Piecing together the puzzle of a Block Party.

Posted by Ryans Dad on 8th October 2010

We’re off to a great start towards pulling off the Work Builders Block Party again this year. But there is one more piece to this puzzle I am anxious to put together. How do we pay for it all?

100 dollar bill puzzleThe first Block Party was a whirlwind that happened over a span of two weeks time from concept to event date! I didn’t have time to worry about how the costs were getting covered. I was focused on making it happen and happen it did. This year promises to be as big or bigger and the costs will grow accordingly.

So how do we pay for it? Soliciting donations seems like a reasonable idea. The effort is all for charity after all. But, Work Builders is not a non-profit and anyone asked to contribute will want to know their donation can be a tax deduction in the spring. It only makes sense.

So I started asking a few questions earlier this summer. I asked people who know more than I, “How do you become a non-profit?”. The answers were not encouraging. My take after numerous conversations is that it would take a lot of work and significant costs to make it happen. It seemed prohibitive.

Then I happened to spend 5 minutes talking with the right person and everything changed! There may be a way. Anyone who works extensively with non-profit organizations would probably know this but it was a revelation for me. If we work closely with one of the non-profits we plan to support, we can solicit donations (to that organization) which are held for our use! Wow!

There are deeper details to the whole thing but the net result is that it opens the door for two great things to happen. First, we can generate funds which will pay the costs of our event. And second, we may be able to generate greater funds which can benefit our charity in an even larger way! As they say, it’s a WIN-WIN!

So, we are trying to put this relationship together and keeping our fingers crossed that this will work. If it does I am sure you will be hearing about it.

If you would consider helping us with a contribution (or know someone we should contact) please contact us here! As soon as we have a solid plan for making that happen we will be in touch. Even small contributions will help a lot. I hope you will consider it.

8Oct

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

What would you pay for Easy Builder building blocks?

Posted by Ryans Dad on 28th October 2009

What would you expect to pay for a set of Easy Builder building blocks? Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

As the date approaches for Ryan’s story to air on WICZ FOX 40 TV I’ve had a growing concern, pricing. As things currently stand, we are simply not able to make any money. There just isn’t any profit margin. Maybe this is another learning opportunity with Ryan. So far I have truly left all final decisions throughout this endeavor to Ryan. The question of product pricing has been one he’s expressed strong opinions on from the start.

Ryan’s preference has been to keep the pricing of his blocks as low as possible, very low. His thinking? If the price is too high no one will buy the blocks. NO ONE. However, the pricing he started with was excessively low. $1.15 per set to be exact. At that time he was selling only through personal arrangements with his grade school friends who simply do not have any money to begin with. Even at pricing below $2.00 per set, the vast majority of those original sales were never paid for. It makes sense and it is something Ryan has learned from.

Easy Builders muslin carrying bagSo, a week or two ago Ryan and I did a little math to figure out what it really costs for us to produce these sets of blocks. The results were eye opening for both of us. For Ryan it was a big surprise to see how much it really costs to make his product. For me the eye opener was in learning which of the materials represented the greatest expense. It was the paint, followed by the nice muslin bags we are using as packaging.

So now with an accurate picture of what our costs were the discussion moved to what we should really be pricing the Easy Builder building block sets at. Ryan’s initial answer was… the exact cost we had just arrived at. So, Dad continues with the discussion in hopes of a better answer. Ryan’s final decision on the matter left us with less than $.50 “profit” on each set of building blocks sold which is where our pricing currently stands.

Now I worry that should we get a surge of sales (even a small surge would be significant) by virtue of good publicity with the upcoming tv news story broadcast, will we find ourselves spinning our wheels? Without any appreciable profit margin we create no income for Work Builders and we also are not able to support charity as Ryan intends.

Easy Builders building block set - 12 blocks with carrying bagSo the question I would pose to you here is simple. What would you expect to pay for a set of Easy Builder building blocks? Each set contains 12 blocks of varying sizes, they are sanded smooth and painted as you see here. The blocks are sold with a nice muslin carrying bag and there are a number of color choices you can choose from. Please leave your comments right here in this blog post. I appreciate any feedback you might be willing to offer. Keep in mind, Ryan will be giving some of this money to charity. More info on that coming soon!

28Oct

Other people’s money – an epiphany!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 30th September 2009

Last night Ryan and I went on a shopping trip to get some materials he will need for this project. We went with a shopping list and a budget to keep within. It was to be a $20.00 shopping spree. That would be a “spree” for a six year old at least. So the challenge was to get everything we could within that spending limit.

This would be a great exercise in a number of areas.

  1. Setting priorities
  2. Mathematics
  3. Making compromises
  4. Working with a budget

paint-cansWe decided that the most important thing to focus on was the paint, since we still had some of the other items on the list on hand at home (although dwindling). So we headed to the paint department and started reviewing the spray paint options. Ryan made some color choices and we studied the different paint finishes and their respective pricing differences. Based on our budget Ryan found that his original six choices of paint would have to be trimmed to four. After some pondering, his final choices were made.

During the course of deciding on the paint colors Ryan had what I found to be an interesting dilemma to ponder. From the colors he wanted, he would be able to buy 6 cans of various colored paints. However, he was interested in two other colors which were more expensive. So he had two options. Buy the six to get more cans, or buy only four but include the two that were more expensive. In the end he decided on the four including two metallic finishes that he really liked. He prioritized the colors over the quantity.

With the paint selections eating up the evenings budget it was time to head for the cashier. Checking out at the register Ryan was very proud to pull his own money out of his pocket and make the purchase. The total at checkout? $20.30. Pretty good in terms of sticking to the budget.

It was on the way home that Ryan had his epiphany about “other people’s money”. As we were driving home Ryan was disappointed that we were not able to get all of the materials that were on our list. He knew at some point this was going to be something we had to get worked out. Then it hit him, and he presented it to me like this…

“Daddy, I’ve got it figured out! I know how we can get all of the other things we needed on our list! We just take the materials we already have and make all of the building block sets that we can and sell them for money. Then we take that money to go and buy all the materials we need to make more!” He summed up by saying, “You see Daddy? We use other people’s money to get the things we need!”

It’s hard to argue with that thinking!

Categories: Easy Builders
30Sep

Our first business expenses, Ryan steps up!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 29th September 2009

At some point things start to cost money. This is that point. Today Ryan has come up with an idea to make these building blocks even better. We should paint them. Again my thought, is there any reason we cannot make this happen? Not really.

This does create a good learning opportunity, and would be worth it even with some small cost for paint. So we move forward with the idea. We discuss questions like what colors will we use, how many colors should be used, how should we paint (spray or by brush) and most importantly, how much will this cost? We also talked about what other materials we will be needing such as sand paper for smoothing the wood’s cut edges and more lumber since the supply of scrap wood from the garage is dwindling.

Ryan & Collin's lemonade stand, summer 2009

Ryan & Collin's lemonade stand, summer 2009

Seeing that the door is open to painting the blocks he is making, Ryan is anxious to get to the store to buy materials right now! But before we go he surprises me. No, check that, he shocks me. Ryan said to me, “I’ll go get my money Daddy. I think I have enough.” Wow! He didn’t bat an eye. Didn’t even seem to entertain any thought that Dad or Mom would cover the costs. Where did that come from?

As I mentioned in an previous post, earlier in the summer Ryan and his brother Collin had done a lemonade stand at our house. They had a great time and worked together as a team on it. Collin was the greeter and took orders. Ryan handled filling the cups, serving the orders and managed the money. It was a good math lesson and practice at working together. In the end they actually did pretty well considering that our home is a bit off the beaten path. Ryan saved all of the money he got from that experience in a box in his room, the same box he was raiding today for the sake of his paint.

So off to the store we went right away as Ryan wanted to so badly. Before we left we prepared a list of the things we needed and established the spending limit we had to work within. Ryan and I would share the costs 50/50.

This dad is blown away to see his 6 yr old son stepping up with his very own hard earned money to foot the bill. On top of that, it is obvious that Ryan is really serious about this project/idea. I can get behind that.

Categories: Easy Builders
29Sep