Scott Houdashell and Curtis McGill Share the Hey Buddy Hey Pal Story - tBR Company of the Week!
Entertainment enthusiasts have found delight in finding the “Easter Eggs” in films, video games and television shows. The hunt is not dissimilar to the thrill kids have when on their yearly Easter egg hunts, looking for the egg that hasn’t quite been discovered yet.
For years, the ritual of egg decorating hasn’t changed. Kids dunk eggs in smelly and messy dye, affix stickers, draw with a wax pencil. That’s how toy company Hey Buddy Hey Pal and their Original EggMazing Egg Decorator came to market.
In 2015, Scott Houdashell and his best friend Curtis McGill were sitting around a kitchen table, watching their kids and family members dye their Easter eggs. The excitement just wasn’t there – the kids were bored! That’s when Houdashell, who’s always had a knack for woodworking and building, thought: “There’s got to be a better way to decorate these eggs.” He grabbed a glue gun, hot glue stick, an electric screwdriver, a spoon and markers and the first prototype of what millions of consumers now known as the Original EggMazing Egg Decorator was born.
The idea: nest a hard-boiled egg in a battery-powered mechanism that not only holds the egg, but also spins it while kids place colorful markers on the rotating egg. They create stripes, lines and other fun designs BUT no messy hands or surfaces and no vinegar smell!
When Houdashell came to McGill with this business proposition of putting a new spin on Easter egg decorating, he couldn’t refuse as it’s in his nature to take risky business propositions while always trusting his gut. With finalized prototypes, a company name had to be established. The two realized every time they called one another; they’d always start with “Hey Buddy” “Hey Pal”. And the rest is history.
Two Easter seasons, a Kickstarter campaign and a few prototypes later, 10,000 units of the Original EggMazing Egg Decorator sold in just 23 days in 2017 – it was a hit! One evening, while the Texas-based pair were eating dinner, a re-run of NBC’s hit show Shark Tank came on. Houdashell looked at McGill and said, “We’re going to be on that show.” A 5 & 1/2-hour drive to Dallas later, they were amongst 4,000 other contestants for an open audition.
Then in February 2018, the duo entered the shark-infested tank, joined by three of their kids, some hard-boiled eggs, colorful markers and their Original EggMazing Egg Decorator. The sharks bit with ‘Shark’ Lori Grenier ultimately becoming a partner of the newly formed company Hey Buddy Hey Pal.
The pair didn’t start out as toymakers and have travelled different paths to get there, although they have a shared passion for entrepreneurship. Houdashell’s family owned an apartment complex in Texas where he acquired and developed his woodworking skills during the remodeling of the complex. McGill himself had partnered with and started many businesses in Texas ranging from hair salons to restaurants to real estate companies.
In the early 2000s, Houdashell’s family set out on their next business venture – their state-of-the-art recording studio. During this next phase of his life, he met his best friend and now business partner, McGill, who was the singer of the band Washday Special.
Since their debut on Shark Tank, the company has launched their sister products the TreeMendous Ornament Decorator and the DinoMazing Egg Decorator, have had a best-selling to on Amazon and a company booth at New York Toy Fair. The pair strategically introduced the nonseasonal DinoMazing Egg Decorator, which incorporated the top toy trends – unboxing, hunt for collectibles and slime. In just two years, over 2500 neighborhood shops and big box retailers have stocked the affordable and adorable kits, building relationships with distribution partners in the USA and Canada.
New York Toy Fair 2020 poised for success, getting great buyer and media reactions, and continued to build the momentum from the successful Easter selling season of the previous year. And then the pandemic hit. With their key season virtually upon them, the nation shut down. The PR campaign quickly ramped up and they quickly discovered parents and caregivers were eager for ways to keep the spirit alive, while not having to go to a store to purchase.
The media recognized this as well, with the Original EggMazing Egg Decorator featured on everything from Parade.com to TODAY.com and FOX Business. The result: they were the complete sell-out of Easter.