Stephen Key-Award Winning Inventor

IMG_20170407_215353_051Stephen Key with PACE CEO Christopher Guerrera

Stephen started his career in product development selling his handmade goods at art shows and state fairs, where he quickly discovered the importance of creating a desirable product. “Let’s face it: When rent is due and you are hungry, if the product you spent several hours making doesn’t sell, you quickly move on to something else,” he explained. Using his artistic talents and following his dream of becoming self-employed, Stephen taught himself to design and sculpt plush characters. Others eventually recognized Stephen’s talent for design and he began freelancing for Dakin Toys.

Eventually, he applied for a real job with a paycheck. “I went in for an interview at a startup company called Worlds of Wonder. I figured that I could work for them during the day and do my freelance projects at night. That way I’d be making twice as much! Little did I know—after bluffing my way through much of the interview—that I would land the job and be shipped out to Hong Kong to learn about manufacturing.”

Stephen was placed in charge of Worlds of Wonder’s design group. Stephen had the opportunity to design and work with the engineers of wildly successful product lines, including Teddy Ruxpin, the worlds’ first talking teddy bear (which was invented by Ken Forsse and licensed to Worlds of Wonder by Ken’s company Alchemy II) and Lazer Tag, the hit toy of 1986.

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During his tenure with Worlds of Wonder his interest in new products blossomed. “I often looked at new product submissions that would come into WOW and found myself saying, ‘I can do better than that, I know it.’”

Stephen left Worlds of Wonder to start his own toy invention and licensing firm. But to pay the rent he kept on freelancing for toy manufacturers like Disney, WOW, Applause, and Dakin. Over time, the freelance projects declined and his inventions grew.

One of Stephen’s favorite products that he invented in the early days was a small indoor basketball backboard that was designed to look like a basketball player with his arms outstretched. Ohio Art licensed the idea from him and sold over one million Michael Jordan Wall Balls that first year.

Stephen had joined the ranks of successful inventors. He loved his work and it actually paid the rent.

In 1995, Stephen read an article in his local newspaper that described a problem: Labels are never able to fit all of the information that is required to be on them in a font size that is legible. His interest was piqued and he started thinking about how he could solve that problem.

His solution was simple, or so he thought: Add another label over the current one. This outer label would have a clear window. The outer label would spin around the container and whatever was printed on the inner label would be viewed through the clear window.

Stephen developed the Rotating Label (or Spinformation®, as it is sometimes called) with the help of the largest pressure-sensitive label manufacturer in the United States, CCL Label, Inc.

The rotating label today is manufactured and sold in countries around the world and on many different label technologies, including Roll Fed, Pressure Sensitive, Cut & Stack, Shrink Wrap, and Stretch Sleeve. Stephen has received over 13 industry awards as a result of his innovation and the benefits his label offers to its users.

The rotating label has been featured on Rexall Sundown Herbal products worldwide, Lawry’s Perfect Blend Seasonings in the U.S., Nescafe Coffee in Japan, and a vitamin supplement in China. Learn more about Spinformation here.

Several years into production, CCL Label—the company that Stephen developed the label with—priced the label too high, making it prohibitively costly to most companies. Stephen decided to take a break from Spinformation® and focus his efforts elsewhere.

During his hiatus from Spinformation®, one of Stephen’s childhood friends came to him with an interesting idea. Rob was in the music retail business. He told Stephen about how guitar picks had basically been the same boring pieces of plastic for the past eighty years. Stephen set to work figuring out how to freshen up the guitar pick industry. A short time later HotPicks was born. Stephen took the basic shape of a guitar pick and changed it to the shape of a skull. It was an instant hit. The picks started selling around the world. Soon HotPicks were sold in 10,000 stores worldwide including Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven. The small company decided to branch out, obtaining a license from Disney to produce guitar picks in the shapes of their popular characters, including Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. They also created a line of guitar picks using lenticular material, which made the images printed on the picks look like they were moving. Stephen also signed a licensing contract with country superstar Taylor Swift and createdmotion guitar picks with her likeness. After five successful years in the guitar pick business Stephen decided to sell his share of the company and move on. Spinformation® was starting to garner more interest again.
Learn more about HotPicks here.

Taking advantage of the relationship he had formed during his time at HotPicks, Stephen introduced Spinformation® to the food and beverage division of Disney. They instantly loved it. They immediately put Stephen in contact with one of their licensees that produced beverages and requested a new juice-based children’s drink called Twist N Chill. The Twist N Chill drink featured Hannah Montana and Cars. The label was used to deliver fun games, activities, and action to entertain the children while they drank the beverage.

Now the Spinformation® label is being used to educate parents about how to dose liquid medication to their children based on weight instead of age. Each year in the United States, as many as 27,000 children are overdosed or under-dosed liquid medication. An emergency room doctor developed this new product, which is named Accudial.

Stephen’s Spinformation label continues to win accolades. Accudial received Product of the Year in Canada as well as a Gold at the Edison Awards. Here is a photo of Stephen with his wife Janice at the Edison Awards. Söyu Natural Teas also took home a Bronze award at the Edison Awards.

Stephen’s rotating label technology was recently purchased by SpinLabel Technologies, Inc. (formerly Accudial Pharmaceuticals, Inc.). Stephen joined a dynamic team of entrepreneurs as the Chief Technical Officer of the company.

Stephen travels and speaks around the world. He was a speaker at the Booming in the Bust Conference in Australia and was invited to give an all-day lecture by the government of Northern Ireland in Belfast.

In 2011, McGraw-Hill published Stephen’s first book, One Simple Idea: Turn Your Ideas Into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work. In 2012, he published One Simple Ideas for Entrepreneurs. In 2013, he became a regular contributor to Entrepreneur. In 2014, he was asked to write a weekly called “The Licensing Lifestyle” for Inc.

In his spare time Stephen travels around the world with his lovely wife Janice. Their oldest daughter Madeleine graduated from UC Berkeley in 2011 and their youngest daughter Elizabeth graduated from the University of Oregon in 2014. Their son Jon currently attends UC Berkeley.

Stephen Key with the Shark Tank All-Stars at the Make48 competition in Kansas City featured with John Depaola of the Paint Brush Cover, Judy Edwards of Squatty Potty and Christopher Guerrera of PACE.

Mayor Ted Gatsas Visit’s Wiley Road

ManchesterWiley Road Foods got a great visit from the Mayor of Manchester NH Ted Gatsas to participate in the ribbon ceremony to launch their new company Wiley Road Foods, www.wileyroadfoods.com. It was a historic day as the company has grown up from being The Pie Guy for more than 15 years winning Best of NH for that stretch. Wiley Road Foods will bring a variety of new exciting products that will be known for  national distribution throughout the country. IMG_6877

See the NH Chronicle story about the history of the Pie Guy and the launch of Wiley Road Foods, click on the link below.

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NH Chronicle Visits Wiley Road Foods

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New Hampshire Chronicle is a nightly magazine program about the people and places that make New Hampshire special. Watch us on WMUR weeknights at 7:00pm. The NH Chronicle team visited Wiley Road Foods for a look at their process controls under strict PACE guidelines. More than 300,000 viewers will get an inside look at World Class. 20170206_094536 (2)IMG_6392 (2)20170206_100525 (1)IMG_6382 (2) IMG_6527IMG_6462IMG_6452IMG_6455 IMG_6497IMG_6508 IMG_6509IMG_6458

Big Z Challenge for Mary & John Elliot Charitable Foundation

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The Big Z Challenge is an annual charity event hosted by Dr. Bryan Hoertdoerfer, the official reconstructive and cosmetic dentist to the Boston Bruins. PACE is a proud Sponsor for the Mary & John Elliot Charitable Foundation designated to benefit Elliot Heath System Pediatrics

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Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara participates in the event, giving local fans a chance to meet “The Big Z” and have a once in a lifetime experience. Funds raised at the event are donated to the Mary & John Elliot Charitable Foundation and designated to benefit Elliot Heath System Pediatrics.  Each year, over $10,000 has been raised and donated to provide new equipment, along with necessary funds to continue to provide the best care for children in need.The Big Z Challenge features an actual “challenge” where younger fans face off against Chara, in a hockey related activity, such as a street hockey shooting competition or a one-on-one air-hockey game. Participants are awarded with exclusive prizes including tickets to Boston Bruins home games, autographed memorabilia, and more.

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Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame

10TH ANNUAL SPORTS BROADCASTING HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

NEW YORK —

“The 2016 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame marks our 10th anniversary as an organization that shines a light on the people who have helped elevate the sports-broadcasting industry week after week and year after year with visionary leadership, first-class creative talent, and technical-skill sets,” says Ken Aagaard, chairman, Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. “This year’s class continues that tradition, and their induction later this year promises to be an event to never forget.”

All ticket sales from the ceremony will be donated to the SVG Sports Broadcasting Fund, a charity that helps sports-production professionals during times of financial crisis due to illness, injury, or disaster.

This year’s Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductees:

Sean McManus: Twenty years ago, McManus was named president of CBS Sports, beginning a run of leadership that included not only bringing the NFL back to the network in 1998 but also inking long-term contracts for top sports properties, such as the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Championship, the PGA, The Masters, SEC College football, and much more. He also spent five years as president of both CBS Sports and CBS News, only the second person ever (Roone Arledge was the first) to do so. Named chairman, CBS Sports, in 2011, McManus oversees operations across all sports properties.

Verne Lundquist: Lundquist’s warm style, laughter, and knowledge have made him a well-loved announcer among his fellow professionals and millions of sports fans. He has been on the national sports stage since 1974, and, although he soon begins his final season calling SEC football games for CBS Sports (something he has done since 2000), he will continue to delight fans of golf and college hoops on CBS Sports into the future.

Tim McCarver: McCarver spent three decades as baseball’s premier television analyst, the only MLB analyst to have worked for all four major broadcast networks. He also served as an analyst for 28 consecutive MLB postseasons, including 23 World Series and 20 All-Star Games. During his career, he became known for prescient insights into the game and was a role model for ex-players looking to fold into a broadcast telecast.

13062526_10154062947610900_7959939645803234358_nRobin Roberts: Roberts began her career on the national broadcasting stage in 1990 when she joined ESPN, quickly becoming a mainstay on SportsCenter. But her skills and depth as a reporter and anchor soon led her to a role as a cross-network star. Appearing on both ESPN ‘s SportsCenter and ABC ‘s Good Morning America, she was hired as a full-time co-anchor of the latter In 2005 and has been steady presence as the show climbed to the top of the national morning-news ratings.IMG_20150604_145421

Craig Sager: Sager’s presence has become synonymous with big-time NBA basketball (not to mention with unique style). As a sideline reporter for the NBA on TNT for nearly two decades, he has earned the respect of players, coaches, and viewers. He previously hosted Atlanta Hawks telecasts for TBS Superstation and was a reporter on TNT’s NFL pregame, halftime, and postgame from 1990 to ’97.

Andrea Berry: Berry blazed a trail as the first female field tech manager at CBS in the mid ’80s. She has been at Fox Sports for 20 years, having joined the company in 1996 as VP, field operations, overseeing operations for NFL, NASCAR, MLB, boxing, NCAA, and much more. As SVP, broadcast operations, she was responsible for all Fox broadcast operations and transmission that support the Fox network, as well as all its cable entities.

Joe Cohen: Cohen’s career highlights include serving as president of MSG Network from 1979 to ’85 (and driving its launch of an HD service); being a co-founder of the USA Network, Sports Channel L.A., and Sports Time Ohio; developing a means to secure a pay-TV signal from piracy while CEO of HTN in the late ’70s; serving as chairman of the L.A. Kings from 1993 to ’95; and today serving as president of sports at The Switch. He also oversaw MSG Network operations when it absorbed Fox Sports New York in 1989, making MSGN the home of all New York-based MLB, NHL, and NBA teams.

Bob Mikkelson: Mikkelson singlehandedly changed the way golf is covered, with the use of one blimp shot. He has the uncanny and not-to-be-duplicated ability to follow a golf ball from a moving platform, operating a pan, tilt, and zoom camera while telling the pilot where to fly so that his shadow isn’t in the shot. As a result, he captures a shot no one else can, giving the viewer the perspective of where the ball is relative to the hole. But capturing golf is not his only primary skill; he has provided a template for covering college and NFL football from above.

Dan Rooney: Rooney, now chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has spent a lifetime making the franchise one of the most successful in all of sports. But he is also a key architect of the current NFL, including helping define the salary cap and the collective-bargaining agreement of 1982. By early 1969, he was managing the day-to-day operations of the team and personally hired coach Chuck Noll. During his time overseeing the franchise, it has won six Super Bowls.

Bill Webb: Regarded as baseball’s top director, Webb calls the shots for Fox Sports’ biggest major-league events. Starting with the launch of Fox MLB in 1996, his credits include 17 World Series, 19 League Championship Series, and 18 All-Star Games. Fox MLB coverage has garnered 30 Sports Emmy Awards, 12 for production, with Webb in the director’s seat. In 2006, he was named lead director for New York Mets games on SportsNet New York, a position he still holds. He also served as lead director at ABC Sports from 1988 to ’96.11703184_10153431332370900_3209002594464220216_n