Robert Pasin, Chief Wagon Officer at Radio Flyer - tbr Person-of-the-Week
2020 and its role in the Radio Flyer story
As business leaders, we are often asked to tell our companies’ origin stories. Over the years, you tailor and refine your story, adding and swapping in anecdotes and highlights along the way. As the head of Radio Flyer, a 103-year-old brand, I’ve found there is a lot of material to choose from – both good and bad – that helps communicate our story.
I always start with mention of my grandfather, who founded this iconic brand over a century ago as an incredibly successful first-generation American immigrant. But, I don’t shy away from the not-so-nice parts of the story, either. When I took over, Radio Flyer was in a dark place. Sales were stagnant and company culture was non-existent. As a super green corporate executive, I can sum it up in what I now call my biggest “Oh Sh*t” moment. We were meeting with Toys ‘R Us, which was our most important customer at the time. Right in front of me, the DMM asked his team why he was scheduled to meet with me – Radio Flyer wasn’t even on his radar. This is how I frame the turning point in our story.
Recently, I’ve thought a lot about how I will position 2020 and the pandemic in the Radio Flyer story. As I reflect on this tough year, for me and Radio Flyer, it’s been an important reminder of the small but impactful role we can play in our customers lives. If there’s one thing 2020 has done, it’s brought us back to the basics. And, I’m so grateful to see how Radio Flyer is playing a part in new routines across the world.
In an age of near constant screen time, it’s been inspiring to watch even the kids grow weary of the iPad and opt instead for the simple things. For many, their evening walks represent the only time they’ll see other faces, even if from a distance. Since the pandemic made its way to the U.S. we’ve celebrated multiple holidays – from St. Patty’s to July 4th – in brand-new, much subtler ways, including wagon parades. Birthdays have changed too, and I know I’m biased, but I’m not sure there’s anything sweeter than a balloon-covered Little Red Wagon. I love seeing photos of families, friends and little ones heading outdoors for a much-needed break from their homes – the ones that now double as offices, schools and daycares.
So, as difficult as 2020 has been, I look forward to reflecting on it as a defining part of Radio Flyer’s story. Radio Flyer is a family business, both in heritage and in purpose. Now in a time when we need family and friends more than ever, it’s beyond special to watch Radio Flyer be a constant companion in other people’s stories as well.