Chinese Parent of Tonka Considering Making Some Toys In U.S.
Wal-Mart “Buy American” Initiative Reportedly Factor
Few toys are as “American” as Tonka Trucks. Yet for the last several decades, the icon of American childhood has been made overseas, due to cheaper labor costs. However, in an ironic twist, Funrise Toys, owned by Hong Kong-based Matrix holdings, may bring production of some Tonka-branded toys back to the U.S. The reported driver to explore this initiative? Retail giant Wal-Mart, which has pledged to buy $250 billion in American-made products over the next decade. According to a Forbes report, Funrise CEO King C. Cheng said, “We’re trying very hard to bring a Tonka vehicle back to the U.S.” However, it’s unlikely it will be one of Tonka’s signature steel trucks. Cheng said the toy would be something “simple” but that “fits the heritage of the brand.”
Although it’s not inconceivable that some production of steel Tonka trucks could come back to the U.S., the statistics and logistics still lean heavily in China’s favor. In 2014, China produced 822 million metric tons of steel, compared to 88 million metric tons for the U.S.
The Hong Kong-born Cheng graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and grew up in the toy business. He is the son of toy manufacturing magnate Y.P. Cheng, the chairman of Matrix Holdings that owns Funrise.