In a new email, Polk's has announced that they will be closing the doors on their business at the end of the year. As the folks behind Aristocraft Trains, this is a unfortunate announcement and a definite loss to the hobby.
We haven't received all of the details on this announcement, so it's still unsure how various brands and elements of the business will be handled. It's possible that Aristocraft and RMT could be spun off and survive, but at the moment, most readers assume that the announcement represents the closure of the business in total. You can read the news yourself straight from the Polk family below.
Polk’s Will Close Its Doors 12-31-13
Since 1935, we have provided service and innovation to the Hobby industry. In this latest downturn, we cut back staff to the minimum required to survive. Then the government battle over the debt ceiling drove the consumer market down even further.
We’ve managed to stay in business, but the continued depression for the consumer has caused us to fall into debt that is unsustainable. We have put several million dollars into product development over recent years, but the need for customers to cut back on non-essentials has caused this investment to be lacking in returns.
We have seen leisure activities like golf courses plunge in popularity, as funds for such recreation have dried up. It seems to be the same for hobby time investments. Our products are no longer inexpensive as they were in the 1930s-era Depression. The cost of manufacturing along with minimum production runs and long lead times has caused a lack of ability to continue as a sustainable entity. It’s no longer a business!
It has been a pleasure to help our creative consumer base to enjoy their hobby and we have no regrets in doing so. Our business grew every year until the 2008 as the recession caused a shrinking of the mindset to stay active in our large-scale model train arena. We know that smaller scales have remained viable, but the higher cost of Large Scale trains and the space required to run them have not maintained their share of the market. Our airplane R/C portion of our business was lost when our patented frequency changer was lost to the 2.4Ghz portion of the marketplace, with no frequency compounds needed any longer.
For 80 years, the Polk family has made a fair living in the Hobby industry. I can’t help but remember the scores of co-workers that have helped make this organization as special as it was. Thanks to them all, but notably: Gil Rose, B.M. Song, J.K. Kim, Sam Kimm, Tom Flynn, Cliff Crane, Charlie Binder, Marvin Binder, John and Sherry Shievdayal, Aixa Lebron, Joe Bamberger, David Newell, Walter Matuch, John Mikesh, Navin Shievdayal, Marguerite Hubert (Rose), Michael J. Vickey, Jonathan Polk, Scott Polk, Fred Polk, Irwin Polk, Nathan Polk, Maryann Polk Bob Calandra, George Adams, Michael Hauptmann and so many others, it would take a book to list them all. While I can’t list all the hundreds that were part of the team, they remain in my heart and mind.
Our humble thanks to our loyal customers. Our apologies for not being able to keep this almost 80-year-old business going. It’s a heartbreaker for us all.
All the best,
The Polk Family
The large scale train community has certainly lost a big piece of the hobby today. This touching letter is a heartfelt message to railroaders everywhere and represents how wonderful our hobby can be, if nothing else. We 'd like to offer well wishes to the entire Polk family and all of the employees who've worked for almost 80 years to make such a wonderful piece of the model railroading community.
Although Aristocraft may not be producing new trains in the future, they still have a rich production history, and many of their great trains and accessories are available on the DASH Marketplace right now. You can help keep them a relevant and living part of the hobby by shopping their Aristocraft products on the DASH Marketplace.