MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (WCAX) – It’s been a while since we last checked in with Middlebury’s Maple Landmark. They were first featured when Made in Vermont started, but since then, many changes have come to the company.
“This one is about three or four times more powerful than the machines we’ve had previously,” said founder and president Mike Rainville, speaking of a laser machine cutting intricate ornaments.
Their continued success began with a solid foundation– a family business started 42 years ago.
“When I was a kid I just did woodworking, my grandfather did carpentry work on the side and so there [were] tools and materials around and I just kind of picked it up and made little things,” Rainville said.
Even now, many members of the family still work on their staff, crafting all sorts of wooden wonders.
While the majority of their products are toys, improvements in technology have allowed Maple Landmark to continue to expand to accommodate a multitude of custom orders.
“We just like to make things and we like to use our technology and our skillset talents for things that people want to buy. And we’ll kind of go in a lot of different directions. It almost drives us crazy,” Rainville said.
Advances in machines are a stark contrast from Rainville’s start four decades ago, doing it all by hand.
Though, that’s not something that’s lost; their team of 39 still does many tasks by hand.
“There’s just a lot of hands-on labor to make a nice wood product. You can’t shortcut that,” he said.
And despite the use of machines, both at the warehouse and in the home, there are some things that simply cannot be replaced with a computer.
“We used to think we competed against China but really we’re competing against computer screens now,” laughed Rainville. “There are parents, there are families that know that kids need a broader experience. And to build a tower out of blocks and knock it down and build it again, you can’t get that in some virtual way.”
That is something that’s kept Maple Landmark continuing to innovate, excite and maintain its place as a “landmark” Vermont business.
“We realize how much people do know about us and the things that we’re doing. It’s great. There’s a lot of great companies in Vermont and if we get to be one of those then that’s a good thing,” Rainville said.
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