Toys are big business.
In 2013, the domestic toy industry saw sales of $22.09 billion, said Adrienne Appell, spokeswoman for the Toy Industry Association Inc. of New York. And while she couldn't make projections, Appell said she is seeing two areas that saw growth in 2013 as ongoing trends: arts and crafts-related toys and youth electronics. Electronics are permeating the industry, she said, but parents and children still love playing with traditional toys.
The toy business is all about “innovation and ideas,” said Tom Doherty, interim CEO of Step2 Co. in Streetsboro, Ohio.
The company likes to focus on making high-quality, durable, safe products, Doherty said, with its own rotational molding operations.
Two of the company's newest products are the 2-in-1 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor truck, which can be pushed or self-propelled by the child, and the battery-operated Spin & Go Xtreme Cruiser. The latter is the company's first new battery-operated product in about a decade, Doherty said. It includes a joystick the child can use to spin the vehicle around.
“We're excited about this because it has a different dynamic to it,” Doherty said.
While he declined to share revenue, he said the toy industry overall is “up slightly.” The company employs about 800 people at two plants and its headquarters in Northeast Ohio. Doherty said he expects the company to bring on a new CEO in the first part of 2015.
Faber-Castell USA Inc. has been one of the companies advocating for the importance of creativity, said Heather Lambert-Shemo, the company's director of marketing for children's brands.
Faber-Castell sells arts and crafts products through its own brand and through the Creativity for Kids brand, which it acquired in 1999. And the creative market has been growing, with help from the do-it-yourself, Pinterest and Maker movements, she said.
“It's really exciting,” Lambert-Shemo said.
But that means there have been new entries into the market Faber-Castell sells into, she said. Sales were flat in 2014 compared to 2013, though the company didn't lose market share. The U.S. headquarters for the company is located in Valley View, Ohio, where it employs about 85, Lambert-Shemo said.