finger guns
VIA Giphy

All jokes aside, stay safe out there.

Quarantine 2020: What to Watch Next

It’s safe to say we could all probably use a good show to binge right now. We asked our team, “If you could only watch one thing during quarantine, what would it be?” The responses did not disappoint. Well, most of them didn’t… Take a look at what Team Thysse is watching and start adding to your queue. 

1. Ozark (Netflix)

This was our most popular response. A must watch.

Ozark gif
VIA Giphy

2. Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)

Arguably the best sitcom ever created.  

Schitt's Creek gif
VIA Giphy

3. The Morning Show (Apple TV+)

It’s not actually a morning news show. 

The Morning Show
VIA Good Housekeeping

4. The Office (Netflix)

A classic. 

The Office gif
VIA Giphy

5. Killing Eve (Hulu)

The description has the words “spy” and “assassin” in it. 

Killing Eve
VIA Vox

6. Homeland (Hulu, Showtime)

An edge-of-your-seat thriller.

Homeland
VIA IMDB

7. Rick and Morty (Hulu)

An animated series about a mad scientist and his grandson.  

Rick and Morty gif
VIA Giphy

8. The Food Network (The Food Network)

Literally anything on the Food Network. You can’t go wrong. 

The Food Network gif
VIA Giphy

9. Impractical Jokers (TruTV)

Four best friends embarrass each other through a series of outrageous dares.

Impractical Jokers gif
VIA Giphy

10. Doctor Who (BBC America)

Aliens, planets, and time travel, oh my!

Doctor Who
VIA Mental Floss

11. CSI (Hulu)

There are 337 episodes. Good luck. 

CSI
VIA The Atlantic

12. Investigation Discovery (Investigation Discovery)

Get your true crime fix.

Investigation Discovery
VIA ID

13. The Ranch (Netflix)

Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson are back at it.

The Ranch gif
VIA Giphy

14. Barnaby Jones (You might have to find VHS tapes for this one)

A silver-topped sleuth comes out of retirement to solve his son’s murder. 

Barnaby Jones
VIA Nostalgia Central

15. The Hallmark Channel

No comment.

Hallmark Channel Dolly Parton gif
VIA Giphy