Design I created for my kids room

My adventure in furniture began with the idea of creating themed furniture for kids.  Based on a castle design I did for my kids room, I redesigned it into a design which could be reproduced by a CNC router.  I formed a company, Adventure Furniture.  I purchased a CNC router and worked out the designs in my garage.  The bed system was a modular design with uprights that would allow panels to slide into slots.  The idea was that new panels could be purchased to customize the bed. As the child grew the panels could be removed and there would still be a nice bed frame.

Patent Drawings of system assembly

Design for a Jurassic Bunk Bed

Jungle Bed Design

Victorian Doll House Bed Design for Girls

The company was moved to Georgia where I came up with the idea to do a Georgia Bull Dog bed. My brother and I received a license from the CLC, the licensing body that controls most collegiate logos. The company’s name was changed to Fan Creations and we turned from the idea of bunkbeds to collegiate branded products.

The First Georgia Bulldog Bed Design

Logo Design for Fan Creations

While working at Fan Creations, I developed a number of products for the company. One of our best sellers was a storage bench that could also be used as a toy chest. The product started out as a need for something that could be sold along with a Bulldog Headboard that I had designed .

The original sketch for the design

The CAD design to drive the CNC Machines

The process started with a simple sketch that was drawn one evening. From this sketched idea, I created a computer model of the product that was developed in 3D Studio Max. Once the design was worked out, the profiles of each part was imported into an CAM program. In this program, the parts were nested on a sheet and tooling assigned for each cut that the CNC router would make. The final output from this program was a CNC control program which would drive our Shopbot CNC router. The first 50 boxes were cut in our shop, painted, and assembled by my brother and I. These first 50 boxes sold quickly in Atlanta area stores.
Knowing what all was going into the production of these boxes, the data was entered into a spreadsheet and cost analysis were done and matched with sales projections that were produced by my partner and brother. The question became do we invest in equipment to produce the product here in Georgia, or look for an overseas partner. After receiving a few quotes from overseas it quickly became apparent that going overseas was going to be our only way to compete. My work then began on finding an Asian source. In the mean time 15 more colleges were licensed for this product.

Cutting area in Shenyang Factory

Once a reliable source was found, production began. I traveled to China and met my contact and toured the factory. While I was there I spent a lot of time working with my Chinese partners in getting all of the designs correct. It was a big undertaking to get them to understand the importance and meaning of each universities logo and school colors. As I stared at the sheet of all of my instructions that had been translated into Chinese, I could understand the challenge. The second challenge was setting up reliable quality control. The Chinese workers are very hard working people but their expectations of quality is lower than ours. With work and understanding I was able to work with the production manager of the factory to get what we needed to be able to sell.

Assembly and Packaging - Shenyang Factory

Working with the Chinese was a very rewarding experience. How they conduct business and respecting their customs is a very important part of establishing a long term business relationship there. Some of the hardest parts of doing business there is learning to read between the lines. You have to understand Chinese culture and their desire not to tell you bad news. I found that I had to get real good at reading facial expressions and body gestures. Though I was only just starting to learn Chinese, learning enough to understand if there was a problem was a big help. They also appreciated my attempts at their language.

Product Ready for Shipment to US

The final hurdle to jump was importing the product into the US and setting up a warehouse for distribution. This became a very fast and intense course in international importing. Over the next year I learned a lot of new terms and how to handle issues and problems that would arise from shipping delays, customs clearance, railways, and final delivery to our warehouse.

Display Design Created for Trade Shows with Finished Products

After all was said and done, we sold and delivered over 1000 storage chests in 2005 with a total of 16 universities. With the sales effort of my brother and the marketing material I designed, the number of stores carrying the product should double in 2006 with even more universities being represented.

Fan Creations Magazine Ad

Another big project was collegiate strollers.  I designed the strollers based on a number of available models.  Each stroller had its own collegiate color set and embroidered logos.  I designed the whole product from the stroller to the packaging.

Stroller Designs for Collegiate Themed Stroller

Florida Gator Stroller Design

Florida State Stroller Design

University of Miami Stroller Design

Stroller Box Design

Collegiate Wine Rack Design

Georgia Toy Box Finished product

Georgia Football Shelf Design

Other Furniture Designs

CNC Cut Cradle Design

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Copyright 2010 Andrew McClary