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Meet the First Family of the $15 Billion Sex Toy Industry

Ron and Chad Braverman don’t have MDs or PhDs. They were never anointed by Oprah like Phil McGraw. But to a large and growing segment of America, they’re the most famous doctors around.

Ron is founder and CEO of Doc Johnson, the largest name in the adult novelty industry. His son Chad is the company’s COO. And while many of their customers may not volunteer that they’re fans of the Bravermans’ products, the longevity of the company shows just how broad its audience is.

Ron founded Doc Johnson in 1976, a time when sex toys were considered taboo, rarely discussed, and rather uniform in design. Today, though, the company has put out over 2,500 different products—averaging roughly 100 new adult novelties per year. The company employs more than 500 people and is the largest producer in the adult novelty market—which the New York Times pegs as a $15 billion global industry.

While high-end toy companies charge $100 or more for their products, Doc Johnson continues to focus on the mainstream market and has kept the majority of its manufacturing in the U.S. That has given it a volume advantage, though the company continues to explore new segments of the industry, recently launching a ‘Kink’ line of products to take advantage of the growing interest in fetishes sparked by the success of 50 Shades of Grey.

 

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Ron Braverman (L) and his son Chad Braverman, owners of Doc Johnson, a California-based sex toy company, pose for a photo in their factory showroom in Los Angeles, California, May 23, 2016. Doc Johnson is the largest maker of vibrators, massagers, strokers and other R-rated gadgets in the United States, making a staggering 75,000 sex toys a week — many lovingly finished off by hand, to employ a phrase largely redundant in the high-tech world of “intimate pleasure.” / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)Robyn Beck — AFP/Getty Images
Robyn Beck — AFP/Getty Images

 

With a 250,000 square foot complex in the San Fernando Valley, Doc Johnson employees create, mold, package and ship some 75,000 products per week, according to the Times. But growing up, Chad and his sister Erica didn’t know what their father did for a living.

There was some teasing when it became better known, but that died down quickly.

“Sure, people used to joke about it,” Chad told the Times. “Does your dad really make rubber penises? But then by the time I was in college, it suddenly flipped, and it made me the coolest person around.”

While Doc Johnson is very much a family business, the Bravermans extends that definition beyond blood relatives. Some employees have worked at the company for 20, 30, or even 40 years.

And despite his position as CEO, Ron isn’t afraid to get down in the trenches. When the company has an especially large number of orders to fill or it’s a busy season, it’s not uncommon to see Ron throw on a hair net and work on the line to help meet deadlines.

Sex toys are a field that—in just a handful of years—has gone from the darkened corner of adult stores to the shelves of Walmart and CVS and begun attracting the attentions of private equity firms.

That makes it ripe for big corporations to try to elbow their way in—and some have tried. But, to date, the reputation and connections of the Braverman family have created have ensured Doc Johnson its position in the industry.