Opens New Worldwide Headquarters and Distribution Center in NJ, Expands Distribution Center in MI to Support Global Growth
Names Industry Veteran Neil Friedman to Board of Directors
Fairfield, NJ, September 29, 2014 – The ALEX BRANDS® family of brands, which includes ALEX TOYS®, POOF®, SLINKY®, SCIENTIFIC EXPLORER®, IDEAL®, ZOOB®, BACKYARD SAFARI®, ZILLIONZ® and CITIBLOCS®, today announced the appointment of two seasoned consumer products executives to help continue advancing growth in the U.S. and Internationally.
Justin Wraight has been named President of ALEX BRANDS® Europe and Darren Silverman has been named Executive Vice President of Sales. The company also announced the expansion of its operational footprint with the opening of a new worldwide headquarters and customer showroom in Fairfield, NJ; a state-of-the-art distribution center in Woodbridge, NJ, and expanded warehouse capacity in its Canton, MI, distribution center.
“Justin and Darren will help us continue our current growth trajectory and execute new strategic initiatives through the unique talents and experiences they bring to Alex Brands,” said Michael Cornell, Chairman for ALEX BRANDS®. “As our family of brands grows and our distribution expands domestically and internationally, they will play an invaluable role in enabling us to fully realize the potential of Alex Brands in the marketplace.”
Additionally, toy industry veteran Neil Friedman has joined the ALEX BRANDS® board of directors as an advisor to senior leadership on new ventures and growth opportunities. Friedman, most recently President of the U.S. division at Toys R Us, was previously President at Mattel Brands, Fisher-Price Brands, Tyco Preschool and MCA/Universal Merchandising. He is a member of the Toy Industry Hall of Fame and the International Licensing Industry Merchandiser’s Association’s Hall of Fame.
“When ALEX BRANDS approached me to join their board it was an easy decision. My experience and expertise with the toy industry’s retailers, manuacturers and consumers fit naturally with the company’s vision and exciting future growth plans,” said Neil Friedman.
Based in the U.K., Wraight has more than 20 years of consumer products and senior level leadership experience, as well as a background in product development, brand management and international sales and distribution. Most recently, he held the title of Chief Commercial Officer of ColArt International Holdings, an international manufacturer and marketer of artists and children’s art supplies. Wraight is a dynamic and seasoned executive with a long track record of driving sales growth and effectively managing international business units. A U.K. national, he has worked in North America, Europe and Asia.
Based in Fairfield, NJ, Silverman brings more than 20 years of sales experience in consumer packaged goods. Prior to joining ALEX BRANDS®, he most recently served as General Manager of U.S. Sales at Crayola. His 10-year career at Crayola is marked by significant sales achievements and numerous customer recognition awards. He is known as a collaborative leader who can leverage the strengths and capabilities of an organization to build strategic partnerships.
To support the company’s rapid growth, ALEX BRANDS® has also announced a major expansion of its domestic facilities.
The company’s new Worldwide Headquarters in Fairfield, NJ, covers 30,000 square feet. This facility houses the majority of the senior leadership, sales, marketing, purchasing and compliance teams and features over 4,000 square feet of showroom space, an in-house design center, photography and film studio and much more. The goal in developing this new space was to create a special environment to foster a collaborative team atmosphere and serve as a hub for the company’s innovative, trend leading product development team. The new headquarters reflects ALEX BRANDS® commitment to its employees by providing an environment that lends itself to fun, creative thinking and innovation.
In partnership with enVista®, the leading supply chain consulting firm, ALEX BRANDS® is also making significant investments in expanding its distribution capabilities. The new Woodbridge, NJ, distribution center adds 300,000 square feet of space featuring a state-of-the-art conveyor system; racking designed to support pallet, case pack and pick and pack shipping and a robust IT infrastructure. It will be fully automated and driven by a paperless RF barcode-based WMS system, which will dramatically increase ALEX BRANDS® capacity, productivity and efficiency. The Woodbridge facility also provides industry leading direct-to-consumer fulfillment capabilities to support its rapidly growing e-commerce initiative. Finally, the company also doubled its warehouse space in its Canton, MI, distribution center.
The new ALEX BRANDS® facilities, combined with its existing offices and “Made in the USA” manufacturing plants in Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, will not only support the growth of ALEX BRANDS®, they will also create new job opportunities for local communities in Fairfield, Woodbridge and Canton. The company currently employs more than 225 full-time employees and continues to recruit additional talented and motivated personnel.
“We are investing in these resources to enhance our ability to serve as a true program partner with our customers worldwide,” added Cornell. “From our award-winning product design capabilities to our ever increasing ability to provide shopper insights and performance metrics to our significant investments in new systems and facilities, we want our efforts to come back full circle to benefit the consumer.”
ALEX BRANDS®, launched in January 2014, is a portfolio company of Propel Equity Partners, a private equity firm focused on investing and creating value in leading consumer brands. Propel Equity Partners acquired POOF-SLINKY® in July 2012, FUNDEX GAMES® in December 2012, ALEX TOYS® in May 2013, ZOOB® in September 2013, and Summit Products LLC and CITIBLOCS® in May 2014. Additionally, the ALEX BRANDS® family includes CADACO®, acquired in 2010, and SCIENTIFIC EXPLORER® and FUZZOODLES, acquired in 2011.
About ALEX BRANDS®
The ALEX BRANDS® family includes some of the most highly recognizable and award winning toys in the industry. ALEX TOYS® provides high quality toys, art supplies and craft activity kits that inspire creative expression in children of all ages. POOF® is the world’s leading brand of foam sports balls, many of which are Made in the USA. SLINKY® has been the icon of classic fun and a quintessential childhood toy since 1945. SCIENTIFIC EXPLORER® is the industry leader in children’s educational activity-based science kits. The IDEAL® brand is an emblem of nostalgic fun encompassing a wide variety of games, activity kits, magic sets and classic toys. Award-winning ZOOB® building sets are designed to move after they are put together, allowing for truly interactive creations. BACKYARD SAFARI® is the leader in essential field gear for outdoor role play and exploration. ZILLIONZ® has been helping kids better understand the value of money for almost 20 years. CITIBLOCS® is a line of high-quality, precision cut wood constructions block. For more information about ALEX BRANDS®, please visit www.alexbrands.com.
About Propel Equity Partners
Propel Equity Partners, LLC is a private equity firm focused on investment in branded consumer products businesses. Founded in 2012, Propel Equity Partners provides its portfolio companies with strategic and operational support to enable more efficient operations and accelerated sales growth. The firm believes in building value by partnering with existing management teams and by energizing brands and invigorating new product innovation. For more information visit www.propelequity.com.