Forbes Names Alice Brooks to Fourth Annual 30 Under 30 List

Jan9.RoominateAlice Brooks, co-founder of Roominate, was named to the list of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in the manufacturing category. Brooks represents the only toy company in this category and was selected by a panel of judges, including Ted Duclos, Jenny Lawton, and John Nottingham.

While the 26-year-old got her masters in engineering at Stanford University, she started Roominate, which makes building toys for girls. Parts of the toy can be wired together to make windmills, merry-go-rounds, and elevators. The company hopes to inspire women to go into engineering and science. Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner invested $500,000 to share a 5 percent stake in the business when it appeared on the ABC show, Shark Tank. 

Reshoring Toys

By Howard N. Aronson, Managing Partner, Lackenbach Siegel LLP

Like the proverbial child who runs away from home only to return before nightfall, an American toymaker is bringing most of its manufacturing back to the U.S.—after more than a decade of outsourcing in Asia. The decision of K’NEX Brands, a family-owned maker of plastic building toys, to boost manufacturing at The Rodon Group, its Hatfield, Pa. plant, is only one example of a major trend. Persuasive factors leading to the ultimate decision included quality control, overall costs, timeliness of deliveries, and intellectual property issues. Many are following the lead of K’NEX and rediscovering that home sweet home is the best place to make and distribute products after all.

Manufacturing in the U.S. created many advantages for K’NEX:
• Greater ability to react to shifts in consumer demands for toys because it’s much quicker and easier to retool–thus creating additional sales;
• Delivery times are quicker–as are changes in delivery schedules, for example, to take advantage of unexpected increases in sales at some stores;
• There’s more control over quality–including avoiding toy safety product recalls;
• There’s more control over materials–again, especially important where safety is an issue, as it is with many toys;
• Overseas labor costs are increasing, whereas using robotics in its U.S. plant is boosting productivity–thus lowering per unit labor costs;
• Transportation costs are rising;
• Time zone differences make communication between manufacturers and suppliers difficult. [Read more...]