New executives look to increase business at Little Tikes, Step2

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: August 26, 2014 12:46 pm ET
Updated: August 26, 2014 12:52 pm ET

Image By: Little Tikes Co. Little Tikes Co., the children's play equipment maker, is the second largest rotational molder in North America, right behind its top competitor Step2 Co. LLC.

Related to this story

Topics United States, Toys, Rotomolding
Companies & Associations Step2 Co. LLC

Northeastern Ohio toy rotational molders Step2 Co. LLC and Little Tikes Co. both have new top executives: Thomas Doherty at Step2 and Bill Cofield at Tikes. Step2 also got a new owner in March, and Doherty, the acting CEO, said the Streetsboro, Ohio, company has initiated a search for a permanent CEO. Ares Capital Corp. of New York is now the majority owner, Doherty said in a telephone interview.

Ares Capital obtained the ownership stake when it bought investment firm Allied Capital Corp. about five years ago, Doherty said. Allied Capital had contributed $90 million to support the

buyout of Step 2 by Liberty Partners LP, a New York private equity firm, in 2006. Liberty bought the rotomolder of toys and home products like mailboxes from founder Tom Murdough.

The board of directors asked Doherty to join Step2 in an interim basis to replace Jack Vresics as president and CEO. Vresics left the company about a month after Areas Capital purchased the company.

Doherty is managing director of Argus Management Corp., a Boston firm that helps companies do turnaround management and restructure. He said that Step2 is a solid, profitable business that needed some focus.

“It is partially a turnaround from the standpoint that the strategy needed to be re-aligned,” he said. “It’s basically a back-to-basics strategy that we have now. It’s not like we lost our way, but it’s more like we lost a little bit of focus.”

He said Step2, like other toymakers, faces challenges from commodity pricing, and needs to innovate with new products in its markets of toys and home and garden products.

“We’re profitable and we’ll continue to be profitable, and we’ll look at ways to grow the business. We have a great team here that knows how to make a great product that kids love to play with,” Doherty said.

Doherty has led more than 200 companies on such interim assignments in a career at Argus Management that began in 1986. He said he has met Murdough — who also founded Little Tikes and is now retired from the plastics industry — and is enjoying his stint making toys.

Image By: Little Tikes Co. Little Tikes Co. had an estimated $155 million in rotational molding sales in 2013.

“I think it’s tremendously exciting. This is what I consider to be the manufacturing headquarters for toys right in this Northeast Ohio area,” he said. “We improve people’s lives and they enjoy playing with our products.”

Step2 and Little Tikes employ more than 1,500 people combined.

At Little Tikes in nearby Hudson, Ohio, Cofield is the new vice president of operations, replacing Tom Richmond who was president. Richmond has left the company.

Little Tikes is owned by MGA Entertainment Inc., the California toy maker famous for its Bratz dolls.

Cofield did not return calls for this story. A published report said Cofield, an Ohio native, has a long history in manufacturing at Avery Dennison Corp. and Newell Rubbermaid Inc., where he was vice president of operations. He is a U.S. Army veteran.

Little Tikes also hired Brian Aiken as vice president of design and engineering, to head the toy design team. Aiken worked at toymaker Fisher-Price for 20 years, then in January of this year, set up his own product design consultant firm, before getting hired by Little Tikes.

Cofield and Aiken both started at Little Tikes in May. 


Comments

New executives look to increase business at Little Tikes, Step2

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: August 26, 2014 12:46 pm ET
Updated: August 26, 2014 12:52 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

MonoSol optimistic it can reach new markets with water soluble films

January 26, 2015 4:46 pm ET

MonoSol LLC — riding a wave of growth spurred on by the rapid adoption of water soluble detergent packets in recent years — is looking to ...    More

Image

Auto industry on the hunt for new lightweight materials

January 26, 2015 4:03 pm ET

The auto industry is focusing on lightweighting, and this is igniting a race to find new materials that can meet ever-changing performance needs of...    More

Image

SPE toy donation rolls into 15th year

January 26, 2015 2:01 pm ET

Continuing its holiday tradition, the Detroit section of the Society of Plastics Engineers donated more than 30,000 toys to Detroit-area charities in ...    More

Image

Material Insights: PP production issues, preparing for NPE

January 26, 2015 1:38 pm ET

Production problems in Texas add more complication for polypropylene, Entek has new equipment ready to show compounders at NPE and we take a look...    More

Image

Berry's rebranded Blue Clover expands packaging design reach

January 23, 2015 1:59 pm ET

As design director of Berry Plastics Corp.'s rebranded packaging design studio, Scott Fisher believes the new name of Blue Clover Studios cuts the hea...    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events