April 16, 2014, New York, NY – Jerry Calabrese has stepped down as President and CEO of Lionel Electric Trains, a position he held since 2004. Calabrese’s announcement completes a transition process begun more than a year ago when Lionel consolidated operations at its Concord, N.C. facility.
Commenting on his time there, Calabrese said, “Lionel is one of those rare American companies that has endured for 114 years, so a decade doesn’t seem very long in its lifespan, but it’s a very long time for one person to stay at the helm, especially during such a critical period in its history.”
Calabrese joined Lionel in late 2004, when it was embroiled in a devastating lawsuit that threatened to destroy the company. Shortly after its successful resolution in 2007, the economy was hit by the financial meltdown that badly depressed U.S. retail sales and destabilized global manufacturing.
“I should probably have chosen a more tranquil decade,” Calabrese quipped. “The good news,” he added, “is that as painful as those years were, Lionel has weathered the storms and made great progress. Loyal fans and dedicated employees made it possible for Lionel to make more innovative and better quality products than it had for many years; and in 2010 we diversified our product line and our audience when we added NASCAR’s collectible race cars to our train business.
“There are still many challenges to be overcome, but Lionel is in a more stable and solid position than any time since before the recession. All of which makes this a good time to step down and focus on some personal interests outside of Lionel; the first of which involves another classic brand, Billboard Magazine, also owned by Lionel’s longtime owner, Guggenheim Partners.
“All I can say on behalf of myself and Mark Erickson, who has worked with me since the beginning and is leaving with me, is that it’s been a privilege to serve such an iconic American brand and I wish Lionel nothing but the best in its next 114 years.”