U.S. model manufacturers scramble to find new producer after factory in China closes unexpectedly
This story has been updated since its original publication date
Manufacturing in China has been growing over the years due to its low costs. Of course, companies need to ensure they find the right manufacturer and are doing pre-shipping inspections on the products (more info on that here: https://www.jonble.com/pre-shipment-inspection/) to ensure they aren’t faulty or low quality. However, every system runs into issues and this has happened to multiple companies as a factory in China that manufactures model trains has closed, leaving some U.S. model railroad companies seeking a new supplier and facing delays.
InterMountain Railway Co., Atlas Model Railroad Co., Bowser and Fox Valley Models announced this week that some new locomotives and rolling stock will be delayed or canceled because of the unexpected closing of one of the industry’s top manufacturers. Creating their own manufacturing factory with the implementation of plant networks they could have possibly avoided this situation.
None of the companies said what products will be delayed.
Other manufacturers, including Trainworx and ExactRail, also are affected.
At least one manufacturer confirmed that Hong Kong-based Affa Technologies, Ltd. closed. The company, founded in 1996, specializes in metal parts for toys, scale trains, scale cars and metal electronic products, according to the company’s website. The website made no mention of the closing.
In an open letter to modelers, InterMountain Railway Co. CFO Frank Angstead said his company was caught off guard and will not have new product “for an undetermined amount of time.”
“Our expectation is that we will begin shipping a selection of new products within four months,” he said in the letter.
Atlas posted on its website that it is working to transfer incomplete projects to other suppliers. Some previously ordered products will be delayed.
Bowser said on Facebook that it was looking for a new manufacturer and that N- and HO-scale ready-to-run cars, trolleys, Cal Scale and locomotives will be delayed.
Fox Valley Models owner Matt Gaudynski posted on Facebook that the company has used the factory for a large number of products and it’s not clear when production will resume. The company canceled or postponed all of its undelivered, previously announced products.
“If projects can be moved, it will take a number of months to do so, and then get a new factory up to speed on our projects will take even more time,” he said in the post.
Gaudynski said all previously recorded pre-orders will be kept on file in case a resolution is found.
“If this process takes an extended time, it may be best to re-announce each project.”
The closing caught Gaudynski by surprise; he recently received paint samples for new projects and believed everything was business as usual.
“We were looking forward to getting back to work after our extended summer trip with our son,” he wrote. “Sadly this is not the case. But we will keep moving forward.”
Fox Valley Models has “a good selection” of recent N-scale locomotives and cars in stock and a few projects working at another factory.
InterMountain Railway Co. said purchase orders with other vendors are already being arranged so production resumes soon. The company encouraged customers to continue placing reservations for new product. It has a “reasonable” supply of locomotive and rolling stock inventory on hand, including wheel sets for most items.
On Facebook, Caboose, Ltd., owner Kevin Ruble said as many as nine U.S. manufacturers are affected by the closure.
Colorado-based Trainworx, which specializes in freight cars and vehicles, works with the factory, owner Pat Sanders said in an email. He was not given a reason why the company shut down.
ExactRail’s Chris Brimley said his company is already moving forward with a new factory “and we are very excited about the future with them.” In addition, ExactRail is sorting through a couple of new releases that were under way.
Brimley said the N-scale AutoFlood II Hopper is on hold and will be moved to a new factory. The HO-scale GSI Bulkhead Flat car is finished but sitting in the closed factory. “We expect these to be on their way to us soon.”