Three years of manufacturing success and expansion
In 2013, Jim Barber, a Danbury local, founded his business, Luke’s Toy Factory, together with his son Luke. The idea was simple: to create better, safer toys for children using eco-friendly materials and state of the art manufacturing, all produced in the United States instead of China, where 85% of children’s toys are currently made. These toys encourage social interaction and pretend play, both critical steps in a child’s development process.
Today, a mere three years after they first began to research their toys, Jim and Luke’s products can be found in over 150 stores across the country. They are now offered by national online retailers such as The Grommet, Uncommon Goods and more. Their innovative and family friendly toys have also been the subject of critical acclaim, having been awarded the prestigious Family Choice Award for Preschool Toys, and placing as a finalist in INC Magazine’s Design Awards.
Throughout this whirlwind of success, Jim has been committed to showing the world what the United States is capable of. Whenever possible, they source their supplies locally, citing American partners in design software, 3D printers, mold makers, packaging and injection molding production. Their raw materials are compounded in the Midwest, using reclaimed sawdust from furniture factories along with certified safe, clean plastic pellets. By using this material, wood plastic composites (WPC), up to 30% of the plastic can be removed from toys. Luke’s Toy Factory is the first toy company to use this material in such high concentrations, and is taking the lead in research and development of using WPC for injection molding.
Keeping it local, Luke’s Toy Factory has worked with their Connecticut Small Business Development Center business advisor, Nelson Merchan, since 2014 to help grow their business. “When we met with Nelson Merchan, he was immediately helpful, giving us advice on funding, best business practices, even practical advice on packaging,” Jim shared. “He even researched and brought samples and ideas from other packaging that helped us craft our packages.”
CTSBDC’s business advisors are always committed to helping Connecticut entrepreneurs grow their small businesses and achieve their goals. Luke’s Toy Factory can prove that Nelson regularly went above and beyond the call of duty for the sake of their small business.
Our local CTSBDC contact, Nelson Merchan, is an energetic, thoughtful and well-informed resource for our business. He is always enthusiastic, with a constant supply of information that seems to show up at just the right time. Nelson knows what it takes to start a successful business, and is there every step of the way. – Jim Barber, Founder of Luke’s Toy Factory