Adam Hocherman - 1988 Williams Cyclone, Granite Tennis, OK to Wake! and More!
What do you do in the industry?
I am in charge of Global Product Sourcing at PlayMonster although I wear a lot of hats in my role as VP, New Business. That’s a fun thing about my job – the position requirements are very fluid which suits my personality well as an ex-entrepreneur.
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
My most well-known creation is the OK to Wake! product line although if you are a parent of a toddler you may know it as “that glowing clock which keeps me from going insane.” The line has now been on the market for over a decade and going strong!
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
(Adam with Jeff Foxworthy)
In fact, I stumbled into it. I founded a company called American Innovative back in 2003 which made consumer electronic products – mainly clocks and timers. Around 2007 I was looking for a way to expand my product line of “clock-like” things and wanted to do a children’s item. At the time I doubt I even knew there was a “toy industry.” In 2008 I showed up to Javits with a 10x10 booth in the back of my car, the “Teach Me Time! Talking Alarm Clock & Night-Light,” and one employee. I sold the clocks line in 2014 and, subsequently, another company I founded (Tinkineer) – both to PlayMonster.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
Butts are the new poop. That either excites or worries me. Time will tell.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
Granite Tennis in 1994. This was my summer job after my freshman year of engineering undergraduate – a manual labor position constructing tennis courts in the suburbs north of New York City. This wasn’t the worst job I ever had but it was certainly the most physically demanding and I learned a ton from it. So much so that I wrote my experience into a feature-length screenplay for a film class I took while getting my MBA about a decade ago (I never did anything with it – the film, not the MBA!).
The cast of characters I worked with that summer had a very different background than I did but we got along incredibly well. Those relationships were so interesting. I knew those guys for three months and over 20 years later I still remember them so well.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
(Adam and his friend, Matt, when they were a bit younger)
Without question it was my Tamiya radio control cars. I had a Hornet and later a Boomerang. They still make these models today. I spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours building, fixing and racing these things in the dirt mostly with my friend Matt (pictured with me, above). My experience with them had much to do with my going to engineering school and graduating with a vehicle design concentration from Cornell. I am honestly not sure where the R/C hobby went. It’s every bit as relevant today as it was and a lot more fun than fiddling with a drone, in my opinion.
Where were you born?
I was born in New York City and spent the first half of my life in and around there. I’ve been in Boston since graduating from undergrad and consider myself a Bostonian. In answer to your next question … Red Sox.
Do you have any kiddos?
I have two young daughters, currently ages 5 and 7! They are a great asset to a guy who brings home a lot of prototype games for playtesting. I particularly enjoy playtesting youth strategy games with them – my older daughter can play on her own and my 5 year-old plays on my team.
Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s)?
I play the piano and the electric bass. I’ve found these skills to be useful a number of times over the years in my life as a product developer. One example, of which I am particularly proud – years ago when I developed a plush sound-soother for my OK to Wake! line, I was frustrated with the available royalty-free sound clips I could find so I threw up my hands and wrote a couple of jazzy little lullabies on the piano instead. A customer once asked me to send her the music on a CD so that she could play it in the car for her kids while traveling! Total albums sold – one!
What’s your favorite cereal?
As a kid it was Lucky Charms. Today it’s probably … Raisin Nut Bran. A sad metaphor for growing old.
What’s your beverage of choice?
IPA. The more bitter, the better.
What are your hobbies?
Pinball. I like to tinker with things. When I was a kid it was whatever I could get my hands on; as a young adult it was cars. Working on a pinball machine is a lot like working on a car. You have to source replacement parts, modify things that don’t fit, and find creative solutions when things don’t work. But pinball machines don’t require expensive tools or equipment. And you can fit more of them in the garage. That was an inside joke for the benefit of my wife. In fact, I only own one machine (the best one – a 1988 Williams Cyclone) and it’s in our living room, not the garage. Also a joke. It’s in the basement, but I’ll take it!