HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Doc Johnson hosted its 40th anniversary celebration last night with a party inside Madame Tussauds Hollywood, where the iconic pleasure products company invited customers and colleagues to commemorate its latest milestone.
Surrounded by wax statues of Hollywood celebrities, attendees posed alongside them and took photos throughout the tourist hotspot, before making their way into the invite-only party where they could enjoy food, drinks and dancing. On a video screen the Doc Johnson logo lit up the room and said “thanks for a fantastic 40 years.”
Established in 1976, Doc Johnson’s North Hollywood, Calif.–based factory began with 1,500 square feet and nine employees at a time when the pleasure products industry was still in its infancy. Now, 40 years later, Doc Johnson is the largest pleasure products manufacturer in the U.S., with more than 500 team members, multiple buildings on a campus of more than 215,000 square feet, and a catalog of more than 2,500 products.
Ron Braverman founded the company after several years in the adult retail market when his fascination with the industry ultimately led him to manufacturing his own products. As one of the pleasure products industry’s pioneering brands, Doc Johnson immediately began innovating.
“In the early days of the pleasure products industry, there really was no packaging at all to speak of,” Ron Braverman told XBIZ. “We were the first American pleasure products company to put items in a clamshell for the first time; and since then we’ve really pushed forward full-steam ahead with innovative packaging and design that have had a tremendous influence on our brand, as well as on the rest of the industry.”
Doc Johnson’s COO/CCO Chad Braverman adds, “Sex toys are not a 200-year-old industry — we are really only one generation (about 40 years) old, as a whole. And though we still have a ways to go in terms of the widespread mainstream acceptance of sex toys, the fact that we’ve seen this much change and growth in only about 40 years is astounding.
“When we started in 1976, we were one of a half a dozen pleasure products companies in the world. This was uncharted territory. There really wasn’t an erotic market in America at the time, at least in the traditional sense. Sex toys were being lumped in with other types of novelty products, and they weren’t being packaged or branded in any real way. The market was prime for a business that was devoted solely towards sensual needs, and Doc Johnson was the natural response to that demand."
Doc Johnson is credited as being the first to develop the pleasure products manufacturing category in America, and one of the first companies in the world to start branding pleasure products. In addition to introducing packaged products, Doc Johnson was also one of the first pleasure products companies in the world to introduce branding concepts like packaging art, logos, product names, and a cohesive brand voice into its business strategy.
“Today, sex toys are a 15 billion dollar industry,” Chad Braverman said. “There are hundreds of manufacturers and distributors, and thousands of retailers around the world. The difference between the pleasure products industry when we started Doc Johnson in 1976 and the pleasure products industry today is night and day.
“There was a time when you wouldn’t see lingerie shops in a mall, and now there are Victoria Secret’s in every mall. We believe the same situation will happen for pleasure products. Based on what we’ve seen, we can expect nothing less than rapid, continued mainstream success and growth for the pleasure products industry in the years and decades to come."
Chad Braverman joined his father and the Doc Johnson team in 2004 and has become the creative voice and direction of the company.
“Business was always an extreme interest of mine, and it was always a soft plan for me to come to Doc Johnson,” he said. “As I went through college, it became more and more of a hard plan, because I felt the industry and the company were at a pivotal point of needing the perspective of the next generation. I also liked that there was still so much work to be done at the company, not only in continuing with the principles and foundations of the company that was built by my father, who has literally changed the face of the industry, but also to expand the business and bring it into the consciousness of the mainstream.
“Some of the challenges I’ve faced in my career are, of course, the normal day-to-day difficulties that face every company today, but there’s also a level of pressure that comes with taking over a business and achieving the same kind of success the company has earned in the past.”
Though Chad has taken the reigns, Ron Braverman continues to be involved in Doc Johnson’s day-to-day operations, and his thriving dedication is what inspires Chad and many others.
“Ron is an industry pioneer,” he said. “He’s been in the business for almost 50 years, and he has been integral to the growth of this industry from the start. As a company leader, he’s been extraordinary, taking this company from a small 100 product manufacturer to the powerhouse that it is today with over 2,500 products in every category. And he is as integral to the company now as he ever was. He comes into the office every single day to continue his role as leader and mentor, highly involved with the day-to-day at Doc Johnson, and every aspect of the business from product development to sales.”
Stepping inside of Doc Johnson’s headquarters, one can sense the company’s history. Photos and artifacts from the company’s past decorate the walls and shelves within the massive headquarters while the family-run operation continues to roll out new innovations.
“We’ve produced some of the most groundbreaking products on the market since our early beginnings,” Ron Braverman said. “In 1980, our R&D team revolutionized the market when they came up with the idea to mold the body parts of adult stars to create lifelike toys. Doc Johnson invented the word ‘Realistic’ for adult toys. Our Original Pocket Rocket and iVibe Rabbit vibrators have both become household names since their initial release in the 1990s. And in 2010, we expanded our factory to establish our own health grade, American-made silicone department. Today, we continue to raise the bar with developments like last year’s TRUSKYN, a pure health grade silicone that emulates the feel of real skin.
“We’re especially proud of the extraordinary results we have achieved while keeping the great majority of our products manufactured in the U.S. Not only do we produce over 75 percent of our products here in America, but we also strive to create the most innovative, top quality products on the market.”
Inside Doc Johnson’s facilities, the company’s manufacturing team operates one-of-kind machinery that pour, mix, dip, and iron out imperfections. They hand-finish products by adding details like skin color and hair for realistic creations that are among the company’s standout products. Doc Johnson’s facility also houses a lab where the company’s range of water-based and silicone lube and massage gel offerings are formulated.
Since it’s launch, Doc Johnson has proudly remained “Made in America,” employing hundreds of workers, including several that have been part of Doc Johnson’s “family” — as Ron Braverman affectionately calls them.
“Ron has always felt that the people here are the most important ingredient in what makes this company successful and he’s always referred to the people who work here as family,” said Chad Braverman.
“Keeping the majority of our production in America, and keeping jobs in America, has been a top priority for us since day one. While it has sometimes been a challenge to keep the majority of our manufacturing close to home, all of us at Doc Johnson take enormous pride in our legacy, and ensuring its future success. The Doc Johnson legacy is the loyalty and name recognition we’ve built over 40 years of American manufacturing.”
Ron Braverman’s daughter Erica Braverman joined the company in 2011, and today handles PR, media relations, and editorial within the marketing department.
She told XBIZ about Doc Johnson’s vast mainstream media coverage, which has included in-depth feature articles, serving as the backdrop for a TV show and its products featured on numerous shows.
“It’s difficult to say what mainstream exposure we’re most proud of, because we’ve been lucky enough to receive an extraordinarily high amount of coverage in every format — from a feature story in BuzzFeed, to a starring role in Showtime’s ‘House of Lies,’” Erica said. “We’ve been placed on major shows like ‘Ray Donovan’ and ‘WAGS,’ and had our business profiled in top-ranked publications like Business Insider, Daily Mail, and LA Weekly. That kind of mainstream exposure is extraordinary — but on the whole, we’d probably say we’re most proud of our 2011 feature in Los Angeles Magazine called ‘Doctor’s Orders,’ which was written by Dave Gardetta.
“The article explored the adult novelty industry and how difficult it is to be an American manufacturer — which is a subject that’s been incredibly important for us since the beginning. For us, it also really meant something to get that kind of recognition from a local magazine that is nationally recognized as a top-tier publication.”
According to Erica, Doc Johnson’s wide assortment of products is what has netted the company so much mainstream recognition.
“We really are one of the first companies that made it mainstream, especially with the Rabbit and the Pocket Rocket, which have both become household names,” Erica said. “One thing that makes Doc Johnson so appealing to the masses is the breadth of our catalog, and the fact that we’re such an inclusive company. When you have something for everyone, it’s easier to cross over to the mainstream.”
Reflecting on the company’s history, Chad Braverman says several factors have contributed to Doc Johnson’s success.
“It’s been a combination of having a really great team assembled over the years, having the kind of quality control over our products that come from being an American manufacturer, and, of course, a little bit of luck,” he said. “Having Ron at the helm of the company, with his know-how and experience, has also been essential.
“Forty years from now, you can expect Doc Johnson to be staying true to the principles that got us where we are now: having a great team, and developing great product. Hopefully with the next generation of Bravermans.”