Small Business: Heelys Wheel Ahead

The small Texas shoe firm is trying to control its global expansion. That means tackling cheap knockoffs and problem partners

In Japan kids dance in them, figure-skating style.  In Canada they glide in them to whack a street-hockey puck. And from London to St. Petersburg, preteens use them as alternative transportation. They're Heelys, and the brand is on the move. But how does a company with $40 million in annual revenues and a slender marketing budget expand to more than 60 countries in less than five years without getting lost? HSL Inc., launched in late 2000 with one product, posted U.S. sales of more than $36 million last year--an increase of 250%--and about $2.4 million in Europe (up a respectable 200%)...

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