We’ve all heard of Beanie Babies, right? But who makes them? Get to know the whole story behind the success of H. Ty Warner and what made him one of the most talked about businessmen in Forbes Magazine.
Earlier Life of Ty Warner
H. Ty Warner is an American toy manufacturer, businessman, philantrophist, and former actor that was born on September 3, 1944 (69 years old). His father was the late Harold Warner, who was a jeweler and toy salesman. His mother, on the other hand was Georgia Warner, a pianist. He was named by his parents in honor of the late baseball star, Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers. During his younger years, his family moved to La Grange, a village in the west of Chicago wherein they stayed until 1996.
From Kindergarten, up to the age of 13, Ty went to Cossitt School. At 14, he started at Lyons Township High School (south campus) in Chicago. After attending three terms at Lyons, Warner then went to St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin. St. John’s Military Academy confirms that approximately a year later Warner left their school to study drama at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. In the following a year after attending Kalamazoo College, Warner decided to move to Hollywood, California in the hopes of becoming an actor. However, his acting career didn’t flourish and he then found himself working miscellaneous jobs as a gas station attendant, grocery clerk and a door-to-door camera salesman. In the year 1962 he obtained a new position, and that is to sell plush animals for Dakin, a toy company based in San Francisco. Warner worked with Dakin for over 18 years and was terminated out of dishonor for the peculiarity that he had exhibited in his actions.
The Start of Ty Inc. and the Growth of Ty’s Career
After he got retrenched, he spent a three-year sabbatical in Italy, and returned back to Chicago to make a name for himself. Back in 1986, Ty mortgaged his house and invested all his life savings, including the bequest that he got from his father in order to fund the foundation of Ty Warner Inc. which was then renamed into Ty Incorporated.
In 1993, shortly after starting out as a company that sells stuffed toy cats (inspired by some of the plush toys that Warner had seen in Italy), Ty Inc. launched what is now famously known as the Beanie Babies At the peak of the Beanie craze, the privately owned Ty Inc. is believed to have earned over $700 million in profits in a year. In 2007, Ty Inc. went head to head together with MGA Entertainment, makers of the Bratz in order to release what is called as the Ty Girlz dolls and virtual world. Now, he still remains to be the current CEO, sole-proprietor and founder of Ty Inc.. Aside from owning Ty Inc., he is also known to have significant investments in hotels, property and golf courses. Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts include the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, the Sandpiper golf course, the Four Seasons Resort in Santa Barbara, California, the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, California, the Kona Village resort in Hawaii (purchased in July of 2004), the Montecito Country Club and the Las Ventanas al Paraiso Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico (acquired in September 2004). In 2005, Warner also bought the beachfront Miramar Resort and Rancho San Marcos Golf Course. Presently, he still remains to be in the list of Forbes Magazine’s Top 400 wealthiest people in the United States of America.
Life as a Philanthropist
As a philanthropist, he is also known to have donated millions of dollars to various charitable organizations. In fact, he has donated about $6 million to the Andre Agassi Foundation for underprivileged children in Las Vegas and another $3 million for the creation of Ty Warner Park in Westmont, Illinois. He also donated $1.5 million for the creation of the Ty Warner Sea Center in Santa Barbara, California. He also donated one million Beanie Babies for the children in Iraq and also donated more than $300 million worth of soft toys for a Red Cross blood drive. Furthermore, Warner has designed a number of Beanie Babies with the intention of donating all of its variable income to charity. Ty Inc.’s charity releases have raised millions for a variety of charitable organizations, including the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the American Red Cross, and the Princess Diana Memorial Fund. As a matter of fact, back in 2006, he has received the Children’s Champion Award from Children’s Hunger Fund for his philanthropic efforts for having donated 1 million Beanie Babies to Children’s Hunger Fund relief efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Issues and Updates
The Beanie Babies Master was pled guilty of Tax Evasion last December of 2013, but was not sentenced to go to jail in one of the hearings this year (2014) because a judge ignored the prosecutors’ pleas. Instead of spending some jail time, he was given a probationary period of 2 years together with some community service duties.
Now, Ty Warner still continues to live a relatively private life. He rarely gives the media a chance to interview him, making it difficult for people to grasp some private information about him. Even in various toy conventions, trade shows and/or charity functions, he is nowhere to be found. However, there have been instances wherein people got to interact with him. Thus, giving off a positive feedback pertaining to how friendly and approachable he was, especially towards the children and the poor. A matter of fact, he even gave a woman $20,000 for her stem-cell procedure in order to save her life.
H. Ty Warner & Ty Inc. (2013, May 28). Retrieved July 08, 2014, from www.tycollector.com: http://www.tycollector.com/tywarner.htm
Smith, B. (2014, May). Behind the Beanie Babies: The Secret Life of Ty Warner. Retrieved July 08, 2014, from www.chicagomag.com: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/May-2014/Ty-Warner/