Dear Valued SMR Clients,
Since 2013 I have fought not to write this letter. Unfortunately, due to the business policies of the previous administration, SMR was forced out of the brass model train business. Today’s improved business climate didn’t happen soon enough for SMR.
What did happen was "Dodd-Frank". A complex, 2,300 page law, written by lobbyists, passed unread, in 2010 as a political payback in return for the large campaign contributions made by the big banks. According to the NY Times, in just four years (2014) its 22,000 pages of regulations had, through crushing regulatory burdens, forced the closure/merger of 14% of the country's small, local banks. In 2013, one of these small banks forced into a merger was the one used by SMR to finance its models.
Within just a few weeks of this event, SMR received a notice from the mega-bank that the company's line of credit, the indispensable tool needed to produce models, was being cancelled. This was despite a multi-year relationship with the old bank during which there was never a problem. When I contacted the new bank, they bluntly informed me that SMR was too small for them - the company's business wouldn't be profitable enough for them and wasn't worth the expense of servicing the account. They refused a meeting and cancelled the loan. I pointed out that this would likely put SMR out of business, but that didn't bother them. The abrupt loss of capital forced cancellation of the Baldwin "Flexible-Beam" project and a new project to build an inside-connected 4-4-0.
These cancellations, in turn, resulted in the loss of many thousands of dollars already spent on research, development and design for those models. It would be a mortal blow, although like many living things, SMR tried to fight death. But the company's balance sheet showed a big loss, which made it impossible to obtain new financing.
In the struggle to survive, SMR tried a low-cost, self-financed project, the B&O Grasshopper. Believing the hype surrounding 3D printing, I thought it could be produced in the US. But it was a delusion. I was Don Quixote tilting at a windmill. It is simply not possible to produce brass model trains of SMR's required quality, in limited quantities and at a reasonable cost in the United States. The needed expertise doesn't exist and government regulations prevent traditional brass train manufacturing methods. During this hopeless battle, which lasted until 2016, I spent the last of my personal resources in a lost cause.
I want to thank all of you for your patronage over the years. Perhaps one day someone else will take up the cause, "Reliving the Glory of 19th Century Railroading".
On this site you will find some of SMR's remaining inventory available for sale. Once these are gone, there will be no restocking; this is a final clearance. I have reduced the prices of all items to help clear them out.