Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin

Today we honor Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin for taking their private property and creating Wham-O Inc. While many of you are probably scratching your heads wondering where you have heard Wham-O before, some of you probably recognize the fad-making machine. Wham-O Inc is responsible for toy fad after toy fad.

While Knerr and Melin rarely are credited for creating toys, they sought out neat ideas and marketed them. Wham-O brought the hula hoop to the US from Australia in 1958. Wham-O is also responsible for marketing the Slip 'n' Slide, the Super Ball, the Hacky Sack and the Frisbee. Many articles remarked that the most amazing aspect of the company was the ability to harness the power of fads over and over again.

Knerr and Melin decided to start the company 1948 after facing disappointment in their jobs. While both had degrees from the University of Southern California, they quit their jobs and started working on toys in Knerr's garage. Needless to say, they outgrew the garage. Knerr and Melin were noted for testing the products themselves and being open to the zaniest ideas. The company website mentions some failures right along with the successes. Some of the failures are more fascinating than the successes!

While aggregating the wealth Knerr and Melin created is probably well beyond any one's ability (how do you add up the joy these products have brought children in the US?), in 2006 the company sold for about $80 million. So, today we honor Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin for taking their private property and creating Wham-O Inc.

Sources:
Wham-O on Wikipedia
Wham-O Corp Site
Wham-O's official history
Knerr's Obit in The New York Times
Melin's Obit in The Independent

Here's an old school Wham-O commercial:

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