Danbury Toy Makers Win National Exposure

by Dirk Perrefort | Feb. 2, 2016

Luke Barber, left, and his father, James Barber, right, the founders of Danbury based Luke’s Toy Factory attend a Small Business Development Center event this week in Washington D.C. Their company was one of less than a dozen from throughout the United States who were invited to attend the event. (Photo: Contributed)

DANBURY — The founders of a local toy company were among 10 businesses nationally invited this week to attend a gathering of entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C.

Luke and James Barber, the founders of locally based Luke’s Toy Factory, were selected to participate in the Small Business Development Center’s annual congressional showcase held at the U.S. Capitol on Monday. The company was formed by the father and son team after a successful Kickstarter campaign two years ago that raised $15,000. Today, the company has its toys in more than 170 stores throughout the United States.

“It’s amazing that we were invited to come here and we are really honored by it,” said James Barber. “They’ve been really impressed with the success we’ve achieved so far. At this point we’re not overwhelmed, but we are selling everything we can build.”

Barber said he was surprised to see one of the company’s red firetrucks sitting on the shelf of U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s office when he visited with her this week.

“It was really nice to see,” Barber said. “She’s been really supportive of our efforts.”

When Esty toured the factory last year, she said the Barbers are meeting the needs of American families while supporting American manufacturing.

“As a mother of three, I wanted to make sure that the toys I bought were safe, and I wanted to buy toys made in America,” she said. “With recent high-profile recalls of unsafe toys, parents are looking for locally made, safe toys. Luke’s Toy Factory is meeting that need.”

Jim Barber packs a shipment at the East Liberty Street warehouse. (Photo: H. John Voorhees III)

Barber and his son have been producing toy trucks made from a composite recycled material that uses plastic and sawdust. The toys have interchangeable parts that children can take apart and put back together. The Barbers started the company with the goal of returning toy manufacturing to the United States.

“When I was going through my son’s old toys, I noticed that most of them were made in China,” Barber said. “I knew that we could do better than that.”

Nelson Merchan, a local adviser with the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, said it’s exciting to have a Danbury business owner represent the state at the Washington, D.C., event.

“They have a very unique offering that is environmentally friendly and made in the United States,” he said.

Besides getting a chance to network with federal lawmakers this week, the entrepreneurs are also looking forward to attending the upcoming annual Toy Fair in New York City this month where many retailers start their planning and purchasing for the next holiday season.

“We weren’t ready for the fair last year, but if you want to be considered for the holiday season, it’s where you have to be,” he said. “Our goal at this point is to really focus on the smaller-end retailer. We are also looking into the possibility of exporting our products outside of the United States into Germany and Canada.”

With more than 13,000 buyers from throughout the United States attending the Toy Fair, Barber said he hopes to make some deals.

“We’re looking forward to a very exciting year,” Barber said.

Luke Barber drills holes as he constructs a toy truck. (Photo: H. John Voorhees III)

Originally posted at http://www.ctpost.com/business/article/Danbury-toy-makers-win-national-exposure-6801639.php by Dirk Perrefort in the CT Post, “Danbury Toy Makers Win National Exposure”. Published on Feb. 2, 2016, Accessed on Feb. 4, 2016.

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