Streetsboro -- Step2 Co., the largest American manufacturer of preschool and toddler toys, is in the midst of an international expansion into Asia and the Middle East.
"Both the Middle East and China offer significant growth opportunities," said Jerry McDermott, the company's chief marketing officer. "We have invested sales and marketing resources in both regions to access the consumer with both brick and mortar [facilities] and Internet retailers."
Step2, headquartered at 10010 Aurora Hudson Road in Streetsboro, employs about 750 people.
McDermott said the expansion started in 2013 and will continue this year. Countries primarily involved are China and South Korea, in addition to the Middle East.
"We look forward to our international expansion and providing our toys to a broader audience," he said.
He said the company's children's products that will be marketed in those regions will include kitchens, outdoor products, furniture and art and crafts.
Step2's success is "a result of new and innovative children's toys, strategic planning for the company's international expansion and the company's commitment to providing excellent customer service," said McDermott. "Step2 continues to deliver high-quality, innovative toys that help the whole child develop mind, body and heart."
With spring approaching, he said Step2 will launch new products like water and sand tables, light-it-up basketball hoops and climbers, and playhouses to encourage play inside and outside.
Also, Step2 will continue its partnership with Saving Tiny Hearts Society, "an organization near and dear to the company," said McDermott, adding that Step2 will donate part of its profits to the organization which funds research on congenital heart defects in children.
Step2's award-winning toys include the Easy Turn Coupe, a toy car that youngsters can maneuver, and the Fixin' Fun Outdoor Grill, which were awarded the 2013 Play on Words award, which was established by speech and language expert Sherry Artemenko and recognizes exceptional toys, games and books that encourage language, spark fun and invite creative play, he said.
"We are proud of the recognition our products have received," said McDermott.
The Easy Turn Coupe also was awarded the 2013 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum award and Special Needs Adaptable Product award. They are handed out by independent evaluators. The Platinum award represents the most innovative and engaging new products of the year. The SNAP award is given to products that can be used by or easily adapted for children with special needs.
McDermott said the company has a new product development process which delivers "innovative new products that provide long-term value and fun for families."
He said consumers value the four key parts of the company's strategy: They are made in the U.S. at factories in Streetsboro and Perrysville; the products have a 3-year warranty; the toys "nourish and challenge kids physically, cognitively and socially/emotionally," he said; and the company supports charities focused on improving lives of children.
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