Toy Industry Association Elects Leadership at Annual Business Meeting

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At its Annual Business Meeting held earlier today, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the election of three new members to the TIA Board of Directors for two-year terms of office expiring at the Annual Business Meeting in 2016. The meeting also saw the chairmanship gavel pass to John Gessert of American Plastic Toys from retiring Board Chairman Soren Torp Laursen of The LEGO Group.

The Annual Business Meeting included remarks by TIA President Carter Keithley, who shared accomplishment highlights from the first year of TIA’s 2013-2015 Strategic Plan, and Secretary-Treasurer David Hargreaves, COO of Hasbro, who announced that the Association had grown its financial reserves in 2013.
Nominated to serve their first terms on the TIA Board were Drew Brazer, Vice President of Sales, North America, LEGO Systems, Inc.; D. Hugo Malan, Senior Vice President and President of Sporting Goods, Sears Holding Corporation; and William To, President of VTech Electronics, North America LLC.

Re-elected for a subsequent (third) term were Andrea Barthello, Chairman and Founder of ThinkFun, Inc.; William Beebe, Managing Director of Playmates Toys, Inc.; Sam Harwell, CEO of Big Time Toys, LLC; Shirley Price, President and COO of Funrise Toy Corporation; and Robert Wann, CEO of Patch Products. Jeffrey Kennis, President of Enchanted Moments, Inc. was re-elected for a subsequent (second) term.

The following retiring Board members were recognized for their service: Jay Foreman, President and CEO of The Bridge Direct/Acorn Management Group and George Irwin, Toycoon of IToys USA, Ltd.

Retiring Chairman Soren Torp Laursen, President, Americans & Pacific, The LEGO Group, passed the gavel to John Gessert, President/Chief Executive Officer, American Plastic Toys, Inc., who will serve as Chairman of the Board for a one-year term. Gessert previously served as Vice Chairman of the Board. As Immediate Past Chairman, Laursen becomes an advisor to the governance body.

“As incoming chair, I hope to help TIA leverage its past successes to ensure continued success in the future,” said Gessert during his address. Gessert also encouraged TIA members to become involved in any one of the Association’s various policy committees. “TIA is a wonderful organization to participate in … It helps you become better at what you do, and with that, you also get to help the toy industry continue on its path of development,” he added.

Joining Gessert on the Executive Committee are: David Hargreaves (Hasbro), who assumed the role of Vice Chairman, Robert Wann (Patch Products), who assumed the role of Secretary-Treasurer, as well as Shirley Price (Funrise) and David Allmark (Mattel).

Open to both members and non-members, the 2014 TIA Annual Business Meeting was held in conjunction with the 111th American International Toy Fair currently underway at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.