Ryan’s donation to Toys for Tots, finally!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 18th December 2009
Ryan Steadman and Marine LCpl Danbach

Ryan Steadman and Marine LCpl Danbach

Delayed a bit by some uncooperative weather, Ryan was able to make his second donation of Easy Builder building blocks this week. This donation was to Toys for Tots and was great fun. Toys for Tots representative Marine LCpl Danbach came to Ryan’s 1st grade classroom at Vestal Hills Elementary School, in dress blue uniform no less!

Ryan had a total of 51 complete sets of his building blocks on hand to give to Toys for Tots. In addition to that, his 1st grade teacher Mrs. Finch and the class added some more toys to the donation. The class has been following Ryan’s efforts to support charity and his teacher has used this to help teach about leadership and charitable giving. It’s been great to see Mrs. Finch and her class be so supportive, thank you! The school even added some photos from the day to their web site for all to see.

News 10 Now and WBNG News crews, on hand to capture the event

News 10 Now and WBNG News crews, on hand to capture the event

The school district had contacted local media about the donation so there was also some TV coverage of the event. This added a certain degree of excitement for the class on top of the Marine in uniform. Our cable news channel News 10 Now did a very nice story about the donation that Ryan made which you can view online from their web site.

The 1st grade class enjoyed the visit from LCpl Danbach thoroughly and they all behaved very well throughout. LCpl Danbach took time to talk with the class answering questions about Toys for Tots as well as a few about his experience in the Marines. I have to say he was quite skilled at addressing their inquiries carefully regardless of the nature of each question. It was evident this was not his first experience with kids.

The kids had some time to check out the building block sets as did LCpl Danbach. Then the TV reporters did some interviews with Ryan, LCpl Danbach and myself. Most importantly, Ryan got to make one more donation of his building block sets which made him very happy. With a smile, Ryan mentioned that it was a fun thing to know that on Christmas morning some kids somewhere would be opening a present that he had made. Then they would play with them and have fun. A nice thought indeed.

18Dec

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

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

Our six year old entrepreneur plans to support charity

Posted by Ryans Dad on 4th November 2009

Early on in this process Ryan told me that he wanted to use some of his money to support charity. After much discussion over the last few weeks around our house Ryan has now decided on some charities that he plans to support. He has selected three charitable organizations to help with a variety of reasons for each one. It is a lofty goal that we will work towards together. Stay tuned, we may ask for your help along the way!

Ryans chosen charitiesFirst is Toys for Tots Syracuse NY. This was an obvious fit for Ryan and he liked the idea right away. His reason for choosing Toys for Tots was very simple. “They give toys to little kids that might not have any.” Ryan would like to provide some of his Easy Builder building block sets to Toys for Tots for distribution this holiday season. Although there is no local office for Toys for Tots in the Binghamton area, we may have some interesting plans in the works to facilitate Ryan’s donation.

Next on his list to support is the SOS Shelter here in Binghamton, NY. The SOS Shelter provides emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence in our community. Ryan learned of this organization from his mother as she explained that she has made donations to them in the past. He has a natural sense of empathy for all kinds of people in need and seemed to feel a connection here knowing of his mother’s previous support. Like Toys for Tots, Ryan plans to provide some of his Easy Builder building block sets to the SOS Shelter for the benefit of those families with children who find themselves in the care of the shelter. As he put it to me, “They need toys in case they left all their toys behind when they left their house”.

And last but most certainly not least is the United Way of Broome County. This may be the toughest one to manage some support for in that this will be monetary support. As such it will require that Work Builders become financially successful in order to facilitate making a donation. We are working on that! What attracts Ryan to the United Way is that, “They help lots of different charities”. That pretty much says it all.

Now I’ll put on my proud Dad cap and say I could not be more proud of Ryan for his sincere interest in helping others. This has given us great opportunities to discuss and learn about how fortunate we are as a family and how we can help others in our community. I will also repeat for the sake of clarity that this plan to support charity truly originates with Ryan. Where he gets this I can’t know. At his age I was probably most worried about which toy to play with next or picking on my younger brother. Although he does have his moments with his younger brother, in so many ways he amazes me on a daily basis!

4Nov

The first out-of-town Easy Builder orders shipped today!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 1st November 2009
Excited about making his first order shipments

Ryan, excited for his first out of town shipments

Today is the day for Ryan’s first out of town Easy Builder building block orders to be shipped. Our first order of business this morning was to get two orders all packaged and ready for shipping, then we were off to the local FedEx Kinko’s location to drop them off for shipment.

In a way this was a good reminder to me that Ryan is 6 years old. For him the simple process of putting his blocks into their shipping boxes, taping them up and taking them out to be shipped yielded great delight. Maybe it was using the packaging tape gun on the boxes or adding the large air bubble filler into the boxes to keep things from bouncing around too much I don’t know, but he was delighted and that is what counts.

If you are in Illinois or Florida and waiting for your order of Easy Builder building blocks, sit tight they are on their way right now!

Categories: Easy Builders
1Nov

A reporter, a video camera and Ryan’s story…

Posted by Ryans Dad on 25th October 2009

Update: Ryan’s story is scheduled to air on Thurs. Nov. 19, 10:00pm news broadcast.

Today we had a special visitor at our house, Chris Whalen a reporter for FOX 40 WICZ TV here in Binghamton, NY. Chris was here this morning to capture some more video and get some interview footage with both Ryan and I. Fox 40 is planning a story which will run sometime in early November about Ryan and his Easy Builder building block business.

Ryan was excited to have the reporter here and to have a chance to tell people about his business. Chris captured video of Ryan and I working on some building block sets, cutting wood, sanding and painting the blocks and finally putting them into their muslin bags for delivery. Then he spent a little time interviewing me followed by Ryan.

I’ve been second guessing everything I said in the course of that interview ever since, but I think it went ok. Ryan did great with his interview answering questions and showing his excitement for the whole project. It’s a difficult thing for a 6 year old to handle something like that and I felt good about how well he did.

Now I am left with an odd feeling not knowing how their story will come across after they have edited the footage and put their spin on the story. I am used to being on the other side of the camera and being in control of that side of the equation. It is a daunting feeling to have the presentation of Ryan’s story now out of my hands or control. I am sure they will do a great job, but I have to concede that I will not be comfortable with it until I’ve seen the final result. (fingers are crossed…)

Around the house, I always joke with my wife about who gets the most media notice. Her work puts her in that position from time to time and I have had my moments occasionally in the past. But now Ryan is on track to muddy the waters in that regard. Why not. Go Ryan, go!

As soon as we know when Ryan’s story will air on Fox 40 WICZ I will mention it here so you can catch it if you are interested.

Categories: Easy Builders,Media
25Oct

Some money rolls in… A little bit anyway.

Posted by Ryans Dad on 23rd October 2009

Today was a good day for Ryan and his building block business. Today he received real payments and more than one! I had been concerned that over time his enthusiasm would fade since up until now he had not received any actual payments for his delivered Easy Builder building blocks. His till of funds from the Lemonade Stand earlier this year was dry and closing the financial end of his dealings wasn’t happening for reasons previously mentioned here.

Finally, Ryan has seen some money come in and he was delighted! He received a check in the mail from an out of town order, some cash from two local sales and even an online order through his WorkBuilders.com Web site. His face lit up when he got home and learned of these developments through the day.

What I found interesting though, was that after he took some time to do the math and add up the cash received, his next move was to go straight to his cash box and deposit it there. Once again as earlier, he isn’t saying a thing about how he might want to use the money. No requests to buy toys, or candy or games. Maybe he is a money “saver” and that’s the way it is. Time will tell I suppose.

Today’s receipts are not enough to pull us out of the red numbers if you are looking at the books, but they do at least demonstrate for Ryan that this is not a one sided deal. I have not decided yet if or when I might talk with him more about the two sides of the ledger and where we stand in that regard. I think he does have a feeling for the reality of that, but this is no time to dampen his spirits. It was a good day for Work Builders (Ryan’s company name).

Categories: Easy Builders
23Oct

When is a sale really a sale?

Posted by Ryans Dad on 19th October 2009
Ryan with Easy Builders ready for delivery!

Ryan with Easy Builders ready for delivery!

To date, we have been using the term “sales” somewhat loosely when discussing Ryan’s business deals. I say this because truth be told Ryan is yet to actually be paid for any of his filled orders. I guess you might say that there is a flaw in the business model.

It has been an interesting dynamic to watch actually and one not lost on Ryan either. You see, the process so far has been one of Ryan making sales orders with his friends at school and after-school (4-8yr olds inĀ  most cases). As Ryan will tell you the problem with this is, “The kids don’t have money, so I can’t get paid from them.” This is not to suggest that this has been troublesome for him however. He is clearly aware of the lack of any closure on his sales, but what to do?

Today brought with it some degree of hope though since Ryan was to deliver on an order of four sets of his blocks, to an adult! There is promise here. He made it a priority over the weekend to get this order (his largest to date) ready for a Monday morning delivery.

Getting his Easy Builder sets ready for delivery

Getting his Easy Builder sets ready for delivery

He even got up a bit early this morning to put the final touches on it slipping the sets into their carrying bags.

The delivery went well this morning with his buyer quite surprised at the speed of his production and delivery. Caught off guard not expecting the delivery so quickly his customer did not have the money available for him this morning, but there is a promised date coming soon which seemed enough for him. I have to say I was pleased with his reaction since I am sure he was looking forward to getting payment for this order, but he really took it in stride.

I’ve been waiting to see how long Ryan will go before his interest in this project/business fades. So far he has surprised me here too. I’ve been concerned that with every delivered “order” that lacks any reciprocal payment his interest would eventually vanish. But it doesn’t really seem to be about the money. At least that doesn’t seem to be his priority anyway. As evidence, this weekend while we worked together on this latest order Ryan turned to me at one point and said, “Daddy, this business is really fun!”

I get the feeling that for Ryan this is really not about the money. It is about the next project that the money can make possible. And that sort of scares me a little, sort of…

Categories: Easy Builders
19Oct

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

Waiting… waiting… waiting… they are here!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 13th October 2009
Ryan receives his FedEx package, finally.

Ryan receives his FedEx package, finally.

Sometimes it seems like an eternity when you are waiting for something you are excited about. Even more so for a six year old! Ryan has been waiting for a week now for this delivery. This would be the cloth (muslin) bags that we ordered to use for packaging his Easy Builder building blocks. The same bags Ryan insisted on paying for with his lemonade stand money from earlier this summer.

As luck would have it, the FedEx delivery man arrived this morning at the very moment we were going outside to wait for Ryan’s school bus to arrive. Ryan’s face lit up when he realized that the package was for him and that the long awaited bags were finally here. Oh happy day! I grabbed a quick photo (I always have a camera somewhere nearby).

For the last few days he had been anxious to deliver his two most recent orders to friends at school but we didn’t have anything to package them in. ryan-fills-bagsProblem solved. The only down side was that he now had to wait till he got back home to put everything together. His bus arrived just a few minutes after the package.

As soon as Ryan got home from school he couldn’t get that package open fast enough and begin putting the building blocks inside for his friends. So now there are two packages of new Easy Builder building blocks ready and waiting for him to take them to school with him and make his deliveries. He’ll have fun doing that for sure.

Oh, and while he worked his school day away, he accumulated three more sales.

Categories: Easy Builders
13Oct