German toymaker in Charlotte starts marketing, hiring push

11.07.16 GACC South News

Playtime in Charlotte will soon be kicked up another notch.

CHARLOTTE, NC

By: Ken Elkins at the Charlotte Business Journal

Schleich USA Inc., the Americas headquarters for the German toy company, has started a hiring push as it works to get its collections of hand-painted figurines and playhouses into more tiny hands in North and South America.

Michael Keaton, Schleich USA president, believes the north Mecklenburg HQ will add another 36 employees to its staff of 54 by 2020 to meet the anticipated demand for its beautifully detailed animals, action figures and other products.

“We’ve got an aggressive growth plan here in North America,” Keaton says. “Within our growth plan, we expect we will be able to double business by 2020.”

Schleich will be looking for people in the areas of marketing, distribution, logistics, shopper marketing, digital marketing and others.

“We’ve got enough office space; we’ve got enough warehouse space. We need talented people to join the team,” Keaton says.

He expects to be at 60 employees in the Charlotte headquarters by year end. Schleich opened its U.S. headquarters in Charlotte about four years ago.

It now occupies 200,000 square feet at 10000 Twin Lakes Parkway in north Charlotte. Keaton joined the company nine months ago from The Lego Group’s U.S. headquarters in Connecticut.

In Germany, Schleich is an 80-year-old brand name and is ranked as the seventh-largest toymaker. In the U.S., the company penetrated about 13% of the households with its toys. In the company’s core European market, that number stands at 55%.

“The opportunity is huge here,” he says.

One of the first problems for Schleich is training folks in the pronunciation of the company name. Keaton is quick with a mnemonic to help there: “I like Schleich,” where it’s pronounced as if the name were spelled S-c-h-l-i-k-e.

“Once people know Schleich and know how to pronounce it, they keep coming back,” buying more toys and other supplies, Keaton says.

Back in 2012, Schleich considered putting the Americas headquarters in Detroit, Chicago and places in New Jersey before picking Charlotte. The company moved the North American headquarters to the Queen City from Ottawa.