Oriental Trading Company
|Steve Mendlik, acting CEO|
Number of employees
|est. 2,000 |
|Subsidiaries||MindWare Holdings, Inc.|
OTC Direct Inc.
Oriental Trading Company is a direct merchant of value-priced party supplies, arts and crafts, toys and novelties and school supplies. It was founded in 1932 as one of the United States' first wholesaling companies. Oriental Trading has been recognized as one of the top 100 Internet retailers and one of the top 50 catalog companies.[by whom?] It is based in Omaha, Nebraska, and is owned by Berkshire Hathaway.
The company was founded as a gift shop in 1932 in Omaha, Nebraska by Harry Watanabe. The company expanded to 17 shops in the Midwest. During World War II, with restrictions against imports from Japan, the company shrank back to its Omaha base. Watanabe then bought a ceramic shop which made Kewpie dolls and other ceramic items.
In 1954 it resumed its imports from Japan and was a major carnival supplier and in 1956 it launched its first catalog.
In 1977 Watanabe's son Terry Watanabe became president and its focus shifted from carnivals to supplying party goods for churches, schools, retailers, and individuals.
In 2000, Watanabe sold his entire stake in the company to Los Angeles-based private equity firm Brentwood Associates, and resigned as CEO and President. He became a philanthropist, but subsequently lost most of his fortune gambling in Las Vegas.
On August 24, 2010, Oriental Trading Company via OTC Holdings Corp. declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Oriental Trading acquired MindWare Holdings, Inc. in 2013 and SmileMakers in 2014. MindWare is a manufacturer, wholesaler, and direct retailer of "brainy toys for kids of all ages" (such as the game Qwirkle) that complements the Oriental Trading family of educational products. SmileMakers is the leading brand catering to the dental and healthcare markets.
The company's CEO Sam Taylor appeared in the March 10, 2012, episode of the TV show Undercover Boss. Taylor, who had been CEO since 2008, died after a year long illness in December 2017, and COO/CFO Steve Mendlik was named acting CEO in January 2018.
- Jordon, Steve (January 2, 2018), "Oriental Trading CEO who turned company into profitable part of Berkshire dies at 56", Omaha World-Herald
- "About Oriental Trading". Oriental Trading. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
- "Oriental Trading". Retrieved 2017-01-19.
- "Metro/Region". Omaha.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- Weisenthal, Joe (December 6, 2009). "Meet The Man Who Blew $127 Million And Most Of His Family's Fortune Gambling In Vegas". Retrieved November 20, 2018.
- Oriental Trading Sold multichannelmerchant.com - June 13, 2006
- McCarty, Dawn (2010-08-25). "Oriental Trading Co. Files for Bankruptcy in Delaware". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- De La Merced, Michael J. (November 2, 2012). "Berkshire to Buy Oriental Trading Company". The New York Times.
- "Berkshire Hathaway to Acquire Oriental Trading Company" (PDF) (Press release). Berkshire Hathaway. November 2, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-11-19.
- Fastenberg, Dan (March 12, 2012). "Workers At Party Supply Company Far From Festive During 'Undercover Boss' Episode". AOL. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
- Associated Press (August 4, 1959), "U.S. Bans Toyko[sic] Trader", The New York Times
- Creswell, Julie (July 21, 2010), "A Business Built of Kewpie Dolls Is Struggling to Survive", The New York Times
- "Product Recalls", Consumers' Research – via Gale (publisher) (subscription required), vol. 76 no. 12, p. 36, December 1993
- "Indiana Librarian Triggers Nationwide Toxic-Toy Recall", American Libraries – via Gale (publisher) (subscription required), vol. 37 no. 8, p. 12, September 2006
- "Oriental Trading Company Exits Chapter 11", Health & Beauty Close-Up – via HighBeam (subscription required), February 17, 2011, archived from the original on March 24, 2017
- Lead Poisoning Hazard Prompts Recall Of Metal Charm Bracelets, US Fed News Service – via HighBeam (subscription required), March 23, 2006, archived from the original on March 24, 2017