Kato Precision Railroad Models
Kato Precision Railroad Models (関水金属株式会社, Sekisui Kinzoku Kabushikigaisha) is a Japanese manufacturer of model railroad equipment in N and HO scales. Founded in 1957, the Tokyo-based company manufactures models based on Japanese prototypes (such as the Shinkansen bullet train) for the Japanese market, North American prototypes for the North American market and European high-speed trains for European market. The design and distribution of models for the North American market are handled by their U.S. subsidiary, Kato USA, founded in 1986 and located in Schaumburg, Illinois. The Kato (pronounced kah-toe) model railroad companies were founded by Yuji Kato (who died in 2016), father of current president Hiroshi Kato, of the parent company Sekisui Kinzoku Co., Ltd.
Almost from the outset of their N Scale production, Kato collaborated with American importers — first Con-Cor International, then Atlas Model Railroad Company, among others. KATO U.S.A. was established in 1986, with the first U.S. locomotive model (the GP38-2, in N-Scale) released in 1987. In addition to producing ready-to-run HO and N scale models that are universally hailed for their high level of detail, craftsmanship and operation, KATO also manufactures UNITRACK. With the track and roadbed integrated into a single piece, UNITRACK features a nickel-silver rail and a realistic-looking roadbed. Patented UNIJOINERS allow sections to be snapped together quickly and securely, time after time if necessary.
The Kato U.S.A. office and warehouse facility is located in Schaumburg, Illinois, approximately 30 miles northwest of Chicago. All research & development of new North American products is performed there, in addition to the sales and distribution of merchandise to a network of wholesale representatives and retail dealers. Models requiring service sent in by hobbyists are usually attended to at this location as well. The manufacturing of all KATO products is performed in Japan.