Carter Keithley has announced that he will retire as president and chief executive officer of the Toy Industry Association effective April 30, 2015, after nearly a decade of leadership with the trade organization.
Keithley assumed his role in May 2006 during a period of upheaval for TIA and the toy industry. The Toy Center Buildings in midtown Manhattan were closing after serving for many years as the site of New York Toy Fair. The, barely a year into Keithley’s term, the toy industry was faced with yet another crisis when hundreds of playthings were recalled by the U.S. government.
During his time at TIA, the annual budget of the organization grew from less than $14 million to nearly $18 million, and TIA’s membership base nearly doubled to more than 750 companies. An office in Washington, D.C., was also established to accommodate a robust external affairs team comprised of nine industry advocates and technical/safety specialists.
“TIA was fortunate to find the right executive to meet the organization’s needs at a time of particular stress and turmoil,” says John Gessert, chairman, TIA board, and president, American Plastic Toys. “Carter will be missed, and we are all grateful for his decade of work on behalf of the toy industry.”
Gessert has appointed TIA board vice chairman David Hargreaves of Hasbro, and immediate past TIA chairman, Soren Torp Laursen of LEGO Systems, to co-chair a transition committee that will work with a professional search firm to hire a new executive for TIA.
“My years as chief executive of the Toy Industry Association were the highlight of my 40-year career as an association executive,” says Keithley. “My only regret is that I did not come to TIA as a younger man able to sustain the pace and workload for a longer time. As I enter my 70th year of life, it is time for me to pass the baton to someone with fresh energy, vision and ambition, so that TIA can continue to serve its members and support the growth and health of the toy industry.”