Thursday, July 08, 2010

Envir-O Disc

frisbeeIs my BamBisBee finally gonna be produced?

Power Play [Hemi July.10]


Kyle Aguilar had been tracking it for the last 24 hours, watching its progress as it snaked its way to him at the Los Angeles offices of Wham-O. It was November 2009, and Aguilar was the new CEO of the 62-year-old company that had given the world toys such as the Frisbee, the Slip ’N Slide and the Hula Hoop. Over the past 10 years, though, Wham-O hadn’t done much in terms of innovating. Rather like an old plaything itself, the company had lost its shine, ceding ground to newer, hungrier rivals. Some said Wham-O was history; Aguilar didn’t think so. He just needed to make the classic toys that had long captivated Baby Boomers relevant and attractive to their kids and grandkids. And what was inside the package was supposed to help him do it.

The solidly built 29-year-old made a beeline to the copy room, where the brown box waited on the floor, just below a framed image of the original Wham-O Hacky Sack packaging from 1983. “Official Footbag!” the thick blue letters cried.

Aguilar crouched down, ripped the box open and reached inside the sea of Styrofoam peanuts. He pulled out three toys—one orange, one baby blue and one yellow. They looked like Frisbees.

Aguilar stood and turned around, raising an eyebrow at a knot of employees who had gathered in silence. This moment wasn’t just about Aguilar; it was about the company’s survival. Aguilar raised the yellow Frisbee into the air. “This,” he told his team, “is going to be the next big thing.” Then he slammed it to the ground.

A few people gasped. Aguilar looked down. Then came the claps and whistles. Though it was at least partially made out of wood (Sprigwood, to be exact, a patented mix of recycled plastic and sawdust reclaimed from furniture companies) the Frisbee hadn’t broken. This despite the unanimous skepticism of Aguilar’s factory managers, who’d all declared it couldn’t be done. Sure the thing would fly, they predicted, but it couldn’t possibly withstand the no-holds-barred play kids might subject it to. They were wrong. Aguilar had transformed the Frisbee—one of the great triumphs of the Age of Plastic—into something made entirely of recycled materials. Better yet, he’d done it inexpensively enough to match the price of the original.

“For so long, I had been wondering, ‘How do you get innovative with a Frisbee?’” Aguilar says later, in his office in Woodland Hills. “I mean, a Frisbee? It’s a flying disc; it is what it is. But then we had the answer. Make it environmentally friendly.” ...

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