ToyBurg finds success in selling vintage and hard-to-find toys
While experiencing astonishingly rapid growth, a Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, toy company’s small staff works hard finding, selling and shipping unusual or hard-to-find toys that might put Santa’s workshop to shame.
In his 20s, Steven Seeberger officially founded ToyBurg in 2006 in his garage after successfully spending a few years selling toys or other items online with his wife, Jessica, and quickly realizing the potential.
“Our big goal is to find the toys that were really popular but are no longer going to be in stock either due to underproduction by the manufacturer, or the manufacturer ending production of that product,” Seeberger says, naming AquaDoodle, Nerf and Lego products as popular sellers.
By 2007 and still garage-based, the company reached $1 million in online sales. With an overwhelming workload, the couple asked friends and family for help. Soon, four to five post office trucks pulled up to their house each day, filling up and driving away with toys as everyone worked long hours to fulfill demands.
“Nothing prepared me for this,” Seeberger says. “I got a communications degree from the University of Kentucky, nothing to do with business. I never planned on being an entrepreneur.”
Eventually he bought a bigger house with a two-car garage and full basement, thinking that would suffice. ToyBurg sales soon swelled to $3 million and in 2009 he bought a 3,200-square-foot building in an industrial area of Lawrenceburg.
The next year an expansion was already underway there, and more have followed. Now encompassing about 35,000 square feet, yet another expansion lies ahead in 2019.
Though the company’s building footprint keeps growing, employee rosters are purposely limited to just 35 friends and family, Seeberger says, and they’re treated as such, including free lunches prepared each day by a full-time cook and eaten together at long tables where employees’ family members are also welcome to pull up a chair. In busier seasons, dinner may also be served.
Weather permitting, employees and Seeberger play basketball on breaks. Music plays on the main work floor and people chat and laugh amicably while sorting toys or typing. Seeberger says employees often socialize or vacation with each other in their off time, and they can set flexible work hours outside of the fourth-quarter busy season.
Predictably, turnover is scant and open positions are rare.
A smaller staff also means the financial rewards reaped can be shared with the group. For their hard work, Seeberger takes employees and spouses on all-expenses-paid cruises—next year they’re all going to Mexico—and has bought three vehicles for employees, among other generous acts. ToyBurg no longer retains any profits, distributing them to employees as sizeable bonuses.
Now 38 with three young children at home, Seeberger semi-retired two years ago and the acting CEO, Jon Linwick, conducts many of the company’s day-to-day responsibilities.
“The success of the company now is the success for my friends, so I’d like to see it succeed for their benefit,” Seeberger says. “…The amount of personal sacrifice that these people have put in have made it what it is. … Everybody sacrifices for each other.”