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The Miami News from Miami, Florida • 48

The Miami Newsi
Miami, Florida
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The Miami News Monday, November 15, 1982 The world's garbage is treasure for Hesco 18 LINDA T. STREITFELD Miami Ntwt Staff ii i ii mm. for all open containers. Acosta touts as safer and more durable than conventional steel lids, and says they can be recycled when they wear out. Acosta predicts sales will total $8.5 million this year, including $2.5 million from Hesco Refuse Equipment a North Carolina subsidiary which opened in late Another new subsidiary, Hesco Export sold about $400,000 this year.

Acosta blames slow foreign sales on a depressed Latin American economy and the strong U.S. dollar. His markets include Haiti, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands, Argentina and Saudi Arabia. He says he plans to open a new plant in Central Florida to speed deliveries and increase market share in Georgia. Hesco has never lost money, Acosta boasts.

"Even in 1975, when everybody else dying, we broke even." Business was so brisk in 1973, Acosta couldn't pay the taxes. So he did the obvious thing: He sold the company. In 1976, the buyer, Cenco looked financially shaky, so Acosta bought his company back. The following year, he says, Hesco grew "100 per cent." Hesco's products have made their way into some of the priciest neighborhoods in Dade. Places like the Towers of Quayside at Biscayne Boulevard and 107th Street and the new Holiday Inn on Brickell Avenue.

National customers include Super-X Drug Stores, Winn Dixie and Belk stores. Hesco employs 60 people in Miami, most of them Reisman says that to increase production, the welders were offered a 10 tsm, Freshly-painted Hesco container is added to inventory of about 500 The system was then changed so that welders were assured of the bonus no matter how much they produced. But if their containers In 1969, Evelio Acosta had $5,000 in savings from his job at United Sanitation Co. in Miami. With the money, he took over payments on a failing welding shop at 79th Street and east 10th Avenue.

Within six months, Hesco Sales Inc. moved into larger quarters at the corner of East 11th Avenue and 42nd Street in Hialeah. Thirteen years later, Acosta owns the block. Hesco is a multi-million dollar national company with two manufacturing plants and a fledgling export subsidiary. The company makes garbage containers.

Big ones. It also makes industrial garbage compactors and balers. The Cuban-born welder-turned-businessman Acosta is not in a romantic business, but it is one that he loves and knows well. Gil Reisman, long-time associate, friend, and Hesco sales manager, says, 'Chico (Acosta) says if he doesn't improve the product every month and a half, he'll go out of Reisman says continual improvements are one reason Hesco has avoided red ink through two recessions. For instance, Acosta designed a lid for his industrial-sized waste container that stays up when opened.

The container is also only four feet high in the front. Both features make it easier to toss in (and toss out) garbage. The containers will change more dramatically in about three weeks, when Hesco gets its new $125,000 rotation molding machine. The machine will produce soft plastic lids Life goes on Tha Naw York Timat Nawt Sarvica NEW YORK It was just two years ago that Rubik's Cube, the maddening, Mondrian-colored brainchild of a Hungarian architecture teacher, hit the American market in force. By last June, the Ideal Toy Co.

had sold 30 million cubes worldwide for $5 to $10 each; imitators had unleashed millions more under names like Magic Puzzler and Le Cube. By any name, one thing was certain: The Cube had become a national obsession. But the craze has died. Street corner merchants hawk "E.T." paraphernalia now, and electronic video games have taken over toy store shelves. Even Rubik's most enthusiastic proponents admit the cube has become passe.

"It's obvious that the cube volume itself is not what it was last year," said Stewart Sims, senior vice president of merchandising for Ideal, now part of CBS Gabriel Industries division. "The cube is still selling, but it was a phenomenon last year." The phenomenon of old is a puzzle devised in 1974 by Erno Rubik for a class he taught at the Budapest Academy of Applied Arts. Originally designed to illustrate algebraic group theory, its commercial appeal apparently was an afterthought. Twenty-six brightly colored cubes rotate on the several axes of the larger structure, composing, if and when arranged correctly, a I The Miami Newt JOE IMKUS were the subject of a recall, the bonus was forfeited. Reisman says it worked.

"Quality control is very important." standard Douglas Thomson, president of the Toy Wholesalers of America, a New York-based trade group. "It's like dominoes they go on forever, but you don't see F.A.O. Schwarz selling them." Ideal is equally optimistic. "It's like many toys that will peak in a year or two and then settle down to a staple Item it's not uncommon in the toy business," said Alfred Nordstrom, vice president and assistant to the president of Gabriel Industries. "We'll probably never get back to the levels of 1981." In the meantime, Ideal will introduce a new line of Rubik strategy puzzles and games next year.

Rubik himself is back at the drawing board, although still on sabbatical from his old job at the Budapest Academy to promote his creation, according to Ideal. (His after-tax income from cube royalties reportedly exceeds $30,000 a month.) Ideal may Jiave much to gain if the new Rubik products catch on. The cube accounted for about 25 per cent of the company's sales in 1981, which rose to $216.8 million, from $141.4 million the year before; in the two years that Ideal sold Rubik before its acquisition by CBS last April, the price of its stock tripled. But this Christmas, don't look for a surfeit of cubes. As Lazarus of Toys 'R' Us says: "Now and the Smurf are sensational.

Obviously, the electronic games are super. It's what's current and what's in the public eye that sells." per cent bonus for producing more than the quota. He says lots of con- tainers were made, but "quality control went way down." Cube as It was a fad. If it hadn't been for the fad, you might just have read about it in a paper occasionally and tha would be it but this really caught. James Nourse 'At the Toys 'R' Us chain," the cube has been equally lackluster.

"It's an OK item not as hot as last year," said Charles Lazarus, the company's chairman. "It's like the rest of the business. One year it's Rubik's Cube and Pac-Man, the next it's Smurf and video. It's a fashion business, no doubt about it." Indeed," almost everyone. Ideal included, attributes the cube's decline to the vagaries of the toy-buying public.

Stores say that electronic video games and spin-offs from arcade games are the hottest items now, with dolls and other merchandise derived from the movie "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" a close second. Rubik and his many offspring puzzles among them Rubik's Race and Rubik's Revenge have lost the public's interest. "It was a fad," said James Nourse. "If it hadn't been for the for Rubik's Inventor Erno Rubik cube with each face a different solid color.

By one calculation, there are more than 3 billion possible combinations. Ideal won't release sales figures for Rubik, but the trend clearly is downward. At New York's F.A.O. Schwarz, Rubik Cube sales peaked late last winter, according to a senior buyer, Ian McDermott. "We haven't bought any since the beginning of the year, in the belief that it wouldn't prove a continuing best seller," McDermott said.

"It hasn't. In fact, it's somewhat of a liability." afr r'r an industry fad, you might just have read about it in a paper occasionally and that would be it, but this really caught." Nourse ought to know. His book, "The Simple Solution to Rubik's Cube," has sold more than 7 million copies at $1.95 each for Bantam Books, its publisher. Nourse, a research associate in the Stanford University chemistry department, went on to write "The Simple Solution to Cubic Puzzles," which Bantam says lias sold about a million copies. For Nourse, the books brought unexpected royalties and attention.

"But all the television and news publicity ended, in January," he said. "Now, the interest as evidenced by the number of calls I've got is almost zero." "The Simple Solution to Rubik's Cube" was the best-selling title "by far" of 1981 and one of the biggest ever for Bantam, according to Stuart Applebaum, vice president and director of publicity. Now the hottest books espouse weight loss, he said. The cube books "still get a few thousand copies selling per month nationally," he added. "But the great boom is over." Does life go on for a has-been fad? Most industry analysts think so.

Like Monopoly and the Frlsbee, they say, Rubik's Cube will likely become an industry standard, bringing steady if unspectacular sales for years. "It's simple, its usable, and there will always be many youngsters who haven't seen it yet," said.

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