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Scenery firm Noch celebrates 100th anniversary

By Hal Miller
Published: October 28, 2010
Noch
Rainer Noch
Rainer Noch

One of the most recognized names in model scenery is turning 100 in 2011.

 

Noch GmbH & Co. KG will celebrate its centenary with an open house May 29, next year, in its headquarters in Wangen im Allgau, Germany. The firm, which produces scenery products, buildings, scale figures and accessories, has been operated by the same family throughout its existence.

 

The fourth-generation head of the company is Dr. Rainer Noch. He says the company has come a long way from its beginnings and there have been a lot of twists and turns along the way.

 

His great-grandfather, Oswald Noch, founded the firm in 1911 as a plumbing business. A skilled metalworker, he started producing and selling train toys. The company was then located in what would become East Germany following World War II. The communist nation attempted to nationalize the company, leading Oswald’s son, Erich, to move it to West Germany and restart production in 1957.

 

Rainer Noch says the post-WWII era was great for the company. “You could produce anything you wanted,” he said. “After the war, there was nothing.”

 

Erich’s son, Peter, joined the company in the late 1970s, and they managed it together until Erich’s death in 1989.


Rainer Noch joined the firm in 1994, and says the last 25 years may have been the toughest. “You have to keep innovating and giving customers a reason to buy,” he said. He compares marketing the products to household appliances: “Why do you need a second refrigerator?”

 

Over the decades, the company has been at the forefront of the hobby. Among the technologies it has pioneered in the model railroad industry are vacuum-forming, factory-applied electrostatic grass, hard foam simulated stone walls, and most recently the Gras-Master electrostatic grass tool.

 

Today’s market makes coming up with new products a challenge. The fascination of the moving toy isn’t what it used to be, Rainer says. When he was growing up, model railroads were the only moving toy he had. “Now, everything moves.”

 

Much of what he does is about exposing model railroading and the company’s 1,000-plus products to the public. Noch runs an annual two-day scenery seminar at its headquarters, and also has a website where modelers can show off their skills. Rainer says a true community has built up around the website, and there’s an annual contest for the best layouts.

 

He also says kids are still interested in model railroads, but many times parents have no idea their children would like to build. If you put the materials in front of them, they enjoy working with them to create.


“We need to find a way to show how much fun it is to make your layout,” he says.


For more information on the company’s anniversary and open house, visit http://www.noch.de/en/.

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