Bill Pine, owner of The Original Tree Swing was one of the first people to give Founder Goods a shot. I remember coming across his site and loving the quality of his products. Among other things, The Original Tree Swing makes swings from Ash wood and slings shots from sturdy Buckthorn branches found around Minneapolis, Minnesota. I asked Bill Pine how he came into manufacturing swings and this was his answer…
“It was summer, my girls were still little then and my son was just a baby. As a single father, I didn't have a lot of money to spend on summer camps or vacations so we tried to stay close to home. We had an old oak tree in our back yard with strong spreading branches that were perfect for a swing. So one morning the girls and I set out to make one. Like most hot summer days spent with three children under the age of six, this day was filled with a lot of pestering, some whining, some fussing and a fair bit of tattling. Until our swing was done that is; I hung it from a high branch and almost before the knot was tied the girls were on it and suddenly everything was right in the world. It sounds silly I know but like the sun coming out from behind the clouds the whining was replaced with laughter, the fussing with shouts of joy, and the tattling with love. I sat down on the porch and watched the girls taking turns pushing each other on the swing while my son played in the grass at my feet. For the first time, in a long time things felt right.
Just about every activity that summer somehow involved that swing and I don't know when exactly it happened but the girls were swinging as usual and one said “daddy you should make swings and sell um.” I didn’t even have to think about it. It just felt so right that we decided to give it a try. We bought some more rope and wood and made a dozen swings to take down to the farmers market to sell.
We sold out that very first day. Before long we had rented a booth and hung a swing from the rafters. We spent every Saturday and Sunday morning down at the farmers market nestled between the fruit and vegetable stalls. Children stood in line to take turns swinging while the adults gathered around watching. Most with far off looks in their eyes reminiscing with each other about the swing they had at their cabin, or their grandparents house, or their backyards when they had been kids. It was then we came up with our tag line “Helping to create memories that will last a lifetime”. We sold a lot of swings that summer.
That was almost 14 years ago now. Things have changed a lot in that time. The girls are getting ready to graduate high school and it seems like my son grows an inch almost every night. Our little business has grown and changed too. We found a local company that uses trees the city cuts down (and would otherwise turn into wood chips.) and mills them into useable lumber. We moved our little shop out of a garage and into a big warehouse. We bought larger woodworking equipment and even built our own kiln to dry the wood. Before long we were making an entire line of classic toys and selling them to people and stores all over the world.
Something’s though have stayed the same. Our desire to share that experience we had that first summer and our hope to help create memories that will last a lifetime.”
Why USA? “I attribute a large part of our success to our focus on providing amazing customer service and building relationships. Relationships, not just with our customers but most importantly with our retail partners and suppliers. Since our start six years ago we have strived to shorten our supply chain; sourcing our materials from as close to home a possible. The financial benefits of this decision are obvious but the real reward comes from the amazing relationships we have forged with other small businesses. Watching these other businesses grow as our business grows, seeing the impact of our dollars first hand has been extremely rewarding. The benefits to sourcing and manufacturing in the US far out weigh the cost savings of outsourcing. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Manufactured in Minneapolis, Minnesota: Minneapolis lies on both banks of the Mississippi River, just north of the river's confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Saint Paul, the state's capital. The city is abundantly rich in water, with twenty lakes and wetlands, the Mississippi River, creeks and waterfalls, many connected by parkways in the Chain of Lakes and the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. It was once the world's flour milling capital and a hub for timber, and today is the primary business center between Chicago and Seattle.