For a humble steam model company, Mamod has had to overcome some pretty difficult challenges since its establishment in the 1930s. From a world war to a World Cup to two recessions, the firm has persisted and still stands strong to this very day. In this three part series, we look back at the trials and tribulations Mamod has been through over the years.
In our third and final article in this series we move into more modern times and look at how Mamod coped with recessions of both the 1980s and the 2000s.
As the 1980s approached, Mamod was riding high. The release of the TE1a, SR1a, SE1a and SE2a had performed well with its customer base and the company was prospering as a result. However, when the next decade came round there was a huge change across the world as recession bit hard.
The UK had experienced a number of financial crises towards the end of the 1970s and into the 1980s. Inflation had grown to around ten per cent and unemployment was rife across the country. Approximately 1.5 million people were left out of work with the north of England being one of the hardest hit areas.
The likes of Tyneside, Yorkshire, Merseyside along with West of Scotland, South Wales and, importantly for Mamod, the West Midlands saw main industries close such as shipyards and mines. This led to widespread unemployment and a deep resentment towards the government.
Mamod was not an exception to these changes. In June 1975, founder and chairman Geoffrey Malins died at the age 83 and not long after the company was forced to make a series of redundancies.
Reports in the media highlighted the dangers of methylated spirit following an "accident" in the US. The result was not pleasant. A large number of retailers cancelled orders due to concerns of the liquid meaning valued Mamod staff had to be let go to cover costs.
The gloomy days of 1975 had not dampened Mamod's thirst for innovation and by 1979 it released five new engines – SP1, 2, 3, 4 and the twin cylinder SP5. This was followed by the launch of the RS1 and RS2 railway sets which, while impressive, came at a big cost to the company.
Uncertainty continued as Malins was unable to repay money owed to the bank and was subsequently placed into administration despite trading in the black. A number of ownership changes ensued and it was not until the Terry family came on board in 1992 that it was pulled back from the brink.
Under the stewardship of the Terrys, Mamod was moved back to Birmingham and production was up and running once again. The 1990s was dedicated to refurbishing the worn tooling and the main focus was to improve the quality of the Mamod range.
With the dawn of the new millennium Mamod launched models such as the SP5D (2000), Millennium Blue Bus (2000) and the Le Mans Racing (2001). There were also limited edition models such as the Golden Jubilee Loco which was introduced in 2002. However, just like in the 1970s and 1980s, the UK was braced for another recession.
The 2007 economic downturn once again put a huge amount of pressure on Mamod. As images of people queuing outside of Northern Rock outlets and model outlets closed right, left and centre, Mamod needed to develop a new approach.
It made the risky decision of selling directly to customers. Retailers could no longer afford to hold a wide range of Mamod products so the company felt that direct selling could be the way forward. This move not only helped to safeguard the future of Mamod but also fostered a much stronger relationship between Mamod and its customer base.
Just a year after the start of the recession Mamod released both the MK I and the MK II, representing the final models made by the Malins family.
Through wars, World Cups and recessions Mamod has survived and continues to prosper to this very day.