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In the firm bought Sandberg Manufacturing Co. Later, a company that made paper roll caps was acquired, as well as another that produced small plastic action figures. Manufacturing was done at two plants in the Chicago area, as well as at others in Amsterdam, New York, in Durant, Oklahoma, and in Canada.
Starting in the s the company had begun contracting out production of most of its toy cars to manufacturing firms in China, and this outsourcing grew to account for 40 percent of the firm's total output. The Shures had taken this step reluctantly, as they were strongly committed to their employees, who were, in large part, residents of the impoverished West Side of Chicago. Many had worked for Strombecker for decades, and in some cases for generations. A key to the firm's success was its image as a low-overhead, no-frills operation.
The company's basic toys were not advertised, but generated steady sales year after year due to their classic nature.
They were popular with major retailers like Toys 'R' Us and Wal-Mart because of their high profit margins, typically 45 to 50 percent as compared with the 17 to 20 percent for heavily advertised toys. The company offered hundreds of different items, and each year introduced new ones like a inch plastic crossbow that emitted bubbles when fired, or plastic baseball bats and tennis racquets that created hundreds of bubbles when waved through the air.
The firm was now producing some 70 percent of the bubble solution sold in the United States. In Strombecker suffered a setback when news reports about children who had been shot by police while brandishing toy guns led several retail chains, including Toys 'R' Us and Kay-Bee, to pull authentic-looking toy weapons from their shelves.
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Strombecker had control of 60 percent of U. Although deals were quickly made to offset the cutbacks by boosting orders of the firm's other products, and some guns were redesigned to make them less realistic, the company announced that it would lay off 20 in the fall. Strombecker was able to keep most of its U. Sales of handgun and assault weapon toys were affected the most, while demand for western-style pistols and rifles fell off less sharply, though they too were banned by at least one retailer.
The company was able to recover from this setback, however, and by revenues had rebounded to a record level of.