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‘It is a labor of love’ | St. Louis area family-owned business makes handcrafted board games

The company’s warehouse just off Watson Road is a beehive of activity with workers sanding, cutting and spraying

ST. LOUIS — A lot of people rediscovered family game night during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a local family-owned small business provided some activities for those nights. 

The company’s warehouse just off Watson Road is a beehive of actives. Workers are sanding, cutting and spraying.

“It is a labor of love for sure,” Kim McDaniel told 5 On Your Side. 

The love has multiple levels. There is a love for what they do and for Ryan McDaniel. 

“A funny, creative, amazing guy,” said Kim. 

Ryan is the inspiration behind the company Across the Board. 

“He just truly had a passion,” she said. 

A passion to build a better wooden board game, and he went to work on it with his own two hands. 

“He didn’t have any professional training or anything like that. Ryan would work in the garage 12, 14, 16 hours a day making two games at a time,” Kim said.

The family business does a much larger volume these days. 

“Absolutely blows me away. We’re just a small little business here in St. Louis County,” Kim said. 

But the little business is earning a big reputation. 

“We are now the official horse racing game of the Kentucky Derby. We received a limited license from MLB. So we do make logo games for all 30 teams,” she said. 

Sadly, Ryan is not here to see what his dream has become. 

“He was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in September of 2013,” she said. 

The diagnosis came as an unwelcome surprise. 

“We just thought he had lost a little weight cause he was working so much,” she explained. 

He passed away in 2015. Now, the work in the warehouse carries on in his honor. 

“He was definitely the heart and soul behind Across the Board,” she said. 

The craftmanship tries to live up to Ryan’s standards. 

“He was a perfectionist,” Kim said.

She wants Across the Board to be his lasting legacy. 

“If he couldn’t be here to physically see it himself, the kids and I just made it our mission to see it come true for him,” she said.

The company now produces 20 different wooden board games. 

If you would like to learn more about the family business, visit Across the Board's website.