Andy Keimach: What I’m Hearing – It’s a New Era for The Toy Association: Welcome, Greg Ahearn!     

by The Bloom Report | 30 May 2024

Biographies and Interviews



The Toy Association is ready to enter a new era under the leadership and guidance of toy industry veteran, Greg Ahearn, who will join as President & CEO on June 1st. During the months of June and July, I will be fully transitioning my interim leadership responsibilities to Greg.


Greg has a long history in the toy industry, holding executive roles at both small and large manufacturers including Mattel, OddzOn, Hasbro, and LeapFrog, as well as Toys“R”Us on the retail side. Outside the toy space, Greg’s experience extends to Uber Technologies and as co-president at Davis Elen Advertising. His broad range of expertise covers everything from brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce to brand building, marketing, digital media, licensing and more.


Earlier this week, I sat down with Greg to talk about his plans for The Toy Association and his perspectives on the industry.  



Andy: Greg, welcome to The Toy Association. I know the Association and its members will be in excellent hands under your leadership. What are some of your top priorities in your first weeks and months at the Association?


Greg: Thanks Andy. I appreciate the warm welcome from you and especially from people throughout the toy world since the announcement. First and foremost, The Toy Association must be focused on engagement with companies, retailers, and partners throughout our industry. We need to listen to their input making sure our time and resources are invested where they can have the greatest impact. Additionally, The Toy Association must continue to provide the highest level of regulatory expertise, leadership, and advocacy at the state, federal, and international levels. There are also significant developments in the timing and location of how our industry connects and engages partners to build relationships and their respective businesses. We must spend time as a collective group to set a path to get the most out of each of these events throughout the year. Honestly, there are so many opportunities, I’m just excited to get started.


Andy: What are you most looking forward to in your new role?


Greg:  Creating connection, collaboration, and a sense of greater unity as we come together to focus on achieving big things as an industry. The toy business is fueled by the creativity, passion, and energy of each of our members. Finding ways to tap into and align these superpowers on shared outcomes that benefit every company, big and small, could have a huge positive impact in multiple areas. To achieve big things, it takes collaboration and support throughout the industry…I’m counting on that. 


Andy: How did you get your start in the world of toys? What makes this business special to you?


Greg:  Believe it or not, I started as a summer intern at Mattel in the early nineties and I was immediately taken by the people (and personalities!) who had made toys their calling in life. I’ve been a part of large brands at big companies like Hasbro, Mattel, and Leapfrog while also experiencing what it’s like to help build a small, emerging company like OddzOn, creators of the Koosh ball and Vortex football. I’ve even helped sell a toy or two being a Toys “R” Us Kid for over 12 years. What I’ve found is that it’s not the company, strategy, or product that makes our business special…it’s the people you meet and the shared experiences you have bringing joy to kids around the globe.


Andy: Looking ahead, what changes, challenges, and opportunities do you see on the horizon for the toy industry?

Greg:  The immediate issue continues to be the impact of ongoing economic uncertainty. This, combined with the possibility for change in regulations and international trade, makes manufacturers, retailers, and consumers a bit more cautious as we approach the second half of the year. As we navigate this as an industry, know that the Association will be your biggest advocate in every way possible.


More importantly, I believe the industry’s biggest challenge is ironically also its biggest opportunity. Innovation has always been the greatest catalyst for growth. Whether it be new technology, hot licenses, breakthrough design, or a fresh take on a classic, we need to challenge ourselves as an industry to not just follow but to create trends, break boundaries, and push the status quo when it comes to creating new ways for kids to play. Regardless of technological advancements such as AI, toys will always be the place where imagination combined with thoughtful execution can create magic (and sales). We can never forget this and must continue to invest in the people and places where it can flourish.

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