January 2013 | Vol. XII - No. 1
Q&A With Will Haughey, Co-Founder of Tegu
Will Haughey and his brother grew up volunteering for several international charities, so when they decided to go into business together in Honduras, they knew that they wanted their company to help drive the local economy and make life better for the people living in the community. Below, Will tells TDmonthly how they started the company, how they are trying to make a positive impact in Honduras, and why toys are such a vital part of children's lives.
Q. What career path did you originally envision for yourself? Did you ever anticipate working with children’s products?
A. As a kid, it would have been my dream to get to play with toys all day. Of course, after college working in investment banking that dream seemed far from reality until my brother Chris approached me with the idea of starting a company based in Honduras. At first we thought we’d make sustainable wood furniture, but after seeing some of the classic wooden toys in Germany we thought it would be cooler to make wooden toys.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for your first product?
A. We put ourselves in kindergarten classrooms and just observed how kids played for a while. We noticed kids often used construction toys as a means to tell stories, both real life and fantasies. The classic wooden block is still a favorite, but we wanted to bring it into the 21st century with the addition of magnets.
Q. What steps did you need to take to go from the original spark of an idea to actual production? How long did it take?
A. It took several years. Good design and the engineering behind the blocks are vastly more complicated than they look.
Q. What charitable organizations has your company worked with in the past?
A. For each block set purchased, we donate at least one tree to Trees for Life. We also help support a local elementary school in Tegucigalpa whose pupils all formerly worked full time on the city trash dump. The scholarship fund pays for their tuition, books and other materials so that it is not a burden for the family while the child attends school instead of collecting recyclables for money.
Q. Why did you choose to work with these particular charities?
A. In Honduras, two thirds of the population lives below poverty. Our business is helping drive economic growth there, but we also want to be good environmental stewards. We actually plant 100 trees for each one that we use. We also know how important it is to equip the youngest generations with education, which is why we support this school.
Q. What experience do you have working with charities on a personal level?
A. My brother and I grew up volunteering in overseas charitable work with our families, so it’s something that’s always been important to us.
Q. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in the toy industry? Why?
A. Convincing parents that play equals work for children. Play isn’t just a diversion, it’s the way children learn about themselves, test theories and learn about our world.
Q. How do you hope your products affect children’s lives?
A. One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s first toys as a little boy was a set of wooden blocks his mom bought for him in 1876. Though he never finished high school, he’s one of the most well respected architects of all time and is known for the geometric clarity of his designs. I’d love for all kids to be inspired through this kind of organic, free-range play with Tegu blocks.
Designed for both the classroom and the playroom, this magnetic wooden block set includes 106 blocks in 8 shapes: 12 cubes, 8 large columns, 16 mega planks, 26 long planks, 8 medium columns, 8 small trapezoids, 8 large trapezoids, and 20 short planks. During Tegu’s design process, we observe students in their natural environments and create educational tools that encourage active, inquisitive, and resourceful minds at all grade levels. Powered by magnets, Tegu Blocks offer puzzle-like constructive possibilities that challenge students to develop and problem solve their way to gravity-defying breakthroughs—improving hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills in the process. Launch date: February 2013.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 35562 (added 11/16/2012)
Hatch is a member of the Compact Line of Tegu Mobility. Deconstruct Hatch and click the wheels on and off to create any number of mobile creations. Magnetic connections make racing and crashing as fun as building. Hatch integrates seamlessly with the existing line of Tegu blocks. Made with beautiful Honduran hardwoods and safe water-based finishes.
Awards: 2012 Dr. Toy Best Green Toys
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 34250 (added 5/18/2012)
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Tegu's patent-pending blocks cleverly incorporate magnets inside sustainably harvested wood, offering gravity-defying blocks that show no visible point of connectivity and enable multi-dimensional building experiences. Available in the following honduran hardwood finishes: natural, mahogany, tints and jungle. "We utilize eco-friendly hardwoods, making them both durable and friendly to the forest," a rep for Tegu Inc told TDmonthly.
Awards: 2010 Parent’s Choice Award, 2010 Dr. Toy Best Green Toys and Children’s Products, 2010 Oppenheim Gold
— David Stelzer, owner of Shananigans in Baltimore, Md., told TDmonthly in a March 2015 survey that Tegu blocks were one of his store's best-selling eco-friendly toys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31808 (added 3/4/2011)
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Writer's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author
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