Mary Rodas' business career started early.
At age 6 she was counseling a neighbor on toys he was developing. And at 14 she made a splash as co-developer of a fad toy, the Balzac Balloon Ball. Suddenly the squeaky-voiced teenage executive was a celebrity.
But not until this year, at age 21, could she get a bank loan.
"When I walked into a bank ... they looked at me as if I was a little kid trying to get a credit line," Ms. Rodas says.
This month, though, $450 million-asset MTB Bank in New York agreed to extend to the toymaker, Catco Inc., a $750,000 line of credit that she had negotiated. Ms. Rodas is vice president of marketing at New York-based Catco.
The original Balzac Balloon Ball is a bouncy balloon inside a sack, which protects it from puncture. The smallest is the size of a baseball; the biggest is five feet in diameter.
Ms. Rodas entered the toy business when the neighbor, longtime inventor Don Spector, asked what she thought of some of his inventions.
MTB Bank was also impressed with Ms. Rodas' style. "A young person in a relative start-up situation-that's obviously something that doesn't turn on many commercial banks," said Fredric Tordella, MTB's chairman and chief executive. But "we feel confident in the ability of the people and the business plan."
The line of credit is to help finance Catco's new line of toys, "BlowUps," which are plush balls that can be blown up.