In 2010, Padraic Cuddy had the vision to bring a real looking, artificial grass to Ireland, at a time when few others saw the potential in the “fake grass” market. He established a business called Class Grass. They provide their services to schools, creches, gyms, communities and homes across Ireland, supplying them with authentic looking artificial grass. The future seemed clear for Cuddy until a request was made some four years ago, by his son, Tommy.
Padraic’s then three-year-old son loved tractors, farms and all the goings-on of agriculture in Ireland, and he wanted a field for his (toy) animals to graze on. So, when Padraic’s wife asked if he’d make their son “some sort of little field out of artificial grass, “ he set to work, and a handcrafted mock-up was created of a ‘little field’ and Tommy “spent an awful lot of time” playing with the home-made toy.
Once Tommy’s friends saw it, the requests came flooding in. The more requests that were made, the more Padraic began to think of it as less of a side project. Looking online for similar items, Cuddy saw that there was a gap in the market, a gap he was willing to fill.
The Christmas of 2014 is when he began taking things more seriously. Basing new designs on the original prototype, Cuddy began adding wooden gates, and hedges, with enough space for children to add their own farm toys too. It was then that ‘The Field’ was born.
Cuddy launched “The Field” in earnest at the National Ploughing Championship in 2015 and received an extremely positive reaction from the public. Before he knew it, he was doing several television interviews, and the national and local media coverage exploded him onto the nation toy scene. From there on, Cuddy decided his next move would be to get in contact with the Late Late Toy Show. A response was thankfully forthcoming. Mr Cuddy recalled the moment he got the news: “The day RTÉ called and said they wanted to feature us on the Toy Show for the first time, I rang my wife and I cried down the phone.”
The lucky break came when Ryan Tubridy, host of the Late Late Toy Show, played with their toy as over a million viewers watched at home, the boost in the run-up to Christmas was invaluable. The hard work of the previous nine months had finally paid off and boosted their confidence to develop a wider variety of products to go on sale.
The following Christmas would also see ‘The Field’ on the Late Late Toy Show yet again after Cuddy received a call from RTE requesting information about their newest products. This occasion saw The Field given away as a coveted memento - “One for everyone in the audience.” In 2017 Padraic made another appearance on the Late Late Toy Show, which helped increase sales and convince him to, yet again, increase the range of products.
‘The Field’ ranges in price from €20 to €220, and the company now has six products for sale, including their original field, a grass role, paddocks, a half-acre field, a compound and a large farm. Not forgetting the “collection” and the “ultimate collection” also readily available to buy. Despite the continued growth and success of the range, the original “The Field” remains the biggest seller.
The field business is a growing success and Cuddy says managing finances is a challenge. Class Grass takes up most of the time, with it being their core business, but it helped the initial funding of ‘The Field’ which, in subsequent years, has expanded and developed.
With revenues of just under half a million euro to date, Padraic’s goal is to grow revenues to a seven-figure sum in the next number of years.
The Field has just launched two product lines in the United States. Hopes are high that the international market will take to the products with a similar enthusiasm as Ireland has. This expansion in distribution posses its own challenges, Cuddy explained: “Up until this year we would have financed everything ourselves. But now that we’re going into the American market we’ve got a business loan because we’d never be able to fund it otherwise,”. Like with any business, it’s not until sales start to come in, that they will see a return on their investment.
The Field has seen the sale of over 20,000 toys in just the three years and Cuddy hopes that with his expansion plans, they will sell at least 10,000 toys this year. The business is still operated from Roscommon, and products are being sold in stores all over Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as on Amazon, and www.thefield.ie. Most of the manufacturing is still done in Ireland, however, some manufacturing is being outsourced to China to facilitate sales in the United States.
Sales in the US are being done solely online, due to the size of the country, and the company are focused on sales in Texas first, due to the large farming industry in the southern state. Considering the success in Ireland in the short period of time, it is hoped that the toys will resonate with children across the world.
“There are no guarantees but we will do everything we can to make it work. If we could get a couple of lucky breaks along the way that might help. Noel, one of the guys who make The Field, says we have to get onto Ellen DeGeneres – he never shuts up about it,” concluded Padraic Cuddy.
The Democrat wish the Padraic and “The Field” team all the best in their US expansion plans, and continued success at home here in Ireland and in the UK. You can buy The Field toys from all good retailers and direct at www.thefield.ie.