Michael Stephens, Walthers’ Vice President of Proprietary Products, died Tuesday after a long illness, according to a company statement issued today. Stephens, 59, spent much of his life in the model railroading industry, working first at age 14 to help his dad, Hugh, in the family’s model train importing business, Amro Ltd. in Cedarburg, WI. He advanced to senior level management with Kalmbach Publishing and Athearn Trains before joining Walthers in 2010. In the mid-1970s, Stephens took his first position with Kalmbach Publishing, starting as a researcher for Airliners International magazine. His career path took him into both advertising and marketing for various Milwaukee-based agencies, eventually bringing him back to Kalmbach in 1998 as vice president of marketing. While at Kalmbach, Stephens was instrumental in creating the firm’s online presence, and helped develop and guide the World’s Greatest Hobby promotion campaign, sponsored by Walthers, Kalmbach and several other model railroad…
Category: Model Railroading
The U.S. model hobby industry, like the economy, is making a slow but meaningful recovery, according to a recent survey of manufacturers and distributors. The Hobby Manufacturers Association announced today that the industry’s projected sales grew 3 percent in 2012 at $1.31 billion compared to actual sales in 2011 of $1.265 billion. However, revenues reported in HMA’s third U.S. Model Hobby Industry Study lagged the $1.47 billion in 2010 and $1.379 billion in 2009. “The 2011 actual sales of model hobby products show a 9 percent decrease from the 2009 actual sales reported by survey respondents,” HMA President Fred Hill said in a statement. “This decrease in sales was due in large part to the industry’s later recovery from the economic recession that impacted other industries in 2008 and 2009. Our industry also saw more mergers and consolidations among member manufacturers and an increase in more web-based sellers of hobby…
The World’s Greatest Hobby on Tour, a popular show that introduces model railroading to the general public, likely will reach an attendance milestone in 2013, and either Fort Worth, TX or St. Louis, MO could be in on the celebration. WGH on Tour announced in July that the one millionth attendee will be recognized at one of its four shows next year. Since opening in 2004 with one show in Edison, NJ, WGH on Tour has attracted 968,285 and averaged more than 25,000 per show. For the first time in four years, the show makes return engagements to Fort Worth and St. Louis, and one is likely to mark No. 1,000,000. Fort Worth starts the slate on Jan. 5-6 at Will Rogers Memorial Center, followed by St. Louis at America’s Center Jan. 12-13. San Diego, CA (Feb. 9-10) and Sacramento (Feb. 23-24) complete the schedule. Unless Fort Worth has a better turnout than it did…
Keith Edwards, who co-founded Kadee Quality Products Co., passed away Thursday at a Medford, OR hospital of natural causes. He was 91. In 1940, Edwards co-founded Kadee Quality Products Co., best-known for its HO-scale coupling devices, with his twin brother, Dale. By the early 1960s, the brothers began to manufacture their Magne-Matic® coupler system in N scale. Gradually, the company added wheels, trucks and under frames to their product line. In 1972, Keith Edwards led the company’s efforts in N and Z scales to form Micro-Trains Line Co., a separate division that at first specialized in N scale trains, Magne-Matic® couplers and accessories. Eventually added to the product line, were cars and couplers in Nn3 scale, and Z scale were eventually added. In 1996, Edwards joined his brother as a member of the Hobby Manufacturers Association Hall of Fame. Four years later, Keith Edwards retired. “Keith inspired all of us…
By Tim Blackwell / Cowcatcher Magazine The team at TrainWorx in Dallas may have felt the same urgency as the BNSF Railway engineer who pilots the long-distance priority Z train under a tight schedule. The design company had seven weeks to build a centerpiece O-scale layout for billionaire Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett to display at Berkshire Hathaway’s May stockholders meeting in Omaha, NE. With founder Roger Farkash at the wheel, TrainWorx delivered an 8’ x 32’ “masterpiece” of Buffett’s railroad and companies. Right on time. “(Buffett) is quite a character and a lot of fun to talk to,” Farkash said. “I was forewarned that he would be there, and the trains were up and running when he came in before the meeting. His first reaction was, ‘It’s a masterpiece!’ Everybody was pretty pleased.” TrainWorx, a division of TW Design, got the nod from BNSF in January and spent the…
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Big data is getting bigger in railroading when it comes to tracking freight cars. Advancements in telematics are putting freight movements on the map in an effort to improve visibility across the nation’s rail network. The technology aims to improve real-time tracking of freight cars to better compete with other transportation modes.
Jacksonville Terminal Co. is keeping alive the aura of three mystic model railroads with its latest container roll-out. JTC debuted its Visionary Series by featuring N-scale shipping containers named after iconic model railroads.
For more than 40 years, the Houston-based N’Crowd Model Railroad Society, Inc. has promoted model railroading, first as one of the earliest NTRAK clubs in Texas, and later with the Bayou City & Gulf Railroad, a permanent layout in a prominent Houston hobby store.
The National O Scale Convention in June is the first large-scale event to be held in person post-pandemic, and organizers aren’t holding back. …
The National Limited was the Baltimore & Ohio’s featured passenger train, running between St. Louis and New York via Washington, D.C. …
Wall Street and much of the railroad industry, including short lines, are embracing the proposed Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern merger, which is expected to create one massive North American rail network. …
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