WAUKESHA, Wis. How about some good news from the magazine-publishing industry? Kalmbach Publishing Co. of Waukesha, Wisconsin, is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2009 and still going strong.
This independent, niche publisher produces the world's best-selling magazines for model railroading (Model Railroader), scale modeling (FineScale Modeler and Scale Auto), beaded jewelry making (BeadStyle and Bead&Button), astronomy (Astronomy), and railroading (Trains).
Kalmbach publishes 15 magazines and a host of special-interest publications. Its book department produces 35 books annually. Kalmbach maintains nearly 30 Web sites, and it produces the world's largest jewelry making show, the annual Bead&Button Show in Milwaukee.
Collectively, more than 1 million enthusiasts worldwide read Kalmbach print publications, not to mention the tens of millions that visit the company's online properties. In 2008, the company generated more than $50 million in sales for the sixth year in a row.
Albert Carpenter Kalmbach founded A. C. Kalmbach and Co. in 1933, one year after graduating from Marquette University. In January 1934, Al combined his two passions of publishing and model trains when he introduced the first issue of The Model Railroader magazine. By July of that year, the magazine's paid circulation surpassed 1,000.
From 1943 to 1989, Kalmbach grew from two magazines Model Railroader and Trains (both still in publication today) to 15 magazines.
In 1989, the company moved to its current location in Waukesha. In the 20 years at the Waukesha location, Kalmbach has doubled its sales, from $26 million (1989) to $54 million (2008).
Throughout its 75-year history, Kalmbach has maintained its founder's core business philosophy: Put the customers first.
"The customer is the real boss of us all," Al once wrote. "Not a cent can be paid out for payroll unless it comes in from the customers, and not a one of us would have a job for long if we didn't please the customers."
Al's commitment to extraordinary customer service was ahead of its time, and his principles remain the foundation of the company's business practices today.
"We're proud of the fact that customers that subscribed to Model Railroader in the 1950s remain loyal subscribers to this day," Kalmbach President Gerald B. Boettcher said. "That tells us that we're keeping true to Al's editorial and service standards."
In addition to its editorial properties, Kalmbach produces the annual Bead&Button Show, the world's largest consumer bead event.
About 15,000 jewelry-making enthusiasts travel to Milwaukee's Midwest Airlines Center to attend this weeklong event that features more than 500 classes and workshops, an international marketplace, silent and live auctions, and a chance to mingle with the world's foremost experts on the craft.
Kalmbach Publishing Co. plans to continue to grow by actively monitoring trends and looking for opportunities to acquire existing products and launch new ones.
ACS is proud to have provided software and services to Kalmbach for almost 27 years.