It's clear that MTH has been mailing it in for a few years. Every new catalog, hobby veterans would gripe about "nothing new" and "more repaints". As someone new to the hobby, I was still happy to buy new PS3 engines in new paint schemes. Everything is new to me!
Anyway, in my opinion it remains to be seen if this is just bad news or really, really bad news. There is nothing good about this. Lionel (or anyone) having little to no competition is terrible.
June 8, 2020 - First, on behalf of M.T.H. Electric Trains, I want to thank you for the support and encouragement you have shown my company over our 40-year journey. From humble beginnings and a lot of hard work, we were able to build one of the world's largest model train manufacturers - one unquestionably buoyed by your unwavering support.
In particular, I am proud that M.T.H. has released more models than any train manufacturer in the history of our hobby. The variety, quality, and infusion of technology throughout our offerings allowed M.T.H. Electric Trains to help bring enjoyment to all who share our wonderful hobby.
It is, therefore, with mixed emotions that I tell you I have decided to retire in 2021 and close the business. The last two M.T.H. catalogs, our 2020 Volume 2 O Gauge catalog, and our 2020 HO catalog and all non-delivered items from our 2020 Volume 1 O Gauge catalog, 2020 Ready-to-Run Train Set catalog, 2019-2020 S Gauge catalog, and 2019-2020 G Gauge catalog will feature the last products produced by M.T.H. Electric Trains.
The new items featured in all these catalogs will be available beginning Summer 2020 through April 2021 and will carry our limited one-year warranty supported by our Authorized Service Center network and the M.T.H. Service Department. Upon our closing in May 2021, our ASC network will provide warranty coverage through April 2022. A list of M.T.H. Authorized Service Centers is available on the M.T.H. website and will be updated as M.T.H. Authorized Retailers join the program over the coming months.
M.T.H. Electric Trains would not have enjoyed success without the support of the M.T.H. Authorized Retailer network. While traditional retail has changed significantly over the past decade, the independent hobby shop has been and continues to be the most important cog in our distribution chain. I truly appreciate the support and friendship these shops have shown M.T.H. I wish all of them good luck and prosperity in the years to come.
Finally, I want to thank all of my employees for their hard work over the years. Most of them have been with me for decades and their loyalty and talents were paramount to our success.
With thousands of tools and molds and a wealth of intellectual property, a new model railroading company may arise from my former company as I entertain various options and buyers. One scenario is a new company organized and owned by members of my current staff. Their decades of experience, work ethic, and creative talent will ensure success regardless of who owns the assets while providing a welcome bridge between the past 40 years and the future.
The remainder of my time will be busy as we clear out inventory and other miscellaneous items accumulated over the past 40 years. As that process evolves, we’ll be offering consumer and retailer purchase opportunities
Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your loyal support for all these years.
Mike is the most influential person to the model train hobby since Joshua Cowen. I wish him well in retirement.
This is bad news for MTH fans like myself. I hope the company continues in some way, but I don’t see it ever being the same without him. Look what became of Lionel after Cowen retired.
But I will still buy the trains if I can. Last night I ordered both the Railking and Premier Club box cars. And there are a few locos in the 2020 V2 catalog that I will order. I hope they aren’t cancelled due to low orders.
One of our other hobbies is old houses, so here's something to consider from a similar situation: about a decade or so ago the premier art wallpaper company that replicated historic designs and designed new patterns in the historic style made a similar announcement. Bruce Bradbury, the owner of Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpaper, decided it was time to retire and announced the closure of the company. He allowed so many months for new orders to come in and be produced and then it would be over. A couple of months after the announcement, he announced that an employee (or group of employees, I can't remember) had come forward and offered to buy the company. Fast forward to today, Bradbury & Bradbury is still the premier historic wallpaper company to us old house freaks, and their continued success has spawned a few small, cottage-industry type competitors.
Maybe that will happen here. Like B&B, there's a thriving, well-liked company ready for it's next chapter.
Announcing his retirement sometime in 2021 plus honoring warranties until 2022 signals to me that ample time will be given to OTHERS to consider purchasing the business. Besides M.T.H. does have a monetary value to be considered. Another consideration is the ongoing tariff wars with China where MTH items are produced. The upcoming Elections in November may be indirectly influencing his decision to retire. Contracts with Chinese companies as well as intellectual property rights ownership may be a factor as well.
does anyone here know how apps work? are there yearly fees paid to apple and google? or once an app is in the app store it stays there forever?
with mth maybe closing will the app stay there forever to be used or?
My hope with Mike announcing that production will continue until 2021 and warranties until 2022, is that this will give time for someone else to buy the business and continue production. I have to wonder if Mike's announcement now and continuing production into next year is not attempt to spur someone to hurry and purchase the business since he's been trying to sell it for a while according to some. I hope MTH sticks around, but regardless the hobby will continue.
I just got off the phone with one of the model train shops I deal with (well known shop in the U.S.). The owner didn't seem too concerned about Mike Wolfe's announcement and said several of the employees (he named them off, but I can't remember them) were going to most likely take over MTH. The only change he said he anticipated is that it would be a smaller company with more focus on Premier products.