It's sort of like the bride getting upstaged at her wedding by the groom's ex-girlfriend: Toy rotational molder Little Tikes Co. held a 40th anniversary party yesterday, and one of the invited guests was Tom Murdough. For those of you who don't know the history, Murdough founded Little Tikes, and eventually he sold the company to Rubbermaid. But then he created one of the biggest rivalries in the plastics industry 26 years ago, when he left Tikes and founded rival rotomolder Step2 Co. LLC. The Akron Beacon Journal reported on Murdough's appearance at the event -- and the anniversary itself -- in this story: "Little Tikes boss declares he's staying for the people." See, even the headline writer was torn between highlighting what was really interesting -- Murdough's visit -- and the less "sexy" news, about the comments of Issac Larian, CEO of parent company MGA Entertainment. The story points out that even though this was Murdough's first visit to Tikes in 26 years, many of the workers there remember him fondly -- 132 of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years. Betty Lin-Fisher wrote that when Larian acknowledged Murdough at the event, the gesture was "met with raucous applause."
After the ceremony, Larian said Thursday was the first time he had met Murdough and though Murdough is associated with toy competitor Step2 in Streetsboro, Larian still wanted to invite Murdough back to Little Tikes. ''He's an icon,'' Larian said.Interesting that Larian would invite Murdough to share in this special day at Little Tikes -- and that Murdough would accept. That's a nice treat for the workers, and it reflects well on both Larian and Murdough.