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Carlton Calvin

39, president of Razor USA LLC, in Cerritos, California

Description: The U.S. marketers of Razor scooters, made by JD Corp.

Started: June 2000

Sales: More than 3 million scooters sold in stores last year, at approximately $100 each

Got a history: Calvin's past products include Pogs, Finger Boards, mini-bikes and snowboards.

Razor invasion: Razor scooters were huge in Japan but unknown here when Calvin became one of the product's U.S. distributors. When they caught on quickly in Los Angeles, Calvin went nationwide immediately by marketing to the media and using retail connections.

The edge: Calvin has a geographic advantage, with a lot of hot products first hitting American soil via Southern California ports. "I get a six-month head start on what happens around the rest of the country. There's also an advantage to being relatively small and hungry-you're keeping your eyes open to what might seem kind of crazy, like Finger Boards. If I approached Mattel with an idea for a teeny finger skateboard, they'd probably say it's not worth their while. But I can see when kids are picking up on a trend. And then I move fast."

What's next? "Razor was last year's biggest [product], so now everybody's asking me, 'What's next?' If I do know, I'm not telling anybody."

This story appears in the July 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »