Thursday, January 20, 2011

I have written in the past about why folks like to assemble puzzles.
  • Its an affordable, relaxing activity.
  • There is a sense of challenge while putting the pieces together and a sense of accomplishment when the last piece goes in.
  • It can be a shared activity with the whole family gathered around or a solitary activity.
I hear from folks who have their favorite images and they put them together over and over. Others glue the puzzle and save it. Or display it on the wall. Others do a puzzle once and give it to some one else to assemble. Or they just put it away in a closet.

But why do we make puzzles? Why do we sell them. Why do we look at thousands and thousands of images to find the perfect puzzle image?

Like the reason why folks assemble puzzles, the reasons and motivations are many.

I have always liked puzzles. I grew up in a house that assembled puzzles. I can distinctly remember a 500pc puzzle of a hamburger that we put together as a family many times. I still pull that puzzle out of the closet and assemble it. It brings back wonderful memories. When I had a chance to work for a company that manufactured puzzles, I knew I had found a home. And then later when I decided to start my own company, puzzles were something I knew about and had a passion for.

Puzzles allow me to earn a living and provide employment for others. Everyone works to earn a living. I am blessed that I am able to have a career that I enjoy and can earn a living. No one ever got rich making and selling puzzles, but it allows me to provide for my kids and family. And we employ other people and companies. In addition to the obvious people like artists, photographers, graphic designers, accountants, shipping experts, and quality control people, we do business with a wide array of companies including the US Postal Service, Fed Ex, UPS, Office Max, trucking companies and more. That is satisfying.

We provide affordable entertainment to people. I never realized how much this would mean to me. To be honest, when I started the Lafayette Puzzle Factory, the money reasons were what I thought about most. But as folks have written me letters and e-mails, I realize how many families are positively impacted by our puzzles. Some of the letters are sad. Puzzles remind them of places they traveled with loved ones no longer with us. I heard from a person recently who loved an image we have of Niagara Falls because they had honeymooned there 50+ years ago. Another letter told us about a man who has been diagnosised with Ahlzheimer's disease. This is a disease that hits home for me in a very personal way. The man described in the letter found peace in assemblying puzzles of places he had visited in his life. While many of his memories were fading, puzzles were triggering something. This person and their spouse could do puzzles together and still connect. Puzzles take peoples mind off of hard economic times, illness and loneliness.

The letters and notes keep coming. I read some of them recently to our team to remind them that the puzzles we sell are not just numbers on shipping reports. Each one goes into a home. Each one is used and enjoyed by real people in their homes.

So when we are looking for new images and thinking up new formats, we remember this. And it motivates us to take a few extra minutes to look a little deeper for that great image. We debate a few minutes longer to make sure the images that make it into our lines are the best we can find. And even when we think we have found all the greatest images, we know that we need to keep looking. And we do.

Keep on puzzling!