Radio Flyer Pulls Through Tough Economy

CHICAGO -- Despite its humble beginnings on the city's West Side, the Radio Flyer wagon is proving to be recession-proof.

A childhood staple, the well-known American brand that got its start in the 1920s has outlasted other Chicago names like Wrigley and Marshall Field's.

In fact, company founder Antonio Pasin, who was an Italian immigrant, came up with the name "Radio Flyer" after borrowing two cutting-edge terms from back in the day.

"The term radio was cool because radio had just been invented and the word flyer was very popular because the Wright Brothers had just developed the airplane," said Pasin's great-grandson, the company's current CEO.

Today, Radio Flyer manufactures wooden and plastic wagons and has 70 percent of the market.

More than 50 wagon models are manufactured with various sizes, including wagons sized for stuffed animals and miniatures for key chains.

"For years our company has lead the industry in pioneering toy design and safety features," head designer Tom Schlegel said.

In fact, most of the product testing inside their facility is done by the children of executives, which includes Pasin's toddler.

Radio Flyer also manufactures a line of accessories such as seats, umbrellas, cooler packs, and handle extensions.

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