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Efficiency, the Environment and Flat Pack

May 22, 2012 3 min read

Assembling a Walker's Wagon is easy on you and the Environment!

What do we mean by “efficiency”? We mean efficiency from the time of shipment, to the product’s destination. We have seen first hand how difficult it is shipping assembled products. We did it for nearly 18 years. Our wooden kitchens, wooden dollhouses, and other wooden toys created a sizeable problem for all the major shipping companies. Most trucks were not set up for large, assembled products, packed with considerable air space within and around them. The shelves in the trucks were made for nice, compact, easy to lift and sort, packages.  “How many today?” the driver would ask, as he attempted to wrestle in the large boxes of wooden play kitchens. We used to watch in awe, as he would shuffle all the packages in the truck around to make room for as many as he could hold. The solution was always the same. Call for one or two more trucks. Efficient? It didn’t look like it. The truck couldn’t hold any more, but because of the size and shapes of the boxes, it sure wasn’t full. Who in the end is paying for the cost of this half-full truck traveling all across the country, half-full of air space? Who is paying for the gasoline of this half-full truck while it sits in heavy traffic with the engine running? Who pays for the second and third half-full truck? Doesn’t this double or triple the negative impact that shipping has on the environment? 

Anyone who runs a business knows that pricing is dictated by what it costs that company to operate. Efficiency is everything. If what we are doing in the shipping process isn’t efficient, then who is to blame for the ever-rising costs of moving product from one destination to another? We could blame the major shipping companies, the governor, a state representative, or our neighbor.  If we are not efficient in our business, everyone pays—not just one person—because our pricing is dictated by our costs. We decided that shipping an assembled product line was not an efficient way of doing our business.

This is when we began a two-year journey to re-design our entire product line into a flat-pack product line. The results were positive. More real product filling the trucks. Less shipping of air space around the product.  Fewer trucks and less gasoline. Less manpower to deal with our products. Less negative impact on the environment. To us, this was a positive move towards more efficient shipping of our product line and a positive thing for future generations who will live with the decisions that you and I make today.

Now we ship an unassembled product line, with clear and simple, easy-to-follow instructions for you to assemble in your home.  Now we are doing live assembly videos for each product in our line. This does not completely take care of this problem, but it is a start. 

It would be nice if everything could always come all nicely assembled and just the way we like it, but those days are quickly fading away. Our pocket books can’t take it, and neither can the environment. We all need to give a little in this effort. We ask you to do a little assembly. It can be a very rewarding experience and children love to watch it happen!

You don’t have to look far into the future to see the end of shipping assembled products. Our available resources just can’t take it. It would be wonderful if I could have a little toy shop right here where I live, have people come here, buy a wooden kitchen, and take it home in a horse and buggy. Since that won’t be happening, we decided flat-pack was for us. Whoever your wood worker is, see if they will flat-pack. We think it just makes sense.

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Our company, Elves and Angels Inc., has been handcrafting this solid wood product line for 24 years. When we began in 1988 and first went to theNew York Toy Fair, there was hardly a children's kitchen anywhere to be found.  Since then, we have produced the very best, natural product on the market.  It has been the life blood of our entire family of 12 children.  All of us have worked together to make Elves and Angels the best it could be. When we first started, all of our products were made of solid pine and finished with a non-toxic edible finish and shipped completely assembled.