Pictured above: The Golad family at the 2017 TAGIE Awards, where Adi was honored with the TAGIE Lifetime Achievement Award. Pictured clockwise from top left: Jair, Jochanan, Rich (Jael’s husband), Jael, Adi, Margreeth, and Naomi.
What makes the following names so special and recognizable?
Hassenfeld, Golad, Kohner, Fuhrer, Nuccio, Moody, Guyer, Henson, Woldenberg, Norman, Wunderlich, Pressman, Klamer, Goldfarb, Parker, Ellman, Verrecchia, Weintraub, Pasin, Calvin, Irwin, Levine, Donner, Voigt, Teuber, Ryan, Daniels, Herbert, Ganger, Meyers, Lennon, Killgallon, Gray, Stark, Stebben, Burtch, Cohn, Meyer, Pillai/Chandra, Berger, Conrad, Gregory, Becker, Soehn, Clementoni, Glanz, Rudell, Disney, Falco, Steiner, Kislevitz, Friedman/Stern, Azoulai, Breuil, Bernstein, Ditomassi, Shure, Campagna/Lanham, Hendel/Petty, Lewis, Richter, Hess, Eisenberg, Mor/Lushi, Kremer, Pariente, Foster, Hirtle/ Fulford, Gray, Lerner, Russo, Brown, Simons, Jill Gaynor, Lifschutz, Gardner/Martin, Demoen, Jones, Monchik, Nyberg/Klint, Collins, Pavalek, Halitzer, Greenfield, DiPasquale, Bauer, Kravitz, Prince, Gaynor, Sebert, Orbanes, and Christiansen.
We often say we are all part of one big family, but these families have the credentials. All have been part of the toy and game industry for at least two generations—some as long as four.
Apart from the mafia, there is no industry I can think of where family connections are more prevalent. I think it is because we love what we do, take our work home, and involve our children. We create products that our children enjoy and we use their feedback. In the process, we pass our love of the business along to them. I’ve always enjoyed the stories behind our products and think we should be using them more in our marketing. Consumers want to know the story behind their favorite toys and games, so that’s what we’re going to do.
This marks the first in a new weekly series highlighting different storied industry dynasties, to be featured on anbmedia.com.
We kick things off with the family behind Goliath Games, the Golad family, one that I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time with over the years (although never enough). From a garage to one of the largest companies in our industry and still family owned, here’s how founder Adi Golad started their family’s global business:
How did your family first enter the toy industry?
Golad: It all happened by coincidence, or rather serendipitously. Margreeth, then my girlfriend, now my wife and mother of four, grandmother of two, and I, along with my army buddy and his wife, were touring the Sinai Desert in Egypt. As night set, three were playing a game unknown to us. I was totally uninterested. “Games are for kids and women not for machos,” I thought. If I had only known then how this evening would change our life and my passion for games.
Margreeth liked the game so much she purchased one in a nearby shop as a present for her mother in The Netherlands. Once exposed to our many aunties, all requested their own game and it was clear we had an opportunity that we needed to exploit.
We sold our only asset, a small car, and with the money we bought our first 500 Rummikub games. Sure of our instant and huge success, we shipped the goods from Israel to The Netherlands before having even registered a business, trade name, tax number, office, storage or even had a place to live.
Our confidence was in great contrast with reality. After selling to all family members, it was retail that refused to cooperate. Having no alternative, we turned to the public, demonstrating the one and only item we had in campgrounds, malls, restaurants, and markets. It was hard work, but it paid off. By 1986, we sold more than one million pieces. An empire was born.
Who has been involved and who is involved now?
Golad: In a family business, everybody is involved: wife, husband, parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren. From the day we are conceived, we are involved.
We carry entrepreneurial DNA on both sides of the family, with generations of active merchants; It’s in our blood. When we were homeless, we stayed with our parents. When we needed financing, our parents came to the rescue as well.
When we needed extra hands, the kids were recruited. Seated in the living room, they packed games for shipping, unloaded containers, selected new items, wrote the company manifest, and created trademarks. Eventually, the second generation started running the company while the third generation is being incubated and educated in the same way.
Do you think the next generation will get involved?
Golad: The second generation is already at the wheel. Jochanan is leading our operation today [as CEO], and it’s five times larger than when I stepped down.
How has business changed over the years?
Golad: We lived for years in a zoo. There were animals all around, some vicious, some cute. There were cages to protect and deter, a zookeeper, an entrance controller, costly tickets, and a family business selling fish and chips for a premium price. Everything was regulated: food, health care, leisure, bathing, retirement, and arranged sex. Even the unique Amazonian spider and his humble web were part of the fun. There were rules and life was good.
Slowly the spider’s web grew to become unbearably tangled and complex. The spider became a huge monster, breaking the fence. Wild animals got loose. The zookeeper disappeared with the entrance controller. Entry was free, and the zoo was flooded with street animals. Next to the fish and chips truck, a man was offering hot dogs for free. (His livelihood came from selling socks in another town.) The zoo became a jungle again. No rules, the fittest will rule.
Anyone need an explanation of this analogy?
What advice do you have for others considering the family business?
Golad: A family business’s freedom is not free. It’s self slavery and hard work 24/7. It’s difficult to resign and even harder to sack. Despite it all, it’s the most beneficial environment to grow, educate, and care for family members and devoted employees.
Mary Couzin is the CEO and founder of the Chicago Toy & Game Week (CHITAG): Inventor and Innovation Conferences, Toy & Game Innovation Awards (TAGIEs), Young Inventor Challenge and Chicago Toy & Game Fair. This year’s events will take place November 21–24. Visit chitag.com for more information.