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Behind the scenes tour: Exploring the magic of a US toy inventors workshop

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Tech advancements

Social media is probably a channel SMEs are generally guilty of underutilising, but the fact of the matter is that new technologies can be incredibly powerful, even if they can come across as daunting at first. 3D printing has been hugely beneficial at BMT, for example.

Rosenwinkel said: 3D printing is the hot thing right now and it has really changed our business. Weve got printers working 24 hours a day and when we come back in the morning the work is done, whereas before we had to hire someone to work all night to do that.

Team spirit

As the saying goes, there is no I in team. And, it’s important that bosses and employees alike recognise and appreciate that their peers are all different and integral to the operation.

BMT actually has a visual, tangible representation of that ethos in the workshop it’s a train, and employees are the fuel powering it during the journey to its destination.

The kitchen itself has been built into a structure of an old fashioned train carriage, while theres also a working toy train that motors around the studio.

Five worker archetypes and effectively managing them

A lot of our projects around here are all about how we have to work together for the business to work, so our theme has always been a train,” Rosenwinkel explained.

Everybody who starts here gets their own toy cart, and you build something on it thats representative of yourself you’re all part of the train and everybody works together. Thats actually electrified and it all goes around the office.

He joked that a derailment meant that a few of the carriages had disappeared from the tracks, as the firm employees some 25 people.

The right environment

Bland grey walls and a no speaking policy is unlikely to do anything but demotivate staff members, and yet some firms still have an old fashioned dcor greeting employees. Would a splash of paint really be too much trouble Some paintings perhaps It wouldnt break the bank. For BMT, it’s the building itself which is rather special, however.

Rosenwinkel said: We have a pretty spectacular space. Our skylight is 300ft long and we replaced all the glass and put thermopaned windows in there theyre operable too, so you can let all the hot air out. Previously it was all covered with black tar.

Its great, especially in winter because it’s cold in Chicago, but it still feels like you’re in southern California. Whether it’s December or August it still feels the same in here, which makes winter a lot nicer than normal.

Many bosses will be all too familiar with the political office battle of air conditioning versus heating, so a steady and welcoming temperature all year round would likely be a Godsend.

As for the actual structure, there arent any annoying pillars getting in the way of feng shui or decorative freedoms.

This building is interesting too it’s called a bow truss. It was very heavily used in Chicago at the turn of the century. The idea is these trusses support all of the loads, so there are no internal walls. Nothing in here is holding anything else up,” he added.

And where individual workspaces are concerned, staff are again invited to showcase their individuality.

All the design areas are unique; none are exactly like the others. Theyre different shapes, some guys are messy, some are tidy. Theres usually lots of clutter, thats very typical.

You might think that working with toys on a daily basis is a perk of the job in itself, but BMT has more than that to offer staff, so continue touring the Chicago studio on the next page as the tour continues out the back and upstairs to a specially built area.

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