HUDSON – Well-known businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist Tom Murdough is the Good Day in Hudson 2018 Citizen of the Year, as selected by host Frank Youngwerth.

Murdough has started three successful businesses, and the Joy and Tom Murdough Foundation has assisted Hudson projects and other organizations through generous contributions.

The Good Day in Hudson show will air on Hudson Community Television the week of Dec. 3 and Dec. 17, featuring an interview by Youngwerth with Murdough and Ed Sogan. Check the Hudson Hub-Times for exact dates and times.

When choosing a Citizen of the Year, Youngwerth said he takes into account what the person has done for the city, how much they give of themselves, their time and energy to make things happen and how they encourage others to participate in the community.

"I chose Tom for so many different reasons," Youngwerth said. "Tom has been a tremendous leader of doing good things for Hudson for so many years."

Murdough is a graduate of the University of Virginia and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He founded Little Tikes in 1969. After stepping down in 1989, he founded Step 2 in 1991 and was president until 2007. He founded Simplay3 in 2016. All three companies used rotational molding to produce toys, home and garden supplies and other plastic items.

"Little Tikes, Step 2 and Simplay3 embody our feelings of contribution," Murdough said. "We have a great group of people here and great line of products. We remain one of the largest domestic suppliers of children’s products."

Communication with employees about the marketplace is crucial, as there is a direct connection between productions and marketing, Murdough said.

"A successful company needs good people willing to contribute to the company, and we reward with bonuses when we’re successful," he said.

Murdough told Youngwerth years ago the announcement of the bonuses was "the happiest day" every year.

"Tom and giving go hand in hand," Youngwerth said.

Even though Murdough had a stroke in April, he is busy with the spring and summer production for Simplay3, which begins in January.

Murdough has been an integral part of the Hudson community, helping to develop First & Main in downtown Hudson in 2004. He looked at all possible uses and aesthetics, which were more modern than the Western Reserve look that was finally agreed upon. 

"We looked at the [original] plans and that wasn’t Hudson," Murdough said. "Hudson is a special community and as such, we’ve been happy to make contributions in and for Hudson."

In 1986, the Joy and Tom Murdough Foundation was founded with funds going to Hudson organizations and schools, such as Hudson High School Memorial Stadium, Taste of Hudson, the Western Reserve Academy Athletic Center and the First Congregational Church of Hudson addition.

"We were very aware of WRA’s need for an athletic center," Murdough said. "My son went to public high school, and we gave to the Hudson [High School] Memorial Stadium. It made a difference."

Another donation from the Murdoughs was in 2016 to the charities the Taste of Hudson normally funds with its profits from the event. Because the festival took a year off because of road construction, the local charities would have gone without any funds that year without the Murdough donation.

In addition, the Joy and Tom Murdough Foundation has contributed to University Hospital of Cleveland, Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Akron Children’s Hospital.

"Joy has been a significant contributor, as well," Murdough said. "And giving back to the community has been helpful to us and feels good for us."

Their foundation is a two-person team, Youngwerth said.

"In everything he did, he got tremendous support from Joy," Youngwerth said. "They’re involved in so many things."

The Citizen of the Year award began in 2006, and Murdough is the 12th recipient to be recognized for outstanding leadership, dedication and commitment to the Hudson community. Homer Cross, Ed Sogan, former Mayor William Currin, Sherry Beam, Nan Micheletti, Margaret "Peg" Morgan, Liz Murphy, Tom Vince, Ada Cooper Miller, Dick Malson and Jimmy Sutphin have been recognized.

Sogan, the 2016 recipient, said he knew Murdough from working with him on Memorial Stadium for Hudson High School and his leadership in gifting.

"He took an active role in funding and design," Sogan said. "He sat in on many meetings with potential donors and was right in the thick of it. There were so many pieces and parts but no problem with people keeping their eye on the prize."

Murdough is an active participant in all his projects and advocates a team setting, Sogan said. The football stadium was completed in 2012 and recognizes veterans.

"He always rolled up his sleeves and got involved in anything he did," Youngwerth said. "That’s why he’s being honored."

Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or lfreeman@recordpub.com