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I noticed that a thread on "Lionel Might Be For Sale" was rather quickly closed by a moderator. That surprised me both because there was nothing wrong about the thread I could see, and because no-censorship of topics is a major reason I was on MTF to begin with. I e-mailed GRJ about this and he said he'd look into why that other thread was closed. In the mean time, I have some thoughts on a topic close to that that i wanted to bring up. I'd ask everyone to be particularly sensitive to the fact that emotions can run high about a topic like this, and we really do need to keep this discussion civil.
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What I really want to discuss is the value, to all of us, if having a lot of independent, competitive suppliers for O-Gauge trains. It is all to our advantage to have a healthy Lionel, and a healthy MTH, and a healthy Atlas and Williams-By-Bachman, all competing -- trying hard, for our business.

That said . . .

I imagine Lionel has always been for sale. Investors, private equity firms - whatever you call them, people and organizations like the current owners, seldom buy a company to keep, but to "flip" just that way some people try to "flip" houses. They always have a plan - buy it, -- improve its profitability -- sell it for more than we paid for it -- move on. That is how folks like that make their money. They have a plan. Normally these plans go in three year to maybe five year cycles - the time it takes to "change cultures" and "institutionalize new habits" plus produce an improved balance sheet for a couple years to give credibility to their claims that profitability has been improved.

That said, an owner like that is always open to anyone stepping forward and saying "I'd like to buy it now," even before their plan is done. Their whole purpose is to make a profit on buying and selling, and so they always have the company, in some sense, "up for sale." I know for a fact one buyer a year ago was interested enough - through a fluke of knowing someone who knows someone I ended up with them picking my brain for a bit about the market and Lionel. How serious this possible buyer was, if and how much Lionel talked to them, and what became of any talks if they happened - that I don't know. But again, its best to realize that Lionel, is, to its owners, strictly an "asset" -- they are business people. It's always for sale if the buyer offers enough.

But perhaps now, independent of anyone else coming forward on their own, the owners have come to, or are about at, the end of their planned cycle and have Lionel where they want it, and so have decided to ramp up the effort and put the company up for sale. I don't know. But it would make sense . . .

Lionel is different though, I imagine, than MTH. I've read speculation here and elsewhere that Mike Wolfe might want to retire - I would understand if he did. But my experience with friends who founded similar companies in other industries, including a very good friend who did something very similar and nearly the same size of business in the electric engineering software industry, is that they always want to "keep it in the family" when they retire, and that they make that happen.

Lionel is also different than Atlas O-Gauge and WBB. While those companies are owned by people who are business-people, too, the companies fit into a "portfolio" of companies that the owner uses to cover an entire market segment. While those companies are always for sale (Offer the Kader Group nine billion for WBB, and I assure you they would sell), the value they see and would expect from a sale includes the synergy that product line has with the rest of their products and business, and is usually more than a purchaser can justify. So typically they "aren't to sale" in any real sense.

As to Scott Mann's Sunset and Golden Gate and little old always near the brink of going out of business RMT, I don't know either well enough to speculate. Both are small and easily digested by bigger fish . . . so you never know.

Over the past year or two, I've worried about Lionel. I hope things work out for it, as a product line. Toward that end I don't know if it is for sale, or not, but I hope either way it fixes any quality problems it has, sorts out its "what are we going to do with LC+, Bluetooth, and Legacy?" dilemma and gets back to being on its game. The worst thing that could happen to us would be MTH buying or absorbing Lionel - it would mean there would be one less big dog working hard to gain our business. The next worst thing would be for Lionel to go out of business. I hope, and don't think, either will happen, but . . .

And I'll end on a positive note. I'm positive the best thing that has happened to O-Gaugers like us in recent years is Menards. They've become a big player and innovated a lot of new ideas (like plain boxes and cheap wrappers, etc.). I've not a big fan of all their products, but that is irrelevant to my appreciation of their contribution here. They have put a lot of business pressure on the other suppliers. That is to our good.
I love it.

The best that can happen for us, as model railroaders, is for Lionel to continue to compete head to head with MTH. I really wish they did a bit better of a job at that, frankly. If they do that with the current owners, or a new one, or even (this is my dream) Menards buying them, that would be awesome. But for all we beat them up here, or speculate about their fate, just realize how much we would miss them - even those like me who buy few of their products now - if they were gone, or if they were bought by MTH.
 

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It almost goes without saying that "everything is for sale" ... but I suppose the question is are they actively seeking buyers 'cause they want to get out. That would be interesting. Anyway, maybe this should be in Union Station. But beyond that it doesn't bother me in the least to speculate endlessly on these kinds of topics and to me it is harmless.
 

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It would be great if we had access to their financials like a publicly traded company. Their starter sets offer a ton of value, It would be interesting to see how much that offsets any difficulties they might be seeing with the higher end QC issues. Bought out or not I hope they remedy the issues and further the hobby. I think a true hobbiest at the helm would really benefit everyone.
 

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Lee, the reason the thread at the other forum was closed was due to Lionel bashing ... not due to the actual topic I believe.

I am not in the habit of making posts of this nature but it sounded news worthy ... sorry if I offended anyone.
 
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Very well thought out and written, Lee. I agree with your analysis.

EDIT: I edited this post. Please disregard what I had previously written here.
 

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If you try for example: "google lionel llc financials"

Then several things do come up and you can read this little tidbit of info and that... but none of it appears to be current/verified correct.

Supposedly > $100 m in revenue which seems surprisingly large (to me at least). But what's the operating revenue on that? One wonders...

this has some interesting stuff but nothing really to date recent

http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Lionel_Corporation

http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Lionel,_LLC
 
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I edited my earlier post. The moderator who closed the other thread about Lionel possibly being sold sent me a personal message explaining why that thread was closed. I misread his post in that thread and reacted.

Thanks for the PM, teledoc, and please accept my apology.
 

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Joe, no apology necessary, now that the PM clarified the decision.
 

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Damn......I thought someone had some old Lionel's for sale.:(

Shouldn't this thread be in the For sale elsewhere? :p
 

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"... “There are still many challenges to be overcome, but Lionel is in a more stable and solid position than any time since before the recession. All of which makes this a good time to step down and focus on some personal interests outside of Lionel; the first of which involves another classic brand, Billboard Magazine, also owned by Lionel’s longtime owner, Guggenheim Partners. "

From -- http://www.lionel.com/articles/NewsStand-Announcement-From-Jerry-Calabrese/
 

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It's easy to find those quotes, but you have to look at the dates.

Your first link is three years old, April 16, 2014, New York, NY

The second one is even more ancient: August 04, 2012 07:00 AM

I'd like to know about today. ;)
 

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Lets just hope that if there ever is a buyer that they don't scrap the whole train manufacturing and end up selling widgets under the Lionel name!

Speaking of things for sale, my entire 3,000 piece model train collection is for sale. Buy no one has met the required $10,000,000 viewing license prior to sale yet. :D
 
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