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Etch-A-Sketch by the Ohio Art Company

The history of the famed Etch-A-Sketch began when a man by the name of Arthur Granjean invented a magic screen in his garage which he called “L’ Ecran Magique” in the late 1950’s. Mr. Granjean took the liberty of taking his drawing of the toy to the International Toy Fair in Nuremburg, Germany in 1959. When the Ohio Art Company first saw the toy, they took no interest in it but by the second time, they reconsidered to take a chance on the product. Soon enough, the Etch A Sketch® was introduced to the market as the new name for he L’Ecran Magique .

The new toy became the most popular drawing toy in the industry. In the 19...

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...60, Ohio Art used the media, particularly the television to launch the product. Overwhelmed by the consumer’s incredible response, the company continued manufacturing Etch-A-Sketch until Christmas Eve 1960. The popularity of the new toy reached the West Coast where people all over California bought Etch A Sketch® on Christmas Eve and had them for Christmas. The profile of the phenomenal toy has had minor changes over the years.

The people were so in to the Etch-A Sketch mania that they wanted to stick to its original bright red frames version that was so popular and took no interest with the hot pink and blue frames that were offered by the Ohio Art Company during the 1970’s. There were minor alterations on the print on the frame, but the company made sure to retain the exact inner workings. A mixture of aluminum powder and plastic beads coats the reverse side of the toy. The horizontal and vertical rods are controlled by the left and right knobs, moving the stylus where the two meet.

The stylus scrapes the scrapes the screen when it moves leaving the line you see on the screen.. Although the knobs adopted a new shape with a different edge for easier handling and turning, the manufacturers made sure to apply only a slight change. Etch a Sketch® gained its ppularity since it has actually influenced a generation of artists who have made a mark in history when they were featured on the press through magazines, newspapers, and TV. The Etch A Sketch® has a club which was formed in 1978.

The club regularly releases a newsletter featuring various artists with commendable skills in drawing. Its membership overwhelmingly reached up to 2000 people with ages ranging from two years old up to 82 years old. Business Challenge When Etch-A-Sketch was invented in 1960, it became such a phenomenal hit that more than 100 million of the drawing toys with that familiar red rectangular have been sold. Its manufacturer, the Ohio Art Company became famous as it was known to be the best producer of the esteemed drawing toy of all time.

However, the year 1990, proved to be a troublesome year for the company. They were primarily confronted with slow-moving toy sales, where the Ohio Art Company lost money for a period of two years. Because of the financial instability that the company was experiencing, it decided to to outsource production of the Etch-A-Sketch toys to Kin Ki Industrial, a leading Chinese toy maker, as a strategy to counter its financial losses. However, this move meant laying off 100 U. S. workers.

Employees did not expect the closure of the Etch-A-Sketch line. Productions of other toy lines were already moved to China and the employees were pretty much aware that Etch-A-Sketch was also bound to transfer its production and leave more people unemployed. For a company which did majority of its manufacturing in the town of Bryan in Ohio, leving its homebase was such a tough and drastic decision. According to William Killgallon, the CEO of the Ohio Art Company, the employees who made the product “were like family”.

The financial decision was necessary. They exhausted all efforts and tried to do it gradually, product by product. The whole thing had indeed been an emotional torture both for the company and the employees. Network Solutions The company was pressured to keep the cost of Etch-A-Sketch under $10. They needed to get its costs down or they would lose more money. Through their strategic move of transferring the production to China, unionized workers making $1,500 a month were replaced by Chinese factory workers who made $75 a month.

Killgallon also realized that through the process, the main savings came not only from lower wages, but from lower overhead costs for maintenance, plant, payroll, , and electricity. Kin Ki was chosen by the Ohio Art as manufacturer for Etch-A-Sketch since it had been making Etch-A-Sketch toys that were pocket-sized for almost a decade and always delivered them on cost.

References:

Bellis, M. (n. d. ). Etch-A-Sketch. Retrieved April 15, 2009, http://inventors. about. com/library/inventors/bletchasketch. htm

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