Sit, Lulu, Sit!
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Names and ages: Mitchell Gold, 46, and Bob Williams, 36
Company name and description: The Mitchell Gold Co. designs and manufactures cutting-edge furniture, specifically slip-covered couches, chairs, ottomans and sleeper sofas.
Based: Taylorsville, North Carolina
Founded: 1989, after both partners left stifling corporate careers
Start-up costs: Less than $200,000
1998 sales projections: $40 million
Power of two: Williams designs; Gold orchestrates the business end of the company. "I think it's very hard for people to go out and do something 100 percent on their own," says Gold. "I like the idea of having a partner."
Catbird seat: Williams and Gold focus on selling to home furnishing retailers such as Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and ABC in New York City. Their products are sold nationwide and throughout Europe, Japan and South America.
Rx for success: The partners believe a healthy staff equals heightened productivity. They sponsor yearly on-site physicals and eye exams, educate their employees with regular tips on healthy living, and recently introduced daily warm-ups and stretching exercises to factory workers. They're also constructing a new factory on 70 acres of land that will have a walking track, gym and day-care center. Another therapeutic gesture: Gold's English bulldog, Lulu, comes into the office every day, visiting with customers and employees.
No couch potatoes allowed: "We hire the best people, and that's what makes a company grow. It's not just the entrepreneurs on top--it's the people who make the team," Gold says.
Sofa, so good: "We've proven that doing the things that show employees you care about them rewards you because they end up working that much harder," says Gold. "And the proof is in the pudding because our employee productivity is really great."
Good things come in small packages.
Names and ages: John Weems, 43, and Joe Morrison, 53
Company name and description: Morrison Entertainment Group Inc. creates new toy concepts, then licenses them to various toy companies. One of their most successful projects: The "In My Pocket" series of toys, a line of pocket-sized figurines that includes "Kitty In My Pocket" and "Pony In My Pocket."
Based: El Segundo, California
Start-up costs: $100,000
1998 sales projections: $30 million
Prior pursuits: Both partners left successful careers at toy giant Mattel Inc. to found Morrison Entertainment.
Going to their heads? Last year, Morrison and Weems formed an alliance with British toy and collectible manufacturer Corinthian Marketing Inc.; the partners now own a minority stake in Corinthian and run the U.S. operations. Their first joint products, called Headliners (miniature figurines of baseball, basketball, football and hockey greats), have been a huge success--six million of the big-headed collectibles sold in 1997.
Not just child's play: "Nothing goes in a straight line when you're in a start-up environment," says Weems. "Whatever curves get thrown at you, you need to be flexible enough to change your business plan and maybe even your whole mind-set about what needs to be done to accomplish your goals, even when the circumstances change."
The Mitchell Gold Co., (704) 632-9200, http://www.mitchellgold.com
Morrison Entertainment Group Inc., 300 Continental Blvd., El Segundo, CA 90245, (310) 726-5620