Established in 1959
- Diverse Marketing Mission Statement
- "To be your trusted partner by providing a tailored experience delivering top results with integrity."
- Diverse strongly believes in...
- "Maintaining a culture of empowerment, teamwork, and opportunity for personal and professional growth."
- We offer a helping hand...
- "To actively give back to our community and provide a fair return to all people involved."
1950s Anderson/Hardin and Associates (now Diverse Marketing) was started by my grandfather, Edward Everett Hardin IV, who began by selling toys in the South-West region of the United States. This was a time before the division of gift and mass, a toy salesman just sold the same product to everyone. This was also a time without Walmart, Target and of course Amazon. Ed and his team sold regional departments, hardware stores and independents. The tradeshow circuit was also very different, NYTF was a month long. NYTF/Toy Building located on 5th Avenue was the place of toy commerce. The 1950s saw significant success through print and TV marketing, the toy industry was no different. Items such as the Frisbee and Barbie had just been introduced and resonate with a post-World War II America. Ed was a charismatic man who could have seamlessly been a character on Mad Men. He loved entertaining, the toy industry and most importantly the art of sell.
1960s The 1960’s were a golden era for toys. Kids had way more toys to choose from compared to previous decades and parents spent more, combine that with bigger families in general and that led to an influx of cash streaming into the toy industry! Manufacturer rep groups like Anderson/Hardin and Associates were popping up in every major city. Anderson/Hardin and Associates was able to grab a new up and comer called Kenner, who had a new brand called G.I Joe and that gave us the credibility we needed to attract the premier toy companies in all of the four operating states (TX, OK, LA and AR). This was also the decade of the first Walmart store (1962) in Rogers, Arkansas. This chain would change the landscape of the toy industry and therefor Diverse Marketing!
1970s By the 1970’s Anderson/Hardin and Associates had seen dozens of competitors crop up in the Southwest region, but everyone was experiencing growth and success as the toy industry thrived. My uncle Edward Everett “Rett” Hardin V started his own rep group with partner Fred Hild named Hardin/Hild and Associates (friendly competitors). The Hardin Family now had two manufacturer rep groups selling the Southwest Region (TX, OK, LA, and AR). 1972 was the year Anderson/Hardin and Associates signed on American Plastics….the longest tenured client at Diverse Marketing today. Consolidation on the manufacturer side began to accelerate as Mattel and Hasbro began buying up dozens and dozens of smaller manufacturers. The first Star Wars movie was introduced bringing with it a new era for toys….licensing! Also, the Dallas based showrooms from both firms move from the Trade Mart to the World Trade Center.
1980s The 1980’s were also a huge growth year for the industry. Huge brands such as Cabbage Patch, Barbie, Pound Puppies, Hot Wheels, Teddy Ruxpin, and Trolls took America by storm. Ed Hardin and Karl Anderson the owners of Anderson/Hardin and Associates merge with Hardin/Hild and Associates bringing all the clients from both firms together. The first Wal-Mart Super Center opens in 1988 forever changing the toy landscape. JCP/JCP Catalog (out of NY) announces move to Plano, TX (1987)…this was a huge retailer moving into our “territory”. More and More manufacturers move production overseas to compete with the competitive retail strategy of big box retail…and with that the specialty toy industry was born. Independent retailers move to differentiate themselves from “mass” by offering quality and education.
1990s The 1990’s began with the toy industry retail landscape poised for big growth. Big Box retail continued their dominance with competitive retails, tv advertised product, and licensed product while the Specialty Toy Industry exploded with educational product! Retailers such as Noodle Kanoodle and Zainy Brainy along with hundreds of independents. Anderson/Hardin/Hild had drifted towards mass representation. They realized that they needed to have a part of this explosive specialty toy retail growth. Greg Hardin (current CEO) bought a specialty rep group named Hugh Mcconnell and Associates and merged it with Anderson/Hardin/Hild….the new name of the combined agency is named DIVERSE MARKETING (1993). We are now the only manufacturer rep group in the southwest that handles both the “mass” and “specialty” retail markets. Diverse Marketing expands their 4 state coverage to 8…(adds MO, KS, IA, and NE) and enters the Kansas City Market Center.
2000s The turn of the century began a new era for Diverse Marketing. Ed Hardin (founder) retires along with Fred Hild. Rett and Greg Hardin become the only partners of Diverse Marketing. Hot properties such as Mighty Beans, Tamagotchi, Barney, Razor Scooters, and Wiggles all help push the toy industry to new heights. Wes Hardin graduates and joins Diverse Marketing (2002). Diverse Marketing acquires Sue Warfield and Associates, Phil Eichas and Associates, and Larry Roswell and Associates to expand their 8 state coverage into the Mid-West (2005). Diverse Marking is now operating their toy coverage in 16 states and running 3 showrooms (Dallas, Minneapolis, and Chicago). This expansion was new for the manufacturer rep world as traditional regional groups had been the norm from inception. The year 2006 was a good one for Diverse Marketing..we acquired PMR/Freeman Force. This acquisition was important to note as it was our first move into the Gift Industry. We are now selling candles, picture frames, woman accessories, and many other items that aren’t centered around children. We opened our first gift showroom next to our toy room in Dallas, TX and began adding this coverage where we expanded. Rett Hardin leaves Diverse Marketing in 2008 to spin off our private label import business into Art 101! Greg and Wes Hardin are now partners (2008).
2010s Diverse Marketing opens their Atlanta based showroom/office and expand their coverage to 26 states (2011). This move to Atlanta without acquisition proved to be difficult but one that would accelerate our growth a great deal. Diverse Marketing aligns with High Five (Mid-Altlantic) (2015) and acquires BeSmart (west coast) (2015). Diverse Marketing opens Vegas based showroom to reach west coast market (2015). We acquire Associates West to expand our coverage to 39 states (2016). The toy industry begins to witness significant changes to brick and mortar retail through the success of Amazon. Retail price integrity begins to be a major conversation to protect branding. John Wesley Hardin Sr. officially takes over as president of Diverse Marketing marking third generation to run the company (2016). Diverse Marketing officially becomes national by expanding into the New England states (which now includes all 50 states) and opening their first Canadian office (2017).