CUMMING -- Local talent in the Ga. 400 corridor helped bring Kiz Toys to the south Forsyth-Alpharetta area.
“I think the main reason, we believe this to be a very attractive area for an up-and-coming company like this,” said Chris Moreau, chairman and CEO of Kiz Toys. “We believe it’s going to be a very attractive place to get a lot of good corporate type employees.”
Being a little bit north of heavier traffic near Windward Parkway made it more attractive to Moreau and his cofounder, Ashley Johns, both of whom are from the area.
“We felt that this would be a really good area company that could grow into a larger company,” Moreau said.
With The Avenue Forsyth open and commercial property filling up along Ga. 141 and Ronald Reagan Parkway, more employees will be attracted to the area, pulling a lot of good technology people down the road, he said.
Members of the board of directors include experts in their own fields, such as former Atlanta Brave pitcher Phil Niekro for the Kiz sports line. Professionals such as Warren Johnson, “The Professor” of NHRA Pro Stock racing, are helping make the toys educational.
Moreau said when children think they are playing, they’re having an educational experience – the basis of all Kiz Toys’ product lines. That should make parents, the consumers of the products, very comfortable with the brand.
On the business side, people such as Sam Hunter, a Merrill Lynch vice president and member of a stock exchange for several years, have been brought on board.
Moreau worked for Wachovia, Sara Lee, is a former CTO for Blockbuster, leaving big corporations about 10 years ago. Since then he’s held those “C” level positions, such as CTO and CEO, throughout the Dallas and Atlanta market.
“I’ve either been building them or running these companies as an entrepreneur,” Moreau said.
Kiz Toys is a bit different. While he’s been building data warehousing and data centers, Kiz Toys has a different mix and he’s not just a “tech hand.”
Johns works more on back-end operations, making sure designs work and what the company physically needs to do the job. His’ masters degree in architectural engineering helps make him very methodical with operations and designs.
Corporate headquarters may be in south Forsyth, but the creative team works in Charleston, S.C. Kiz Toys’ relations with SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) brings in designers.
“We’ve been pulling a lot of our talent from that mecca,” Moreau said. “The creative style of their mind likes to work in an area like that.”
The company employs about 40 people, with 60 percent creative and 40 percent corporate likely to remain the mix.
“It will grow accordingly as a company,” he said.
Kiz Toys also looks to open offices in Hong Kong to monitor the safety of the toys and its offshore relationships already out there.
“We physically flew there, met with factories. We are doing this to make sure we’re monitoring safety, quality,” Moreau said.
Despite the physical toys being manufactured in Hong Kong, their release will start domestically, moving next to Asia and Europe.
In addition to going public, Kiz Toys wants to serve the community, particularly in the Forsyth, Alpharetta and Gainesville areas.
“I think companies need to get involved with the community like they used to do a long time ago,” he said.
Kiz Moto is the first product line planned. The next should be Kiz Pal, a line of action figures.
“Our overall intent here is to compete against the major toy companies around the country... and internationally as well,” Moreau said.
They are on a five-year time line to do it.