When Thomas and Michelle Baer were looking for a quality backyard swing set for their family, they discovered that the only products available were very expensive, pre-cut wooden swing sets. Thomas decided to design a low-cost alternative wood swing set that included all the necessary hardware, except the lumber. They approached DRS Investment Group to suggest a partnership to manufacture and market do-it-yourself wooden home playground equipment kits and formed Swing-N-Slide in 1985 located in Janesville, Wisconsin.
By the early 1990s, they had 6 basic designs for swing sets and 5 basic designs for climbing units.1 Each of these designs included an assembly plan, chains, seats, brackets, hangers, ropes, fasteners, and all that was needed except the wood, nails, and tools for assembly. A list of these additional supplies was also included.
Swing-N-Slide began manufacturing slides to augment the swing set kits and climbing units. They briefly offered metal slides but soon switched to the greater flexibility and popularity of the plastic slides. In 1992, they began offering their plastic residential Tube Slide.2 They also added accessories for the swing sets and climbing kits, including nets, tarps, and merry-go-rounds.
By this time, Swing-N-Slide products were not only available through lumber yards, but through “more than 6,000 retail outlets, including 19 of the 20 largest home center chains with operations throughout the United States.”3 That same year the company became a publicly traded company. Two years later, in 1994, Tuff Kids, a do-it-yourself commercial play line, was launched as an alternative to commercial playground installation.4
Sales peaked the following year but then stagnated, such that by 1996 the company needed a change, replacing Thomas, as president and CEO, with Frederic L. Contino. Frederic made changes by streamlining their existing services, expanding their reach into outlet markets, and adding a focus on designing new and better playground systems.
His key strategy, however, was “to grow the company through a comprehensive acquisitions plan.”5 In 1997, GameTime, Inc. of Fort Payne, Alabama was the first of these acquisitions. As a manufacturer of commercial outdoor playground equipment for schools, parks, municipalities, day care centers, churches, hotels, campgrounds, and amusement parks, GameTime not only contributed playground products, but a national and international sales network.6
GameTime's products included their three lines of commercial playground systems (PrimeTime, PowerScape, and TotTime) and a commercial outdoor furniture line called StreetScape. They also had the skill and facilities in metal fabrication that improved Swing-N-Slide's Tuff Kids commercial playground line. In return, Swing-N-Slide's manufacturing plant in Janesville took on the production of bubble windows and panels for GameTime.
In 1998, Swing-N-Slide became PlayCore, Inc. to reflect their expanding focus on play and playgrounds beyond the consumer swing, slide, and climbing basics. As PlayCore continued to expand adding other recreation companies to their family, Swing-N-Slide has continued to provide families with do-it-yourself options in planning their backyard or community play spaces.7
Swing-N-Slide was sold to Backyard Products, LLC in 2013.8
- 1. “PlayCore, Inc.” PlayCore, Inc. < http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/PlayCore-Inc-Company-History.html > 28 July 2010.
- 2. “Innovation of Swing-N-Slide.” Swing N Slide. < http://www.swing-n-slide.com/AboutUs.aspx > 3 August 2011.
- 3. Op.cit., “PlayCore, Inc.”
- 4. Op.cit., “Innovation of Swing-N-Slide.”
- 5. Op.cit., “PlayCore, Inc.”
- 6. Op.cit., “PlayCore, Inc.”
- 7. Op.cit., “Innovation of Swing-N-Slide.”
- 8. "Backyard Products, LLC Aquires Swing-N-Slide." iReach. < http://www.ireachcontent.com/news-releases/backyard-products-llc-acquires-swing-n-slide-231751131.html > 13 Nov. 2013.