By: Bill Bregar
July 11, 2013
K’Nex Brands, the maker of construction toys, has hired Export Now Inc. in Akron, Ohio, to sell K’Nex building sets like Angry Birds, Super Mario Brothers and Mario Kart to China via online platforms.
Export Now will launch the K’Nex toys — U.S.-made in Hatfield, Pa., and molded by sister company Rodon Group LLC — using the Chinese web sites Tmall.com and Taobao.com.
The new online offerings, at www.meilike.tmall.com, mark the first official presence for K’Nex in mainland China. Earlier this year, K’Nex won China’s CCC safety certification, getting approved to sell there.
“We wanted to enter the Chinese market when we had the right portfolio of brands and the right e-commerce partner,” said Michael Araten, president and CEO. “We believe our strong combination of Angry Birds, Mario Kart and Super Mario Brothers licenses, coupled with the core K’Nex brand, will resonate well with consumers in China.”
Araten said K’Nex plans to launch new products to the China market each quarter.
More than 100 brands how used Export Now to help sell their products online to China. The firm removes barriers to export, including language, regulations, logistics and distribution, and operates a Chinese-language e-commerce store to sell directly to Chinese consumers.
Frank Lavin, Export Now’s founder and CEO, said demand is growing in China for high-quality products.
Teaming with K’Nex is big news for Export Now. K’Nex and Rodon have forged a reputation as made-in-America advocates. Araten serves on the board directors of the American Made Matters trade association.
“We Beat China Pricing” is the motto of Rodon, a highly automated manufacturer that does custom injection molding in addition to molding for K’Nex.
President Barack Obama visited K’Nex and Rodon last fall, a few weeks after winning reelection.