Challenges, problems, and triumphs
-- from a manufacturer's perspective.
The History of Walnut Hollow®
One of the genuine pioneers of the modern craft
Staff Report (January 16, 2012)
(Note: CLN is in the process of publishing
histories of industry companies, including Plaid
HERE), Michigan Scrapbook Scrapbooker magazine, The
Creative Network, and Design Works Crafts (current issue). If you
would like to submit a history of your company, send it to
A timeline for one of the industry's iconic
1972. Walnut Hollow was started by Dave and Nancy Ladd
as a family idea that originated from the family tree farm in
Wisconsin and an interest in nature and woodland conservation
practices. The family enjoyed planting, pruning, and watching trees
grow on their farmland. When some of the mature trees were
harvested, Nancy began making woodcraft projects using cross-section
pieces from the tree limbs. At that time, dried flowers, bread dough
art and decoupage were very popular.
Dave attends his 1st HIA Trade Show to market Ladd’s Walnut Country
Rounds® which were offered in eight sizes. Customers were served
Wisconsin cheese and crackers and he went home with $25,000 in
sales. With the help of family, business friends, and the Forest
Products Laboratory in Madison, Dave developed a manufacturing
process and Walnut Hollow was soon on its way. After a short period
of time, the Country Rounds® line was expanded to include a
full array of rustic products with the natural bark look.
Scott Ladd, Dave and Nancy’s son, is introduced to the art of
woodburning. At the age of 13, Scott attends trade shows with Dave
and demonstrates woodburning techniques. With Scott’s help, Wanut
Hollow becomes the craft industry’s "Pioneer of Woodburning.".
The original Creative Woodburner®
Pen is developed along with special tips and techniques mastered by
An expanded Naturally Rustic Woodcraft line is launched and
the first Creative Woodburning® book is published. Soon
thereafter, a complete line of woodburning products is launched
along with a clockmaking program to include wood blanks, movements,
After exhibiting at various trade shows, a partnership develops with
Sue Scheewe, a widely known tole & decorative painter. Sue began
painting on Walnut Hollow's rustic products and this led her to
create original artist patterns designed exclusively for woodburning
and Walnut Hollow. Her endorsement contributed considerably to
Walnut Hollow’s growth.
Walnut Hollow becomes one of the first craft companies in the
industry to promote merchandising and education. More books are
published and woodburning kits become an integral part of the
Walnut Hollow celebrates its 10th anniversary and acquires O-P Craft
Company. With new equipment and manufacturing capabilities, new
products are developed such as boxes, plaques, and plates. Basswood
and Walnut Natural Plaques are added to the growing product
mix and a woodcarving program is developed to include carving
blocks, tools, and books.
The company takes a new marketing direction with Routed Shapes,
Functional Wood, Country Primitives, and Signboards.
As sales grew within these categories, the company began putting
more emphasis on those products. The rustics all but disappeared
except for Country Rounds and Planks.
A new decorating trend emerged and the
American Country Woodcraft line is launched. The collection
includes primitive signboards, shelves, letters, and gameboards.
On May 8, 1987, a fire destroyed company's offices, shipping
department, warehouse, and more than fifty percent of the inventory
of finished goods. With the help of the business community, friends,
and employees, the company was producing and shipping product within
three days after the fire. In spite of the loss, the company was
able to achieve substantial sales gains by the end of the year.
Dave receives the Wisconsin Small Business Person of the Year
award and becomes second runner-up in the national competition.he
was honored by President Regan in a Rose Garden ceremony. The
product line approaches 500 items. New programs include doll
furniture, carved plaques, project promo kits and sales-building
1990. Home décor for the 90’s is the company's new direction.
At HIA's Press Day in New York City,
Scott Ladd unveils wooden birdhouses to the craft industry. Over
the next year, more than 1,000,000 birdhouses are produced.
Walnut Hollow celebrates its 20th anniversary. Expanded home décor
lines are introduced, including small furniture pieces and
screen-printed seasonal shapes. A new signboard program and
laser-cut phrases are launched.
The company is now producing more than
1,000 products using state-of-the-art routers, lasers, sanders and
Unexpected death of Scott Ladd, who by that time was VP of Sales &
Walnut Hollow teams with Priscilla Hauser to publish 12 new
decorative painting books.
The Scott Ladd Memorial Award is
established by ACCI and awarded to Walnut Hollow for 15 years of
loyal participation in promoting creative crafts in the industry.
Four new woodburning books are published and a collection of frames
and wide-edge basswood plaques are launched.
The Contemporary Folk Collection
is introduced, along with pre-stained functional wood pieces and
Walnut Hollow receives the HIA Innovation award for the new
Basswood Folk Boxes and the Doll Furniture Collection
is expanded to accommodate the popular American Girl® dolls.
A Lifestyle Collection of small, affordable furniture pieces
is developed for the DIY customer.
Walnut Hollow celebrates its 30th Anniversary.
Dave Ladd receives the HIA Lifetime
Member award for his commitment to the association and the
Walnut Hollow receives the HIA Innovations "Best of General
Crafts" award for the Creative Versa-Tool™ and Creative
The John H. Brogan Environmental Achievement award,
Wisconsin's highest form of environmental recognition, is presented
to Walnut Hollow and Dave Ladd.
The Creative Metal® program is launched and includes a
comprehensive product mix including metal, tools, accessories, and
kits. Two new Clay Tools are added to the product line.
Walnut Hollow manufactures new wood surfaces including cherry and
oak Signboards and Basswood Canvas™. Professional tools for
artists and artisans are introduced.
Wood panels are added to the mix of new wood surfaces, giving
customers new options for stamping, painting, altered art,
embellishing, and collage.
Walnut Hollow® celebrates its 40th Anniversary and launches the new
and improved Creative Versa-Tool™.