Cedar Hill Graduate cut his entrepreneurial teeth with baby product
After years of working in the telecommunications industry, Michael Bredemeier and his wife, Lori, decided to become entrepreneurs.
Bredemeier, a Cedar Hill High School Class of 1996 Graduate, left his management position with Verizon, while Lori kept working, so the family would have an income while they built the business.
They came up with the idea of Little Toader’s, which makes teething toys and silicone pacifiers for babies that look like actual foods. They are cleverly named AppeTeethers. The Little Toader moniker was based on a nickname from Lori’s childhood.
“Neither of us wanted to be in corporate America at that time, so we decided ‘let’s live off of our savings and try to make this business happen’,” Bredemeier said. “At the time, all of the teethers were cartoon-like. Ours was truly quite different, in the shape of broccoli, lollipops, ice cream and pineapple. More stuff like ours has come out since then.”
Starting their own business was a fun and rewarding journey.
“It was a fun idea, and I encouraged it,” Bredemeier said. “We didn’t want it to be a joke or a novelty. We did all of the testing and did everything the right way, getting approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
The Bredemeiers, who live in Dunedin, Florida with their four children, have had a crash course in the ups and down of retailing.
They had to lower their price, adjust packaging and add more products in order to remain competitive. They’ve navigated the opportunities and challenges of working with retailers.
The Little Toader’s product has remained in several retail locations throughout the United States and beyond.
Today, Lori runs the majority of the business, while Bredemeier has returned to work in the IT Field as a Solutions Architect for a company called Red Hat.
Bredemeier’s journey started in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and specifically in Cedar Hill after his family moved to the city in the mid 1980s.
He enrolled at Bray Elementary before eventually studying at Permenter Middle School and Cedar Hill High School.
At CHHS, he remembers a programming course had an impact on his decision to pursue a technology career. In athletics, he was a reserve on the late, great coach David Milson’s teams and ran track for various coaches, including Gina Farmer, who retired as CHISD Executive Director of Athletics last year.
Bredemeier, a regional qualifier in cross country, was good enough to walk on to the cross country/track program at Texas Tech University.
He gave up athletics at the Lubbock-based university to focus on his Management Information Systems degree.
After graduation, Bredemeier was hired by Verizon. He had to list three location preferences, and he chose D-FW, Florida and Hawaii.
There was an opening in Florida. Bredemeier figured he would stay for five years and then return to the Metroplex.
He was making plans to leave during the fifth year when he met Lori, who was raised in Florida.
During his nine years with Verizon, Bredemeier worked in project management, e-business, customer support and direct sales.
“It took a while to get used to Florida, but my children were all born here and we have great memories here,” Bredemeier said. “I’m pretty close to having lived here as long as I lived in Texas.”