Walk around Kolcraft and if you run into someone with a hearty laugh and contagious smile, you know you have just met Ted Bretschger – Senior VP of Research & Development. Ted brings so much to Kolcraft from his expertise in developing the next hottest product for moms and babies to his insight into children and their world. We recently had the chance to catch up with Ted and give you an inside glance into Kolcraft’s new product development.
Ted, you have spent your career creating products to make babies and parents happier. Why did you choose this industry?
When I graduated from college I actually began my design career by designing cars for Ford. Through a fortunate set of circumstances I was drawn into the toy industry where I fell in love with designing cars for a slightly younger crowd. Bringing toys to market that stimulated children was far more rewarding to me. While at Hasbro I was asked to tackle the juvenile products markets and I found that even more exciting and challenging. I loved working with parents and creative people to develop the best possible products for their babies.
What is a typical day like for you?
I try to focus on new opportunities for Kolcraft. I am fortunate to have some strong people in the R&D organization and try to insure that they have the needed support to drive ideas forward.
Where do you receive inspiration for your work?
Inspiration can some from many places for me. I am a big fan of research, walking through baby store aisles and watching my own children and now their children. I cannot walk down a sidewalk or through a mall without looking at competitive product or our own products, and wonder what would make that product better. I am also obsessed with Apple. I am always thinking about the radical manner in which that company has reinvented industries.
What do you like the most about your job & what is the most challenging?
I really like the challenge of attempting to find the breakthrough product. They are so few and far between in our industry but when you find them,,,,,,, Wow!
You have been at Kolcraft for 10 years, how have you seen Kolcraft change?
Huge change. We have gone from being a juvenile company that relied on the orient for new product to a company capable of developing our own innovative products. You really need to insure that your destiny is in your own hands as much as possible.
Obviously you are living & breathing baby products at work and you are also a dad and now a very young-spirited grandpa. How has being a dad and most recently a grandparent impacted how you approach your job?
Watching my children and now my granddaughter has constantly reinforced what we have seen in research regarding both how you think your children and grandchild will interact with a product versus how they actually interact with that product. It’s important to be aware of both and address both.
What has been your greatest joy to being a dad and a grandparent?
With regards to being a dad, my greatest joy will always be my relationship with them and seeing that that they are in good places in their lives. Being a grandparent is off the charts for my wife and I! Nobody could have prepared us for the thrill of this.
Ted at a glance:
Funniest thing that one of your children has said? My three year old son saying, “ Remember daddy when you were small and I was big?” (Still trying to figure that one out?)
Favorite granddaddy activity with your granddaughter? Being with her each time she laughs and smiles. (Louise does that a lot!)
If you had no commitments or obligations, what would the perfect day be like? Being with family (being on the golf course or on a sailboat with them would take it to another level.)
Favorite Kolcraft product? Really tough question…. kind of like which is your favorite child! In picking one, I’d lean towards the Jeep Liberty. It’s been a very successful stroller for us. That product was a ground-breaker for three wheel strollers. It has a great ride, is easy to maneuver and can go off the sidewalk and into the park.
And since Ted now has “grandchild on his brain” 24/7, a little fun mind game with Ted. We asked Ted what is the first word that comes to mind when we say:
Baby – Louise
Sleep – Later
Morning – Lake Michigan
Broccoli – Hollandaise
Beverage – Jamaican-Me-Crazy
Lady GaGa – Beatle’s Song?
Thanks Ted for giving us more insight into new product development. If you have a question or comment for Ted, please leave it in the comment section!