Meet the Rapido Team
Jason Shron & Sidura Ludwig
Owners of Rapido Trains
JASON SHRON and SIDURA LUDWIG founded Rapido Trains Inc. in 2003 and incorporated the company in November 2004. Jason is very well known in the Canadian model railroad community and author of the book TurboTrain: A Journey. Jason is the owner of the popular CanModelTrains internet discussion group. Jason is also “The Guy with the Train in his Basement” (click here for more info) and he is slowly recreating a handsome chunk of CN’s Kingston Subdivision between Toronto and Brockville in the next room. You can follow the progress at the KingstonSub Facebook Page.
Sidura divides her time between Rapido and fiction writing. At Rapido she is responsible for strategic and financial planning, copy editing and keeping Jason from buying a Concorde. Her first novel, Holding My Breath, was published in 2007 and she is currently working on a collection of short stories. Please Click Here to visit Sidura’s web site. Jason and Sidura have three gorgeous children: Boaz, Dalya and Isaac. With three kids to raise and a company to run, Jason and Sidura last went on a date in 2006. (Hair comment: Sidura has wonderful hair. Jason on the other hand hides his under a hat … a lot)
BILL SCHNEIDER is our product development guru. Bill has been involved in the retail, wholesale and manufacturing aspects of model railroading since 1982 and was responsible for product development at Branchline Trains since forever. Bill’s former New York, Ontario and Western double-deck layout has been featured in oodles of magazines and books and now he spends most of his modelling time working on Teesbury, his British Great Western branchline terminus. We gave up trying to convince Bill to buy a full-size passenger car so we bought one ourselves! (Hair comment:
The photo at right dates from when Bill had hair, so we’re talking early 1980s…Update - we chose a more current photo.)
Project Manager, Researcher
CRAIG WALKER, our senior (not because of how long he's worked for us, but because of his age) researcher for new models. Craig has worked in the model railroad industry in some capacity (retail, wholesale and manufacturing) for over forty-five years, and isn't sure if he knows how to do anything else. Outside interests include railfanning (is that really an "outside" interest?) and reminding the rest of the Rapido staff how nice the weather is in southern California on any particular day in the winter. Or spring. Or fall. Doesn't matter - the weather is always nicer in California.
Craig works with our Project Managers from his base in California, partly because he prefers baseball (Go Angels!) to hockey (Go Ducks!), and partly because he considers poutine to be "exotic foreign food." He has never had Tim Horton's coffee, but he has seen both Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot in concert - which not only makes him old, it also makes him a fan of Canadian musicians.
Hair comment: Craig has the same hair as his grandsons, although the grandsons' hair is growing in ... which makes Craig a little envious.
DAN DARNELL is a popular figure in the Canadian model railroading scene. He worked at George’s Trains in Toronto and Markham for 20 years (manager for 15), so much so that everyone thought that his name was George. Dan is extremely knowledgeable about Canadian and American railroads, especially from the golden era of the 1970s and 1980s. His slide collection makes other slide collections jealous. He is an accomplished custom painter. We would link to his custom painting web site but we don’t want him to be working on anyone else’s crap. Just ours. His main brief is product development but he also handles our growing Proto-Paint range.
Hair comment: Dan has no hair at all, and is proud of this.
DAN GARCIA just started turning up at the Rapido office one day and after a while we decided to adopt him. Now (approximately) fully grown he has become our full-time specialist in dealer service, sample testing, things that light up, DCC, sound, communications, web site – heck, he does just about everything. Dan responds well to bribery provided that it is related to modern Canadian commuter operations and traction. He is secretly a bus foamer but has not admitted it yet, and we are concerned this may cause him to one day paint himself head-to-toe in the TTC’s CLRV scheme and go postal at the office.
Hair comment: His hair started a southward migration about 20 years ago, and has never really returned. We really need a new photo of Dan too - we haven’t seen his head so full of hair since 2007.
DAVE O'NEILL came to us from the dark world of industrial printer and copier repair, which makes him well-suited to repairing intricate models!
A long-time N scale modeler, he is also one of members of the Scarborough Model Railroaders along with Mohan and can frequently be seen there making sure that some of the junior members don't botch things up. He's also a builder of 1/35 scale tanks, especially of Shermans & Germans. And while he's been stockpiling his 1/72 airplane models at the office for some time now, he still hasn't shown us any of his R/C ones. Sad face.
Hair comment: Yeah, he has hair. What's it to you?
HOWARD CHONG manages the IT department here at Rapido Trains. How is a one-man team a department and who is he managing? With the myriad of systems from our websites, networks, finance, order management, warehouse management, email servers, print servers and various other miscellaneous software and computer equipment that keeps the company designing, manufacturing, and selling the model trains that everyone just can’t get enough of. We also seem to have bad luck with printers, and Howard is our printer whisperer. His background is in IT having spent over 30 years in the industry in Fortune 500 companies spanning industries from high tech to automotive. Howard is a busy one man show modernizing Rapido Trains IT infrastructure and keeping the IT lights on.
Hair comment: He is losing it. He may have lost more after starting at Rapido Trains, but we're not sure if the two events are related though.
Financial Services Officer
JANET GOLFMAN is Rapido’s controller, i.e. CFO. She makes sure we pay our bills and, even more importantly, she makes sure that our customers pay theirs. If you are one of our customers and you have an accounting question, she is the person for you. If you are one of our customers and you owes us lots of money, she knows where you live and she has 12 trained rottweilers. In addition to that, she can be found trying to keep Jason’s feet on the ground, wringing Jordan’s neck, sticking her nose in everyone’s business and wondering why Jason had to have a love of trains and not women’s shoes. (Hair comment: Janet’s hair is actually very nice.)
Content Creation, Public Relations
JEREMY FLEMING came to us after having spent 23 years working in.....well, another industry of some sort. We’re not really sure and he won’t talk about it. But he knows how to press buttons, so he’ll do. He can most often be found behind the video camera as well as occasionally making a fool of himself in front of it, where he serves as our "Deadpan Bald Guy" mascot. If you love our videos, you can thank Jeremy. If you hate our videos.....blame Jeremy. Either way, he can take it. Because he's the hero that Rapido needs and deserves.
Hair comment: Jeremy’s hair attempted to tender its resignation in the late 90s, but it was not accepted. He finally fired it with cause in 2003. He is subsequently 38% more aerodynamic.
Public Relations Manager, sometimes CEO
JORDAN SMITH has been an HO modeler since age 7 and also worked for over a decade at George’s Trains in Toronto. He joined Rapido in early 2016 and has evolved into our warehouse manager, ensuring shipments get out the door in a timely manner. In addition he helps at train shows and works on the restoration of our Pullman Standard sleeper Edmundston and our Budd RDC 6133. For some reason however he never seems to have anything to do. He wouldn't stop asking Jason to make an Amtrak RTL Turboliner, but then again look what ended up happening.
Hair comment: Jordan has a racoon on his head.
JOSH ANDERCHEK was a TTC driver for nine years, and before that he was a professional cartographer. Josh brings an encyclopedic knowledge of transit and train operations, extensive graphic design and copywriting skills, and a strong commitment to our hobby and our customers.
Josh has quickly become an invaluable member of our team and has already learned how to be patient with Jason. He’s so good that he’s now a project manager, but as we only hired him to buy the milk we’re getting a good deal. $10 goes far these days, and that’s what he earns a week. If you see the Rapido Bus on a weekend excursion around Toronto, chances are it’s Josh behind the wheel.
Hair comment: Josh styles his hair so carefully we don’t actually know if it is his.
MARK STAPLETON showed up at the door of Rapido's Head Office one day claiming he "wanted to be a lion tamer". Since Janet already held that title, we suggested the become a Model Train Surgeon instead, and he grudgingly obliged. The title was fitting - it seems that Mark had learned at an early age how to take things apart, and now, many decades later, how to put those things back together again. So we kept him.
A train enthusiast all of his life, and growing up in Montreal, Mark would regularly bicycle down to Westmount Station to watch the activity in CP's Glen Yard and watch the commuter trains, RDC units and even "The Canadian" roll by. Despite (ed. note: or maybe because?) this, Mark is a dedicated U.K. modeller and has exhibited his ProtoFour layout "Upper Leaside" at the Great British Train Show many times.
Mark is also very handy with a soldering iron (4th degree black belt!), is wise, very polite and still has a full head of hair - although frequently under a baseball cap or bicycle helmet to keep it protected.
Chief Operating Officer
MOHAN GEORGE manages our Product Development Team and is responsible for everything DCC. He has an engineering background and has a 40+ year passion for trains – that’s longer than half of the Rapido staff has been alive. Mohan brings a wealth of Project Management experience to our team and is working diligently to keep everything on track.
Mohan is very active in the Toronto-area N scale community, and is currently president of the Scarborough Model Railroaders. Dave is also a member of the club, and we're starting to think that they might be planning a coup d'État at Rapido. First, we take Manhattan....
Hair comment: His hair is actually surprisingly intact for a man in his early 200s.
Paul Cutler III
Nitpicker, Quality Assurance
PAUL CUTLER III grew up with model trains in his basement (didn’t everyone?). As a second generation model railroader & railfan, he’s been involved in the hobby since birth. At 15 he talked his father, Paul, Jr., into joining the South Shore Model Railway Club in Hingham, Massachusetts just so Paul III could be a junior member. Paul has since risen through the ranks and is the Operations Chairman, Layout Design Chairman, and Registration Chairman for the club. In 1990, father and son joined the New Haven Railroad Historical & Technical Association, and year-by-year the younger Paul has been drawn in deeper into the New Haven’s clutches. It started with volunteering to staff train show tables for the group. Now Paul is in charge of all NHRHTA train show appearances, the production guru of their quarterly historical magazine the Shoreliner, and editor of the group's bi-annual modeling & current events magazine, The SpeedWitch. He probably (probably? more like definitely) knows way too much about the New Haven and not nearly enough about everything else.
Paul lives half-way between Boston, Mass. and Providence, Rhode Island in his grandparents 1890 farmhouse. As a born & bred New Englander, he’s liable to describe things as “wicked” while dropping or adding an “R” to words in the strangest places. Naturally, Paul is a Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics fan, which makes for interesting times with the rest of the Rapido team when talk turns to sports (Boston: 20 years, 12 titles, do the math).
Before becoming an “official” Rapido team member, Paul worked for many years on the NHRHTA’s behalf as an expert for a number of manufacturers making NH products. He got that gig due to a friend at the railway club who worked in the hobby and needed a New Haven expert from time to time. Paul's first major contribution to Rapido was working on the FL9 project and making Bill tear his hair out (“Sorry, Bill!" Notice the quotations - he's not really sorry). Since joining up in the Spring of 2021, he’s been able to be just as nit-picky with other railroads as long as he has enough quality pictures to compare with. He loves his job at Rapido as he gets to point out everything that’s been done wrong and doesn’t have to figure out how to fix it.
Hair comment: Hasn’t shaved his face since 1994 and has so much hair that he’s been frequently compared to Grizzly Adams. None of us really are sure what he looks like under there. Are we thinking naked mole rat?
ROBERT ALLARD may be recognized by some of our intrepid readers from working in the industry before more recently joining the Rapido family. (Hint hint... If you like modern commuter models, chances are you may own one of the projects he’s worked on.) Upon joining the Rapido team, it only took him 20 minutes to be in a video and less than two months to star in his own video (Whisk not included). He also goes by Bobby - or Robby, or Dobby, or Zobby, depending on how everyone else in the office is feeling that particular day.
Currently Bobby is working in product design and advertising remotely, long before it became fashionable. He claims that his commute to work is the easiest that he's ever had.
Although Robby grew up on the state-side, he’s always had an interest in Canadian railroading. Believe it or not, this guy from New Jersey is a big fan of BC Rail. According to him, everything needs more corner lights! We're not sure why, but you BC guys will get that reference. He also has an interest in the Clinchfield, Metra and anything ALCo and MLW. He also claims that despite not growing up in the True North, he did watch Red Green, play hockey - Go Penguins (ed. note: Really? I mean, Mario Lemieux was pretty fantastic, but other than Jaromir Jagr can you name anyone else on those teams?) - and enjoys anything doused in maple syrup. Oh, and he got his interest in Gordon Lightfoot through his father. Maybe Zobby's secretly a hose-head?
Hair comment: When Lobby lets it grow out he is reminded that it should be cut short.
Passenger Car Expert and French Translator
RICHARD LONGPRE (For those of you outside of Canada, that’s pronounced Long-PRAY). Richard is known as Monsieur l’Expert. A professional locomotive engineer by day, he has forgotten more about Canadian passenger cars than any of us will ever know. Want to know where a particular crossover pipe or junction box went to? Richard is your man. He’s owned 84 different real passenger cars at various times in the last 20 years. Richard provides all of our French translation, and puts up with Jason asking for things to be translated by “last Tuesday.”
Hair comment: Not an accurate representation of Richard's hair - this photo is well over ten years old.
CHRIS FOX is our mechanic, carman, locomotive engineer, and general, all-round hosehead. He enjoys open skies, long walks through rail yards, and talking about the intricacies of a 480v two-sided HEP system. When he’s not rebuilding sleeping cars or RDCs (or LRCs, or Jason's old minivan, or that silly black cab), he can be found driving GO trains or building a full-size wheelset sculpture on his driveway. Or on his motorcycle. We actually think he’s secretly building a 1:1 RSC-24 in his shed. This guy does not understand the concept of “rest.” Without Chris, we would have no full-size trains to speak of. In fact, without Chris we would all be mangoes.
Hair comment: See Richard.
Office and Customer Service Manager
Lystra Balliram is our Office/Customer Service Manager ensuring Customers enquiries are taken care of efficiently and on a timely manner along with tons of other duties. Lystra knew nothing about trains but with her eager to learn, she now knows the difference between HO and N-Scale products, basically the small ones are N-Scale anything larger will be HO-Scale.
Hair comment: My hair is a reflection of my mood, and today I'm feeling daring.
Jeff Lassahn has a background in art, digital design, and teaching. He has been a lifetime modeler, mostly with small shelf layouts in HO. He loves to weather models and buildings using chalk and oil paint, and to recreate grime and dilapidation. He is a photographer, eager to find and document prototypes for current and future projects. From work in makerspaces, he also has knowledge of 3D printing and handles making resin printed samples of new products.
Hair comment: Still has it (for now.)
CALE LEIPHART , comes to Rapido from an unconventional side model railroading, LEGO® trains. On Christmas at the age of eight he received his first train set, LEGO train set no. 7722, Steam Cargo Train. And thus began his slow downward spiral into the dark world of modelling trains with little plastic bricks. Cale has become an accomplished builder in the LEGO train community. He has won numerous awards, has given presentations on a wide range of LEGO train topics at fan conventions, and has written articles on trains for various LEGO fan magazines, Cale is also a founding member of the Pennsylvania LEGO Users Group, and part of a group developing the L-Guage Modular Standard, a sort of Free-mo for LEGO train layouts. His favourite subject to model is steam-era railroads from his home state of Pennsylvania, especially the great Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad. Cale is self-taught in Illustrator and has been using his art skills to produce decals for his LEGO models, and for others, for several years. When not working away in the Rapido art mines, or playing with brick-built trains, Cale likes to tinker with his old hit-&-miss engines and display them at local threshermen’s shows, dabble in rail photography, and devotes time to being a cat dad.
Hair comment: Cale has all of his hair, a natural blond, when he was a child his hair was so light it actually glowed bright white. He has since lost that super power.
Alexander Kung , as a boy Alex started making things with Meccano. He soon graduated to scale models and never stopped. He builds all subjects but likes racing cars and Sci-Fi subjects the best. In University he got involved with the student theatre show building sets and props. This led to building full-size props from Sci-Fi shows. Then this led to going to and volunteering at Sci-Fi and Anime conventions. Alex enjoys all Sci-Fi shows but likes Star Wars the most. Alex used to be a part of the Rebel Alliance but switched to the Dark Side because they had cookies (They also have cooler costumes and more fun). Alex likes to tinker with electronics and build robots. He has several full-size astromech droids and a K9. Another hobby Alex is involved in is Horology. He likes fixing antique mechanical clocks. Words of wisdom: I am Groot.
Hair comment: All I can say is no photos from the back.
Thibi Siva, from buildings to model trains, Thibi joins the Rapido team from the world of construction and project management. She oversees tracking the lifecycle of Rapido’s plethora of projects and ensuring the Product Development team is aware of any upcoming schedule milestones, tasks, or deadlines. She is also the newly appointed colour sample librarian. In her office, she is usually surrounded by boxes of samples, colour chips, and a cup of hot water.
Hair comment: On most days, it has a mind of its own.
Natasha Shaikh , is not really from around here. They are better known from the Canadian and American book publishing scene, especially in romance and popular fiction. She can talk all day about marketing strategy and ideas, but would rather talk about what she would do with her own time travelling device—specifically a TARDIS. She is also a hobby crafter of every kind, which so far includes miniatures, felting, cross stitching, knitting, baking, drawing, and creating giant fake trees in her living room. Natasha has a soft spot for all things west coast of Canada (including trains!), as she was born and raised in Calgary and Kelowna.
Hair comment: Nat plays colour roulette every few months.
Gone but not forgotten - Mike McGrattan
N Scale Legend
MIKE McGRATTAN, the well-known N scale modeller from Peterborough, Ontario, was a key member of the Rapido team until he sadly passed away in May 2016. Mike’s N scale Puddington Valley layout is a fictional Canadian Pacific subdivision set in the BC interior in 1973 and was featured in N Scale Magazine and Canadian Railway Modeller. Mike was into N scale for almost 30 years and to commemorate his contribution to our great hobby and to help his family out, we manufactured an N Scale Mike McGrattan Memorial Gondola decorated in the CP-inspired paint scheme of the Puddington Valley Lines.