Anita DiGregory

On Monday, February 27, 2017,  Maryland and town of Thurmont officials proudly welcomed Playground Specialists, Inc., to the community with a grand opening celebration which included an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Playground Specialists, Inc., a full-service recreation company owned and operated by Jeff Barber, is a dynamic company, specializing in assisting clients with all commercial park and playground needs, including sales, design, and installation. At the welcome ceremony, many local leaders were on hand, including Frederick County Office of Economic Development Director Helen Propheter, Frederick County Council President Bud Otis, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter, Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird, Thurmont Commissioner Bill Buehrer, Thurmont Public Works Department Superintendent Butch West, and Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick. All in attendance were happy to welcome this thriving company, and Barber and his staff, into their new headquarters on Apples Church Road.

Although Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was not in attendance at the ceremony, he stated, “Ensuring hard-working citizens in every region of the state have access to new job opportunities is a top priority of our administration. Playground Specialists is a homegrown company, and it is welcome news that they are continuing to grow and add jobs right here in Maryland.”

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner remarked, “I am delighted that Playground Specialists is growing in Frederick County. We are proud that a local company has become a major supplier in the Mid-Atlantic, and continues to add jobs for our workforce.”

Founded by Barber in 1998, Playground Specialists, Inc. has continued to grow to become one of the largest outdoor recreational furniture distributors on the East Coast. Barber began installing commercial playgrounds in 1994.  Originally employing only himself and one other installer, Barber’s staff has flourished to more than thirty employees, and he hopes to be adding more in the future.  Playground Specialists, Inc. currently serves Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

With regards to the company’s recent expansion, Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill stated, “The fact that Playground Specialists is continuing to expand its service area, and will more than double its sales, shows its tremendous potential for growth.  Playground Specialists is one of many small businesses that are choosing to expand in Maryland, and we are pleased to work with our county partners to ensure these companies remain in the state.”

At one time run from home, the company headquarters is now housed in a spacious and innovative 21,000-square-foot facility in Thurmont. In addition to accommodating a vast warehouse and offices, the newly constructed facility also houses a conference room and large training space to host presentation and training seminars. The company has more than twelve certified playground safety inspectors, an in-house design team, sales support staff, and three full-time installation crews.

With the motto “We work hard, so you can play,” Barber and his staff take pride in designing recreational areas and installing equipment to meet the needs of the community, while providing a safe, fun place to visit and play.

Working with local governments, schools, churches, recreation departments, homeowner associations, and more, Playground Specialists, Inc., has become a leader in the industry. Handling everything from start to finish in-house, the company provides state-of-the-art recreational elements, including surfacing, playground equipment, and site amenities, such as shade structures, pavilions, benches, and trash receptacles.

In Thurmont, Playground Specialists, Inc. is responsible for the 2016 Thurmont Elementary School playground, and is currently completing the East End Park Inclusive Playground. With two inclusive play specialists on staff, the company has worked with the town and the Catoctin Area Civitan Club to design and install this unique playground for children with all abilities. Features of the park include full wheelchair access, innovative structures for children of all abilities and challenges, rubber surfacing, and a shaded canopy. With the first phase nearly complete, two additional phases to the park are in the works. Playground Specialists, Inc. is very happy to play such an integral role in this innovative park, one of the first fully inclusive playgrounds in the area, and even donated two fundamental pieces to the project.

Family owned and operated, Playground Specialists, Inc. is proud to be a member of the vibrant Thurmont community. With many employees born and raised locally, the company is happy to provide jobs and support the community.  Marketing and Design Manager Amanda McGuire added, “We love Thurmont. We love to work here, live here, and give back to the community. People are like family around here.”

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