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An interview with Jason Shron

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No mention of a TGV or Eurostar?

 

Edit: I've read the article now

Edited by woodenhead
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It's interesting that he describes himself as a typical modeller who needed to control every aspect of his modelling but that he has learnt that mass production means compromise and he has to trust others otherwise the company could not operate.

 

I can think of at least one respected modeller / manufacturer who could not understand the term compromise and has suffered for it.

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Very interesting interview. Thanks for sharing the link

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The thing that stands out is that being a train nut isn't enough, you need to know how to run a business. That should be a statement of the obvious but it may not be for some. Behind all the comical marketing stuff and affable personality Jason Shron is clearly a very astute business person who has a good grip on the brass tacks and mechanics of how a company works. Good for him and I wish him and Rapido continued success!

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The thing that stands out is that being a train nut isn't enough, you need to know how to run a business. That should be a statement of the obvious but it may not be for some. Behind all the comical marketing stuff and affable personality Jason Shron is clearly a very astute business person who has a good grip on the brass tacks and mechanics of how a company works. Good for him and I wish him and Rapido continued success!

 

Couldn't agree more "jjb". Jason seems to have the "X factor" of knowing what the fans want, knowing how to make it happen, and knowing how to run a successful business which makes it happen.  The mention of the thin yellow line in his interview is testament to a man who knows how to produce something in an economical and timely manner.

 

My only wish would be that he could be persuaded to export his skills and experience to a UK based operation for UK stuff.  This is not meant as a derogatory slur on the existing UK developers, but it actually puts some zing into our hobby. My personal mope has been about waiting years for the Bachmann 24, the Bachmann maroon "portholes" and the Bachmann maroon "Thomos". It seems that Rapido's MO is based on the company name, although I have yet to purchase a Rapido model - yet. I just wonder what were to happen if Jason released a wacky video next week stating his intention to produce the BRCW class 104, the XP64 coaches and "the Fell"  !!!       

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Couldn't agree more "jjb". Jason seems to have the "X factor" of knowing what the fans want, knowing how to make it happen, and knowing how to run a successful business which makes it happen.  The mention of the thin yellow line in his interview is testament to a man who knows how to produce something in an economical and timely manner.

 

My only wish would be that he could be persuaded to export his skills and experience to a UK based operation for UK stuff.  This is not meant as a derogatory slur on the existing UK developers, but it actually puts some zing into our hobby. My personal mope has been about waiting years for the Bachmann 24, the Bachmann maroon "portholes" and the Bachmann maroon "Thomos". It seems that Rapido's MO is based on the company name, although I have yet to purchase a Rapido model - yet. I just wonder what were to happen if Jason released a wacky video next week stating his intention to produce the BRCW class 104, the XP64 coaches and "the Fell"  !!!

 

As Jason said, cash flow is king and they lucked upon a bank who doubled their facility. We know of the difficulties Hornby has, Dapol has had a dip and we don't know about Bachmann but you can bet they too have faced similar issues. If we had a Jason at any of those companies we would likely be saying less goofing more modelling. Jason is unique as is Rapido.

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My only wish would be that he could be persuaded to export his skills and experience to a UK based operation for UK stuff.  This is not meant as a derogatory slur on the existing UK developers, but it actually puts some zing into our hobby. My personal mope has been about waiting years for the Bachmann 24, the Bachmann maroon "portholes" and the Bachmann maroon "Thomos". It seems that Rapido's MO is based on the company name, although I have yet to purchase a Rapido model - yet. I just wonder what were to happen if Jason released a wacky video next week stating his intention to produce the BRCW class 104, the XP64 coaches and "the Fell"  !!!       

 

Rapido is going to be releasing UK products themselves - in addition to the work they do for others - with Jason's recent visit to the UK in part being to register a UK business.

 

The Gunpowder van is known, though no official announcement yet, as is the bus.  It should be safe to assume more product is in the pipeline given the steps taken so far.

 

As for delivery times, Rapido like any other have experienced delays.  Many of their products are now delivered in a timely manner but delays can still occur for a variety of reasons including having to move a factory or simply to get a model correct.

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The thing that stands out is that being a train nut isn't enough, you need to know how to run a business. That should be a statement of the obvious but it may not be for some. Behind all the comical marketing stuff and affable personality Jason Shron is clearly a very astute business person who has a good grip on the brass tacks and mechanics of how a company works. Good for him and I wish him and Rapido continued success!

 

And the equally important thing is that he has fully understood that in order for his company to grow it is also about building a team and developing and allowing (trusting) them to do their jobs without micro-management from him.  And we should perhaps not overlook the fact that Rapido was only established in 2003/4.

 

5 years in (2008) it was showing video of a 9 car formation of the Turbotrain (ok, not entirely correct trailer cars) which followed, and has been followed by, varied items of North American continent outline and more recently British outline as well.  The moral would seem to be that from a well organised planting and nourishment of the acorn a flourishing business can develop using careful financial management, skilled marketing, and building on the attributes range of people.  Surely a lesson in that approach for some concerns much nearer home?

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Also it shows how the new disruptive companies can establish themselves leaving the establishment floundering.

 

They don't have baggage, they don't have established supply chains that are either rigid or slow to accommodate change.

 

Maybe we look too much to Hornby and Bachmann sorting themselves out - but perhaps they are finding it difficult to adapt, if Hattons can do the 66 and big locos like the A3 and A4, SLW can do hi-end Sulzers and Heljan can buzz around in between then it leaves Hornby and Bachmann in the rolling stock environment that hasn't been quite as disrupted.  I can see now why a coach is north of £50 if it now has to make an even greater contribution to profit.

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Also it shows how the new disruptive companies can establish themselves leaving the establishment floundering.

 

They don't have baggage, they don't have established supply chains that are either rigid or slow to accommodate change.

 

Maybe we look too much to Hornby and Bachmann sorting themselves out - but perhaps they are finding it difficult to adapt, if Hattons can do the 66 and big locos like the A3 and A4, SLW can do hi-end Sulzers and Heljan can buzz around in between then it leaves Hornby and Bachmann in the rolling stock environment that hasn't been quite as disrupted.  I can see now why a coach is north of £50 if it now has to make an even greater contribution to profit.

 

Not necessarily. 

Any model manufacturer can rock up to the masses and produce, market and sell a product.  IMHO the key to success is producing a durable model which looks right and works, in a decent timescale and at a price people will pay. I am sure the brand will have something to do with it but I bought my first Kernow loco last week, only because it is the first loco they have produced which I want. 

 

I will be having a few GPVs from Rapido because they are a model I want, I trust the brand to deliver and recognise the effort they are putting into making them scale. 

 

Regarding Hornby and Bachmann, yes, I would like some BR liveried maroon "portholes" and a couple maroon "Thomos". I feel we have waited long enough for the both of these liveries, but I also appreciate there is a marketing force at work where Bachmann see the least popular models first, then flood the market with BR maroon - well hopefuly !!!

 

Still believe the market is there for GWR / BR(WR) non corridors and LMS motor train (push pull) and am surprised Oxford haven't dived into this particular honeypot, but Rapido would be very welcome, although I sense wrong era.   

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Also it shows how the new disruptive companies can establish themselves leaving the establishment floundering.

 

They don't have baggage, they don't have established supply chains that are either rigid or slow to accommodate change.

 

Maybe we look too much to Hornby and Bachmann sorting themselves out - but perhaps they are finding it difficult to adapt, if Hattons can do the 66 and big locos like the A3 and A4, SLW can do hi-end Sulzers and Heljan can buzz around in between then it leaves Hornby and Bachmann in the rolling stock environment that hasn't been quite as disrupted.  I can see now why a coach is north of £50 if it now has to make an even greater contribution to profit.

 

I don't think coaches come out at that sort of price because of their need to make up for loss of profit elsewhere.  They come out at that price, and considerably higher in Rapido's case, because of the near loco level amount of work that has to go into them and the level of detail sought in the final product.

 

However I agree entirely, and have indeed often restated, the view that smaller concerns tend to be much closer to the market and more fleet of foot than a large organisation such as Hornby although in terms of its UK operation Bachmann is also a small organisation - its problem is, I think, not so much in identifying what to make but in getting it out of its parent company's factory.  But the latter problem applies I think across the board to all 'manufacturers' however they are organised and I don't think there is a single one serving the UK OO r-t-r market which hasn't suffered such delays, with the probable exception of recent entrant Accurascale.

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I don't think coaches come out at that sort of price because of their need to make up for loss of profit elsewhere.  They come out at that price, and considerably higher in Rapido's case, because of the near loco level amount of work that has to go into them and the level of detail sought in the final product.

 

However I agree entirely, and have indeed often restated, the view that smaller concerns tend to be much closer to the market and more fleet of foot than a large organisation such as Hornby although in terms of its UK operation Bachmann is also a small organisation - its problem is, I think, not so much in identifying what to make but in getting it out of its parent company's factory.  But the latter problem applies I think across the board to all 'manufacturers' however they are organised and I don't think there is a single one serving the UK OO r-t-r market which hasn't suffered such delays, with the probable exception of recent entrant Accurascale.

 

Yes, Jason has said (IIRC) that Rapido's VIA Rail dome lounge had over 300 parts to be hand-assembled. The recently announced Tempo cars will have separate seats. Rapido has never done the one-piece moulded interior that we are accustomed to from traditional manufacturers. These smaller companies may be close to the market and fleet of foot but they are also vulnerable to small staffs being spread too thinly. (CJL)

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I think a lot of the important stuff are so obvious we assume companies will be on top of them, and perhaps underestimate the difficulty of getting it right. Execution is critical in any process or service, that is quite a useful word as it encompasses quite a lot. Controlling costs, managing finances, understanding your market etc etc. I tend to think that if a manufacturer is capable of executing their plans properly then whether the product is high end or low end isn't the issue. Piko have disrupted the European HO scene far more than Rapido has the NA HO or British OO markets by taking a completely different tack to Rapido, volume production of models designed for a lower price point and majoring in value. What Piko and Rapido have in common isn't so much the product as understanding their market and good execution.

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Yes, Jason has said (IIRC) that Rapido's VIA Rail dome lounge had over 300 parts to be hand-assembled. The recently announced Tempo cars will have separate seats. Rapido has never done the one-piece moulded interior that we are accustomed to from traditional manufacturers. These smaller companies may be close to the market and fleet of foot but they are also vulnerable to small staffs being spread too thinly. (CJL)

 

ho-tempo-models-800px-03.jpg

 

https://rapidotrains.com/ho-tempo/

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I wonder why Jason was having a business meeting in a first class compartment on the Severn Valley..... let the frothing commence!

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Yes, Jason has said (IIRC) that Rapido's VIA Rail dome lounge had over 300 parts to be hand-assembled. The recently announced Tempo cars will have separate seats. Rapido has never done the one-piece moulded interior that we are accustomed to from traditional manufacturers. These smaller companies may be close to the market and fleet of foot but they are also vulnerable to small staffs being spread too thinly. (CJL)

It seems that we are constantly wanting more and more and give companies plaudits for the number of separate parts . But really do we need this? I want an accurate coach, well decorated that looks good side on and from the top, which is the angle we mostly see it from . I’m really not interested on what’s underneath or that it has separately fitted seats . Why? I hardly notice them. So something with less parts , more mouldings , good decoration at a reasonable cost will do me just fine. Can’t help feel that the manufacturers are heading in the wrong direction here. Some seem to be self indulgent almost wearing the number of parts as a badge of honour .

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It seems that we are constantly wanting more and more and give companies plaudits for the number of separate parts . But really do we need this? I want an accurate coach, well decorated that looks good side on and from the top, which is the angle we mostly see it from . I’m really not interested on what’s underneath or that it has separately fitted seats . Why? I hardly notice them. So something with less parts , more mouldings , good decoration at a reasonable cost will do me just fine. Can’t help feel that the manufacturers are heading in the wrong direction here. Some seem to be self indulgent almost wearing the number of parts as a badge of honour .

 

Sounds like your view is diametrically opposite to Jason's. He has said in the past that his first view of trains was as a small child and from a Canadian station platform at rail level. Thus, his view of trains was of all the stuff underneath the cars and that's why he has to model it. It's not the number of parts that's a badge of honour, it's the ability to say that it's accurate in every detail. Equally with the Tempo seats. They were evidently a distinctive shape which would be compromised with a one-piece interior moulding. The Tempo trains are a very important aspect of Jason's own layout. He's a perfectionist and he's certain to go to great lengths to get them exactly how he wants them. We're lucky that he's sharing that with us by making RTR models rather than investing considerably less and having someone scratch-build them. He did produce a Rapido 'Prime Movers' locomotive just recently, with some simplified detail and a lower price point. It's a very nice model but the reaction to it has been such that Rapido has abandoned the 'Prime Movers' idea after just one model. In a nutshell, if one wants a more basic level of detail at a cheaper price, it's out there already, from other manufacturers using older tooling. (CJL)

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I wonder why Jason was having a business meeting in a first class compartment on the Severn Valley..... let the frothing commence!

 

As reported elsewhere on RMWeb the meeting was with the owners of RevolutioN Trains. A previous meeting was on the Nene valley Railway. So the only need for froth was on the coffee or the beer, I suspect.

 

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/134254-off-to-brum-again/?p=3176667

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He maybe a perfectionist, and excellent but you also need to be a realist on the overall package.

 

Is fitting separate seats really necessary? as already said unless you pull the coach to bits they are virtually invisible on a completed 4mm model. A one piece moulding is more than adequate for 99% of buyers, why would that 99% expect anything else. Price is a huge factor for many people when they buy anything, and it has be done to death on here numerous times. 

 

Assembly would have to very good as well, otherwise a number of those seats could be rattling around inside such a design of coach in a very short time.

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He maybe a perfectionist, and excellent but you also need to be a realist on the overall package.

 

Is fitting separate seats really necessary? as already said unless you pull the coach to bits they are virtually invisible on a completed 4mm model. A one piece moulding is more than adequate for 99% of buyers, why would that 99% expect anything else. Price is a huge factor for many people when they buy anything, and it has be done to death on here numerous times.

 

Assembly would have to very good as well, otherwise a number of those seats could be rattling around inside such a design of coach in a very short time.

 

Why does every single manufacturer have to choose to operate to exactly the same level of detail as every other manufacturer?

 

I would suggest there is room for different levels of detail and quality at different price points. Just as you wouldn’t expect a Bentley to be manufactured to the same tolerances and spec as a Kia, why would a Rapido train have to be to the standards (and prices) set by Hornby Railroad?

 

I would rather have fewer but better. Others may rather have more but less detailed. Isn’t there room in the market for manufacturers to satisfy both markets, rather than insisting they all work to the same level of detail (and price)?

 

Paul

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It seems that we are constantly wanting more and more and give companies plaudits for the number of separate parts . But really do we need this? I want an accurate coach, well decorated that looks good side on and from the top, which is the angle we mostly see it from . I’m really not interested on what’s underneath or that it has separately fitted seats . Why? I hardly notice them. So something with less parts , more mouldings , good decoration at a reasonable cost will do me just fine. Can’t help feel that the manufacturers are heading in the wrong direction here. Some seem to be self indulgent almost wearing the number of parts as a badge of honour .

 

Rapido excel at what they produce, they have created a name for themselves and an expectation that their models are quality and accuracy. What you describe is the continued race to the bottom well served by others.

 

He maybe a perfectionist, and excellent but you also need to be a realist on the overall package.

 

Is fitting separate seats really necessary? as already said unless you pull the coach to bits they are virtually invisible on a completed 4mm model. A one piece moulding is more than adequate for 99% of buyers, why would that 99% expect anything else. Price is a huge factor for many people when they buy anything, and it has be done to death on here numerous times. 

 

Assembly would have to very good as well, otherwise a number of those seats could be rattling around inside such a design of coach in a very short time.

 

I think that Jason is very much a realist, the fact that the company has increased in size and expanded what it makes proves there is a market for what they produce at the price it sells for.

 I would prefer to have the accuracy that Rapido are known for, than a series of compromises that produce a model that is the same as other manufacturers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why does every single manufacturer have to choose to operate to exactly the same level of detail as every other manufacturer?

 

Paul

 

Its a good point Paul .  That works if there is distinct levels within the market . I'm not sure the model railways market is big enough to support these levels though .  The reality is if someone announces say a 25/3 or a 94XX then its extremely unlikely that another manufacturer will announce one . There's probably not enough volume to support two models , the exceptions maybe being things like a 37/47 or 66.

 

"race to the bottom" sounds very elitist . It isn't, if in fact you end up making what the mass market wants @£40  as opposed to an all singing and dancing coach @ £125.

 

Rapido have established a name for themselves with the APT and the forthcoming Stirling looks almost like a museum exhibit. Certainly there is no way you would want lower specifications for these models. Actually in terms of value for money I think they are pretty good . But I do question this continual need for yet more detail and separately fitted parts that are less obvious to the naked eye .  You want reasonable detail on an underframe , I'm not advocating something like the Lima/Hornby 156 with solid engine block , but I do question the need for every single bit of framing underneath that cannot really be seen, do we even know its there in real life? Separately fitted seats I just cant see the point of , I'll probably only ever see the tops of them, if I see them at all. They must just cause added cost in assembly and delay in manufacturing. So why are they there? Whats the real need to have them separately fitted ?

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"race to the bottom" sounds very elitist . It isn't, if in fact you end up making what the mass market wants @£40  as opposed to an all singing and dancing coach @ £125.

 

 

Ridiculous, It isn't elitist at all. the 'race to the bottom' is all about price and price alone. Costs increase every year and yet some want the price of models to remain the same, to do so then quality and accuracy are the first to go to achieve this.

 

Separately fitted seats I just cant see the point of , I'll probably only ever see the tops of them, if I see them at all. They must just cause added cost in assembly and delay in manufacturing. So why are they there? Whats the real need to have them separately fitted ?

 

 

They are there because that is how the coach is commissioned, Rapido does not make for the general market it makes for pre-orders. If enough want the detail they offer why question it.  I would prefer one accurate model than half a dozen mediocre ones.

I don't purchase RTR as little is made for the period I model but I have ordered 2 Singles. I do not think they are expensive but reflect the design and accuracy of the model so I'm happy to pay for them. 

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