Steve Rehkemper - GigaPets, AirHogs, Pixter and Racecars!
What do you do in the industry?
Toy and game inventing, licensing, design, engineering, prototyping, manufacturing and marketing.
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
GigaPets, AirHogs, Pixter and many more.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
It was the only decent design job available when I graduated college in 1980 due to a recession. I was very lucky to be hired by Howard Morrison at Marvin Glass and Associates. Howard Morrison and Harry Disko were my mentors. I owe my successful career to their advice.
What are you working on now?
Top Secret Toys.
What advice can you give to inventors?
Success takes more time than you think it should so you have to protect yourself as much as possible.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Get a law degree if there are aspirations to work on intellectual property or be self-employed.
What does your typical day look like?
For the most part no two days alike. Sometimes challenging, always interesting.
What’s your workspace setup like?
My brother Jeff and I started in the ultra cheap basement of an apartment building in 1983 but were not successful there and decided to move to a more businesslike place. Since then we’ve had nothing but high ceilings...to make room for big light bulbs above our heads.......and to make flying toys. You can see pictures HERE from LEGO® Engineers group that Jeff took through our space
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Watching children really have fun with our toys.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job was my first job because every job after was better.
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
We created bonified patent-able inventions and invested in the patent protection but unlike the deed to a house an inventor’s ownership of its own Intellectual property can be easily stolen and its validity challenged. This is a big problem for entrepreneurs and inventors, it’s very complicated and lawmakers don’t understand enough about it to make the right laws to protect the individuals involved in creating new things that drive progress forward. Inventions start with an individual whether an employee or independent but that individual has a tough long challenge if ever faced with protecting their property. In MY CASE, the clock is on six plus years and still running. Six years of spending to keep owning what I should actually already own.
Which toy company do you respect the most?
Goliath for many reasons from the top down. I like their values and work ethic. Jeff and I are lucky to be part of their family.
(Steve Rehkemper with Goliath's Sara Furay and David Norman)
What and/or who inspires you?
Primarily my children both when they play and when they critique my work.
How do you recharge or take a break?
Toy inventing is a lifestyle. There are no breaks or recharges needed. Although we do have a retreat in Michigan....
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Slot track racing.
Where were you born?
A small farm town in southern Illinois and here are my parents...
What was your life like growing up?
Fantastic. Free as a bird……..after my chores were done.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
In the country we grow up trusting everyone.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
Signing bad agreements. I learned to stop doing it.
Do you have any pets?
What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
Do you have any special talents?
What’s your beverage of choice?
Gatorade....unless I’m in Germany where I have to go back to beer.
What are your hobbies?
(And here are Steve's biggest fans - his daughters!)
(Sometimes this happens...)
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What are you going to do next?
Do what I always do and try to make the most of today. Tomorrow I’ll do the same.