This 7yr old CEO inspired a volunteer project for charity and gives 50% of his business earnings to United Way!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 30th November 2010

Ryan Steadman sitting surrounded by building blocks!

Ryan Steadman surrounded by some of 1,800 kids building blocks made at his Work Builders Block Party 2010. All of these children's building block toys, in sets of 12, are donated to charity.

One year ago at just six years of age, Ryan Steadman started his own business, promised to share 50% of his earnings with charity and inspired a community charity project attended by over 100 volunteers! This year at seven years old he has done it again, his second Work Builders Block Party.

It would be hard not to be proud of any son who takes such initiative to help others much less one doing so at 6 or 7 years of age. He has remained true to all his pledges giving half of his earnings to United Way and finding ways to give to other charities as well. His second Work Builders Block Party charity event, which happened just two weeks ago, out performed the first with greater attendance (175) and more building blocks for charity (1,800).

So, what is next for this pint sized entrepreneur? Well, second grade. I can tell you that he has not lost any interest in his Work Builders business or helping charity. And the Work Builders Block Party? He has every intention of doing another one next year and making it bigger!

30Nov

Delivery of building blocks leads to meeting a craftsman!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 21st January 2010
Ryan visiting Robert Gaube woodworking shop

Ryan with woodworking craftsman Robert Gaube

Earlier this week I took Ryan for a ride to make a delivery of Easy Builder building blocks. Little did he know, this delivery would wind up with a personal tour through the workshop of a local woodworking craftsman.

Off we went to deliver four sets of building blocks to a customer in Kirkwood, NY not far from home. I had an idea what could be in store for us and it was not disappointing! In working out the details of when and where we could drop off the order of blocks I learned that there was a cabinet making shop on the premises.

When we arrived we were greeted enthusiastically by our customer Wendi and Mr. Robert Gaube, a custom cabinet maker of some 30 years or more. After accepting the delivery of blocks from Ryan and congratulating him for his efforts both in business and for charity, they invited us inside to see a true woodworking craftsman’s workshop. It was wonderful!

Robert gave Ryan and I a nice tour of his workshop showing us each of his tools and describing how they are used. He explained how he builds cabinets from scratch with tools we saw there and years of experience. Ryan was interested to learn how these cabinets were constructed without the use of any nails or screws to hold them together, just wood joints and some glue.

Ryan with Robert's Harley Davidson motorcycleThere were two things in Mr. Gaube’s woodworking shop that impressed Ryan. First was the impressive quantity and variety of clamps which could be found in almost every nook and cranny of the shop. I don’t think Ryan missed a one. Second was the item shown to the left. As Mr. Gaube put it to Ryan, “This is what woodworking can buy you if you work at it!”

I had a lot of fun with Ryan and watching him experience what a real woodworking shop would be like. For me, I would love to go back sometime and spend some time doing photography in the shop. There were tons of interesting visuals there to be captured. Wendi and Robert be warned, I may be giving you a call one of these days!

21Jan

Work Builders Block Party, YOU are invited!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 12th November 2009

Early on in the process of building his start-up business, Ryan told us that he wishes to support charity and he has remained steadfast in that mission ever since. Since then he has identified three charities to support in various ways, two of which he wishes to support by making a direct donation of his building blocks.

After contacting these charity organizations to learn if they will accept hand-made toys and if so how many, we learned that the answer to those questions in both cases Work Builders Block Party bannerwas a solid yes and “as many as you can provide”. This begged the question, “How many can we provide?”

Between the two of us we had an idea of what we could produce but we wondered if there might be a way to do more. So we talked and brainstormed together to try and figure out how we could make more, lots more. The result of that brainstorming is our “Work Builders Block Party”, and YOU are invited!

The Work Builders Block Party will take place on Saturday November 21, just over one week from now! This will be a volunteer effort to make as many sets of Easy Builder building blocks as we can in one day. Everything produced on that day will go directly to charity! So mark you calendar for November 21 and please plan to come. We need all the help we can get!

Between now and that date I will be cutting at least 500 wood blocks to have on hand for the project. The task for the day will be to sand the sharp/frayed edges so children will not get slivers and to spray paint them different colors that kids will enjoy. It is an easy task really, so bring a friend and spend a little time with us helping charity.

Our plan on Saturday Nov. 21 is to have a large window of time where you are invited to come and participate. You are welcome and encouraged to come for as much time as you can share whether that is 20 minutes or 3 hours. The final details of location and exact hours for the project are being finalized currently and I hope to have all of that information available to you very soon.

A lot of people have expressed interest in helping Ryan and I along with this project for charity. Now is the time so please plan to come to our Block Party, help us make some building blocks to go to kids this holiday season!

If you are planning to help us on Nov. 21st please drop us a note via email and let us know you are coming. If you have a group that might be interested in getting involved then please let us know as soon as possible. We’d love to have you there with us!

If the turnout seems good I may have to cut more blocks for the day. That would be a great problem to have! So continue to watch this blog and Ryan’s Web site for more details as our plans are finalized.

One other way someone may be able to help…

If you know of anyone who might be in a position to help with providing materials for this growing charity project, I would be grateful for help of that nature. As the scale of this seems to be growing so too does that side of the equation. The spray paint and the sanding tools (sanding blocks, sand paper) are the greatest expected expense. Please email me if you have any leads in this regard. Thank you!

12Nov

Ryan is guest speaker for Entrepreneurship class

Posted by Ryans Dad on 9th November 2009
Ryan introduces Easy Builders to class

Ryan displays Easy Builders for class

Today Ryan was a guest speaker for the Introduction to Entrepreneurship class at Broome Community College, a SUNY school here in Binghamton, NY. The course instructor, Laura Knochen-Davis, had learned of Ryan’s start-up business and invited him to speak to the class.

Ryan and I had put together a presentation of visuals for the class which showed a bit of the story of how Ryan came up with the idea for Easy Builders and how he produces them. While the images displayed on the screen Ryan talked to the class and described what was presented. He then showed his Easy Builder building blocks to the class in a variety of colors and fielded questions.

Greg Tally, Dean of Business School, BCC.

Greg Tally, Dean of Business School, BCC.

Ryan was a bit shy to get started which didn’t surprise me but once things got going he did very well. A surprise for both of us was that there was a special guest in the room to see Ryan’s presentation. Mr. Greg Tally, Dean of Business and Public Services, came to see what Ryan had to say and he also presented Ryan with a Certificate of Appreciation and a small gift (always a hit with 6yr olds!).

Thank you Laura for inviting us to speak for your class. They were a very good group and wonderful for Ryan as a first time speaker. Thank you also to Dean Tally for taking the time to come and hear Ryan’s presentation and offering the recognition gifts. We had a great time and another learning opportunity for Ryan was a hit for us at least!

On a side note, it served as reminder to me that Ryan is truly a six year old boy, that his singular focus as we left the building after speaking for the class was that he wanted to go around the corner on campus to the Ice Center (ice rink facility) and play with the “pile of snow” on the ground outside the building. Many snowballs were gleefully tossed into the air before we left for home. Thanks for the fun evening!

Categories: Easy Builders
9Nov

Generous hearts and borrowed tools…

Posted by Ryans Dad on 7th November 2009

Tools of the trade - circular sawHaving the right tools really does make a difference. Up until this point Ryan and I have been doing most all of the work on producing these sets of Easy Builder building blocks by hand. Starting with 2x2x8 white pine boards I have been cutting the wood with a handheld electric circular saw. The cutting is at times a bit imprecise depending on a steady hand. The smallest blocks are the trickiest to cut accurately and consistently. I’ve been getting better at it though.

After the blocks are all cut to size Ryan and I forge ahead with sanding the sharp and slivered cut edges to be sure no one will get hurt. This has been a process of sanding by hand with sanding blocks or sandpaper. By far the least fun of all the steps to the production process. After sanding is completed we paint the blocks with cans of spray paint of various colors depending on the orders we are filling at the time. All in all a labor intensive process but one which yields a nice product in the end.

Enter some friends with generous hearts… Learning about Ryan’s business and our tools of choice to date, my friends the Johnson’s made a generous offer of tools. Today we visited the Johnson’s home and picked up a chop saw and a couple of palm sanders to try out. Niiiiice!! Ohh, these make such a difference! Thank you to the Johnson’s!!!

Ryan and I immediately gave the sanders a go. Ryan is a bit skittish with the noise from these (or any power tool), so he’s not so sure they are for him. That is OK really. I’d be just as happy if he is not trying to much with power tools just yet. But Ryan did very quickly come up with a distribution of duties which allows me to use the sanders on some parts of the work while leaving other parts of the sanding for his doing.

The saw of course is off limits for Ryan and he is perfectly fine with that. I am delighted though in that this will make things much more efficient as well as accurate in the end. These tools are borrowed so this is a temporary solution, but they will be a great help to our production capabilities. A critical need right now with a special event we have in the works. More on that as soon as some details are worked out.

Stay tuned!

Categories: Easy Builders
7Nov

Ryan’s 15 minutes of fame starts today

Posted by Ryans Dad on 14th October 2009

Ryan delivers more blocksToday was another delivery day for Ryan, bringing two full sets of Easy Builder building blocks to friends in his after-school program. This delivery had a bit of a twist to it though. This delivery would have media coverage!

Earlier in the week our local Fox network station (FOX 40 News WICZ-TV) contacted me having heard about Ryan’s project. They wanted to tell his story. After some discussion with Dawnie (Ryan’s mom) and with Ryan himself, we decided that it sounded like fun.

I made a point of being at Ryan’s after-school to see how it all went. Right from the start all of the kids were excited. Yesterday they had heard that this would be happening so when they arrived and saw the Fox News van in front of the building they were anxious to get on with things. Once all of the kids were assembled in their room, with the camera rolling Ryan gathered the two sets of building blocks and delivered them to his two “buyers”. There was a bit of camera shyness but I think all of the kids really got a kick out of having the news camera there and especially with the idea that they might all be on TV sometime soon!

They took just a bit of footage of Ryan making his deliveries today. My understanding is that they are planning to come to the house this weekend to get some more video and more of an interview with Ryan and either his mother or I. We are yet to have those details firmed up, but Ryan is looking forward to that just the same.

Here comes at least part of Ryan’s “15 minutes of fame”.

Categories: Easy Builders
14Oct

The six year old entrepreneur taking orders

Posted by Ryans Dad on 1st October 2009

order-bookletWhen Ryan put his own money on the line to buy paint supplies yesterday I knew that he was really serious about this project. It came home though, quite literally, today when he produced a small notebook in which he recorded some purchase orders during his time at after-school. Quite the businessman already.

He had told the kids in his after-school program about what he was doing and a few jumped on board to get some blocks, sight unseen. His teacher requested a set too. I’d like to have those sales/marketing skills! So now he’s got some orders to fill. He was thrilled and anxious to show me the details.

Although I have made a conscious decision not to direct Ryan through this undertaking, I have been trying to think ahead of him so that I might have ideas for him as he comes upon each successive step along the way. I must admit though that I didn’t think we were anywhere near needing an order pad. He beat me to that one!

Categories: Easy Builders
1Oct

Let’s make more building blocks and make it a business!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 27th September 2009

After seeing how much his brother Collin was enjoying the wood blocks he had given him, Ryan decided that lots of kids would have fun playing with these blocks. Plus, we still have some more of that scrap wood in the garage. So…

Collin enjoying the blocks Ryan gave him.

Collin enjoying the blocks Ryan gave him.

What started as a present for his brother has now become a project for more kids. Over the course of maybe 24 hours Ryan decided that it would be fun to make more sets of blocks for other kids. Along with that he has decided he wants to sell them and start a business.

I honestly believe that his motivation for creating a business for himself isn’t really tied to making money. He has said more than once that the best part of this will be helping other kids have fun. He’s excited about making these blocks and seeing others play with them and have fun.

I think his interest in creating a business for himself stems from an experience from earlier this summer where he and Collin set up a lemonade stand at our house. They had a great time with that. We made and posted signs, set up the lemonade stand and took good care of customers. I think he really enjoyed that and sees this as another chance to have that kind of fun.

When new ideas such as this come flowing from either of our boys I try very hard to keep an open mind. Is this idea in any way unreasonable or even dangerous? If not, can we actually make it happen and could we learn from it? This one seems manageable, could be fun and could be a learning experience. So why not?

So with an affirmative response from Dad, Ryan could not get me to cut more wood blocks fast enough! Looks like it is back to the circular saw for me.

Categories: Easy Builders
27Sep