Keeping The Faith

Fast Track

By Laura Tiffany

Name and age: Michael Cookson, 42

Company name and description: Wham-O Inc. manufactures toys.

Based: San Francisco

Founded: November 1997

1998 sales projections: $35 million

Toy story: After co-founding Aviva Inc. (manufacturers of the My First line of children's sports equipment) in 1989, Cookson sold the line to Mattel Inc. in 1992. Mattel then expanded its sports division by acquiring the Wham-O name. With the help of investors, Cookson purchased Mattel's entire sports line for a reported $20 million last year, acquiring the rights to the Wham-O line, Morey Boogie Boards and Aviva, among other brands.

Name game: Cookson plans to reintroduce branded classics like the Hula Hoop, Frisbee and Silly String to the toy market with more focus and hoopla.

Play time: "Our goal is to bring these products back to life," says Cookson. "There's a whole new generation of kids we want to `Wham-O-ize.' " With well-known brand names to work with, Cookson expects the Wham-O division to double its growth next year.

Fresh air: "One thing that particularly interests me is getting kids away from TV and computer screens," says Cookson, "and encouraging them to be active and play outdoors."

Contact Sources

Faith Center for Community Development Inc., 120 Wall St., 26th Fl., New York, NY 10005, (212) 973-3694

FAME Assistance Corp., markw@famechurch.org, http://www.famechurch.org

New Community Corp., 233 W. Market St., Newark, NJ 07103, (973) 623-2800

National Small Business United, 1156 15th St. N.W., #1100, Washington, DC, 20005-1711, (202) 293-8830

Wham-O Inc., is@wham-o.com

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This article was originally published in the October 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Keeping The Faith.

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