Melin gave us the Frisbee, Hula Hoop Idea man, innovator persevered through success, survived failure

Wham-O, the business Arthur Melin and friend Richard Knerr started in 1948, was based on a slingshot that could shoot food up to a hunter’s falcons. Not many were sold. Next, Melin arranged for a truckload of oysters so he could open an oyster bar in California. Without hoped-for backing, he had to dump the oysters into a nearby bay.

He and Knerr still had Wham-O, and after several other ill-fated endeavors, they bought the rights for a plastic flying disk in 1955. They called it the Plato Platter. It wasn’t much of a hit until the following year when they changed the name to the Frisbee.

One of Melin’s next ideas was the plastic Hula Hoop. It was a big success but faded fast. Wham-O took a big loss on its huge unsold inventory.

A couple of years later, they made the SuperBall, which did well. Melin’s two-handed tennis racket, however, was not a success. But Silly String and Slip ‘n Slide did OK. He and Kerr sold Wham-O in 1982.

Melin’s life proves again that all ideas aren’t winners, but if you keep coming up with them, you’ll find some that are. Lots of people told him his ideas weren’t realistic, but he kept on trying.

Keep his example in mind when you have an idea and someone says it’s not a good one. Maybe it is. You probably won’t make a lot of money on it, (it took Melin 34 years to do that) but you could help your organization save a buck or change something for the better. That always counts.

2017-05-08T15:02:10+00:00

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Joe Kern

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