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Locals store expands work, play

Retail: A toy retailer has steadily grown since moving to the SCV, and now occupies nearly 100,000 s

Posted: June 26, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 26, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Vice President Ben Ibarra, left, and owner Jacques Kouyoumjian pose with items in HobbyTron.com’s warehouse in Valencia.

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By Jana Adkins
Signal Business Editor

HobbyTron, a retailer of remote-control toys and airsoft guns, is having fun in its new home.

Relocating its headquarters to the Valencia Industrial Center last year, the company more than doubled the amount of square footage it previously occupied at its San Fernando location.

And last month, the company opened a retail store in addition to its warehouse operations for online sales.
HobbyTron reports it has been able to double its sales and staff.

The hobby-electronic-toy company first began 10 years ago as an online retailer using a garage as its first warehouse. Today, the company occupies nearly 100,000 square feet of Valencia warehouse space.

Retail store
“We had people coming to the warehouse everyday begging to come in and look at the hobby toys,” said Ben Ibarra, vice president of HobbyTron.

Last month, the company opened a 10,000-square-foot retail store.

Company officials were concerned about opening a retail store in the industrial center but business at the store has been good, they said. Sales have been growing daily just based on word-of-mouth, despite the store being open for less than a month. 

Toys
While HobbyTron specializes in remote-control cars, aircraft and boats, as well as airsoft guns, it also carries an assortment of robot kits, science and electronic kits and magic-trick games.

While the top selling items are the remote helicopters and airsoft guns, the company said it is catering more and more to kids who have to do science projects for school.

Similar to paint guns, the airsoft guns are battery-powered. HobbyTron also has an airsoft shooting range so customers can try the items out, Ibarra said.

Sales
A private company, HobbyTron has grown steadily since 2001.

“We went from doing 20 orders per day in 2001, to 500 orders per day now,” Ibarra said. “At Christmas, we can get 2-3,000 orders per day.”

In an aggressive approach, the company is adding items in an attempt to capture a wider audience.

Based on customer demand, HobbyTron also plans to expand further into accessories and replacement parts for existing hobby toys.

Relocating
Being in Santa Clarita, where Ibarra convinced the owners to relocate the company, has allowed the firm to grow.

A transplant to Southern California, Ibarra three years ago looked for a desirable community in which to live and raise a family.

“When I saw how nice of an area Santa Clarita was, and with all the stuff to do, it was an easy answer that Santa Clarita is where I wanted to live.”

A resident of Canyon Country, Ibarra came to also appreciate the local business environment — in particular liking the tax and other business benefits for locating a business in Santa Clarita.

The owners agreed to move the company and make the sacrifice of driving 20 to 30 minutes a day each way to work. A lot of employees lived in the San Fernando Valley, and had to be convinced as well to stay with the company and commute.

“Moving our business to Santa Clarita from the San Fernando Valley was a night and day difference,” said President Kev Kouyoumjian.

“At first, I was hesitant because of the commute from Glendale, but I was easily convinced to make the move to Santa Clarita once I saw how much safer and cleaner it was.”

Local labor market
HobbyTron employs 38 employees off-season. At the end of each year, the company also hires temporary employees to keep up with the holiday demand. And since moving to Santa Clarita, it has hired locally as well.

Employees work in the warehouse filling online orders or work directly with customers in HobbyTron’s retail store.
Since moving the warehouse and offices to Santa Clarita, HobbyTron has hired 13 employees that reside locally, Ibarra said.

“We have found these employees have a much stronger work ethic and desire to grow within the company,” he said. “This desire is a huge asset to small companies like ours, because our company is only as good as its employees.”

Overall, business has been good for HobbyTron since moving to Santa Clarita. Little by little, the business continues to grow, Ibarra said.

HobbyTron’s retail store is located at 24700 Avenue Rockefeller, off Avenue Scott in the Valencia Industrial Center. Shoppers can also go online to view products or order at www.hobbytron.com.

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