From Immigrant to American Toy Producing Leader- The Gund Story

For over 100 years the name Gund has been synonomous with quality, baby-safe plush products. The oldest and leading soft toy manufacturer in the United States, the Gund story is one of a family owned-business leading the industry in quality, safety and unique design.

The Gund company was founded by German immigrant Adolph Gund in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1898. The company was one of the first to design and produce teddy bears in the early 1900's.

In 1907 Russian immigrant Jacob Swedlin began working at Gund. In 1925 Adolph Gund retired. Not having children of his own, he sold the company to Swedlin for a token sum with the understanding that the name would always remain Gund. Swedlin ran the company until 1969 when it was passed to his daughter Rita Raiffe and her husband Herbert. Under their leadership Gund flourished and the company began using their now trademarked under-stuffing technique.

Bruce Raiffe, the third generation to run the company joined Gund in 1977 and became President in 1993. He later became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 2004. At that time Jim Madonna was appointed President, marking the first time in the company's history that a non-founding family member was in charge.

Gund is responsible for pioneering many innovations, safety standards and manufacturing processes in the toy industry. The concept of industry licensing was introducted by Jacob Swedlin with cartoon characters such as Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse, Popeye and others. Gund was also the first to produce a musical toy which was affordably priced for the average American family. Gund set an industry standard for safety by divising a way to attach eyes securely to plush animals so that babies and children could not pull them off.

In 1980 the famous Gotta Getta Gund advertising campaign began re-establishing Gund as a household name. Today the company manufactures an extensive collection of unique characters and licensed plush. The 106 year old company is based in Edison, New Jersey and distributes it's treasures throughout the United States, Candada, and the world.

About the Author

Sharon Lauer is the webmaster for She regularly researches and updates the site on plush topics.

Sharon Lauer