#93: Atomic Toys LLC

How do you make it in the toy biz? It takes a lot of creativity--and even more patience.

Company:Atomic Toys LLC, aSan Diego, toy designer, manufacturer and distributor
Founder: Chance Roth
Began: September 1999
2002 Sales: $3.3million

When did you know you'd madeit?
Chance Roth: When we couldn't physically manufactureenough product to satisfy the demand. Even with last year'sdock strike and shaky economy, our product was flying off theshelf. Now we're poised to capitalize on that success.

Atomic ToysWhat's been your biggestchallenge?
Roth: [To] change myself from the wild-eyed creativeentrepreneur into a street-smart businessman. We all have to growup sometime, even in toys. And in order for me to take the companywhere it needs to go, I've got to continually step up to theplate and make it happen. There comes a time when you realizeit's not Monopoly money anymore.

Who's your business rolemodel?
Roth: First, I think of Walt Disney for his creativity andability to turn it into a money-making reality. Of course, ThomasEdison for his sheer genius, business and marketing savvy. Lastly,my mother, a fabric importer, who took me to China on business forthe first time. It was that trip that catapulted me intobusiness.

What's your business advice forothers?
Roth: The most important thing I've learned is to waitout the storm. It's going to be very, very difficult for atleast the first two or three years. Many things can happen alongthe way, but by just sticking it out and letting the waves crashand pound while steadily making progress will make a person wiser,stronger and more driven to make it work.

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