Company Profile: Kadee Quality Products

History in a Nutshell

Kadee Quality Products Co. was established in 1940 by identical twin brothers Keith and Dale Edwards, both of whom were skilled toolmakers and engineers. Although they obtained many patents for various non-hobby-related products, their claim to fame was of course their patented HO Scale Magne-Matic knuckle coupler, which after 1947 became the de facto standard in the hobby.

Kadee entered the N Scale market in 1968 when they introduced their N Scale Magne-Matic coupler. It eventually gained considerable favor among N Scale modelers who were dissatisfied with the industry-standard Rapido coupler. Four years later, they began making very finely-tooled N Scale freight cars which, compared to the competition, were decades ahead of their time.

In 1990, Keith and Dale elected to split the company into two, separating the HO and non-HO product divisions into Kadee and Micro-Trains, respectively (not to be confused with barely-known TfA:s Hobbytjänst HOO Micro Trains, Revell MicroTrains or Sony Microtrains). Different sources provide slightly different accounts of what happened...

Kadee claims, "Because of there [sic] Innovation & Commitment and TREMENDOUS success over the past two decades the brothers chose to split the company in 1990. Dale Purchased land and built a new building relocating Kadee® Quality Products Company in White City, OR a short distance from the original facility in Medford... The split meant NO More Small Scale Boxcars as that portion of the business went to Micro-Trains."

Micro-Trains claims, "In 1990, after continued growth and expansion, the original Kadee Co. was physically divided into two separate corporations. Micro-Trains Line® Co. Inc., one of the two new companies, retained manufacturing rights to all products in N, Nn3 and Z scale."

Wikipedia claims, "In the early 1990s, the Edwards brothers had a serious falling out and parted ways. Dale took Kadee which is based in White City, Oregon. The business is in the hands of his son-in-law, Alan Vezzani. When the brothers split, Keith established Micro-Trains Line in Talent, Oregon, about 30 mi from White City."

Yet another version comes from someone who knew the Edwards brothers personally, who claims they'd wanted to financially protect their respective families when they died, and on legal advice split the company in two. Incidentally, Keith died July 26, 2012; Dale died September 19, 2014. Both companies continue to thrive.

Trivia: Kadee did practically everything in-house, including print their own packaging and promotional collateral. Consequently they now also outsource their printing services.

N Scale Products

Unquestionably, Kadee is best known among N scalers for their Magne-Matic couplers, which they introduced in 1968—and which might have been originally intended for the TT Scale market, according to some sources. Aside from trucks, underframes and various accessories such as uncouplers, Kadee did not produce any other N Scale products until 1972, when they began making finely-tooled freight cars.

Trivia: Kadee referred to the scale as "N Gauge" for years.

Printed Matter

Curiously, although their N Scale couplers were mentioned in the press as early as mid-1968, Kadee didn't advertise them (at least in Model Railroader) until a year later.

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