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