Ask the Expert: Behind-the-Scenes of Bestway Toys with Lia Miljour

  • Jun 4, 2024
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Ask the Expert: Behind-the-Scenes of Bestway Toys with Lia Miljour

This is Part III of our “Ask the Expert” series featuring insider interviews to give you more insight into the people and processes that influence the Bestway products you enjoy.


When it comes to fun, Lia Miljour, Bestway's Product Management Director of Toys, is no stranger to understanding what it takes to make outdoor water and grass toys enjoyable for kids and kids at heart.

 

In this month’s edition of “Ask the Expert,” Lia shares her favorite part of the toy-making process, what many people would be surprised to learn about our toys, how product innovations happen and her expert answers for some of your most frequently asked questions.

 

Get to Know Lia


Prior to joining Bestway in October 2020, for 15 years Lia worked in the engraving division at The Hillman Group, a hardware manufacturer, as an Account Manager in the Quick-Tag department (probably best known for those machines you see in pet stores for engraving pet names on tags for collars). Lia was a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades in that position, working in sales, marketing and more.


Serendipitously, the experience of wearing multiple hats prepared Lia for the expertise needed for her position at Bestway. As Product Management Director of Toys, Lia oversees many different outdoor water and grass toys including pool floats, pool games, baby boats, water slides, bounces houses, swim trainers, inflatable water slides (what Bestway calls “mega water parks”) and more.


So, out of all these toys, what’s Lia’s favorite?

Mega water parks and bounce houses are my favorite because of their ‘wow’ factor,” shares Lia. “I love how we continue to develop and innovate in this category. The H2OGO!® Canopy Cove™ Mega Water Park is special to me because we were able to incorporate the parents into the fun by designing a shaded seating area with a cup holder. It was so much fun seeing the designers’ vision come to life. It’s very rewarding to see so many people having fun with something you helped create.”

While Lia’s favorite toy she’s helped create may be an outdoor grass toy, her favorite toy to use is a water toy.


“My go-to pool float is the H2OGO! Comfort Plush™ Hammock Lounge,” says Lia. “Not only is the velvet-like, non-stick Comfort Plush surface material unique to Bestway, it’s also versatile because you can use the pool float four different ways: as a flat lounge, pool chair, hammock or saddle seat.” 

 

Favorite Part of the Product Development Process


Speaking of Lia’s favorites, she also finds the entire product development process exciting – from ideation to prototyping to development and launch.


“Seeing your vision come to life and on the shelves (in retail stores) is amazing,” shares Lia. “You think, ‘Oh, wow! I remember when that toy was just an idea.’ Then seeing the customers’ reactions and the results of those efforts is incredible.”


But those efforts don’t stop once the toy is on retailer’s shelves.

 

How Product Innovation Happens


“We are constantly looking for ways to improve upon and innovate existing products,” says Lia. “We’re always looking to find solutions to customer’s pain points and fill any gaps in the category.”

 

Lia knows that feedback is one of the key elements to product innovation.


“After getting our sales team’s and retail buyers’ feedback, we always look at our product reviews, comments and wish lists to understand our customers’ pain points.”


Lia and the product development team continue to produce innovative ideas for high-quality products by asking themselves three simple questions:


1.    What is the customer’s want or need?
2.    Do we have the ability to produce it?
3.    Are we bringing something innovative or competitive to the market?


If the decision is made to move forward (and these decisions are not made lightly!), Bestway’s product development team gets to work.

 

“There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating a product,” shares Lia. “Even simple pool floats follow an extensive process, which not only includes a cost-effective analysis, but also rigorous testing. All our products, including the simpler ones, follow ASTM safety standards. We also have our own internal quality control department – so we’re doing double testing to ensure we produce high-quality products for our customers.”

Expert Advice: Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions


Lia’s knowledge about toys is so extensive, she answers some of your most frequently asked questions.


Q1: What are the best water toys?


“The best water toys are the ones that provide entertainment, value and a unique experience for the customer,” says Lia. “One example is our water slides. While such a simple product, our H2OGO! water slides offer many innovative features that others do not such as a Tsunami Splash Ramp™, which offers a soft landing, SplashBoost™ Sprinklers, for improved water coverage, and UltraSlick™ PVC, for a faster slide. All these features were developed to add additional value for the customer and make their playtime more enjoyable.”


Q2: How do you clean water toys?


“First, you want to rinse off any dirt or debris after use,” shares Lia. “Let the water toy dry thoroughly before folding up for storage. While there’s no specific amount of time to wait for the toy to dry, since some people live in a dry climate and others a humid climate, we do recommend letting the toy sit in the sun fully inflated to dry faster. You can also wipe the water toy down with towels to speed up the drying time.”


Q3: What can cause bounce houses to lose air?


“Inflatable bounce houses can lose air at the seams because the fabric is sewn together, not welded together like most of our inflatable products,” shares Lia. “That’s why our mega bounce houses and mega water parks come with a heavy-duty blower to allow for constant inflation.”


"For our manually inflated bouncers, air loss can be due to various reasons, such as temperature changes and basic wear and tear over time."


Stay tuned for Part IV in our “Ask the Expert” series coming soon!

Bestway

Every article is researched and created by experienced copywriters, product and industry experts and outdoor enthusiasts who want to enrich your life with fun, adventure and happiness!

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