Concept To Catalog: How The Ideas Become Reality
One of the frequently asked questions we get at Maple Landmark is “Where do your ideas come from?” Great question - the simple answer is “We come up with them!”
Allow us to explain:
We have a product development committee that meets every week. Committee members come from various areas of the company, from sales to graphics, from the wood shop to the finish room. We have designed the committee this way so that an idea gets feedback from various areas of the production process. While an idea might sound cool and exciting, it is important to make sure that it fits our manufacturing process. Just because a super-groovy idea does not fit our production process does not mean it will not get made, however. It simply means that we need to re-think the idea so that it can flow through the shop. In addition to production flow, we always consider efficiency and product safety.
Ideas for products can come from anywhere. Our Deep-Water Sea Life puzzle came about because one of the committee members watched a nature documentary about what lurks in ocean depths where the sun does not shine. Inspired by these zany and bizarre creatures, the notion for a Lift and Learn puzzle was put forth and it soon became a part of the product line. Another committee member recalled watching her grandfather play a game where, one at a time, a stack of discs of various sizes were to be moved from one location to another without ever having a larger disc on top of a smaller one. After a little research, Pharaoh’s Pyramid became a staple game in that area of our product mix.
Not all ideas are generated from within, however. We do listen to our customers when they present ideas. A notable example of this was when a customer asked if we could make outdoor wind spinners. Their supplier was no longer making them, and they were hoping we could help. We batted the idea around the table and hit on the fact that certain pieces of scrap wood generated from the NameTrains line could be used to make a wind spinner. With a little time and effort, we pulled from our "waste" steam and produced a functioning prototype. The graphics department then took over and generated a clever set of artwork to go on each side of the wind spinners so that, when fanned out, the movement created a pretty piece of backyard décor. The recent addition of a hummingbird design was requested from a member of our production staff and, just weeks later, it became a part of the line.
Whether an idea comes from inside or outside our shop, if it is creative, functional, and can be efficiently made, it can find its way into our yearly catalog and join our ever-growing product line.