MORRISON – A Morrison native has started a company that makes wooden toys meant to be handed down through generations.
But he’s not stopping there.
He’ll make everything in America, using only American materials. He wants to create distribution jobs in his hometown.
And his toys also are intended to keep people from buying cheap, plastic toys that clutter up landfills.
Now he just needs some money – $92,000, to be exact.
Chris Huizenga is using kickstarter.com to raise funds to get Noble Toy Co. off the ground. By Thursday, he’d raised $7,130.
He must reach his goal by the morning of Oct. 25, though, or he won’t see a dime of it.
Entrepreneurs using kickstarter set their own fundraising goals and deadlines, but they must reach them in order to receive any pledged funds. Huizenga gave himself 30 days.
Noble laser-etches images into the wood of its toys, creating “a lot of rich detail,” he said.
The toys are intended for children ages 2 to 10 – and, eventually, for their children.
“We wanted to create something that when the child outgrows it, Mom and Dad put it in a box and it resurfaces in 30 years – heirloom toys,” he said. “To be able to give that to your child or your grandchildren is a neat experience. We’re going for shared experiences.”
Huizenga, 34, is an adjunct professor at Columbia College, Chicago, where he teaches a class on using social media to influence groups. He graduated from Morrison High School in 1996, and has lived in Chicago for 12 years.
Money raised on kickstarter will pay for mandatory testing on toys that are sold and will fund promotions and the company’s website design, he said.
Huizenga has been working with Chicago graphic designers and design firms that are making prototypes, he said. He might hire more graphic designers and illustrators in Chicago, but he wants to start distributing in Morrison because “the work ethic here is nowhere near what it is there.”
Huizenga already has received a lot of support from his hometown and from Chi-town, he said.
“I’m humbled that we’ve had people reach out and offer financial support and friendly emails,” he said. “It’s been great.”
All of Noble’s toys are made in Vermont and Ohio using only materials that are made in America, Huizenga said. Sticking to his principles has not been easy, he said.
“It was like beating your head against a wall trying to find manufacturers in the United States,” he said. “Other companies have traded their communities for profit. There’s still a workmanship quality to be had right here in America, and a work ethic. You just have to dig for it.”
Huizenga said he hopes to start distributing the toys by December from Clockwork Realty, 113 E. Main St. His father, Allan Huizenga, owns the realty office, which has a back room with about 500 square feet and a separate entrance.
The distribution operation probably will start as a family effort, and others likely will be hired as needed, Allan Huizenga said.
“It’s really an exciting adventure. He’s gung-ho on the thing.”
Corinne Bender is administrator of Morrison Chamber of Commerce.
Distribution jobs “would be great for Morrison,” she said.
Morrison native Chris Huizenga is raising funds on kickstarter.com so he can continue to make heirloom-quality wooden toys, which he wants to distribute from Morrison.
Go to noble-toys.com or call 312-804-1252 for more information on the company.