Friday, January 16, 2015

1 on 1 - AGP (Part 1 of 2)

I briefly mentioned this a few weeks ago, I recently had a 1 on 1 with Alexander Global Promotions' National Sales Director, Todd Goldenberg.  I've finally had the time to write a blog regarding our discussion.  It'll be a 2 part blog as the discussion is fairly involved.

As many of you know from reading my blog, AGP is my favorite producer of bobbleheads.  The work they do is incredible and they are super creative.  A lot of us Twins fans had heard that AGP went out of business and I kept seeing new or newer bobbleheads that were produced by AGP.  I figured I'd take the initiative and reach out to someone at AGP and see if I could get an interview. Luck was on my side and Todd was gracious enough to give me a few minutes of his time.  AGP is going strong and has been for 18 years!  Enjoy!

Part 1 of 2

You’ve been producing bobbleheads for well over 10 years, correct?  How did this whole thing start? 
In 1996, Malcolm Alexander was an Australian war veteran living in the US, looking to make a new life for himself.  He decided to try to sell promotional products to sports teams, and when he was asked by the San Francisco Giants, “what price can you get us on Willie Mays bobble heads”, he asked for a couple weeks.  You see Malcolm told the Giants producing bobbles would be no problem…. In fact, he had never heard of bobble heads when he said this.  After spending plenty of time visiting China, he figured it out, and Alexander Global as it’s now known (the bobble head kings) was born. 
Once it started, how fast did it grow?
Once news of the amazing success of  the Willie Mays bobble, spread  to other MLB teams, everyone wanted to produce a giveaway that would have fans lined up for tickets around the block.  AGP was quickly selling to just about every MLB team.
Obviously several other companies modeled their promotion efforts after yours, I’m sure that’s frustrating and flattering at the same time.  This most likely led to teams going to other vendors (probably as a cost-saving measure – as most every collector I know believes AGP bobbleheads are the best), would you agree with that sentiment? 
Whenever a business makes money, competition will follow.  If you’re confident in your abilities, you can’t get mad at that.  You can only expect it, and after all, competition makes everyone better.  Our competitors had some inventive ideas too, which certainly made us better.  And this is what America is all about really.
Do you have a favorite bobblehead or bobbleheads that AGP has created? 
Personally, any that I created are my favorites.  There’s a lot of creativity put into our bobbles, and the salespeople at AGP have a friendly competition, trying to “out creative” each other.  After 48,000,000 bobbles, I can’t really pick a favorite.  There are just so many.  In my office though, I can say I have a Jackie Robinson figurine, an Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop bobble (we don’t just to sports), and...a Bobble Spam Tin.
Speaking of the creative process, tell me more about that?
It’s quite an intricate process.  The client provides us with photos and ideas (sometimes no ideas) and we translate all this for our Chinese master carvers.  Once we see initial carved images, we evaluate internally and make some changes, and it’s back to the carvers.  Then we see another set of images, which is closer and we show it to our clients.  They make their revisions, and back to the carvers again.  Eventually the carving is approved, the bodies and heads go to mold, and we see painted images, and confer again with the clients.  This process in all takes about 4-5 weeks (sometimes more depending on the client).  The full production stage is another 4-6 weeks, and shipping from China to the port, to the trucks, to the client takes another 4-6.  So from the initial order/ideas to delivery is often 4 months.  During Chinese New Year holidays, more like 4.5-5 months. There’s also the 5.5” bobble (with 7” big head), 4” minis, Double bobbles and other sizes.  We even do Lifesized bobbles!  This is me an Dirk Nowitzki (well, a pretty close representation...though his head may be smaller in real life).