05/02/2012 - For Immediate Release

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, Rainville worked for himself making wooden products. Now, more than thirty years later, Mike has turned his hobby into a multi million-dollar company.

Rainville's company began, in the basement of his parents' home in Lincoln, Vermont. Having plenty of wood and tools around—both of his grandfathers were carpenters and house builders—working with wood and creating things came naturally. His first wholesale account was written in 1979 and by 1985, Rainville had selected on Maple Landmark Woodcraft after the family farm and maple sugaring business—Maple Landmark Homestead, as the name of his company.

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, 3500 square foot facility—with the help of his grandfather.

In 1987, Maple Landmark acquired Troll's Toy Workshop of Barnet, Vermont. Rainville's dedication to crafting quality products made the transition from one owner to another easier. Troll's Toy Workshops' biggest asset was a "letter" line of cars, through product evolution the "letter cars" became 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 facility and showroom was completed in February 1996. An additional 8,500 square-feet of space was added in 2000. With two smaller internal additions completed in 2001 and 2008 respectively.

In 2001, Maple Landmark acquired Montgomery Schoolhouse Toys of Montgomery, Vermont, the long time purveyor of high quality, highly designed wooden toys. Montgomery Schoolhouse Toys had difficulty keeping up with changes in production technology, consumer demands and business strategies, however, Rainville did not want to see the Montgomery Schoolhouse brand name or products disappear. Rainville worked to keep the traditional Montgomery Schoolhouse products alive by streamlining production, applying the use of technology and creating new designs. New items like the hobby horse and MY Train™ bookends were perfect blends of classic Montgomery Schoolhouse products and the new techniques of Maple Landmark.

2006 brought about more substantial additions to the Maple Landmark product mix. The release of the pastel colored NameTrains™ opened the baby décor segment and gave consumers more options. The largest product impact came with the introduction of the Made By Me™ products. Simplistic kits that allowed children as young as 3 to create a tugboat, train, tractor, or truck. Perfect for birthday parties, craft days or a rainy day. "The concept of the Made By Me™ actually came out of requests from the local community for us to do a craft at their events," stated Rainville, "we found parents were willing to buy the Made By Me's and a product line was born." Two other Made By Me™ shapes have been added since—race car and ladybug—and business continues to grow as a variety of outlets have found Made By Me's the perfect fit for their events.

Continually changing with technological advances has allowed Maple Landmark to stay fresh and competitive. The use of lasers and inkjet printers have allowed for product development and expansion of several product lines.

Lasers with cutting capabilities have opened up opportunities to create products with more intricate detailing such as the Solace™ as well the ability to make jigsaw puzzles. The inkjets have made more projects viable as well. With the right technology, Make Landmark was able to enter into licensing agreements with RJM Licensing for Guess How Much I Love You, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Maisy. Watercolor and colored pencil artwork like the Guess How Much I Love You and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel was impossible to duplicate before the inkjet process.

A redoubling of efforts to make the best use of the technology, local materials and finish options allowed for the creation of the Schoolhouse Naturals product line in 2008. The Schoolhouse Naturals™ products blend the use of laser technology, locally harvested materials and fine craftsmanship to make unfinished products that are geared for children ages 3 and under. "In light of all the recalls, and although we are completely non-toxic and child safe already, 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 finishes on the product is the right thing to do." Schoolhouse Naturals were on the leading edge of the "green" toy movement because Maple Landmark didn't have to change or adapt processes, materials or machinery. Being green right along. Maple Landmark also joined Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility as well as the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership. Both organizations promote high quality business practices with an eye on what is right.

As the "green" trend continued, Maple Landmark expanded the Schoolhouse Natural line in 2009. "We have seen our biggest growth in the Schoolhouse Naturals and by adding the Mini Monsters, Teethers, and Simple ABC Blocks to the product offerings, we anticipate another strong year for the line," said owner Michael Rainville.

2010 saw a few new products including the long sought after chess set, make believe swords and the award-winning Teach & Play Tiles. All of the new products have been received well. Internally, the focus was on what factory processes and procedures work the best and how can those processes and procedures be adapted in other areas of production. These changes in the process allowed for better inventory management, greater efficiencies in manpower, and a continuation of timely deliveries and quality customer service.

Going into the 32nd year of business, Maple Landmark will continue forward thinking both in production and product and meeting the consumer's needs and continuing to be America's Wooden Toy Company.

For more information, visit the website at www.maplelandmark.com..

Contact: Barbara Rainville • 800-421-4223
Images available for download, please contact us.

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