Curtis McGill and Scott Houdashell are the co-owners/founders of Hey Buddy Hey Pal, maker of the NAPPA Award Winning Product, the Cake-N-Bake Challenge game. They started at the kitchen table, where they hatched a fan-favorite idea about coloring Easter Eggs. Now introducing their first-ever game, we got the chance to chat with them about the process, their career as year-round toy makers, and fatherhood.
You both have had different careers before becoming toy inventors. Please share with our readers what you most enjoy about being in the toy business.
Curtis McGill: Honestly there are many things that I enjoy about the toy industry. From inventing new and fun ways for children to create and come back to the kitchen table, to the toy shows and seeing what new and how different companies connect with their customers and the kids of the world. Of all the businesses I have had the opportunity to be a part of, I always say the Toy Biz is the most fun. On top of that I work with my Best Friend Scott, and we have a great team that keep us straight and keep the wheels turning at the “Eggquarters.”
Scott Houdashell: You both have had different careers before becoming toy inventors. Please share with our readers what you most enjoy about being in the toy business.
What does a typical day look like for you?
CM: Every day is different, but all days consist of trying to meet our mission of bringing toys to market that bring the family back to the kitchen table and to create and play together. From talking to our team in Hong Kong on late night (US time) morning Hong Kong time, to tracking containers, PR Meetings, managing inventory. We wear a lot of hats, but that keeps it Egg-citing I guess.
You are both dads, in addition to being entrepreneurs. What’s your favorite activity with your own kids? Please tell us how many kids you have and what ages they are.
CM: 3 kids. Two 19-year-olds who are in their freshmen years at college and a 16-year-old Junior in High School. We are kind of in the “becoming better friends and advisor stage” of parenting. Toys aren’t on their list anymore. We are enjoying traveling together, playing with our 2 dogs, and talking about their plans and where they want to end up in the next 10 years. They do help give us advise on our new toys, most of the time they still laugh at my stupid egg puns. All 3 of my kids got to go to Shark Tank with us and be on the show – and watch us land a deal with Lori Greiner! It was really great to share that egg-perience (last one I promise). The memories we make together are what dad enjoys most,
Why is play important?
CM: What is the world without play. NO FUN! We enjoy having fun and bringing families together, friends together, kids together. We need each other in this crazy world.
SH: Children’s minds are full of imagination. Play is important because it stimulates creativity which is what we hope to provide with each new idea and product we develop.
What was your favorite toy or activity as a child?
CM: Favorite toy was GI Joe. I had 4 sisters, so I got to save a lot of Barbies. Favorite Game, UNO. Activity was anything involving sports. My mom had a day care while I was growing up, we had a ton of crafts that we made. Those memories stand out and some of the Christmas Ornaments we made there still hang on our family tree today.
SH: Growing up I have fond memories of playing outside in the dirt with toy tractors and my big yellow Tonka Dump truck. I still have these childhood toys which I proudly display at “The Egg-quarters.”
When not working, where will we find you?
CM: Traveling with family and friends. It is rare for us to take a trip without Uncle Scott (Houdashell). We all typically travel together and have made great memories and look to make many more.
SH: You will find me at my shop most of the time. I have always enjoyed working with my hands. I still enjoy working with wood and metal. Turning wrenches and working on my vintage cars is also a passion of mine.
Best advice you have received since becoming a dad?
CM: Listen to your kids.
How has parenthood changed you?
CM: I asked my wife the other day if we could adopt a baby. All of our kids are about gone or are gone and the old Curtis before kids has disappeared. Being a parent is who I am, and I like to think that I am good at it. She politely told me to wait for grandkids. I may just show up with a baby like she does dogs someday and we will see if she makes me take it back.
What would you tell your middle school self?
CM: Have fun always. Don’t be too serious. Life is a gift. SMILE and always make room for Nachos!
SH: Be patient and don’t be afraid to talk to the popular girl.
What are you most proud of since launching Hey Buddy Hey Pal?
CM:We have had so many successes in such a short time. But our charitable giving with Saint Jude and Make-A-Wish top the list for me. Before Covid we would go to the Children’s Hospital and Scott would put on the Bunny Suit and our kids and friends would decorate with the kids and families there and give them Eggmazing Egg Decorators for their house. Those are the things I am most proud of, and this toy company has allowed us to that!!!
SH: When I came up with the Eggmazing Egg Decorator concept — by accident decorating with my kids— I had no idea that this crazy concept from spinning an egg with an electric screwdriver with a marker on an egg would turn into a full-time career in the toy business! It’s really quite amazing. I’m so proud that I was able not just to come up with an item, but together with my partner Curtis, and a team of awesome “eggs” at the office, turn this little idea into a full-time, year-round business. Now, we’re a toy company that today sells seasonal items like a variety of Eggmazing Decorators, Tremendous Ornament Decorators, Halloween’s Stack-O-Lanterns and now our first game, the Cake-N-Bake Challenge! We’re all truly blessed to have so much fun at our day jobs and make kids and families happy with our products too!