Chairman, TIA Board of Directors
Søren Torp Laursen
LEGO Systems, Inc.
Mr. Søren Torp Laursen is president of LEGO Systems, Inc. the
North American division of the family-owned and privately-held LEGO
Group, one of the world’s largest toy companies, based in Billund,
With 23 years experience with the LEGO Group, primarily in global
sales, marketing and leadership, Laursen, who is situated at LEGO
Systems Inc., the North American headquarters in Enfield, Connecticut,
is responsible for all LEGO sales, marketing and operations for the
United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, UK and
Laursen joined LEGO Group in 1986 as international marketing
trainee. He became export manager, LEGO Overseas A/S, supporting
LEGO sales and marketing through distributors in Africa and Asia.
In 1991, he became area manager, LEGO Overseas A/S, responsible for all
sales and marketing operations in Asia Pacific. He moved to
Auckland in 1996 to begin LEGO New Zealand Ltd., where, as general
manager, Laursen took over sales, distribution and marketing from
distributors to fuel strong growth for the LEGO brand in the
market. He returned to Denmark in 1999 as senior vice president,
special markets, responsible for LEGO Europe East, LEGO Educational
Division and special sales (global co-promotions and travel
retail). In 2000, he moved to London to head the company’s
Europe North and Europe East divisions.
Laursen is a member of the Toy Industry Association (TIA)’s
Executive Committee and Board of Directors, as well as a member of the
TIA Strategy Task Force Committee. He serves on the Board of the
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford and is Chairman
of the Board of the LEGO Children’s Fund.
Laursen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from The Aarhus
School of Business in Aarhus, Denmark and a Bachelor of Commerce degree
in Marketing from The Business School South in Kolding,
A native Dane, Laursen and his wife, Annette, reside in Connecticut,
with their two children, Camille and Christian.
Vice-Chairman, TIA Board of Director
President/Chief Executive Officer
American Plastic Toys, Inc.
Mr. John Gessert currently serves as president and chief executive
officer of American Plastics Toys, Inc. He joined the
organization in 1984 in sales and operations and, after holding regional
sales manager positions, became national sales manager in 1991. He
served as executive vice president from 1998 to 2003 when he was named
as president and CEO.
Gessert is a member of the Toy Industry Association (TIA)’s
Board of Directors where he serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the Board
and as a member of the Executive Committee.
Gessert and his wife, Susan, reside in Michigan, with their four
children, Ellen, Jack, Emma and Julia. Mr. Gessert earned his
Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and his MBA from
Wayne State University.
Secretary-Treasurer, TIA Board of Directors
Chief Operating Officer
Mr. David D. R. Hargreaves is chief operating officer of Hasbro,
Inc., a $4.0 billion leader in children’s and family leisure time
entertainment products and services. Born in England in 1952, Mr.
Hargreaves was educated at the Colchester Royal Grammar School, obtained
his BA (Honors) in Business from the University of East London, and
undertook post graduate business studies at the University of Warwick
His early career was in the automotive industry. He spent five
years with Ford of Europe where he held a number of positions in finance
and strategic planning, he also spent two years in finance with DeLorean
Motor Cars Limited. He began his Hasbro career in 1982, joining
Milton Bradley Europe in London as Finance Manager and relocated to
Ireland as Financial Controller of their Irish manufacturing company in
1984. In 1986 he came to US as Director of Business Planning
and Analysis. Between 1989 and 1999, at various times he served as
Senior Vice President of Finance for each of Hasbro’s major
operating segments. He was appointed Chief Financial Officer in
February 2001. During the period he has served as Chief Financial
Officer, the Company has substantially improved profitability,
strengthened its balance sheet, rebuilt its credibility with the
investment community, and undertaken several strategic initiatives to
expand the reach of company’s brands into digital gaming, movies
and television. He was given responsibility for Hasbro’s
manufacturing, sourcing, logistics and supply chain planning in 2007,
and was appointed Chief Operating Officer in May 2008.
He has lived and worked in England, Northern Ireland, Southern
Ireland, and the US, and has traveled extensively throughout the
world. He serves on the board of the Rhode Island Public
Expenditures Council and is involved with a number of non-profit
organizations. He has been a board member of the Kent County YMCA
and Capital City Community Centers. He is an enthusiastic
athlete and has completed a number of marathons and an Ironman
Member of the Executive Committee, TIA Board of
Chief Executive Officer
Bob Wann is the CEO of Patch Products Inc, makers of Patch, Lauri and
Smethport branded toys, games and educational products.
With over 30 years experience at Fortune 500 and Entrepreneurial
/Start-up companies in the US and International Markets; Wann, through
strategic brand and product development, combined with creative
marketing and retailer partnership programs, has overseen the
development and growth of some of the world’s most recognized and
leading consumer brands such as Johnson & Johnson, M &
M’s, Fisher Price, Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers.
As CEO & Co-Founder of Sababa Toys, Wann led the company to
become one of the fastest growing new toy and game companies in the USA
by introducing best selling product lines such as Fisher Price Classics,
Dragonology and Front Porch Classics along with licensed versions of
UNO, Scrabble and Etch a Sketch. Sababa was recognized in the 2007 Inc
500 List as one of the fastest growing private companies in America.
Prior to Sababa Toys, Wann developed his brand building and marketing
skills at M& M Mars, Johnson & Johnson and American Greetings
and later applied these skills as VP of Marketing at Fisher Price and
President /Worldwide General Manager of Milton Bradley/Parker Brothers
at Hasbro by overseeing the successful introduction or growth of
industry recognized brands such as Fisher Price, Care Bears, Strawberry
Shortcake, Mr. Potato Head, Monopoly, Scrabble, Pictionary, Playskool
Wann is widely recognized as a creative thinker and marketer,
developing programs for Hasbro, Inc. such as “Plan a Family Game
Night” which won the Toy of the Year Award in 2001 for Best
Wann has been married to his wife, Amy, for 17 years and resides in
Lake Geneva, WI with their 14 year old daughter Melanie.