02/10/2010 - Release at Will

From Simple Beginnings...

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 in Upstate New York with a degree in engineering and business management, Mike began construction on his new 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 Lincoln shop became too small for the thriving company and the search began for a new location with space to grow.

The location was found in Middlebury, by February 1996, Maple Landmark moved into the new 6,400-square-foot facility and showroom. 8,500 square-foot more of space was added in 2000.

In the spring of 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.

With the introduction of the Timber Toots,™and the acquisition of the Hampton Direct's "Educational Birthday Card" line, Maple Landmark continued to move forward. The Timber Toots™ were recognized as one of the 16 best toys by The Great American Toy Test for 2003-2004. And the "Educational Birthday Cards" allowed Maple Landmark to branch out into other markets giving more opportunities for growth.

2006 brought about substantial additions to the Maple Landmark product mix. The release of the pastel NameTrains™ opened up new markets in the baby décor segment giving stores and consumers more options. The Made By Me™ products were also added during 2006. 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." Since 2006, two other Made By Me™ shapes have been added—race car and ladybug—and business continues to grow for the product line, finding niches in a variety of different markets.

Continually changing with technological advances has allowed Maple Landmark to stay fresh and competitive. New lasers and inkjet printers have allowed for 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. The inkjets have made it possible for Make Landmark to enter into licensing agreements with RJM Licensing for Guess How Much I Love You and Maisy. Duplicating watercolor artwork like the Guess How Much I Love You would be impossible without the new inkjet process.

2008 saw a redoubling of efforts to make the best use of the technology, local materials and finish options allowing for the creation of the Schoolhouse Naturals product line. The Schoolhouse Naturals™ products blend the use of laser technology, locally harvested materials and fine craftsmanship to make toys that are geared for ages 3 and under and are completely free of imposing finishes. "In light of all the recalls, and although we are completely non-toxic and child safe we wanted to give our customers as many choices a possible," commented Rainville. The introduction of the Schoolhouse Naturals line not only met consumer demand but also opened up the growing natural/green products market.

As the green trend continued, Maple Landmark worked to expand 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 this years product offerings we anticipate another strong year for the line," said owner Michael Rainville.

30+ years of forward thinking, meeting consumers needs and the subsequent growth illustrates that Mike's entrepreneurial style is not just about the proverbial cash cow but instead about quality of life for employees, good value for the money, carefully crafted products, a long term commitment to the community and a value system that Mike's grandfathers can be proud of.

For more information on Maple Landmark products please visit our website at www.maplelandmark.com.

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

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