About Us

Leadership

HobbyTown Unlimited, Inc. is a privately held employee-owned company.

Members of our executive team and leaders throughout our company are shareholders with a vested interest in the success of each franchise store.

Our leadership team has extensive knowledge in the hobby and toy industries dating back to 1980 as our CEO/Co-Founder Thom Walla remains active in the daily operations of HobbyTown corporate.

Our leadership team is experienced with retailing and franchising operations with expertise ranging from HobbyTown franchise ownership to leading national retailers to the largest franchisors in the industry.

The leadership of HobbyTown corporate engages our franchise owners in the development of our strategic vision. We have an active franchise advisory council and several focus groups that engage the experience and wisdom of our front-line franchise operators.

Thom Walla

Thom Walla

Co-Founder/CEO

Thomas A. Walla, co-founder of HobbyTown and CEO of HobbyTown Unlimited, Inc. located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Mr. Walla continues to be involved in the sale and operation of HobbyTown franchises. His favorite Hobbies are Gaming and Board Games.
Bob Wilke

Bob Wilke

President

Joining HobbyTown as a franchisee in 1987, Bob has been at HTU Corporate since 1992 and has served as President of HobbyTown since 2009. Bob has served as President of the Hobby Manufacturers Association and has been actively involved in developing corporate relationships in both the hobby and toy industries. Locally, he has been a passionate recruiter and participant in the Teammates Youth Mentoring program. His favorite hobbies include family games, puzzles and anything to get him outdoors.
Tim Van Ert

Tim Van Ert

Senior VP of Sales

In 2003, Tim Van Ert became Senior Vice President of HobbyTown. He oversees the marketing departments and manages the product database, point-of-sale software, and office computer operations. From 1995 to 2003, Tim was Vice President of Information Technology at HobbyTown, then transitioned into leading up the Merchandising Team in Lincoln, Nebraska. Tim’s favorite hobby is Nerf wars with the home office staff.
David Gaines

David Gaines

VP of Franchise Services

David Gaines has served as Vice President of Franchise Services of HobbyTown since 2006. Mr. Gaines’ responsibilities include overseeing Franchise Business Advisors, Corporate Accountants and Accounts Payable Specialists, and field service support operations, which includes activities such as in-store training, 90 day visits and store visits. He has extensive knowledge on overall store operations and financial analysis skills, with an emphasis on communication and customer service. Mr. Gaines has been with HobbyTown since April, 2001, in Lincoln, Nebraska. David’s favorite hobby is his collection of die cast sprint cars.
Todd Anderson

Todd Anderson

VP of Operations

Todd Anderson has worked for HobbyTown in Lincoln, NE since 1995. In 2000, Todd became the Vice President of Operation for HobbyTown. Todd is responsible for assisting franchisees in all aspects of the store opening process as well as overseeing the distribution center and warehouse. Todd uses his experiences from owning a HobbyTown franchise store in the late 80’s and early 90’s to help others achieve their ownership dreams. When not helping with new store openings or product shipments to franchisees, Todd enjoys traveling and spending time with his family. His favorite hobby is working on his quadcopter and building a train layout.
Eric Thompson

Eric Thompson

Chief Financial Officer

Eric joined HobbyTown October 2003. His responsibilities include financial statements, budgeting, cash management, and tax and franchising law compliance for corporate operations. He also assists franchisees with financing alternatives, provides analysis of sales reports and income statements, and assisting owners with financial and accounting questions. His favorite hobby is his collection of RC Cars and racing them around with his son.
Jason Swanson

Jason Swanson

Director of Purchasing & Distribution

Jason Swanson is the Director of Purchasing and Distribution. Jason is the buyer and has oversight of the Distribution Center operations. He began his career with HobbyTown as a Franchise Business Advisor in 1997. Jason is an obstacle course racer and martial arts instructor.
Celeste Vanderlip

Celeste Vanderlip

Director of Marketing

Celeste Vanderlip joined the HobbyTown Team in 2019 and now leads the Marketing Team as the Director of Marketing. In this role, she oversees the service and support for the stores should any marketing questions or requests come up. In addition, she acts as the primary point of contact and project manager between HobbyTown and our ad agency, Firespring. Her hobbies include, cooking, gardening, puzzles, and reading. 

Sue Ferguson

Sue Ferguson

Director of Franchise Accounting

Sue Ferguson has been with HobbyTown since 2010, starting as an Accounts Payable Specialist, then moving to her current position in 2016. She works with the internal Accounting Team to provide weekly check writing and monthly financials to HobbyTown stores. Also works with the owners and the FBA’s to analyze financial information for better store operations and profitability. Sue is also a member of the Convention Team. Outside of work she enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends, hopefully in a warm location! Sue’s favorite hobbies are board games and puzzles.
Bob Dill

Bob Dill

Director of Franchise Services

Bob Dill is the Director of Franchise Services. Bob supervises Franchise Business Advisors and oversees New Store Owner Training program. He began his career with HobbyTown as a Franchise Business Advisor in August 2007. Bob is a certified Silver level bowling instructor and currently coaches a local high school bowling team. His favorite hobby is woodworking and model building.
Dave Nolte

Dave Nolte

Director of Software Development

Dave has been a HobbyTown customer since 1974 and began working in the Lincoln HobbyTown store in 1994. He then moved from the store to the corporate office and became Director of Software Development in 1995. Dave enjoys golf, his dogs, and his favorite hobby is regular board gaming.
Jon Asbach

Jon Asbach

Director of Information Systems

Joined the HobbyTown Team in 2011 and is currently in charge of the Information Technology Service & Support Teams, including network support, retail computer systems, and overall software integration with the Franchise and Home Office network. Jon is a U.S. Army Veteran, having served as a 25B Information Technology Specialist with the 134th Cavalry Regiment (Afghanistan 2010–2011). Jon focuses on fostering a culture of constant improvement and monitoring performance to prove out successful strategies. For fun, Jon likes building computers, custom home theatre & car audio, and tinkering with internet-of-things automation. Jon’s favorite hobbies are reading (Sci-Fi and Non-Fiction) & PC Gaming.

Thom Walla

Co-Founder/CEO

Thomas A. Walla, co-founder of HobbyTown and CEO of HobbyTown Unlimited, Inc. located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Mr. Walla continues to be involved in the sale and operation of HobbyTown franchises. His favorite Hobbies are Gaming and Board Games.

Bob Wilke

President

Joining HobbyTown as a franchisee in 1987, Bob has been at HTU Corporate since 1992 and has served as President of HobbyTown since 2009. Bob has served as President of the Hobby Manufacturers Association and has been actively involved in developing corporate relationships in both the hobby and toy industries. Locally, he has been a passionate recruiter and participant in the Teammates Youth Mentoring program. His favorite hobbies include family games, puzzles and anything to get him outdoors.

Tim Van Ert

Senior VP of Merchandising

In 2003, Tim Van Ert became Senior Vice President of HobbyTown. He oversees the marketing departments and manages the product database, point-of-sale software, and office computer operations. From 1995 to 2003, Tim was Vice President of Information Technology at HobbyTown, then transitioned into leading up the Merchandising Team in Lincoln, Nebraska. Tim’s favorite hobby is Nerf wars with the home office staff.

David Gaines

VP of Franchise Services

David Gaines has served as Vice President of Franchise Services of HobbyTown since 2006. Mr. Gaines’ responsibilities include overseeing Franchise Business Advisors, Corporate Accountants and Accounts Payable Specialists, and field service support operations, which includes activities such as in-store training, 90 day visits and store visits. He has extensive knowledge on overall store operations and financial analysis skills, with an emphasis on communication and customer service. Mr. Gaines has been with HobbyTown since April, 2001, in Lincoln, Nebraska. David’s favorite hobby is his collection of die cast sprint cars.

Todd Anderson

VP of Operations

Todd Anderson has worked for HobbyTown in Lincoln, NE since 1995. In 2000, Todd became the Vice President of Operation for HobbyTown. Todd is responsible for assisting franchisees in all aspects of the store opening process as well as overseeing the distribution center and warehouse. Todd uses his experiences from owning a HobbyTown franchise store in the late 80’s and early 90’s to help others achieve their ownership dreams. When not helping with new store openings or product shipments to franchisees, Todd enjoys traveling and spending time with his family. His favorite hobby is working on his quadcopter and building a train layout.

Eric Thompson

Chief Financial Officer

Eric joined HobbyTown October 2003. His responsibilities include financial statements, budgeting, cash management, and tax and franchising law compliance for corporate operations. He also assists franchisees with financing alternatives, provides analysis of sales reports and income statements, and assisting owners with financial and accounting questions. His favorite hobby is his collection of RC Cars and racing them around with his son.

Jason Swanson

Director of Purchasing & Distribution

Jason Swanson is the Director of Purchasing and Distribution. Jason is the buyer and has oversight of the Distribution Center operations. He began his career with HobbyTown as a Franchise Business Advisor in 1997. Jason is an obstacle course racer and martial arts instructor.

Celeste Vanderlip

Director of Marketing

Celeste Vanderlip joined the HobbyTown Team in 2019 and now leads the Marketing Team as the Director of Marketing. In this role, she oversees the service and support for the stores should any marketing questions or requests come up. In addition, she acts as the primary point of contact and project manager between HobbyTown and our ad agency, Firespring. Her hobbies include, cooking, gardening, puzzles, and reading.

Sue Ferguson

Director of Franchise Accounting

Sue Ferguson has been with HobbyTown since 2010, starting as an Accounts Payable Specialist, then moving to her current position in 2016. She works with the internal Accounting Team to provide weekly check writing and monthly financials to HobbyTown stores. Also works with the owners and the FBA’s to analyze financial information for better store operations and profitability. Sue is also a member of the Convention Team. Outside of work she enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends, hopefully in a warm location! Sue’s favorite hobbies are board games and puzzles.

Bob Dill

Director of Franchise Services

August 2007. Bob is a certified Silver level bowling instructor and currently coaches a local high school bowling team. His favorite hobby is woodworking and model building.

Dave Nolte

Director of Software Development

Dave has been a HobbyTown customer since 1974 and began working in the Lincoln HobbyTown store in 1994. He then moved from the store to the corporate office and became Director of Software Development in 1995. Dave enjoys golf, his dogs, and his favorite hobby is regular board gaming.

Jon Asbach

Director of Information Systems

Joined the HobbyTown Team in 2011 and is currently in charge of the Information Technology Service & Support Teams, including network support, retail computer systems, and overall software integration with the Franchise and Home Office network. Jon is a U.S. Army Veteran, having served as a 25B Information Technology Specialist with the 134th Cavalry Regiment (Afghanistan 2010–2011). Jon focuses on a fostering a culture of constant improvement and monitoring performance to prove out successful strategies. For fun, Jon likes building computers, custom home theatre & car audio, and tinkering with internet-of-things automation. Jon’s favorite hobbies are reading (Sci-Fi and Non-Fiction) & PC Gaming.