Friday, March 27, 2009

It has been a wild month for me. I feel as though I have been traveling constantly all month. The reaction to our products has been outstanding and I have had lots of follow up meetings.

I apologize for the lack of posts. I like using the blog as an outlet. I often type these late at night in hotel rooms or at my house. Its quiet and I can think without interruption. Often, the topics come to me as the day gets quiet.

This week was sad around the house. Our cat of 17 years died. He was a great cat. He and his siter were strays that my wife and her mother rescued when he was a new born kitten. He has moved with my wife and I at least 7 times. He hated the car and would howl the whole way from place to place. But he loved our kids and all the affection they gave him, he gave back plus some.

He will be missed. He was sick the last few months and was so brave. He went blind about 6 weeks ago. He still got around by remembering the lay out of the house and feeling with his whiskers and paws. He still knew when and where to beg for a scrap from dinner. And could always find the sun rays coming through the windows.

It will take awhile to get used to him not being around. He could hear me making a ham sandwich from anywhere in the house. Today, when I made my sandwich, it felt weird to not hear him running looking for a taste.

Thanks Simpson (and Sheba) for being such great family members. You will be missed, but we have happy memories (and great videos) of your time with us.


UPDATE 6/16/2009: Neither cat was named after any person living or dead. They were named by my wife in the summer of 1992.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I have mentioned before that I spend a lot of time in the puzzle aisle when I am out shopping. I meet the most interesting people. People who are really passionate about jigsaw puzzles. They know what they like and spend the time to find the right puzzles.

I often give these people my business card and ask them to call or e-mail additional comments. By now, I have quite a focus group of people who check in fairly regularly.

Their feedback is invaluable, although often they call with complaints about other puzzle companies products. Lately, I have been hearing about boxes that are poorly made (and fall apart so that the puzzles can not be restored in them), do not stand up properly when empty making it difficult to refer to the box lid, and pictures on the lid that do not match the picture on the actual puzzle.

I love these types of calls and e-mail. I forward them on or summarize them to the rest of the team. I want us to remember that the experience the puzzler has with our product is critical to our success. Too often I have seen companies spend too much time looking internally, and not paying attention to how consumers interact with their products. Being new and small makes it easier for us to respond to consumers likes and dislikes.

So keep the comments and thoughts coming. We really do listen.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

As the toy show season is winding down, we are busier than ever. Retailers are already placing orders for next year. Other retailers are still making decisions and we are hustling with follow up information and samples. The days are busy and we are even working the weekends.

Obviously, some items in our catalog have generated more interest than others. But, I am pleasantly surprised at how broad the appeal of our lines has been. Last summer when we were putting the finishing touches on the line, we obviously liked every item that made it into our catalog. But to see the response has been incredibly exciting.

We have already started production on several lines and others will go into production in the next few weeks. In another month or so we will making sure everyone knows exactly where to buy our puzzles.

Now, if Spring weather would only come to Lafayette, all would be perfect. I want to start opening the windows in the office.