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Walthers, Conway inducted into Railroad Hall of Fame

By Hal Miller
Published: July 29, 2010
The HMA Model Railroad Industry Division Council inducted two new members into the Model Railroad Industry Hall of Fame July 18 and recognized another with the Bobbye Hall Award.

Wm. K Walthers Inc. CEO Phil Walthers and Con-Cor owner Jim Conway received plaques commemorating their admission to the hall during the National Train Show in Milwaukee, Wis.

“Both of these industry leaders have contributed their time, talents, and dedication to grow the model railroad segment of the hobby industry,” said Allen Pollock, co-chair of the MRID awards committee. “They are well deserving to be inducted into the HMA MRID Hall of Fame.”

Under Phil Walthers’ watch, the company has substantially expanded the company’s product line, including a new track system, a line of passenger equipment and limited-run trains. In addition, Walthers oversaw the purchase of Life-Like Products, expanded the number of lines the company distributes, and has helped many smaller firms grow by promoting and distributing their products via the Walthers catalog.

He has also served on the Model Railroad Industry Association, Radio Control Hobby Trade Association, and has helped build interest in the hobby through his company’s involvement with the World’s Greatest Hobby program.

Like Walthers, Jim Conway started in the hobby business at a young age. He found a part-time job at a local hobby shop in Chicago, and later built hundreds of model freight car kits and sold them through similar stores and by mail order.

He joined the NMRA In1960 and attended his first NMRA national convention in Chicago. In 1962, He developed a line called “Con-Cor Models.” Among the first kits were USRA boxcars and billboard reefers, HOn3 freight cars, and the Airslide covered hopper kit. Also in 1962, Jim organized a group of fellow model railroaders from Chicago and opened a new model train hobby shop on the west side of Chicago.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Conway grew his Con-Cor business, importing Rivarossi N-scale in the middle of the latter decade. He also built a wholesale business under the name of JMC International.

John Tews was presented the 2010 Bobbye Hall award for distinguished service to the model railroad industry. He is currently the general manager of the Trainfest consumer show every November in Milwaukee.

Under his direction over the past 19 years, Trainfest has grown in attendance with over 22,000 model railroad enthusiasts attending the show in 2009.