Finding life after a fad

06/13/2011 | Wall Street Journal, The

When your business is built on a fad, how do you keep the money flowing once the novelty wears off? That was the dilemma for Michael Lerner, who created the yellow "Baby on Board" car signs in the 1980s. By 1986, facing lower sales and more knock-offs, Lerner needed a way to extend his brand, and the solution was right in his company name: Safety 1st. He moved aggressively into child-safety products for the home, pouring his "Baby on Board" profits into drawer locks, electrical-outlet covers and similar gadgets. The move paid off, and Lerner pocketed $38 million when he sold out to a Canadian firm in 2000.

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