Originally created 03/31/04

Radio Flyer to move production of wagons to China



CHICAGO -- Radio Flyer Inc., maker of the little red wagon loved by generations of children, plans to move its manufacturing operation to China.

The 87-year-old company said it would keep its headquarters and distribution business in Chicago but decided the Chicago plant where the metal wagons are built is too expensive to maintain. With the plant closing, Radio Flyer will lay off nearly half its 90 employees.

Chief executive Robert Pasin, whose grandfather started the company, said he did not believe the move would hurt customer loyalty.

"We're still a Chicago company. We're still a Chicago brand," he said.

Radio Flyer's tricycles, scooters and most of its other products are already made in China. A Wisconsin company makes its plastic wagons and will continue to do so.

Pasin said the move out of metal wagon manufacturing later this year will allow the company to concentrate on marketing and extending its brand to other areas.

"We're going to keep doing whatever makes sense," he said.

The company does not disclose sales figures, but Pasin said that plastic wagons have cut into the market for metal models in recent years.