Michael J. Bohman



Co-Founded Iron Mountain Forge

Park Hills, St. Francois County, Missouri
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Michael J. Bohman, who co-founded Iron Mountain Forge that became Little Tikes and now Playpower in Farmington, has died in Chesterfield.

His step-son Justin Bowen said Bohman was killed cutting down a walnut tree on his property Sunday. He was 60 years old.

From 1974-1980, Bohman and Terry Braxton owned a campground together near Lesterville called “Twin Rivers Landing.”

“They started building campground grills and picnic tables for parks,” explained Karin Braxton, Terry’s wife.  

The business was getting rather large, so the two partners decided to move. They relocated the operation to Farmington in 1980.

The first Iron Mountain Forge building was at the junction of Highways 32 and OO. When they began building playgrounds, they moved to the Farmington Industrial Park.

“It was a kind of Cinderella time,” said Ann Bohman, Michael’s former wife who lives in Farmington. “The business just took off like crazy. It was a very rewarding time.”

Ross Gordon, now the owner of Benny’s Toys, was one of about 60 employees at Iron Mountain Forge. He worked in marketing and said the key to the business’ success was how the two men knew what their buyers needed.

“They had worked with campgrounds and they knew what worked and what didn’t,” he said. “They built this unique fire grill and this guy from the California Parks system saw it and went back and called them to order 50 grills. It just built from there.”

He said the company’s playground systems revolutionized the industry and that Iron Mountain Forge helped to set the regulations for playgrounds that are still in use today.

The two couples eventually sold the business to Little Tikes Play Systems which is now Playpower, with more than 300 employees.

Braxton said her husband continued to run the business for a few years. Bohman moved on to other projects.

“He was just a gifted businessman,” said Bowen of his step-father, “He became a freight broker putting freight on over-the-road trucks and did various jobs for the Corps of Engineers. He worked on locks and dams — he was just phenomenal in what he could do.”

Mrs. Braxton described Mike Bohman as a fun-loving man with a great sense of humor who was always very adventurous. She said her husband met Mr. Bohman when they were students at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, majoring in agriculture.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Aug. 27 at Buckholz Mortuary West, 2211 Clarkson Rd. at Wilson Rd. in Chesterfield with interment at Holy Cross Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4-9 p.m. Sunday. An online guestbook is available at www.buchholzmortuary.com. Contributions may be made to the Mike Bohman Playground Park Bench Memorial for Grandaughters Kylie and Peyton Bowen, #23 Quail Dr. Ellisville Mo. 63021. He is survived by his wife, Shirley A. Bohman, three children and a step-son.

Mr. Bohman’s children, Jason, John and Erin, grew up in Farmington. At about 9 a.m. this morning, John’s wife Jennifer had a baby whom they named Reuben Michael.