Stewart Hobbies has been sold

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by jspinner, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. jspinner

    jspinner New Member

    Just spoke to Steve Stewart and he said Stewart Hobbies was sold to Bowser.

  2. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Wow! Thanks for the newsflash!

  3. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member


    Read this last night. I guess this just happend Monday. I've met with Steve a number of times at train shows and he always struck me as a friendly fellow who was interested in talking with his customers. He did seem to be approaching retirement age so I am not totally surprised at this move - running your own business probably takes allot of energy and drive, and eventually folks like to drop the hectic lifestyle and slow down a bit.

    I hope Steve finds an enjoyable endevour to replace his duties as owner and CEO of Stewart Hobbies - perhaps he will be a consultant to Bowser now.
  4. 2slim

    2slim Member

    They would be silly if they didn't at least extend the offer. Just glad he didn't sell out to a distributor like Athearn did.

  5. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Very true! I hope Steve is at least on the payroll of Bowser now as a p-t consultant. This often happens when people retire from f-t work.

    Amen that Stewart excaped Horizon! I'm not liking what happened to Athearn since Horizon took over. They've locked out many hobby outlets and the website is actually worse - it is hard to find stuff on there for me. Before it was user friendly ,even if it wasn't updated enough.
  6. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    My deepest fear is we have not seen the last of the buyouts of manufacturers by distributors.The question that concerns me who will buy Bowser? Walthers perhaps? :eek:
  7. Alan B

    Alan B Member


    Bowser has a good management team of English family members who are interested in the company. It will be a long time before they are ready to sell. Bowser is one of the few companies in the business that has a good succession plan in place. Atlas is the other one. Walthers is on its third generation of Walthers family management and not doing well. They have passed or failed to acquire any of the high profile companies that have been available in the past few years.

    Rivarossi-Lima-Arnold to Hornby
    MDC to Horizon
    Athearn to Horizon
    Stewart to Bowser

    Who is next? I cannot speculate because it wouldn't be speculation. All I can say is that the tax man will force a sale if these companies haven't got a succession plan in place. It happened to Athearn and MDC. Stewart beat the IRS to the punch. He had a good plan and he executed it.

    Alan Bradley
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Alan,That is good to hear but,still if the right money amount is there any company can be bought..However..I would rather not see any more buyouts by distributors.IMHO that has a very ugly ring to it even though Horizon/Athearn seems to be working quite well as far as new releases. :D
  9. Alan B

    Alan B Member


    I too am concerned by the concentration of manufacturing in the hands of distributors. It looks like a vertical combination. Those things have a habit of causing prices to rise. It's not like we haven't seen model railroad prices out pace inflation already. Each combination usually requires a price increase, an overhead decrease or a combination of both to pay for the purchase.

    Alan Bradley
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think the most important consideration for the future of a family owned hobby company is family interest and succession. The reason Athearn & MDC went to Horizon is that Irv died, his kids weren't interested in the company. The company continued in business for a few years with no new products coming down the pipeline until Irv's widow sold it. Unfortunately, the buyers had to go so deep in hock to buy the company that they really had to sell out to Horizon, or risk going under. In the case of MDC, the founder of the company wanted to retire, and again his children were not interested in the company. Someone other than Horizon might have been able to buy the company, but they didn't. My biggest concern is that Horizon moved Athearn into a bigger facility, but after buying MDC, they moved them in with Athearn. I think the Athearn people are perfectly capable of running the company as one, but they don't have enough space for both product lines. Expect to see less popular lines, or perhaps products that individual managers aren't as interested in get dropped. Being from So Cal where Athearn is located, I can say that Athearn is a very customer oriented company. I mean by that, if people have a complaint with an Athearn product, if the company can change it to meet the demand they will. A case in point, when they first came out with ready to run passenger cars they were glued todether. Buyers complained that they couldn't get them apart to install detailed interiors and lighting without risking destruction of the car. The next and all succeeding production runs have not been glued together.
  11. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Russ,A lot of the newer Athearn is made in China while the blue box line is made in the U.S.
    Athearn has always been a batch producer and produce their products in runs.So,Athearn will be releasing some of the MDC cars already under the Athearn name while the old time cars will be under MDC's name.
    Since its against the rules to post a news release from any major manufacturer I will give you a link to the topic on RRF.You will need to follow the link to the news letter.Be sure to read the fine print on the bottom.
  12. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Thanks for the link, Brakie. My buddy at my local hobby shop will be glad to hear of this. He likes to get kids started modeling as opposed to buying ready to run trains, by starting them on Athearn blue box car kits.

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