Kate Altany
Little Tikes Altany

The Real Toy Story: Celebrating Little Tikes’ 50th Anniversary

June 27, 2019
With five decades of experience under its belt, globally known toy manufacturer Little Tikes makes success look like child’s play.

On Friday, June 21, dozens of past and present Little Tikes employees gathered at the Hudson, Ohio plant for a luncheon to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary. Among them, guests of honor included Thomas Murdough, founder of Little Tikes, as well as consequent competitors The Step2 Company and Simplay3, and Isaac Larian, MGA Entertainment founder and CEO of Little Tikes. 

Joining the two leaders were each of their families, both of which were often found reminiscing through a large display of artifacts from Little Tikes’ 50-year history, including multiple dated photos of Murdough and his children. 

“It really is incredible what Tom has built here,” Larian said, addressing the founder in a heartfelt speech. “That is why I nominated Tom for the Toy Industry Hall of Fame this year. If anyone really deserves to be in the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, it is Tom. I and my family and all the employees of MGA Entertainment are forever grateful to Tom for his creativity and boldness in creating Little Tikes.”

Murdough responded with equal appreciation for Larian’s surprise nomination. “I realize, and hope you realize, you are with a good man and a good company,” Murdough said of Larian to the crowd of current and former company employees. “I hope that all the people, all the employees, realize that they have done tremendously in continuing to develop products.”

Larian, introduced to America at age 17 as a poor immigrant from Iran, came to head the company responsible for the famous Cozy Coupe and Turtle Sandbox in 2006. While Larian has amassed his fortune by introducing, leading, and executing multiple products through MGA Entertainment, he remains true to his roots by offering opportunities and inspiration to kids in need.

In 2015, Larian partnered with the LeBron James Family Foundation to support disadvantaged children in Akron, hosting on-site Kids Day Events for 7th graders. The children are taken on a tour of the Little Tikes factory, then given the chance to brainstorm their own toy inventions and present ideas to Product Engineering and QA Testing. In addition, the holiday season brings Little Tikes’s “elves” to visit kids in Akron Public Schools, donating over 5,500 new toys in 2018 alone. 

“I want to show kids that education is first,” Isaac replied when asked about his decision to partner with the foundation. “Of course, I am in business to sell products, but I can do much more.”

While he has long since released his leadership position, Murdough has few worries about the future of his company in the hands of Larian and onward. “I get a thrill out of seeing Little Tikes continue to move forward,” he said.

Today, Little Tikes remains a top competitor in toy manufacturing, anticipating continued success despite global trade tensions. While many toy manufacturers recoil amid talks of tariffs on products made in China, Little Tikes continues to manufacture the majority of their products in Ohio using a consistent process of rotational molding. Aided by ambitious leaders such as Larian and impressive plant efficiency, the iconic manufacturer’s future looks bright and playful, just like their products.

About the Author

Kate Altany | Reporter

Kate Altany is a sophomore English major at Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College, reporting and editing at IndustryWeek as part of its 2019 summer editorial internship program.

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