Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We had fun with some puzzles over the weekend when the family and I were visiting relatives. My daughter and her uncle started to argue over who was better at putting together puzzles. My brother in law (the uncle) is never one to back down from a challenge. Neither is my daughter.

So we found a 100pc puzzle (LPF, of course) and had a contest.

Each person started with the puzzle in the box, out of the bag, and with the lid half way up the base. The clock started when the lid came off. Uncle B went first. My daughter was sent to another room so she could not gleam any hints. This uncle is in his 30's and has 2 kids. He has been doing puzzles with his kids recently. When he was finished his time was a rather slow 20 minutes 28 seconds. He got a little side tracked looking for a final edge piece instead of just moving on to the middle. Apparently, he was convinced the key was to do the edge and work his way in.

My daughter went next. She knew the time to beat, so that was a slight advantage. Her strategy involved flipping the pieces right side up and sorting them into groups by color. It took her a little time to get started, but when she finally got the sorting completed, she was off to the races. She posted a blistering time of 12 minutes 8 seconds.

Others in the family gave it a try as well, but no one else came close to the 12 minute mark.

I wonder if any of you have ever had a puzzle race? It was fun and will probably be part of our get togethers in the future.

Send me your best times or other contest suggestions using puzzles. LPF puzzles, of course.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

While we enjoy our families and friends, we remember those who are not with us today.

The day is off to a great start. Last night was church and a beautiful dinner. Santa made it overnight and the kids are already trying out their new toys.

I hope everyone who reads this blog has a wonderful day and enjoys all that it brings.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The holidays are right around the corner. Lots of family activities, food, church, and presents.

But LPF has been humming right up all through December and even over the holidays work will not stop. One of the biggest trade shows of the year happens in Hong Kong in January. I will be leaving on Jan 4 for the show. We have redone our catalog, added products, and been busy making appointments for the show. Our showroom will be a the Grand Stanford hotel again. Only this year we have the showroom for 7 days (last year we only had it for 4 days). The extra days reflect the fact we have more appointments this year.

The good news is that most of our work was completed yesterday. Now it is just a matter of making sure it all arrives at the showroom and gets set up. It will take us a whole day just to set up.

So if you are planning on being in Hong Kong the first two weeks of January, drop me a note and lets set up a time for me to show you our lines. We have something for everyone.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last weekend before Christmas. The mall in town is packed today. Lots of people out and about, even though it is snowing.

We have done all our christmas shopping. Maybe a few little things, but the kids main gifts are bought and will be ready for them come Friday.

My family will be arriving in town on Tuesday evening and then the holidays will really start.

The good and bad news is that I am having a hard time finding LPF puzzles in town. The stock levels are down and it is obvious that people have responded positvely to our puzzles. I just wish we had more on the shelves so everyone who wants one could find one. Don't worry, we are shipping more to help refill shelves after the holidays.

Also, I want to thank all those folks who have written me in the last few weeks with kind words about our puzzles. I really do enjoy hearing from folks. Especially when they tell me a little bit about themselves and why they bought a particular puzzle. I do listen and it helps us as we continue to add to our lines.

Quick explanation - I recently discovered that YouTube is a great source for music. Seems like every song and artist is on there. ITunes is fine if you want to buy a song, but they only let you hear a 30 sec clip of the song. On YouTube you can find the whole song.

Which leads me to this video. I have loved the song currently playing in the background of Cadillacs new commercial. It has a great beat and sound. I found it on YouTube. I is a great song to get your blood pumping. Enjoy.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It was my birthday yesterday. I love my birthday. Always have. Always will.

The day was particularly good. The kids wished me happy birthday before they left for school. I did some work in the morning. After lunch, I met up with my wife and we did some Christmas shopping and other errands together. For dinner we had Skyline chili on noodles. My favorite! I have been trying to watch what I eat, so it was particularly nice to throw caution to the wind and pig out a bit.

After dinner I went and heard Matt Painter, the coach of the Purdue Mens basketball team speak. He is a very entertaining speaker. His passion for the game of basketball is obvious. He not only can speak about Purdue and the Big Ten, but he is tuned into to all of Div 1 basketball. The man is a basketball junkie. Gene Keady was there too, which made it extra special. The two of them should develop a stand up act and tour the country.

So I wake up this morning feeling a little bit older. But I am also feeling motivated. The future looks bright. I would not change a thing about the previous 42 years. And the next 42 will be even better.



Friday, December 11, 2009

The hardest part of running a company is dealing with time. Time pressures can take on any number of forms.

1) Not enough time. Every minute is important and we do not want to miss any opportunity. This is why I fly to HK for 3 days, fly home and drive 6 hours round trip the next day for a sale meeting, then fly to Canada for 2 days the next day. Yes, its exhausting, but it also allows me to understand the goals of our customers. I learn about what makes their customers unique. And then we can make product that will maximize the retailers goals for its consusmers.

2) Focusing on different time horizons. This last week, I made decisions within each of these time horizons.

  • Immediate: Daily or weekely - watching and analyzing our daily and weekly POS data from products selling at stores right now. Shipping products daily.

  • Intermediate: This week thru the next few months - taking and producing orders that ship from now into the next 6 monhts.

  • 2 to 6 months from now - introducing, selling and quoting our new lines that would start appearing in stores next Summer and Fall,

  • Future - looking at new licenses and artists that we would develop into new puzzle and other toy lines. These issues will not start appearing in stores until 2011
3) World time zones - We sell our puzzles all around the world. Like the old British Empire, it seems that the sun never sets on an LPF puzzle. But it also means that I have distributors and partners who are awake when I am suppose to be asleep. So I find myself doing a lot of meetings from the phone in the kitchen at night. Some times this works to my advantage. I can ask someone to complete a task at 5:00pm my time in Lafayette. When I get up in the morning, the task is complete. The person who did it was not up all night. The work was part of their normal day. Anyone doing business internationally knows what I am talking about.

In thinking about this post, I thought of this song from a long time ago.

Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin' into the future. - Steve Miller Band



Thursday, December 10, 2009


I am not sure how to embed a YouTube video. Can anyone help?

Anyway, I found this little Christmas song to be something as a parent I can relate to.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I used to work for a puzzle company before I started out on my own. Our offices and factory were in a building that was built in the 1800's. Legend had it that they used to make wagon wheels in the factory. Later they built old fashion gas pumps. Sometime in the early 1900's, they made hat boxes and sold them to hat stores in Chicago. Hat boxes led to puzzles and since about the 1920's, the factory made puzzles.

Today that building is being turned into condos. It is really remarkable to think that people will be living in a building that only a few years ago was a noisy and dusty factory that employed almost 150 people. The building is brick and has huge wood beams inside. The floors are wood on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The buiding is well built and has a lot of history.

I am sure the units are really neat inside. As I understand it, each unit is 3 stories and highlight the architectural details of the building. Walls and beams are exposed. It has to be the most interesting interiors for a condo in Lafayette. I believe the first folks have already moved in.

I think having worked in the building, I could never live there. It would be too strange to know that where your kitchen is located used to be a die cutter or a lamination machine. Obviously, anyone moving in now only sees the high ceilings, wood floors, and exposed brick wall. But I would see the ghosts of over 100 years of manufacturing.

I love hearing from people who buy and enjoy our jigsaw puzzles. It really does make the day that much nicer when I get an e-mail from someone who particularly enjoyed one of our puzzles.

Just last week I had a nice conversation with a woman from the midwest. Puzzles and shoes are her hobby (I think she actually said shoes first and then puzzles). Puzzles are her way to relax. Living on a fixed income she recognized what a good entertainment value a puzzle provided. With the price of movies and books rising every time you look around, it is hard to find an entertaining activity that is affordable. But puzzles provide the entertainment.

As a person who has been doing puzzles for many years, I have never understood the appeal of very, very difficult or impossible puzzles. I do not see how it can be enjoyable (or a good value) to be stumped by a puzzle. In my opinion, for a puzzle to be enjoyable and relaxing it must be solvable. It might take some time and concentration (and a good lamp for light as I get older), but I want to finish the puzzle. It can't be too easy. But it has be realistic.

Those of your that do super hard puzzles (Buffalo Games has a line of Impossible Puzzles - they are sort of known for that line) tell me the appeal. And what makes a puzzle really difficult. Is it the die lines, the image (or lack of image), the colors (or lack of colors). Help me understand.