Designer Details - Fred Stave of Goose Creek Enterprises

October 14, 2015

Designer Details - Fred Stave of Goose Creek Enterprises

Goose Creek Enterprises create one-of-a-kind handcrafted heirloom riding rockers for children.

This heart-warming range is defined by quality craftsmanship and a personal touch. Each item has been designed and handmade with a genuine passion and desire to create the very best for children to cherish and enjoy now and for generations to come.

Founder Fred Stave and his wife Sondra have four children and four grandchildren. They live with their three Cocker Spaniels on 150 hilly, wooded acres on Goose Creek Bay which connects to the Ohio River.

Fred retired from his career in engineering research and advanced development in 1999. Having developed a deep admiration for the skills used by the technicians that had supported many of his projects, he began his retirement by building a very large workshop, complete with metals section, an electronics lab, and finally a woodworking section.

Designer Details - Fred Stave of Goose Creek Enterprises'After teaching myself the basic woodworking skills and studying many woodworking books... I concluded that I was ready to embark on my first large project. I decided to make a rocking horse, with the objective being to pass on an heirloom quality piece to each of our four grandchildren.'

After producing his first horse using a commercial pattern, Fred found himself dissatisfied with the mechanical details, safety considerations and overall styling of the finished piece.

'A good artist friend of ours, Pat Holcomb, started putting her thoughts in while I was improving the construction details and out of this grew a prototype that eventually became our current prancing horse.'

Fred is inspired by the drive to design and fabricate a unique rocking animal that is not only pleasing to children but also sturdy, safe and beautiful enough to pass the test of time. Each Goose Creek Enterprises design is attractive enough be used as a furniture accessory until it is ready to be used as a rocking animal again by the next generation.

We asked Fred to tell us a little more about the design process and the journey from initial idea to finished product...

'Pat and I initially sit down over a sketch pad and put our ideas on paper. After agreeing on a basic concept, we start discussing the construction details with a continual eye always on safety. The safety of the child is always paramount.

Once a “strawman” design is agreed upon, I build a prototype in order to confirm the basic concepts. The prototype is refined either in design or styling and then exposed to critical art panels and some of our retailers for comment. Then we gave it a “road test” at a local family shelter with active children being encouraged to play and ride the animal.  Once this is complete we place the new design in our catalogue.'

Designer Details - Fred Stave of Goose Creek Enterprises

What's special about your rockers? What sets them apart from other items on the market?

'Three things set our Rocking Riders apart from the competition.  Styling design, finish variety, and user safety.

We always strive to have a unique visual design such as the flying pig, a unicorn and a motorcycle based hog... Also, all versions of the Riding Rockers are available in a traditional natural wood finish as well as unique hand painted decorative schemes designed and hand painted by Pat.

The user safety stems from my career-long quest for customer safety in the consumer goods market.  Safety is considered in every design feature and detail.

Over active rocking of the animals will not result in the flipping of the rocker due to the unique design of the rocker tips.  When the rocking limit is reached only very excessive adult type force is required to upset the rocker.

Second, all joining points utilize at least two joining methods, both glue and screw, mortice and tenon and glue, or peg and glue.

Lastly, all materials have been tested and certified by the manufacturers to be completely chemically safe.  In other words a child can chew on all surfaces of all designs and be perfectly safe.  In addition the materials are eco-friendly and the woods are abundant and sustainable in the American mid-west.'

What do you love most about creating rockers for children?

'I love both the creative and fabrication process that provides self-satisfaction for both Pat and myself and subsequently creates long term pleasure children everywhere. In fact one customer, a grandfather, has gifted a Rocking Rider to each of his seven grandchildren.'

Which is your favourite rocker to work on?

'I really like the naturally finished inlaid Applejack while Pat favours the hand painted Rose.'

Designer Details - Fred Stave of Goose Creek Enterprises

How do you like to relax when you're not working?

'My main hobby is amateur radio where my main interest is attempting to talk to all of the countries in the world.  I have been working on this for over 60 years and so far have contacted 332 out of 340 possible countries—8 more to go!

I still am very active doing engineering consulting work.  I miss the creativity of technology when I am not thinking about techy issues. I also love to read and listen to audio books when I drive.'

Tell us about three things that make you smile on a daily basis

1. Sharing a good political joke with a friend
2. Contributing to one of the many non-profit boards I sit on
3. Interacting with my wife of many years whom I have known since her high school years

Explore the full Goose Creek Enterprises collection here. Which is your favourite design?

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