11/15/2016—Release at Will
Contact: Barbara Rainville • 800-421-4223
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From Simple Beginnings...
Vermont native not your average entrepreneur
MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—Like most people, Michael Rainville had a part-time job through high school and college. Unlike most people, however, Rainville worked for himself making wooden products. Now, more than thirty-five years later, Mike has turned his hobby into a multi-million-dollar company, that employs over 40 local crafts people and 4 family generations—including Mike’s 97-year-old grandmother, Harriett.
Rainville’s company began in the basement of his parents’ home in Lincoln, Vt. Having plenty of wood and tools around—both of his grandfathers were carpenters & house builders—working with wood and creating things came naturally. His first wholesale account was written in 1979 and by 1985, Rainville had selected Maple Landmark Woodcraft as the name of his company, paying homage to his grandparent’s farm and maple sugaring business—Maple Landmark Homestead.
After graduating in 1984, from Clarkson University with a degree in engineering and business management, Mike began construction on his first shop—a 3-story, 3,500 square foot facility—with the help of his grandfather.
In 1987, Maple Landmark acquired Troll’s Toy Workshop of Barnet, Vermont. Troll’s Toy Workshop’s biggest asset was a “letter” line of cars, which evolved into the NameTrains™, in 1994. The release of the NameTrains™ established new accounts nationwide and lead to a 75% increase in sales. The search was on for a new location to better accommodate the growth.
The construction of a new 6,400 square-foot factory and showroom, located in Middlebury, VT, was completed in February 1996. An additional 8,500 square-feet of space was added in 2000. Maple Landmark acquired Montgomery Schoolhouse Toys, of Montgomery, Vermont, in 2001. Montgomery Schoolhouse was founded in the early 70’s and had a faithful retailer following but wasn’t able to keep up with the emerging competition and the changes in production/manufacturing strategies.
A redoubling of efforts to stay Vermont-made gave birth to the Schoolhouse Naturals product line in 2008. The Schoolhouse Naturalsâ¢ products blend the use of laser technology, locally-harvested materials and fine craftsmanship to make uncoated products that are geared for children ages 3 and under. “In light of recalls and the backlash against products made overseas, we wanted to give our customers and store owners as many choices a possible,” commented Rainville. “Children 3 and under are very oral—everything goes in the mouth, so no coatings on the product has become a popular option.” Schoolhouse Naturals were on the leading edge of the “green” toy movement; Maple Landmark didn’t have to change or adapt processes, materials or machinery—being green and American made all along.
In recent years, product development has been strong emphasized. “In our product development, we first look for the “holes” in our lines, trends and even our scraps to see if there are ways to fill those holes, grab on to a trend or use scraps,” said Jayne Cousino, Product Development Team member. Cousino went on to say, “there are very few ideas that are completely disregarded; some things may get put on the back burner for a while. The Product Development team is especially proud of the new award-winning block set series that was introduced at the 2016 winter shows. To date the series includes a Nativity Set, Farm Set, Mission 1 Space Set, Noah’s Ark, Castle and Village Block set.
Beyond the traditional toys, gifts and games sales, Maple Landmark has also found growth in its’ custom work—tap handles for nationally known breweries, candle lids, and the newest project for the devoted b-b-q’er. All of these private label-brand projects have helped to fund a building addition. 11,000 square feet of production space was completed in November. The addition gives more space for product, machinery, and the opportunity to hire more craftspeople. More space will also mean that products will move smoother through the system reducing internal production costs. “We are really excited about the space. Our shop is like a home, sometimes the family just gets too big to say in a one-bedroom apartment. It’s just a bit too cozy,” comments Pat Rainville, Finish Room Supervisor.
For more information on Maple Landmark or their products, visit the website at www.maplelandmark.com.