Atlas Model Railroad Company, Inc.
The Atlas Model Railroad Company was founded by Stephan Schaffan Sr. in 1924 as the Atlas Tool Company in a small garage in Newark, New Jersey. In 1933, after graduating first in his class from Essex County Vocational School, Stephan Schaffan Jr. joined his father in the business at age 16. Stephan Jr. (known as Steve Jr.) built model airplanes as a hobby and frequented a local hobby shop and in time created a "switch kit" which sold so well, that the entire family worked on them in the basement at night, while doing business as usual in the machine shop during the day.
Subsequently he engineered the stapling of rail to fiber track, along with inventing the first practical rail joiner and pre-assembled turnouts and flexible track. All of these products, and more, helped to popularise model railroading and assisted in the creation of a mass-market hobby. Realising they could actually make a living selling track and related products they built a factory in Hillside, New Jerseyand on September 30th, 1949, Atlas Tool Company Inc. was officially incorporated as a New Jersey company. Since then Atlas went on to create the Super-Flex® Track, Snap-Switches®, Custom-Line® Turnouts and more. Over time Atlas has expanded their product line to include much more than just track and there are now Atlas products available for almost every aspect of HO, N and O scale model railroading. In N scale, Atlas has spent over 25 years developing a collection of over 40 freight car types in more than 550 paint schemes, each with fine detailing and quality painting and printing. Atlas’ ready-to-run HO line is also very extensive and includes over 25 different freight car types, in more than 265 paint schemes. Atlas also offers a library of layout instruction books.
In 1968 Atlas delved into the N scale locomotives market, starting with USRA Pacifics in 1968 and USRA light and heavy Mikados in 1969, all made by Rivarossi in Italy. In 1970, Atlas ventured more deeply into the growing N scale market with two locomotives made for the company by Rivarossi: the Baltimore & Ohio C-16 0-4-0T saddletank switcher commonly known as the Docksider or Little Joe and its converted cousin, the C-16a 0-4-0 with coal tender. Those offerings were followed by EMD diesels, the F9, GP9 and GP30, made by Roco in Austria, in 1973 and 1974. Atlas continued its N scale line with a wide range of freight cars, made at their New Jersey in the 1970s and 1980s.
Steve Schaffan's only child, Diane, is president and her husband, Tom Haedrich, is Chairman. Paul Graf is the chief executive officer and oversees day-to-day operations. Diane and Tom's sons Jarrett and Jesse are COO and General Manager of Atlas, respectively. They state that the primary mission of Atlas is to produce and offer to the public, multiple scale lines of high quality, model railroad products based on prototype information.