Rolen Models Inc.
The origin of RoLen Models began with a small company named Orvis Plastics located in downtown Elyria. Mr. Bill Orvis and his business partner Don Bohac had owned and operated Orvis Plastics, sanding and buffing models for Topping Models. Orvis Plastics relocated to 157 Kenwood St., 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. Now working with Orvis Plastics, 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 however transferred across the street to Precise Models Inc. With the closing of Topping, there remained two competitors located across from one another on Kenwood St.
Around 1969, Orvis suffered a stroke and shortly thereafter sold his share of the business to Stan Leonowich. RoLen 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. 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 Inc. and Precise Models were competitors for the same model contracts.
Former RoLen Inc. at 157 Kenwood St., Elyria, OH.
Photo taken July 2012
Roberts is credited with developing the process of chrome plating 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.
Lockheed P-3 Orion
Rockwell B-1 Lancer
Boeing 2707 - 300 blank (17" length)
McDonnell AV-8 Harrier
Bell Jet Ranger
On March 30, 1970 RoLen Inc. became RoLen Plastics Inc. and 18 years in business in Elyria, OH., RoLen Models Inc. stopped model production and sold the remaining model inventory to Precise Models Inc. with Precise finishing the last 300 Bell helicopters under RoLen contract. Stan Lenovitch had passed away and the business was moved approximately 10 miles to Grafton, OH.
The new location was located at 1009 Commerce Drive, Grafton, OH. and consisted of a 24,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing, warehousing and office space with up to 18 injection molding machines. On June 10, 2013 RoLen Plastics Inc. filed for voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy and the public auction of remaining assets was held in November. A few injection model molds, models and blanks were included in the sale.
Images from RoLen Plastics Inc. website prior to closing
RoLen Plastics Inc. Entrance Sign
1009 Commerce Drive, Grafton, OH.
Photo taken Nov. 2013