Our Story

Our mission is simple and focused: “to create fantastic, nature inspired playgrounds and other products which enhance children’s environments.”

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Our Beginnings

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Not long ago, we lived and worked on a big country farm, where the character of the buildings were thoughtfully maintained. But, the only things that we grew were our beautiful, wonderful children (5 to be exact) and the most incredible playground equipment in the whole Universe. On June 25, 2008 we experienced a terrible misfortune. Five of our buildings, inventory, equipment and pretty much everything, burned to the ground in a terrible fire. By the grace of God, no one was injured and the brave firefighters, (from the eleven nearest fire departments), were able to save our home. That alone is a miracle.
We learned a great deal from the experience. For starters, we have a new appreciation for all of our blessings. Thanks to the kindness and support of friends, neighbors, the community, family, customers and suppliers, we were able to get back on our feet in short order. Our new shop is a beautiful 36,000 square foot building. Five loading docks and 14′ overhead doors make shipping nationwide a breeze. We are now able to assemble custom orders indoors, before we load up and hit the road for an installation. This helps ensure quality. We now have an entire area dedicated to perfecting full scale, cutting edge, prototypes.

Bears Today

The Bears Playground Crew was born. That was over 20 years ago and over the years we have grown and grown. Now, Bears Playground Crew consists of a complete team of outdoor play professionals, craftsmen and artists. Danny and Marcye Bears are participating members on a technical subcommittee for the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). ASTM writes industry standards for hundreds of areas, including playgrounds. So, while we do not write the rule book on playground safety, we certainly do help. Trey Socash with a background in Mechanical Engineering is our Vice President and also a participating voting member for ASTM. Tyler Ponko is our General Manager and focuses on design. Todd MacWhorter leads all of our installation teams as the Supervising Foreman.  Lenny Yokes is our Shop Manager.

Jim Dersam is Head of Manufacturing. Tyler Angarano helps in the office as our Operations Manager. Our entire Bears Playgrounds Crew also includes Mike K, Chris G, Mike C, Chris M, Matt T, Mason P, Cal, Justin, James R, Curtis, John, Ron, Caleb and many others. Everybody here on the “Bears Playground Crew” is important. Collectively we have earned a reputation as “Seal Team Six” of the Playground World. Currently nine members of our staff are trained and tested, Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI).
We are members of the International Playground Contractors Association, International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA), The Association of Adventure Course Technology (ACCT) and Global Re-Leaf (an organization that plants trees for ecosystem restoration).

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How We Do It

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To ensure the best possible service, we distribute manufacturer direct to the final customer. That means a quality experience throughout the entire process and the best possible price. You can buy our natural cedar playgrounds at our sales office and display yard, or by phone/email. Our playgrounds can be shipped to you for installation by others, or preferably we can custom build, deliver and install your playground wherever in the world you want us to.
With our playgrounds, we have created a “hybrid” or balance between the innocent, natural adventure of playing in the forest and the structure and safety required by today’s standards for children’s spaces. We have been building nature inspired playgrounds since long before it was trendy. We have always understood that natural, renewable materials are far greener than powder coated steel and plastics. Our expertise in creating children’s outdoor spaces and experience in log construction is what makes Bears the perfect choice for transforming your existing space or creating a new space into a Bears Natural Playground.
We use natural materials, like our beautiful, whole, round northern white cedar logs with all their natural features. Our cedar logs have a fat end and a skinny end like a tree (instead of a manufactured dowel). They have gorgeous wood grain, checking, knots, crooks, curves, etc. Our bold, strong and built to last architecture beautifies children’s spaces, while capturing a child’s imagination. Our nature inspired products and natural materials help stimulate a child’s enthusiasm for nature. In short, our products facilitate learning, create opportunities for exercise, help build social skills and help provide a unique connection to the great outdoors.

Our Process

“The Process” begins with a phone call or e-mail from you. We then produce a rough concept drawing. There is no cost or obligation for the drawing. They will include information like the size of the areas, itemized costs of the various components and events, shipping and / or delivery and installation cost. Drawings usually undergo revisions as more information becomes available to us, such as space available, budget, ages of the children, and your preferences. The process continues until we’ve designed the perfect, customized, natural playground for your needs.
Finally the drawing becomes our shop manufacturing and installation blue print. Manufacturing through installation, all processes possible are controlled “in-house” at our facility in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York. Yes that’s right, we still believe that great things can be created right here in the USA. We are largely “manufacturer direct” to keep your costs down. The process streamlined and your overall experience is exceptional because it is under our direct control. To get started call or e-mail us today.
Our reputation and web site www.bearsplaygrounds.com has earned us customers from coast to coast and around the world. So whether you are looking for design help, safety surfacing or just the greatest outdoor play products available, the playground crew at Bears is at your service.
We are proud members of:
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Our ASTM committee participates with the Consumer Product Safety Commission on developing guidelines for playground safety.
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We are members of International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association
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We are participating members of the American Society of Testing and Materials and serve on the technical sub-committee 15.09 for Home and Commercial Use Playgrounds.
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International Playground Contractors Association
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We are members of the Association for Challenge Course Technology

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