Toy maker Little Tikes' plant and offices in Hudson, Ohio, are for sale. It's the latest downsizing effort by the rotational molder, which in June eliminated 50 administrative positions at the seven-building complex that covers 122 acres.
The move could be the first step in a plan to move production to Mexico, although other options include staying in the complex and leasing just part of the facility, or finding another site near the Hudson headquarters.
In a Jan. 18 statement, Executive Vice President Tom Prichard laid out reasons for selling the 1.25 million-square-foot plant and 75,000-square-foot office buildings constructed between 1984 and 1996.
``The Little Tikes complex here in Hudson is too large for our current needs and we will be seeking to either occupy a smaller portion of this facility (sale and lease back) or relocate to a facility in a nearby area better suited to our current production needs,'' he said.
Dave Malacrida, vice president of public and media relations for Little Tikes' parent company, MGA Entertainment Inc. of Van Nuys, Calif., declined to comment further. MGA, maker of Bratz dolls, bought Little Tikes in 2006 from Newell Rubbermaid Inc.
Cresco Real Estate, a member of Cushman & Wakefield Alliance in Cleveland, is handling the Hudson sale. In a Jan. 22 telephone call, Cresco principal Matthew Beesley said he has been showing the property since early January, but has not entered into a sale or lease agreement.
While published reports have estimated the selling price at $30 million, Beesley said that has not been set. Warehouse and manufacturing space will lease at around $4 per square foot, with office space at about $10, he said.
Little Tikes intends to operate ``at a slightly downsized capacity'' in Hudson, he said. The company has asked Cresco to search out other properties for lease in case a buyer wants the entire Hudson complex. He did not elaborate on locations.
Hudson Mayor William Currin said MGA has expressed interest in moving Little Tikes production to Mexico, but the city has not received notice that will happen.
``We love Little Tikes,'' he said. ``We'll do whatever we can - whatever it takes - to keep them here.''
The Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio reported Jan. 18 that Little Tikes officials had been frustrated in their efforts to get state aid to maintain the existing workforce of 350 in production and 110 in marketing, research and design, because state incentives focus on increasing jobs rather than keeping current positions.
Officials at the Ohio Department of Development were not available for comment.
Shortly before its 2006 sale to MGA, Little Tikes cut 160 employees from its injection and blow molding operations, outsourcing the work to suppliers in nearby states, including Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The company auctioned off its injection and blow molding machinery.
According to Plastics News' 2007 market rankings, Little Tikes is the eighth-largest rotational molder in North America, with 2006 rotomolding sales of $75 million. Since 2000, Little Tikes has slipped in rotomolder rankings, moving from first to second in 2005, to fifth in 2006 and eighth in 2007.
Total corporate sales for 2006, the latest year covered by the rankings, were not available. Newell Rubbermaid said Little Tikes generated sales in 2005 of about $250 million.
According to industry sources, the company has 17 rotomolding machines in Hudson, making play sets, cars and other large toys geared to young children.