Company Deepens Commitment to Building Customer Relationships with Expansion of Content Studio, E-commerce, Experiential Events and Digital Channels

Kalmbach Media logo

WAUKESHA/NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 17, 2019) — Kalmbach Media (Kalmbach), the content creator of such well-known and respected media brands as Astronomy, Discover, Trains and more today marked its 85th anniversary with a special issue of its flagship brand, Model Railroader, and a renewed commitment to building and maintaining relationships with passionate enthusiasts across a variety of hobbies and interests. 

First appearing in January 1934, Model Railroader magazine began as a sideline business for Al Kalmbach, a Milwaukee commercial printer who was also a passionate train and model railroad hobbyist. Model Railroader garnered more than 1,000 readers within six months and today reaches 200,000+ consumers monthly across multiple platforms, including print and digital content, video, books, and special issues, among others.

The 85th anniversary issue, available on newsstands or through the Kalmbach Hobby Store, features numerous highlights from MR’s history, as well as links to bonus video content online, and exclusive products available through Kalmbach’s e-commerce sites, including custom model railroading accessories, and posters of vintage covers along with other special products.

“From the beginning, Al Kalmbach recognized the value of building relationships with communities of like-minded enthusiasts, and of strengthening those relationships with various types of content and products, across different areas of interest,” says CEO Dan Hickey. Since its founding, Kalmbach Media has expanded to a number of category-leading brands serving every niche from astronomy to jewelry-making to snowmobiling.

“What you see with Kalmbach’s evolution over 85 years is a cycle of re-invention and transformation driven by our audiences, and their desire to experience passion for our brands in new and exciting ways,” adds Hickey. “That’s not just Al Kalmbach’s legacy—keeping that cycle going is our future.”

Areas of focus in Kalmbach’s current cycle of transformation include:

Content Studio services: “In our science category, we’re thrilled about our new content studio, Discover Media Lab,” says Hickey. “It’s only been a few months, but our team is already engaged with clients looking for creative solutions involving content, be it a custom publication or a new content channel on their websites. Among our hobby brands, we’ve provided some custom content to clients here and there, so it’s really exciting to see the Lab come to life for the science group.”

E-commerce expansion: Hickey says e-commerce continues to be the fastest growing area for Kalmbach. “But more broadly speaking, we’ve had great success converting customers into related products, services and memberships. We’ve made huge strides in transitioning from linear marketing to more holistic relationship marketing that makes better use of customer data. This year, we’ll complete the installation of a completely revamped marketing stack that will increase the lifetime value of our customers.”

Experiential events: Kalmbach events include the week-long Bead & Button Show (June 2-9), which draws over 11,000 attendees from across the country and is considered the premier event for “modern makers” passionate about creating jewelry from crystals, gemstones, beads, metal and other materials.

Subscription services: Beyond the print subscription model, Kalmbach has seen early success with digital-only services, such as the Model Railroader Video Plus (MRVP), which offers thousands of videos to help enthusiasts experience their passion for railroading. Last year, Kalmbach expanded its product offerings to include the monthly Facet Jewelry subscription box, each filled with all the supplies needed to complete multiple DIY jewelry projects. In 2019, Hickey expect Kalmbach to expand its sub-box business and other digital-only subscription offerings.

About Kalmbach Media:

Kalmbach Media is a leading independent media company that provides ideas and inspiration to avid hobbyists, enthusiasts and citizen scientists through its multichannel brands including Astronomy, Discover, Bead&Button, FineScale Modeler, Garden Railways, Scale Auto, Classic Toy Trains, Model Railroader,

Kalmbach’s digital media websites and extensions across the Kalmbach portfolio of brands reach more than 35 million consumers on 18 sites, including the e-commerce sites My Science Shop, Kalmbach Hobby Store and the Jewelry & Beading Store. Kalmbach is also a leading producer of conferences and experiential events for the hobbyist and enthusiast marketplace.