Myung Song was the President of Larami and had a 50/50 shared ownership of the company with the late Al Davis. I have worked for many brilliant and clever men throughout my career and Myung Song would make it on my top 5 list. Success can be achieved in many ways and Myung Song had some critical strengths that increased his chances for success.
1. His first was he hired smart people and then allowed them to help/advise him in his business efforts.
2. He was very product performance oriented and he always pushed us to be bold with our designs, marketing, advertising, packaging, and public relations efforts, and to spend money very carefully.
3. He allowed for challenges and differing points of view even when he knew he could just make the decision without such input.
4. He knew what areas he was not strong in and then sought out input in these areas from others
5. He made every effort to focus on the critical issues and then make sure his team all knew to move forward in unison.
6. He was a better listener then communicator, usually allowing his team and others to speak more than him.
7. He avoided the spotlight, usually allowing his partner Al Davis to deal with the press and encouraged press/editors to interview Lonnie Johnson or Al Davis to tell the Super Soaker® story. Only occasionally did he allow himself to be interviewed. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/magazine/who-made-that-super-soaker.html
8. He believed and repeatedly reminded us that his product/brand philosophy was very simple -
a tire was not just a tire” = “Super Soaker® was not just another water blaster”
Although I have not seen or spoken to Myung Song since 2001, as far as I know he still lives in his homes in Gladwyne and Boca as he seemed to retire from the toy business once Hasbro started to move the assets of Larami in 2001-2002 to Pawtucket RI. And I am sure he still plays golf at the various clubs he belongs to. When Hasbro hired the late Loren Taylor to take the lead in bringing our Super Soaker®, NERF® and VORTEX® businesses up to Hasbro® corporate offices in Pawtucket RI both Myung and Al came to the office less and less. The only recent offering I could find on Myung was his introduction page for Al Davis’s book on Super Soaker® in June 2006 - https://www.amazon.com/Super-Soaker-Al-Davis-ebook/dp/B007NJR7ES. But let me tell you about the man I worked for at Larami. Myung Song is a highly educated (Korean, Japanese private schooling and University of Penn graduate), strategic and contemplative man. He does not like large crowds or large meetings, he would rarely speak in front of large groups and when he did only with short speeches that usually focused on thanking everyone for their support and efforts to build the business. He enjoyed one on one conversations and small group lunch meetings at least once a week, where we would talk openly on life, golf, our children and business progress. He did not like to be photographed or be in any type of “spotlight” situation. He kept one photo on his desk, a picture of himself with Bruce D’Andrade and Lonnie Johnson. Sometimes I think he wanted people to underestimate him as this favored his “poor man” negotiating tactics. He liked to hear about other successful businesses and how they achieved their success. He liked to go to retail stores, especially Wal-Mart, and determine if there were items we could make better or cheaper to gain business for Larami. Myung’s strength was his focus on the product performance factor of each item. Myung Song liked and respected engineering people the most. Although he was a tough negotiator and usually won every negotiation in his favor, he had tremendous respect for inventors and the engineering aspects of a product. He especially enjoyed toys that could fly -toy rockets, and planes. Any inventor submission or competitive product in these areas was a must see for him. Myung was a calculated risk taker focusing product development in categories he was familiar and comfortable with and those that leaned toward high performance at lower retails. He and his partner Al Davis both took a calculated risk by taking on Lonnie Johnson’s air pressure water blasting devise in March 1989 and Larami richly succeeded for many years with the Super Soaker® business. Myung had great admiration for all of the people he worked with developing SUPER SOAKER®, NERF® and VORTEX® product. It was a pleasure working with Myung Song, Al Davis, Bruce D'Andrade, Lonnie Johnson and Loren Taylor for almost 10 years of my life.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away dan watson worked at Grey Advertising, (KOOL-AID®), product management at Unilever® (Noodles & Sauce/Rice & Sauce) and for many toy companies – Matchbox® Toys Ltd, Buddy L Toys, Tyco Toys, Kenner, Tiger Toys, Toys R Us®, Hasbro®, Swimways®, and LARAMI. This is Dan’s story of many successful businesses with a special historical focus on LARAMI, a small Philadelphia/South Jersey based company with offices in NYC and Hong Kong that developed SUPER SOAKER® and assisted Hasbro® in managing aspects of both the NERF® and VORTEX® businesses from 1992-2002. LARAMI – The Little Toy Company That Could and “May the force be with you”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of when the Super Soaker story truly began to take shape. Though it was conceived in 1982 and wouldn’t hit the market until 1990, it was in February 1989 when NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson first met with the toy company Larami to pitch his idea for a revolutionary new water gun.
dan watson's toy story is on facebook
Super Soaker® is a registered trademark of Hasbro Inc. All Rights Reserved
Larami Limited, a Hasbro, Inc. subsidiary
Super Soaker, XP CPS, Monster, EES Nerf Super Maxx, Nerf Sports, NASCAR Real Sounds Engine and Power Tools, Super Soaker Twister, Super Soaker Wacky Water Tunnel.
Super Soaker was the # 1 Spring & Summer toy in the USA and in many countries since joining the company in ’93 to 2002. Average market share during my oversight was 70%
Developed and revitalized the CPS Super Soaker line since ’95, involving 11 different items and generating on average a total of $45 Million in sales/season and expanding the Super Soaker retails beyond the $19.99 retail barrier.
Developed the Max-D Super Soaker line for the ’02 and ‘03 seasons targeted to achieve sales of $35 Million with better margins and priced for stronger retailer margins.
Developed and redeveloped the XP Super Soaker line since ’93 introducing over 14 sku’s, 4 with pressure gauges, 1 with pulsating action, 2 with double barrels, 1 with 3 nozzles, 1 with 4 nozzles, 1 with rotating nozzles and generating on average over $40-50 Million in sales.
Developed the Super Soaker Monster line in ’99-’01, targeted to older kids, teens, and young adults, now involving three units with retails over $30.00.
Developed exclusive Super Soaker Twin and Multi Packs and specials for WAL-MART, TOYS R US, TARGET, K-MART, COSTCO, BJ’s, Shopko.
Developed Larami’s Star Wars Action Role Play line for the new Episode II movie, contributing over $6 Million in sales dollars, with high margin product.
Developed the ’00 and ’01 Nerf Sports line increasing our sku offerings and focus on micro and mini footballs, NFL footballs, soccer balls and re-pricing on-going domestic offerings to lower priced L/C targets, and achieving more Nerf items on the Wal-Mart assembly program.
Developed the Super Maxx air pressure foam blaster line in ’93, and sustaining this line into the Nerf line in fall ’96.
Developed the “Real Sounds Power Tool” line, with line extensions in ’96 and generating $10 MM in sales for a non-TV promoted, “try me” product line in ’95.
Invented the Real Sounds Engine in ’95, and awarded the patent to the company. Item has been reintroduced with the NASCAR license.
Developed www.supersoaker.com since ’96 and is now one of the highest traffic sites with Hasbro. April ’02 activity involved a promotion with www.cartoonnetwork.com
Developed Super Soaker Twister and other licensed Super Soaker’s involving; WWF, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Batman, Power Rangers, GI Joe character references.
Organized and directed Larami’s spring and fall catalogs from ’94-’02.
Responsible for the NYC showroom, product presentations, sales presentations, product demonstrations, video’s, price lists from ’93-’02.
Marketing Director TYCO Toys, Inc.
Magna Doodle, Fashion Magic, View-Master, Activity Toys.
Developed Fashion Magic, a new girls jewelry oriented activity product line to achieve $25 million in total sales
Initiated production of a second color for Magna Doodle(PINK), recognizing multiple purchases per household were achievable.
Developed Double Sided and Giant Magna Doodle with a $10 million sales projection
Developed the Garfield Talking Telephone using digital voice electronics.
Organized the marketing financial model for evaluating brand profitability for all TYCO brands.
VP MARKETING BUDDY L TOYS INC.
Vehicles & Play-sets.
Developed Buddy L’s Big Bruiser Electronic steel construction line with unit volume sales over 500,000
Developed Buddy L’s voice recognition product line “Voice Command” with a 25% profit margin and sales projection over 700,000 units
Developed the following product lines in one year; Thunder Maxx Racers; Rig Racers, Off-Road Rescue, Rescue Force and Rock-It Strobe.
Developed a large-scale low priced indoor/outdoor play-set, taking full advantage of the company’s vac-forming operations in upstate NY, 100,000-unit projection.
Formulated a financial profitability evaluation model that set the guidelines for all new products. The system accounted for sales projections, product costs, tooling, brand development expenses, and all pricing structures – domestic, p.o.e., and L/C
Marketing Manager - MATCHBOX TOYS (USA) LTD
Vehicles & Play-sets
Developed the Siren Force vehicle line generating $500,000 in net sales
Developed 4 new Motor-City play-sets with contribution margins above 20%
Developed line extensions for World Class and SuperCharger lines
Expanded greater use of die-cast “super value packs” with profit margins above 20%
Product Management - T. J. Lipton Inc - a UNILEVER subsidiary
Fruit Snacks, Noodles & Sauce, Rice & Sauce, Pasta & Sauce
Developed new names, shapes, and product launches for Lipton Fruit Snacks increasing category share both at grocery and produce distribution levels
Introduced two new Side Dish lines, 10 new Noodles & Sauce products and 7 new Rice & Sauce products increasing net sales by +50% and trading profit +80%.
Created a new shelf management system for the side dish line resulting in a more efficient and easier to manage system for both the retailers and consumer..
Assistant Media Director -Grey Advertising Inc. - Grey Group - General Foods brands–
Kool-Aid, Post Grape Nuts, Post Fruit & Fiber
Media Supervisor Proctor & Gamble brands – Bold III, Puffs,