>What is the plan if something happens to Mishima and he is unable to build anymore cartridges? Does Lyra go belly-up?? I would think that a few more people would be trained to carry on the work of one man.<
That's a key reason why we brought Akiko Ishiyama into the picture. In the past we've tried to nurture a number of different apprentices, but after some time Mishima found cause to reject them. Mishima is very critical and picky about who he feels is worth working with (I'm not too different, so I usually understand his position). The exception has been Akiko.
She began by building MM cartridges (which are much easier to build than MCs) around the year 2000, and spent a few years honing her basic technique. After observing her build quality and consistency with MMs, I felt that it was worthwhile to get her working on MCs, under Mishima's tutelage. She started by working on the most basic stages of assembly for the Dorian*, and her steady improvement encouraged myself and Mishima to teach her more, and have her do increasingly difficult stages of assembly. She's now been involved with cartridge-building for about 10 years, perhaps 7 years of which have been with MCs, and her growth has been reassuring. She's now involved with the new Kleos, the Delos, and the Dorian. Maybe in another 5-10 years, she will become capable enough to entrust her with a complete MC cartridge.
But apprentices or no apprentices, our brand policy is that each and every piece that we make must be listened to and found worthy before it can be shipped (that's true of our amplification products as well as cartridges). That will always define the upper limit of our production capacity.
hth, jonathan carr
* Originally I planned for the Dorian to be assembled completely by an outside cartridge manufacturer (that has produced many MC and MM cartridges, mostly for OEM clients but with some models bearing its own brand). When we received the first batch of 50 completed cartridges, we tested them but found so many problems and performance irregularities that there was no point in continuing to do business with this manufacturer. Also, the chemicals and adhesives that they had used in their assembly process made it impossible for the defective cartridges to be reworked, and this production run became a total loss. I then changed plans to bring Akiko in as an apprentice, and as she learned more to have her gradually assume more of the work.