History of RoLen Models Inc.
Prior to RoLen Models, there was Orvis Plastics located next to Topping Assemblies. Bill Orvis and his business partner Don Bohac had owned and operated Orvis Plastics in downtown Elyria. A part of the business included sanding and buffing models for Topping Models. He relocated the business to 157 Kenwood St. which was next door to Topping Assemblies, renting the property from Paul Schneider. Paul had purchased the property in the mid 1950's.
At the Topping sale in 1965, Bill Orvis purchased 2 injection molding machines and hired Dick Roberts. Roberts had been hired by Paul Schneider in 1960 as a set up machine operator and became a shift manager by the time Topping had closed. Together, Roberts provided the contacts and production knowledge while Orvis provided the capital and finishing skills. Bohac provided the skill to make the paint masks, jigs and machining fixtures. Some of the former Topping contracts they were able to pick up included the North American X-15, RA-5 Vigilante, Lockheed F-104 and the Bell helicopter. The majority of the contracts were held with Precise Models Inc.
Around 1969, Orvis suffered a stroke and shortly thereafter sold his share of the business to Stan Leonowich. RoLen Plastics Inc. (aka RoLen Models) was incorporated on March 23, 1970 by Dick Roberts and Stanley Leonowich (RoLen). Leonowich owned several other businesses in the area including a molding company. They purchased the building at 157 Kenwood from Paul Schneider (formerly rented by Orvis Plastics). The building is narrow but the length extends the full block. The brick building to the right is the former Topping Assemblies, now National Molding Inc. Precise Models Inc. was located across the street from RoLen and the former Topping Assemblies. RoLen and Precise were competitors on model contracts.
Former RoLen Models Inc. at 157 Kenwood St., Elyria, OH.
Photo taken July 2012
Roberts is credited with developing the process of chrome plating of the Lockheed L1011, one of the successful production runs for RoLen. The company also had started a small number of the Boeing 2707-300 SST before the project was canceled in 1971. RoLen produced quality contractor scale models beginning with Orvis Plastics in 1965 until closing in 1989 and relocating the business to Grafton, OH. Their clients included the McDonnell (AV8 Harrier), Lockheed (1011) , Rockwell (B-1), Bell Helicopter, Boeing 737, among others. A few of the RoLen models are pictured below.
Rockwell B-1 Lancer Lockheed P-3 Orion
Bell Jet Ranger
Boeing 2707 - 300 SST Blank (17" length)
McDonnell AV-8B Harrier
When RoLen stopped model production in 1989, Precise Models Inc. purchased the model inventory and finished a Bell helicopter contract. Roberts moved RoLen Plastics Inc. to Grafton, OH. and Stan Lenovitch has since passed away. On June 10, 2103 RoLen Plastics Inc. filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and the auction was held in November 2013. A few injection molds, models and blanks were included in the sale. The images and link below are from the former RoLen website. Additional information on RoLen Models would be appreciated.
Richard D. Roberts