DuneCraft CEO and president Grant Cleveland explains the history of the Ohio-based firm behind science toys including Carnivorous Creations, a kit for growing meat-eating plants.

DIARY OF AN INVENTOR: Grant Cleveland and DuneCraft

When I was deciding on my next business, I wanted the roots of it to be based on something for which the city I live in is renowned. Cleveland is best known for its manufacturing capabilities so this was the path I chose to follow.

I always had a passion for growing plants and I had been cultivating cacti from seed for years in home-made containers. Every day I would look at them and see them changing and growing and I found it endlessly fascinating. 

That’s when I came up with the idea of creating a single cacti growing ‘kit’, combining the seeds and the container, as a retail proposition. 

I took the container idea to a manufacturing facility and that was it. I focused initially on catalogues, web sites, distributors, and small chains and it proved to be an instant hit, often being the number one selling item in catalogues.

Gardening is the USA’s number one hobby. And personally, I have to confess that I have been growing and propagating plants since the tender age of five. I got this love of plants from my grandfather and a friendly neighbor lady who would give me perennials for my little garden But having researched the market place, I discovered that pretty much everything associated with this hobby is aimed at adults. 

There didn’t seem to be anything in the market place that passed the love of plants down to the next generation. This was the gap in the market that I decided to harness. I took the complete growing kit concept and developed it specifically for kids. 

The diversity of plants and flowers in the natural world allowed our imaginations to run wild. We invented terrariums, where we combine popular themes such as fairies, dragons, dinosaurs, outer space with a container and seeds for plants that will thrive for years.

Our objective is to draw kids into the wonderful world of plants and flowers with a popular theme but with the long term objective of persuading them to appreciate the natural phenomenon of plant life.

I truly believe that DuneCraft products provide the best way in the current market place to get kids into plants and gardening, and so far, it seems to be working.

The challenges for DuneCraft have been the same challenges that all companies face when going from inception to small business. Fortunately, money has never too much of an issue as our items have always sold so well.

Manufacturing presents a whole load of issues and ends up being a series of compromises, as is life, I guess. For a while, our major problem was space. However, we recently remedied this by buying a 170,000 square foot facility that should be big enough for the next five years.

But despite the inevitable challenges, the positives have been as abundant as the flowers in a DuneCraft growing kit. 

I particularly love working with buyers and being able to tap into their marketplace expertise. When they invest their time, money, and shelf space into DuneCraft, I know that I’m doing it right and that’s very satisfying. 

I also have had wonderful experiences with other toy manufacturers. They are a really good group. I have been in a number of industries and the toy industry is the most fun and networkable by far.

If you are an inventor and you’d like to share your story, email us at Billy.Langsworthy@intentmedia.co.uk.

Or if you would like to pitch your game idea to the likes of Hasbro, Flair and Asobi, click here for information on our Toy & Game Inventors Workshop.

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