Republished from Escondido Insight, a monthly e-newsletter from the City of Escondido’s Economic Development Division. To subscribe, go to www.escondido.org/business.aspx
When you are lucky enough to do what you love, it’s especially great when you get to do it in a place you love too. Just ask Greg Spence, a lifetime gamer and wood-working hobbyist who turned his passion into a thriving business in his hometown of Escondido.
Spence and his wife Tiffany are the owners of The Broken Token, which designs and manufactures precision-built organizers and game crates for the tabletop board game industry as well as game components, miniatures, and accessories. The tabletop gaming industry has a global market with games that span many genres, including educational games, fantasy, sports, strategy building, and more. Many of these games require additional accessories such as dice, cards, high-quality miniatures, and playing pieces. The Broken Token leads the industry in gaming storage and organization tools. The company’s laser-cut Baltic Birch plywood storage boxes are top-quality pieces made with attention to detail and brand specifications.
Details are what sets The Broken Token apart from its competitors. As an active board gamer, Spence began building organization boxes to hold his own game pieces. When he posted one of his designs online, fans of the piece began requesting boxes of their own. “The business really built itself,” he said.
By late 2013, he was creating boxes for gamers across the globe out of his Escondido garage and in April 2014, the business had grown to the point that he and Tiffany expanded to their first warehouse in Escondido. Tiffany left her day job in the local video game industry to become the Marketing Manager and oversee marketing, social media, and events. By fall 2015, Spence joined the company full time as well. Today, with a staff of nearly 40, The Broken Token occupies a 12,000 square foot warehouse and are looking to expand again.
Staying in Escondido is a top priority for the Spences, who moved to the city in 2008. They love the atmosphere of North County and the convenience Escondido brings with its access to freeways, vibrant community life, and a business-friendly environment while still maintaining a comforting rural and small-town feel.
When asked why he has chosen to stay in Escondido and build his business here, Spence said, “Escondido has a great pool of talent. It’s never been difficult to find employees and we love creating jobs for the city we live in.”
In fact, most of the company’s employees are Escondido locals and many others have relocated to the city since they began working at The Broken Token.
Spence is also glad to see that the board game industry in Escondido is growing strong, especially with the recent opening of the gaming store Gaming On Grand in Escondido.
“The board game industry has really been making a huge comeback over the last five to 10 years,” he said. “I think people are just really realizing how fun it is to sit down with your friends face-to-face and play a game together. This industry has been growing and growing.”
While The Broken Token began as an outlet for board gamers to find organizers for their own games, industry publishers and board game manufacturers started hearing about the game crates Spence and his team were building and soon they began inquiring about collaborations. Currently, The Broken Token has branding partnerships with some of the industry’s top game board publishing companies, such as IELLO (King of Tokyo), Fireside Games (Castle Panic), Rio Grande Games (Dominion), Bezier Games (One Night Ultimate Werewolf), and CGE (Codenames). Overall, The Broken Token has organization solutions for approximately 120 games.
Spence said the company also makes it a point to listen to what customers want out of their accessories. The Broken Token even hosts its own YouTube channel and has an open-door policy with customers. The company’s site provides videos that show how products are made, introduces new products, and gives customers an inside look at the company culture.
This bodes well for a company in Escondido, especially as National Manufacturing Day is right around the corner on October 1. Spence said he plans to participate this year by going to an open house at another manufacturing company in North County. He also hopes to go to the Manufacturing Expo, which will be held at Cal State San Marcos and will feature other manufacturing businesses in Escondido and North County.
As business owners in Escondido, the Spences are also involved with Innovate78, which works with other North County cities to boost economic initiatives along the 78 Corridor.
When it comes to shared ideas and business expansion in North County, Spence said, “I love to see how other industries in Escondido handle growth and manufacturing.”
He welcomes fellow business owners and gamers to call and stop by for private tours or to see how their building process works. For Spence, “Everyday has been manufacturing day for us.”