Description: Luxury handmade wooden jigsaw puzzle company
Start-up: $10,000 in 1974
Sales: 2002 projected sales of $2 million
Posh puzzles: Stave puzzles have received major attention for their unique shapes, fine artwork and tricky designs. A definite luxury item, puzzles start at $95 and go as high as $15,000.
Opportunity rings: Making cardboard puzzles in the early '70s, Richardson was intrigued by a request for a wooden puzzle the customer was willing to pay $300 for. He learned fancy puzzle company Par Puzzles had gone out of business, but a client base of a few hundred wealthy people in the East Coast area-think Rockefellers, du Ponts, Mellons-remained. Richardson went to business.
Reinventing the puzzle: Flat, standing or 3-D, Stave puzzles can be personalized by cutting pieces with specific names or shapes. Richardson also invented the trick puzzle: His Champ product has 32 contortions but only one correct solution.
Cause célèbre: Bill and Melinda Gates, Barbara Bush and many other high-profile families and celebrities are loyal customers. Richardson says, "What's extra special is they get to know us, trust us, love and hate us."
- Stave Puzzles Inc.
(802) 295-5200, http://www.stave.com