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Playing For Keeps

First Things First

Before making any dramatic changes, Marenyi says, "The first thing we had to do was stabilize the business." After assessing the company and its product line, the team identified several strategies that would heighten Woodplay's growth potential. The product line had been ignored during the business's receivership, and its look was dated. With a plan to eliminate "dead" products and introduce new ones, the partners hoped they could produce a new, exciting line.

Their strategy was hatched: "We had six series of playsets," says Marenyi. "We said `Let's try to bring out two new series each year with something cool for the kids to play on, something unique that will differentiate our product.' " Eliminating their two slowest-selling lines the first year, the partners introduced two new ones, repeating the process over the following two years until the line was completely revamped.

With catalog distribution holding its own and a new product line in place, the duo was ready to launch the second part of their distribution plan: a coast-to-coast dealership network. "The first two or three [dealerships] were the hardest to get," says Marenyi. After turning the partners down several times, a Denver playset dealer came on board and recommended Woodplay to a dealer he knew in New York. With a few dealerships in place as references, the process got easier.

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This article was originally published in the August 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Playing For Keeps.

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