Name: K'NEX Brands
Location: Hatfield, Penn.
President: Michael Araten
2009 Revenue: $69.3M N.A. Sales
Manufacturing: Hatfield, Penn.
K’NEX Brands builds children’s toy sets at its 250,000-square foot manufacturing, design and engineering plant in Hatfield, Penn. The company was founded in 1956 under the name the Rodon Group. Today, the Rodon Group serves as the company’s manufacturing arm, making 97% of the parts in a typical K’NEX set. K’NEX products are distributed in 30 countries. The company has partnered with Nintendo, Sesame Street, NASCAR, Monster Jam, Orange County Choppers and Roary the Racing Car.
Click through the slides as Michael Araten, president of K’NEX Brands, shares the company’s story.
Q: How has domestic manufacturing influenced your organization?
A: Focusing on making our products here has enhanced our entrepreneurial spirit, and made us a stronger team. In order to overcome the low labor cost in China, we focus on leveraging technology, and creating processes that are incredibly efficient. For example, we automated our drop ship Web fulfillment facility so that we can process 3,000 orders per day, up from only 600 a year ago.
Q: What is one of the biggest challenges to growth as your company moves forward?
A: Our largest challenge is telling our story to all of our audiences in a cost- effective manner. We have been under the radar on both the toy and manufacturing sides for too long. With the proliferation of media outlets and platforms for information, we need to continually determine the best places to be part of the conversation.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to maintaining manufacturing in America?
A: The largest challenge to maintaining manufacturing in America is overcoming the assumption that it is not possible. As I like to say, we have bet big on America, and prove that commitment every day that we design and make products that are made to tolerances of one 40th the diameter of a human hair at costs lower than anywhere on earth. As a spotlight is shined on the ingenuity, resourcefulness and quality of American manufacturing, I believe that we can overcome that assumption.
Q: Where is there opportunity in the market for your products?
A: On the toy side, we will remain focused on building worlds kids love, and creating building toys that are cool and fun. We also see an opportunity to create digital products that can enhance and personalize the building toys kids around the world have come to expect from K'NEX.
America has always been the most entrepreneurial, creative, and dynamic country on the planet. As long as we keep communicating our abilities to each other, we will see this century as one of exponential business leadership and growth.
Q: What is your company doing to promote domestic manufacturing?
A: As a member of the Board of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and American Made Matters, we focus both regionally and nationally on educating other business people about the resources on our shores.
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