Buffalo Road Imports (BRI) has been officially serving the collector since 1978. Initially starting by exhibiting at toy shows and as a small mail order business that was an off shoot from collecting. During the 1970's it was very difficult to find construction models which spurred the need to start the family business (to help our own collecting interests) Although BRI specializes in construction scale models, many other types of collectible vehicles, soldiers, ships, fire and emergency vehicles, military models, farm equipment, and more are stocked. Being a collector as well, Brandon Lewis, owner of BRI is considered one of the leading experts in the field of construction scale models.
Brandon Lewis has been a collector all his life. He inherited the collecting bug from his father who started collecting when Brandon was born. Originally the collection started out with a single Matchbox model, it soon included Corgi, Dinky and similar toys that were available at the time. During the 1970's they discovered the construction models made by NZG and Gescha (now Conrad). The business officially began in 1978 and the last stock of the US importer for NZG & Conrad was purchased from Schuco Toy. Since there was no longer a distributor for the construction models produced by NZG and Conrad, they set off for Europe and literally knocked on the doors of NZG and Conrad, thus starting the importing business for construction scale models.
The interest in construction scale models grew over the years and the models by NZG and Conrad were of prime interest. With very little information on the history and models produced by these companies, Brandon compiled and published the NZG and Conrad "Collector's Guides" which were a complete listing of all known models produced by these companies up until 1988.
The year 1988 was a big year with the initial startup of EMD (Engineering Model Developments). This was a sister company for the production of models. The initial model was of the Caterpillar RD8 with a Hyster winch and logging arch. For more information on EMD check out www.emd-models.com.
The business grew in the basement while Brandon attended college for engineering. Fortunately (for collectors) when he graduated with a degree in petroleum engineering in 1982, the oil market was extremely slow and unable to find a job in the engineering field, he worked in the family business. Initially the inventory took up just one rack and by the time the business moved in 1991 to its present store location in Clarence, the entire basement was being used as a warehouse. During this time BRI continued to offer the largest selection of construction scale models including many from small obscure manufacturers. The Clarence Main Street location is still the home for the store displaying over 16,000 models of construction, military, soldiers, cars, trucks, buses, planes, trains and so much more. The store is a one of a kind shop for diecast with visitors from all over the world.
The year 2004 was another big change for BRI, in keeping with the interest in construction scale models, they hosted the 1st annual International Model Construction and Truck Show (IMCATS) just down the road from the store. This allowed fellow construction enthusiasts in the US and worldwide to come and see thousands of scale models on display and for sale from manufacturers, dealers and customizers. This show is still growing and is an annual event.
The business out grew the Main Street location and a new 4,000 square foot warehouse was built in 2005 for shipping and receiving at a separate location. The store expanded to the entire first floor of the building on Main Street with 2,000 square feet of floor to ceiling models, toys, books and more. It's always fun listening to peoples comments when the first time they are in the store. They can never believe how much stuff can fit in the store.
In 2008 under the name of EMD, BRI produced its first diecast model, the Bucyrus-Erie 22-B cable shovel and its sister version, the Ruston-Bucyrus 22-B cable shovel. Diecasting models allowed BRI/EMD to bring mass produced models to collectors at a lower cost than handbuilt and brass models.
BRI branched out into publishing in 2009 with the first book "OVERSIZE - Images of Heavy Western Trucking, Volume 1" by Mark Wayman. This was the first book published on American heavy haul. Mark has continued photographing and writing with Volume 2 available and volume 3 under development. BRI plans to publish many more books of heavy trucking and equipment in the future.
Although BRI is the sales and distribution, EMD is the name BRI builds models under. Over the years BRI purchased the masters and patterns from several different model manufacturers including Sherwood Models, Lou Kroack and Dan's Models(MIM). Over the years BRI has purchased numerous collections both big and small of primarily construction equipment models but also trucks, fire engines, airplanes, cars, Dinky, Corgi, Matchbox and many other collectible models and toys.
Keep checking in as BRI continues to expand and serve the collectors, enthusiasts, and the promotional market.