Tom Murdough might not be a household name, but his toys certainly are.
A pioneer in the American toy industry, Murdough has led three companies, all of which have produced toys that have brought countless hours of fun and joy to millions of children over the past 50 years. Small Tikes (founded in 1969), The company Step2 (1991), and Simplay3 (2016) are competitors in the same space, but all three share Murdough as their founder.
On Friday, June 21, Thomas G. Murdough Jr. returned to the Little Tikes factory in Hudson, Ohio, to receive a special honor from the current owner of the company – MGA Entertainment founder and CEO Isaac Larian.
Larian openly names Murdough for The Toy Association’s Toy Industry Hall of Fame, and he calls on the industry to join him in submitting applications for the toy industry veterinarian before the call for applications closes June 28.
At a birthday celebration and lunch, Larian and his family were joined by Murdough and his family, as well as former and current Little Tikes associates, Hudson Mayor David Basil, and the Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. Artifacts from all of Little Tikes’ 50-year history were on display, all accompanied by photos, many of which feature Murdough and his children.
“It’s really amazing what Tom has built here. That’s why I nominated Tom for the Toy Industry Hall of Fame this year,” says Larian. “If anyone really deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Fame in the toy industry is Tom. My family and I and everyone at MGA Entertainment are eternally grateful to Tom for his creativity and daring in creating Little Tikes.
MGA Entertainment acquired Little Tikes from its former owner, Newell-Rubbermaid in 2006.
Some of the many timeless innovations that emerged from Little Tikes under Murdough’s leadership include the Cozy Coupe and the Turtle Sandbox, the latter of which opened new doors to summer toy making, keeping the factory open for months. where previous seasonal closings have occurred.
At a time when discussions about tariffs on Chinese-made toys continue to grab the headlines, Little Tikes continues to manufacture the majority of its products in Ohio (as do Step2 and Simplay3) using rotational molding.
About its long-standing manufacturing philosophy, Murdough said, “We are in an industry made up of 98% overseas products. I believe in the ingenuity and work ethic of our American workers who are committed to producing great products and then seeing them succeed in the marketplace. “
Little Tikes will continue to celebrate its 50th anniversary with more activations in the coming months. The company recently hosted “The World’s Biggest Play Date,” forged a promotional partnership with Sun-Maid Growers of California, entered into a rare licensing deal with Little Baby Bum, and continues to encourage families to “play big”.