Company: K’NEX Brands
Location: Hatfield, PA
Website Address: www.knex.com
Principal Line of Business: Manufacturer and Distributor of Construction Toys
Year Founded: 1992
US Based Employees: 200
Social Media Links:
What is your Company’s Mission Statement?
K’NEX® is the next generation of construction sets. It inspires creativity, builds self-confidence and encourages interaction among children and parents. The possibilities are endless!
Founded in 1992, K’NEX Brands, the world’s most innovative construction toy company, was established to make and sell what has become one of the most integrated construction systems for children, and is America’s STEM building solution. Winner of over 250 international awards and recognitions, K’NEX, America’s Building Toy® company, is focused on Building Worlds Kids Love® and encourages youngsters to “imagine, build and play.” From the living room to the classroom, K’NEX has building toys specially designed for every age group and skill level. The K’NEX family of brands includes K’NEX Building Sets, K’NEX Thrill Rides, K’NEX Education™, Lincoln Logs®, Tinkertoy®, NASCAR®, Angry Birds™, Mario Kart Wii™, Mario Kart 7™, Super Mario™, PacMan™, Titanfall™, Family Guy™, Plants vs. Zombies™, and more. Since 1992, The Rodon Group®, a subsidiary of K’NEX Brands, L.P., has manufactured over 31 billion parts for the K’NEX building toy system. Join us as we help build the leaders of tomorrow. For more information, please visit www.knex.com or www.rodongroup.com.
Why Does American Made Matter to You?
At K’NEX, we’ve learned that the more items we are able to manufacture at home, the more people we can employ. If every American were to spend just $64 a year on things Made in the USA, 200,000 new jobs would be created. Spending our dollars on Made in the USA goods enables our whole economy to get stronger and with that our whole country becomes stronger. You just have to take that extra second and look at the label. Together, we can build a better America.
What Values Drive your Business Decisions?
Founded in 1992 K’NEX has always been committed to manufacturing in the United States—over 90% of its parts are manufactured by The Rodon Group. In business since 1956, the Rodon Group makes billions of parts each year in its 125,000 square foot eco-friendly facility and is one of the largest family-owned and operated injection molders in the United States. We’ve learned that manufacturing in America can actually be more cost effective than manufacturing overseas. Our nation was founded on an entrepreneurial spirit, we have the ability to shape our own growth by inventing and making everything we use. Continuing to shed our manufacturing base is akin to trying to run a race without running shoes – you can do it, but you are at a tremendous disadvantage.
What Advice Would you Give to a Start-up Business that Plans to Manufacture in the USA?
K’NEX President and CEO, Michael Araten, offers this advice, “First, ask a lot of questions about what is working, what’s not and get everyone’s opinion on why that is. A key part of any CEO’s job is to assess the people they’ve got and then assess the information you are getting. You then need to weigh your options based on what you think has the most credibility and gain a sense of where you are.
Next, look at the marketplace and decide what you can do to gain more of a market share. I believe that you either grow or you die. Identify your competencies. At K’NEX, we define a core competency as something that we don’t want anyone else to have or would take a lot of time and money for someone else to copy. Once your competencies are identified, evaluate the avenues that are open for growth, then the X factor is who you bring into the room for that process.
Some people say that when you get more than six people in a room, things start to breakdown, but I believe more heads are better than one. You need all disciplines represented because if you don’t, someone’s not doing checks and balances of keeping you honest in what you’re trying to accomplish.
At K’NEX & Rodon we involved people from every major discipline in our discussions and we encouraged them to share our findings with their groups on a departmental level.
They came back and said, “We shared this at our team meetings last week, and we got some other things where they thought, yep, we agree with a lot of this, but here are some things we think you can focus on more or we think you missed.” Ultimately we involved about 80% of the company in some way.”
What are the Benefits of Manufacturing in the USA for your Company?
“The keys to the success of American manufacturing are abundant energy, consumers who can easily recognize that products they love are made in the USA, and STEM education. STEM is the heart of innovation and innovation drives growth, profit and jobs of the future. K’NEX and Rodon work actively with local community colleges and technical schools to ensure that students graduate with the skills they need to work at companies like ours. And through the K’NEX Education line, we are providing teachers with a complete STEM solution, enabling them to teach critical concepts in sequence and demonstrate real world applications.”
Why did you join American Made Matters?
Michael Araten says, “Since the Great Recession, I have been driven to do all I can to make American manufacturing as strong as possible. It is why we are founding members of American made matters; why I speak regularly on the topic through the Philadelphia and Bucks county chambers of commerce; why I accepted the nomination to the council of economic advisors for the Philly federal reserve bank; and why we work relentlessly to make products here in the USA.”
(Michael Araten, President & CEO of K’NEX)