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CEO of Buckyballs: Save Our Balls


RUSH: We have on the phone the CEO of Buckyballs, a guy from New York named Craig Zucker.  Mr. Zucker, welcome to the program.  Great to have you here.

ZUCKER:  Thanks a lot, Rush.

RUSH:  You have had your product banned?

ZUCKER:  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has begun a process to ban our product and magnets in general.  It has not been banned yet.

RUSH:  Okay, not yet.  Not yet.

ZUCKER: Not yet.

RUSH:  But you're on the way.  What's the problem they've got, first with magnets, and then we'll get to yours.  What's their problem with magnets?

ZUCKER: I guess over the past couple years they've seen a couple of children who have gotten their hands on an adult product, they've ingested the product. Twelve children over the past three years have ingested our product out of two-and-a-half million units sold, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission believes that now all magnets should be taken off the market. They should be banned and recalled due to these 12 incidents.

RUSH:  Even refrigerator magnets that remind people to shut the door and stuff like that?

ZUCKER: Not those kind.  The products that they're looking at are more of the products like Buckyballs and Buckycubes. 

RUSH:  How big is a Buckyball?

ZUCKER:  They're about five millimeters.  Each one's about the size of a BB and they come in packs of, you know, 125 or 216.

RUSH:  Right.

ZUCKER:  They're marketed and sold as adult stress relievers, desk toys, things to build, create structures out of, and have been sold to adults for nearly three years now.  They've become probably one of the best-selling adult gift product in the specialty gift industry the past three years.

RUSH:  And because of a minuscule percentage of children misusing the product, now they want to ban whole thing?

ZUCKER:  The incident rate compared to other products is extremely low.  You take products like balloons or five gallon buckets or adult-size ATVs where hundreds of kids are sent to the hospital per year and there are multiple deaths, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, their remedy for that is warnings.  But when it comes to an adult product, marketed and sold to adults, they now say that warnings, which is the basis for most of the regulation of what they do out there, warnings don't work anymore.

RUSH:  Were you breast-fed, or did you drink formula?

ZUCKER:  (laughing) I was given formula.

RUSH:  Formula.  Well, they might have found that out.

ZUCKER:  (laughing)  They might have.

RUSH:  (laughing)  You know, I was popping some popcorn over the weekend to watch the Olympics. And the kind of popcorn, it's Orville Redenbacher and it comes with the coconut oil, the popcorn, all in one package in two separate compartments.  So I'm looking for an expiration date just for the fun of it, and I see on the back of the package there is this warning that suggests popcorn is dangerous to let kids eat because the kernels and the partially popped kernels could end up choking them to death.
ZUCKER:   Right.

RUSH:  Now, I know this is a liability thing. They put it on there just to protect themselves in case some accident happens, but how is anybody supposed to stay in business in this country?  Accidents happen.  You talk about balloons, they tried to ban these things once because birds were eating. You know, they'd send balloons up and they'd lose their buoyancy, come back, and birds would find the used balloons on the ground.  I remember the environmentalists were all upset about that.  How are people like you supposed to stay in business, Craig?

CALLER:  Look, I mean, I think product safety, it's a partnership between three different organizations.  It's the government, the CPSC, it's manufacturers/industry, and it's consumers.  And all three have to do their part to keep businesses and to keep children safe and to keep us in business.  The government has to create rules and regulations that are reasonable.  Manufacturers like us have to follow those.  We have to educate consumers.  But it is the responsibility of consumers as well to follow the regulations that we give them and to be educated on the products that they're purchasing, especially when it comes to having children in the house.

RUSH:  Well, you know, you refer to your product Buckyballs as a toy, but I remember as a kid, when I first discovered magnets, they fascinated me.

ZUCKER:  Right, listen, they've been around for thousands of years.

RUSH:  Of course they're natural.  You can't take magnetism out of physics.

ZUCKER:  They're used in all sorts of applications.  And, by the way, we don't say toy, we say adult desk toy.  So there's a context here when we talk about the product.

RUSH:  Yeah.

ZUCKER:  The product, if you just take a look, you know, warnings are on the packaging in five places.  That's five times more places than a pack of cigarettes.  We have it on the instructions, the packaging in four different places.  You can't miss the warnings, you can't miss the display --

RUSH:  Yeah, but see, the mistake you're making is you're not factoring the education system and how many people can't read.

ZUCKER:   Well, I don't know about that, but we created a lot of awareness.

RUSH:  Ah, but you're doing everything you have to do.  Folks, the reason I like this -- well, I don't like it, but I mean it's illustrative of what this government is doing to small businesses.

CALLER:  It's hard.  We built this company from scratch. We were a two-man operation. We have exceeded every possible expectation the US entrepreneur could have, and it does feel un-American. It does feel that us being put out of business and what to tell my employees and my sales reps and my retailers that count on this product to pay their rent --  it's hard to know what to tell them. It doesn't feel like the American way.

RUSH:  How long did you say you've been in business?

ZUCKER:  We've been in business three years.

RUSH:  Three years.  So you're just now revving up?

ZUCKER:   We have been revved up since day one.  I mean we've had a trajectory that's been just astronomical.  We showed up to our first trade show, and we were probably the most popular product there.

RUSH:  No, no, no, you didn't build that, you didn't.  Is your business on a road?

ZUCKER:   I'll tell you what.  We built it.  Me and a partner, with $2,000 in an apartment in New York, built it, and it's getting slowly disassembled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission piece by piece.  It's death by a thousand cuts is what they've done to us.  They've gone to our retail chain. They've put out press releases even before serving us. They've ignored our letters asking for how they determined the product was defective, and yet still went to retailers and basically destroyed our wholesale channel within a week.  They've put out false information to the press, saying it's banned, although it hasn't been banned.

RUSH:  What do you think is really motivating them, Craig?

ZUCKER:  It's a good question, Rush.  It could be politically driven.  It's an election season. 

RUSH:  Yeah, but Buckyballs doesn't have a political identity.  And I'm not gonna ask you who you donate to. They could find out, but I mean there's no political identity to your product.

ZUCKER:    Not at all.

RUSH:  They're crucifying you.

ZUCKER:  They are not crucifying us. They are destroying, they are putting a US business out of business as we speak.  And it's been frustrating.  But I'll tell you one thing.  The support of people online and people like your listeners and people that are all over the Internet have given us -- we've done more sales through our website than we could have possibly done through all the retailers that CPSC shut down last week in the course of four days.  The individual consumer online coming to rally to support us and the absurdity of what's happening at CPSC and the support that we're given is gonna end up keeping this business thriving and alive, and we're gonna fight this, and we're gonna fight CPSC and we're gonna go to court and we're gonna beat them in litigation, and that's what we're kind of building up our business for to do right now.

RUSH:  Well, it's great you're gonna do that.  It's a shame you have to.

ZUCKER: Can I give my website address?

RUSH:  Sure, by all means. I think it's fabulous you've got so much public support on this.

ZUCKER:   Thanks.  So there's two places.  Getbuckyballs.com is where we have all our products, but there's a great campaign at saveourballs.net.

RUSH:  Oh, I love saveourballs.net.

ZUCKER:  There's a great video there that explains what's happening. There's a lot of information, and, again, any support we can get helps, Facebook, Twitter. Call CPSC. Call chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum. Let your voice be heard. 

RUSH:  You know, Craig, I've looked at this, I could be wrong on this, but I don't think so.  I think you're being singled out, being sued the way you are being sued, this particular legal tactic, I think it's only been used once before in the past ten years.

ZUCKER:  Twice, and last time was 11 years ago.

RUSH:  Yeah, okay.

ZUCKER:   The CPSC lost both of those cases in an administrative complaint in front of an administrative law judge.  So it's not a tactic they like. You know, 99.9% of companies when they're told to recall a product do it. CPSC is not used to somebody saying "no" and they're not used to people standing up to their bullying and intimidation tactics, and it's what we're doing.  And so, again, any support we can get is great.  Thanks for talking about us today.  Thanks for taking the call.
RUSH:  Glad you called, yeah.  All the best.  God bless. I'm ecstatic to hear you've got a such a loud and boisterous public response to what's happening to you.

ZUCKER:   Oh, there's probably over a hundred thousand comments on all the blogs and all the articles out there.  And all of them are in support of that the company's doing everything right and that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has overstepped their reach in what they're doing.

RUSH:  That's who they are.  That is exactly it.

ZUCKER: It seems to be the case.

RUSH:  Craig, thanks for the call, and best of luck.

ZUCKER:  Thank you.

RUSH:  Save our balls.  And we'll be back after this.


RUSH:  It was not the birds.  It was turtles that they tried to ban balloons because of.  Balloons would end up -- used balloons -- they never tried to ban condoms for this reason.  I never understood the difference why, but they banned balloons 'cause these turtles, both land turtles and sea turtles, were ingesting the balloons that had no air in 'em.  Turtles come up there and eat the balloon on the ground, and that's it. They tried to ban balloons.  But never condoms.  And what you heard happening to Buckyballs.  It sounds like they're being singled out, but they're not.  There are a lot of small businesses, the same technique is not being used, but this administration is at war with small business.  And they'll find any pretext they can. 

Buckyballs is a $50 million business and it is growing.  It's the United States government trying to drive them out of business.  Not find a way to work with them on the safety side, but put them out of business.  It's uncalled for.  There's no excuse.  There's no rational reason for it, and Mr. Zucker could not explain why he was being targeted.  So I mean you've got an attempted ban of a product and the shutting down of a business.  They're doing this in different ways to the oil industry.  They're not succeeding, but what do you think the oil moratorium's all about, the drilling moratorium?  The fascinating thing about that, there is a boom economy happening in the Dakotas, and it's like it's in the Twilight Zone. 

We talk about it here, but nobody knows about it, it never gets reported on.  But there is an absolute economic boom going on because of new discoveries and technologies in getting oil out of the ground.  They happen to be ways that the left doesn't approve of.  And they've concocted a bunch of lies about what happens, say, to groundwater and other such things because of this method of extracting oil from the ground, and it's all lies, it's all trumped up.  But this boom in the Dakotas is so rapid that the biggest problem they have is lack of housing for the people who are moving there to find jobs in the oil business.  They don't have enough places for people to live.  So the next phase is gonna be a bunch of developers going in there and rapidly building apartment complexes, condominiums, houses, this kind of thing, 'cause the oil business in the Dakotas is gonna have deep roots.  The left is targeting it, trying to make it harder and harder for these people with more and more regulation to profitably extract the oil.  It's cleaner. 

Here we are in the midst of one of the most dismal economies since the Great Depression, and what ought to be happening is that everybody ought to be going to the Dakotas and saying, "Look, here is how we escape this. Here's how they're doing it. This is how it's done.  You want to see economic growth, here it is.  It's happening right here in the country."  Instead, everybody's doing everything they can to keep it a secret.  And beyond even keeping it a secret, they're trying to treat it as though it's some odd fluke thing that is made up of a bunch of weirdos.  There's a Wall Street Journal story today.  They can't build homes fast enough in North Dakota.  Wouldn't you like to see that headline in a lot of states?  It's mind-boggling, folks.  There is a glorious economic boom and recovery happening in North Dakota and it remains one of the best-kept secrets in all of the world.


RUSH:  North Dakota, 2002.  This is in Williston, North Dakota.  In 2002, rent on a two-bedroom apartment might have been $340 a month, but now rent on two-bedroom apartments in Williston, North Dakota, is between $1755 and $2700 a month.  Just supply and demand.  There isn't enough housing to accommodate people working in bringing about this boom. 



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