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Game Plan: Local IT firm takes board games global

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TGC does not manufacture game board pieces — or bits. “We are constantly searching the world to find places that produce [bits],” Smith notes. “We will buy 5,000 of this or 5,000 of that so people can add them to their game.” Some pieces are vintage — such as Monopoly or Clue game pieces.

Currently, TGC boasts 51,000 worldwide users and has an inventory of 48,000 game titles in its Web library. Last year, the company produced 36,000 copies of 8,000 games, and 2014 will surpass that. The company serves a worldwide market with 30% of shipments traveling internationally.

“We’re focused globally, not locally,” Smith says. “Madison is just one more city in the world. We have to be that way. There are 7 billion people in the world, but only a million potential clients.”

The company is in year five of a 10-year plan to reach all of those potential million. In the next five years, it may open a trial machine in Europe — perhaps in Germany, Poland, or Holland.

The longtime friends and owners live in separate markets — Smith in Madison; Parker, marketing, in Michigan; and Vrbsky, logistics, in LaCrosse — so they collaborate regularly through email or Skype. The company employs — and pays — 29 mostly full-time workers.

“In the greater scheme of the $11 billion board game market, we’re a fly on the wall,” Smith admits. “But this is successful in that it exceeded our initial expectations, it’s paying my salary, and we’ve created 30 jobs, essentially, from thin air.”

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