The Story Behind The Brand
We introduced the Bumbo Seat to the USA back in August 2003, when we imported the first containers. When I think back it is hard to believe that initially, people were not interested in the Bumbo and practically chased me out of their stores. After a couple of months of persisting we finally started to get an interest from the special needs’ community. I received a call form a lady by the name of Tammy who asked me ifthe Bumbo seat would work for her son with special needs, Jonathan. Since I wasnot sure, I said I would send her a Bumbo seat and if it did not work, I wouldpay for all the shipping costs if she needed to return it.
After receiving the Bumbo Seat, Tammy called me back to say it was amazing and that Jonathan loved it. With Tammy’s help we started reaching out to the community of children with special needs and they began to see the benefits of the Bumbo seat. Following that, parentsand caregivers of typically developing children started to order the seat.Despite the fact that we eventually made the Bumbo Seat a household brand name,it still took us almost three years to get an interest from the big box storeslike Toys R US, Babies R Us, Target, and later Walmart.
After the first couple of years I started to get more and more requests for a “Bigger Bumbo Seat” from the special needs community who now had children who were out growing the Bumbo seat. We approached the Bumbo Seat company in South Africa, and they said they would work on it. Every couple of months I would follow up with them and they would say they were working on it.
I happened to be in South Africa in 2005and went to Bumbo’s head office to discuss the “Bigger Bumbo Seat”. After two years it turns out that they had done nothing regarding a “Bigger Bumbo Seat, ”their reasoning being it was too expensive, and they would not make money out of it. I was extremely disappointed as I had promised a lot of parents thatt here was one in the making. The meeting ended with Bumbo saying they had nointerest in it and I should make one if I wanted to.
On my return to the USA, I started my research and development. I reached out to Tammy who arranged for me to meet with some of Johnathan’s therapists to discuss the design. Then, after cutting a few different shapes out of Styrofoam, we returned to test them with Johnathan and his therapists. I then then took the prototypes down to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and met with several therapists. By this stage I was getting confused as some wanted the seats to slope in, some wanted them to slope out. Some wanted more slope and some less slope!! It was time to decide, so I went with the “law of averages” and the Childrite was born.
Now that we had a design, we had to find a company to make it! We started off by trying to make them in South Africa, however, after two eight-week trips there and no Childrite Seat, we decided to move the fabrication closer to us. We found a company in Weatherford Texas who was prepared to take it on. RIM and I battled to get a flawless seat. It is like baking bread in a sense, as you add two mixed liquids together and it turns into foam and rises. As you know there is a limit to how high you can get bread to rise no matter how much dough you put in the baking dish. Despite making the seat 2” shorter than the original design we were still getting too many rejects. RIM, an amazing company, who now shared my passion to make the Childrite work, brought in a chemist. We struggled, but I was determined. Fortunately, just when everyone was doubting it was going to work, we succeeded by making some adjustments to the blow holes in the mold. We were still getting a large percentage of rejects by the time we went into production, but we were so happy to see that after a year of research and development and many, many hours of frustration, our hard work and persistence had paid off.
One the seats were in circulation, we started getting feedback on how the Childrite Seat was changing the lives of not only the children but the families too!
Over the years we have been challenged about the selling price of the Childrite Seat as people compare it to the Bumbo Seat. But, there is more than 3 times the amount of Polyurethane foam in a Childrite Seat compared to a Bumbo and that is where the cost is. One of the other factors is production cost. There are hundreds of thousands of Bumbo’ssold a month compared to less than 20 Childrite’s as the production cost is so much higher. The Bumbo is made on automated carousels in China with 50 molds per carousel. The Childite seat is proudly individually made in the USA by RIM manufacturing in Weatherford TX.
Thanks to RIM manufacturing for holding price, Mackanan has not increased the price of the Childrite Seat since its inception in 2006.
Both Mackanan and RIM realize the importance of keeping the Childite as affordable as possible to the families who need them!