10 Things I Learned Visiting The Step2 Company. Post sponsored by The Step2 Company. All FUN playtime opinions are my own. #Step2Amabassador
Photo credit: The Step2 Company
10 Things I Learned Visiting The Step2 Company #Step2Ambassador
Visiting Cleveland, Ohio in the middle of summer may not be high on people’s vacation lists. But to say that I was bursting at the seams with excitement would be an understatement. I spent 3 days in my first ever trip to Cleveland, and came back with a well of knowledge, passion, appreciation and just awe. As a Step2 Ambassador I got to see firsthand and experience behind the scenes moments that left me speechless. As a trip recap, here’s 10 things I learned visiting The Step2 Company.
So come take a tour with me as we go inside the minds, hands and hearts of the folks that make your Step2 toys a reality. From inspiration to production, it all happens right here.
1. They Love Kids
The moment you enter through the front doors, you immediately jump up and down like a toddler. Inside an “office” holds a different meaning for the Step2 crew. Surrounded by toys, toys and more toys, you think you’ve taken a page (or 50) out of a toy store. Toys in office cubicles, in hallways, in conference rooms. I seriously just want to bring my kids back to Cleveland just so they can play here. And the toys are not just sitting there in pieces. No, they are displayed and BEGGING to be played with.
More than just toys, I found little hidden spots of candy for little ones that come in the door. I saw big blown up pictures of beautiful children on the walls (notice I said kids and NOT toys) that served as constant reminders of who Step2 is making dreams for. I loved being surrounded by so much joy!
2. They Love Moms and Families
Step2 has done their homework. Mom represents 80% of their market buyers. So it is mom’s decision whether that amazing play kitchen comes home to stay. Step2 is working harder to make sure that the packaging is pleasing, the instructions are easy and most of all, it’s a toy that’s going to last years if not forever for playtime. Step2 wants to help mom make wise decisions when buying toys, taking the guesswork out of the equation. Step2 wants mom to look at a product and say “I trust this company and their toys for my kids.” “Quality that lasts.” “These toys have created so many family memories.”
As a big focus this year at Step2, I found out how big of a responsibility Step2 has taken on to bring families together. And not with the enticing bit of technology…but real authentic moments and playtime that the whole family can engage in. It’s no small task, but Step2 is up for the challenge.
3. Their Leader is Driven
Just meeting CEO Chris Quinn was a privilege. Coming from the background of Proctor and Gamble, New Balance, Mars and Clorox, I was happy to just shake his hand. To sit and listen to him speak about the passion he has about Step2 and the direction it is going in the years ahead, it was motivation enough for me to jump into the trenches. He has a leadership, a friendliness and a determination to get the job done.
But more than that, Chris Quinn is a CEO that wants to know you. I had dinner with the CEO of Step2 sitting across from me, asking to see pictures of my kids and how I met my husband. He’s engaging, VIBRANT and alive with what Step2 is doing for families around the world. He easily made me WANT to work for him.
4. Made in the U.S.A. Makes All the Difference
One of the biggest reasons that I was excited for visiting The Step2 Company was to see firsthand how the products are made. Unlike most toy companies that ship their designs overseas to be made, we had the amazing privilege to just walk into the next building to see the process. Having that seamless transition from corporate to production makes a huge difference in how Step2’s toys are made and made well.
Not just toys but quality toys are the focus here. I got to touch the recycled plastic that goes into the highly technical molds that are then heated and rotated at a particular temperature, then cooled, assembled and boxed all in the same facility. I mean talk about production! I was in awe of the expanse size of the facility, the storage areas stacked high with toys, and even the smiles on the workers’ faces. Step2 is not just making toys in the U.S., but providing much needed jobs for thousands. Incredible? Absolutely.
5. I Heard Thank You About 1,000 Times
Humble would definitely be the word I would use for this trip. I was extremely humbled to be there. The whole trip was focused and surrounded by the theme of Step2 saying thank you…to us. I seriously did hear those two words at least hundreds of times. Step2 cares and loves their parent ambassadors, and it was so refreshing for a blogger like me to see.
We sat in rooms for hours discussing products. And I LOVED every minute. Not just an email conversation but a real engaging discussion about new products on the market, ideas Step2 is working on and even just future partnership decisions were given to us. And Step2 listened. We had so many awesome and candid discussions about how we liked or hated a product concept, what we would charge for a product, how we could improve. And I was just shocked how much Step2 appreciated our input, like seriously taking notes and hanging on to our every word. Knowing that we represent mom consumers in the market, Step2 really cares about what we think. I know, so cool right?
6. All Work and All Play
Step2 is really a different company. They have a research and development team that literally an engineering and thinking up new products for the company. Going into their area is like stepping back into science class. Styrofoam cut outs trying to compact into a box, hacked old Step2 products being reworked into new ones with tape, glue and cardboard, a dart board and a big thinking table, it was all I hoped would be in this giant room. But from research the guys can literally walk into the office and talk with VPs and marketing about their new concept then walk into the factory and see the first pieces come off the line. It’s just amazing how much work goes into making a toy for your family.
7. They Are Safety Fanatics
But don’t let the playtime thing fool you, Step2 is fanatical about safety. Every product is tested and retested for quality control. They have a machines upon machines and tools upon tools that ensure each product is safe for your child to play with, not just now but years from now. They have a machine that measures children’s bite capacities on their products. They have a machine for testing the durability of the adorable Step2 buggies. They have to measure the distance between hand holds in a wagon. It’s the safety checks that even mom wouldn’t think about checking. These folks are precise, particular and are doing all of the things we hope they would do before a toy comes home with us.
8. They Have a Plan
One of the highlights of my trip was actually sitting in the room with Chris Quinn has he went over the plan for the coming years. I know, sounds boring. But in all honesty, I was mesmerized about the detail to make sure that Step2 is a worldwide leader in the toy market. From retail to marketing to the inclusion of the ambassadors, we were ALL a part of that plan to grow the company. There were charts, strategy and at the center of everything was this mission of family. I loved that. Even in the midst of talking “business,” Step2 never stopped thinking about the consumers. We are always at the center of everything that Step2 produces. I. Love. That.
9. We Are Family
I went into this trip to Cleveland thinking I would be an outsider. I’d get a little tour, a bunch of meetings and a few handshakes. I left feeling like I was leaving a part of my family. Step2 made sure we were included in everything. I couldn’t believe how quickly my name was remembered, retained and how easily we could share ideas openly without fear or rejection. We had amazing meals, spa treatments and glorious hotel rooms. I left feeling like I was a part of something absolutely amazing.
10. It’s Only Getting Better
Seeing some of the behind the scenes peeks (yes, including new products coming soon!), gave me a window into the years to come. Step2 is only getting better with more amazing products to wow your family, easier ways to bring those products home, eye catching packaging, and a staff that is committed to you and me.
I didn’t just have a good time at Step2 Headquarters, I had a blogging trip of a lifetime. To be one of the amazing 10 bloggers chosen to represent The Step2 Company day in and day out, it’s such an honor and a privilege to call this company family. And now after visiting The Step2 Company like this, I can only see a vibrant and prosperous future for one of my favorite toys companies in the world.
And it all begins and ends with family.
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I received travel and accommodations for free in exchange for this posting. All opinions are mine alone. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians for more reviews, giveaways and more.