Lionel To Close Michigan Plant?

I returned from a business trip the other day and was in receipt of a letter from Lionel of all people! No, they aren't closing me down. But they may well be closing down their Michigan plant!

Here is the text of the letter:

‘Chesterfield, MI - January 17, 2001 - Lionel, LLC announced today that it was considering terminating its Chesterfield, Michigan manufacturing operation.

Richard N. Maddox, President and Chief Operating Officer of Lionel, LLC said that the Company is considering, among other options, terminating its Chesterfield, Michigan manufacturing operation. The Company has entered into discussions with the UAW Local 417 seeking mutually agreeable options, which would help reduce overhead and permit continued manufacturing in its Chesterfield facility. Lionel currently manufacture in Michigan, Korea and China.

Maddox emphasized in employee meetings that no decision has yet been made and that no decision would be made until employee and Union suggestions were considered. In addition, Maddox stressed that regardless of the decision all scheduled shipments will continue through 2001 and beyond'

I am guessing this message is more for the Union people than it's dealers as evidently they are saying their costs in the Michigan plant are more than what they would like and maybe have contract negotiations coming up.

However could this be a sign that Lionel is feeling the heat from Mikes Train House? Could this be just the beginning of further cut backs from Lionel in hopes to compete in the market that they foolishly gave away? Could they now realize that flooding the market with new products possibly isn't the way to go? Or does this mean that Lionel needs a secretary that knows correct use of commas and hyphens? (I am not one to talk in that area! Thank goodness for spell checkers!)

Either way, I can't believe that Mike Wolf isn't sitting behind his desk with a big grin right now.

As I said, I just returned from a grueling trip to the South. I'd never driven back from Florida before, but had to pick up a large collection in North Carolina. It was a bear of a drive, but hit nice weather all the way on the entire trip. I was lucky enough to get one round of golf in. Not the best round I've ever shot, but I did see an alligator!

I will be busy processing these collections over the next month or so. The big one will be particularly slow as some of the boxes got separate because of display. So please check daily to see what we come across. This is the most money I've spent on a collection in around a year. Lots of different items. Even some American Flyer S gauge!!

I certainly would like to thank all of you who are participating on choochooauctions.com. We have picked up a number of new users over the past couple of months. This may sound self serving, but I think many have come due to word of mouth because of some of the deals that have been had on the site lately. We are averaging some 130+ items almost all the time on the site. Some things have gone pretty reasonably, and some have gone for a pretty good buck. That's a pleasant surprise for me sometimes. At any rate, thanks again for using the site. And if you haven't visited, please do and register. It costs nothing at all.

I am so optimistic about the coming year for trains. I've noticed recently that we are seeing many new customers which is thrilling. I think the train bug is starting up again, not that it ever left. But there is nothing more exciting to see our hobby thrive with new members. So pass the word. Trains are absolutely fantastic, as are the people in the hobby.

Well, ok most of the people in the hobby!

I've had a run in with less than a handful of people over the years. Recently I had a squabble with a customer who was disgruntled with a motorized unit that we had sent him. He said it didn't work and it took hours and hours to fix. So on his next on-line order he stated that he expected an extra discount for his troubles on this particular order.

Well, I try to please and offered him a small added credit towards the order. My gosh, you would have thought I had just pushed the button and blown up a city or something! He came back demanding that the credit be much larger and he'd better hear from me within one hour!

Truly I try to be as reasonable with people as possible, but this was going a little to far, so I wrote him a polite e-mail saying that I couldn't do that and that I'd just cancel his order. I also explained about our return policy, which I would extend for him.

Then the harassing letters, verbal abuse, and threats started. Finally I stopped taking his e-mails and more or less decided this was not someone that I really wanted to deal with.

The next day just out of curiosity I went through the pick sheets in the store and found his. Right there on that sheet it had been written down ‘tested -OK'. Although it is possible that it needed a minute's worth of lubrication.

So, the moral of this story is that if you buy something through the mail and want a real big discount, make sure you do several hours of needless work, or at least say you did, and then complain until you get that discount.

Well, do that someplace else if you will!

So there is no misunderstanding, my policy on defective merchandise is that if it doesn't work and it is supposed to, we'll work with you on it. Items you order should work however some things might need a drop of oil or a little grease.

If you do experience a problem with an item, please contact us before you do anything. We allow a 7 day return and I have in the past paid to have items fixed by a service station, or fixed them myself. However if you decide to open that cab up and fix it yourself, you are on your own.

Enough said for today. The days are getting longer, and I have that polishing cloth all ready. After work I'm going to go home, polish my golf clubs, and watch hopefully out the window for the snow to melt!


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