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Guidecraft going strong after nearly three decades

by Michael Mattison
Guidecraft has been a mainstay in the Winthrop community for nearly three decades. Kevin Caldwell, who has been with the company since it came to Winthrop will be retiring next month but said he is leaving with a strong cast of employees to keep the company moving forward.
Guidecraft has been in Winthrop for 27 years. Kaplan Companies owns the majority shares of Guidecraft and bought Richcraft which was located in Winthrop. Kevin Caldwell was given the opportunity at that time to run the operations in Winthrop.
Guidecraft is a manufacturer of early childhood toys and furniture and that is what the Winthrop facility did at the time.
Times change and businesses have to adapt. Caldwell explained that everything is going overseas and Guidecraft in Winthrop had to change to a distribution center rather than manufacturing.
Caldwell has served as general manager, executive vice president and other roles as the company continued to grow. He is currently the director of international operations. He overseas all of the operations worldwide for Guidecraft.
There is a new facility in North Carolina and a new warehouse in the works in China which will consolidate three warehouses in that country. They also have a warehouse in the Netherlands and are working on a distribution center in the United Kingdom.
A couple of years ago, they got the opportunity to start licensing Martha Stewart. “We do a lot of her desks for children and we make a kitchen helper which is our number one seller,” Caldwell said. They sell over 10,000 kitchen helpers a month worldwide.
Guidecraft distributes its toys and furniture worldwide.
Caldwell said it was time for him to retire. He said he had three strokes in August. “That was a wake-up call to me that I need to slow down and take some stress out of my life,” he said. His last day with the company will be January 31 and shortly after he will be heading to Florida.
Four people will be taking over Caldwell’s position with Kristin McCue overseeing China and all of the warehouses worldwide.
There are currently 21 people employed in the Winthrop facility and that number has been pretty consistant throughout the years.
When COVID hit, Guidecraft gave its employees the opportunity to work from home. The staff at the facility has diminished but the total staff has remained the same.
“There is no discussion about it,” Caldwell said of moving the company. “We have a good group of employees with a wealth of knowledge. Most of our employees have been here for seven-plus years. You can’t replace that very easily.”
He said he has enjoyed working for a small company and the opportunities that he might not have been afforded at a different job.

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