5 Days to the Showcase!
Luke’s Toy Factory
Luke’s Toy Factory designs toys with a simple, old school wooden style. These are toys that look like they could have been hand crafted by a skilled wood worker, with some of the qualities of their full-size counterparts. But Luke’s Toy Factory toys are made using state of the art manufacturing processes and materials, right here in the USA. Everything used to make the toys – every sourced material, every tool and every supplier used – is American.
Luke’s Toy Factory toys are fun to play with! Think of a 3D puzzle that becomes a truck when assembled. Designed for small hands, the toys are made with a bit of wiggle room, so that kids with developing motor skills are not frustrated. The company’s target age is 3 and up – just at the point where kids are outgrowing “baby toys” but aren’t quite ready for the precision required for more complicated building toys.
The CT SBDC has been instrumental in providing advice at every stage of Luke’s Toy Factory’s growth. Early in the research stage, the creators of Luke’s Toy Factory reached out to the SBDC, after attending a presentation on writing a business plan. When they met with Business Advisor Nelson Merchan at the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, he was immediately helpful, providing advice on funding, best business practices, and even practical advice on packaging. He actually researched and brought samples of ideas from other packaging that helped Luke’s Toy Factory craft its own packages.
He also provided valuable sessions on copyright, trademark and development funding. Nelson connected Luke’s Toy Factory with media, local and national political leaders, and consumers, through a broad variety of programs that the CT SBDC conducts. And he got Luke’s Toy Factory involved with Danbury’s Innovation Center, which provides advice on real-world manufacturing issues and business startup resources.
Today, three years after first beginning research, and a short six months after beginning to wholesale toys, Luke’s Toy Factory toys are in over 150 stores nationwide, as well as national online retailers such as The Grommet, Uncommon Goods, Plow and Hearth/Magic Cabin and Etailz. The company’s toys have been recognized as a finalist in INC Magazine’s Design Awards. The business has been featured on numerous news programs on television and in newspapers. And the toys have been awarded the prestigious Family Choice Award for Preschool Toys.
Luke’s Toy Factory designs toys with a classic wood worker’s style. The toys encourage social interaction and pretend play, both critical steps in a child’s development. All the toys’ parts mix and match, allowing kids to experiment with different colors and combinations of parts. The company makes a fire truck, dump truck and cargo truck. A new toy, the “Tipper” truck, will be launched this February at the NY Toy Fair. The fire truck is on sale at the NYC Fire Museum, with 10% of the proceeds going to benefit NYC Firefighters.
The company’s focus has been to use domestic resources for every part of the business. This includes design software, 3D printers, mold makers, packaging and injection molding production. The raw materials are compounded in the Midwest, using reclaimed sawdust from furniture factories along with certified safe, clean plastic pellets. By using this material, wood plastic composites (WPC), up to 30% of the plastic can be removed from the toys. This also allows Luke’s Toy Factory to create toys with parts that are up to 300% thicker than most plastic toys, making for a much more durable product. The company is the first toy company to use this material in such high concentrations, and it is taking the lead in research and development of using WPC for injection molding.
There are over 12 different companies that contribute to the final product. Each company that Luke’s Toy Factory uses treats its employees ethically and pays fair wages. As much as possible, the company tries to source locally, to shorten the supply chain – providing better control over quality as well as saving transportation energy resources. Luke’s Toy Factory is proud of its partners in design, manufacturing, packaging, sales and delivery. The company hopes to provide an example for others, to prove that it can be done here in the US – making safe, clean toys for children and creating jobs for their future.
The America’s SBDC Client Showcase & Reception will be held from 5:30-7:30 pm on Monday, February 1, 2016, in Caucus Room 345 of the Cannon House Office Building . Invite your Members of Congress to the showcase and reception! Contact your Representative and your Senators.
For more information about America’s SBDC or to find an SBDC near you, visit www.AmericasSBDC.org.