"A strong manufacturing base is a key element in the strength of a nation's economy. It provides the most progress and innovation of all sectors."
You never know who is crafting a spectacular quality American Made product just around the corner from you! This is precisely the case with this week’s featured Monday Maker. Team All New American was excited to hear that an American company, making safe, fun and sustainable toys was located just steps away from our headquarters.
Please meet the two, father and son, entrepreneurial teams behind Luke’s Toy Factory.
Jim and Luke Barber – Evan and Mitch Achiron
No surprise that China was the country of origin!
Jim joined a concerned parents movement set on removing these toxic products from America’s shelves. The strong community involvement inspired Jim to go even further in advancing change in the U.S. toy industry. Jim and his son Luke started exploring sustainable and safe materials sourced in the United States. They finally found their material in Michigan and Luke went to work designing the first prototype.
The first toy was an interlocking five piece fire truck and represented two years of research.
In 2012 they incorporated under the name of Luke’s Toy Factory.
Wanting to validate their idea and product, the two entrepreneurs ran a successful Kickstarter and raised $15,000. This was enough to get them started. Jim dug into his retirement savings to further jumpstart the company and they set up shop in Danbury, CT.
Luke starts by designing the toy on the computer and then moves to the 3D printer which breathes life into the product.
A mock-up is created and is given to the kids to play with to make sure the toy works to spec.
After the design is finalized, he then makes a mold for each part. This is a highly complex and expensive process that is done by a company in Massachusetts.
The materials are brilliant. The company uses repurposed clean sawdust from American furniture companies and sourced in Michigan. The Michigan company combines the sawdust with certified safe, clean plastic to make the pellets that are used in the injection molding.
The pellets are shipped to Vanguard Plastics in Southington, CT. Vanguard takes the molds, made in Massachusetts, puts them into an injection molding machine and uses the pellets to make the toy parts. At this stage color is added – FDA-approved pigments – so there is no surface colorant.
As a result this new composite material will NOT contain any surface paint, glue or chemical additives such as phthalates or BPA.
The parts are shipped back to the Danbury facility where the team finishes the toy.
They take the chassis, drill holes into it for the axles, insert the axles and permanently attach the wheels.
All these steps require special machines that have been built especially for Luke’s Toy Factory by a locally based company in CT.
The end product has the look and feel of a wooden toy built from recycled plastic composite material.
This creates a really durable and safe quality American Made product.
Finally, the toys are assembled, packaged and shipped all over the country.
To date the company has added a dump truck
and a flatbed truck.
The trucks act as a puzzle that kids can take apart and put back together and is terrific for hand-eye-coordination.
The company wants to establish a line of toys based on the firetruck that is interchangeable with each other.
The company is well on its way.
Team All New American is delighted to feature another ‘Made in the USA’ company. Since 2014, Luke’s Toy Factory, an innovative, family-owned start-up in Danbury, CT has been designing and manufacturing simple, sustainable and totally functional toys that allow for imagination and call on fine motor skills and thinking. Jim and Luke’s commitment to USA labor and jobs makes their company another example of what makes a quality American Made product. Jim and Luke can be proud to be part of the ‘American Made’ community that is fuel for the engine which makes America great.
Thank you for giving us your time today. Have a great week. The Team.