Where did you hear about Joule Electra going out of business? I couldn't find anything.
Also, it's Hovland not Howland...
Also, it's Hovland not Howland...
Expect to see a lot more of this over the next dozen years. A great number of small companies are going to decide that it just isn't paying anymore. Or they will just decide they are too old to continue. And some will be absorbed by Harmon type conglomerates. However it happens, business will cease for dozens of the brands you so admire. Some of the principals will die too. Time and tide ..............
Age should never be an issue for going out of business. The formula for creating the devices can be handed down to apprentices. The only reason I see for a going out of business is economic feasibility.
Ford, Ferrari, Porsche, Marantz are still in business. The founders are long gone.
I was approached a year ago by a guy that builds speakers. He is a one-man shop. He appeared to be in his fifties or older. It was serious concern of mine that if the guy got sick or died that there would be no recourse for me should I ever need some sort of support or service. The guy makes a good product, but I declined to buy because he was a one man show.
In the past I'd seriously considered a set of the flagship VMPS speakers. It seems out of nowhere I read that the owner had died. The website for VMPS went dark and poof it was gone forever. Before I spend big money on an item, I want to make sure there is a successor in place should I need support in the future.
too darn bad that Joule-Electra is shutting down production. :(
And, I agree with Mitch4t that the original owner passing away or retiring should never be the reason to shutter the business. It certainly looks like economic feasibility - most people are happy to buy cheaper bigger brand electronics that sounds good enough & don't need a J-E.
it's certainly possible that an apprentice or lead-tech refused to taken new ownership of the business 'cuz (as another member wrote) it just doesn't pay.
It would be good to have this as a secondary business (something along the lines of what Doshi Audio does).....
"Ford, Ferrari, Porsche, Marantz are still in business. The founders are long gone." So is ARC.
You need to play it smart like Bill Johnson has. Selling the company 2-3 years before passing away although it should not considered as a "one man operation" before Bill sold ARC. ARC will be around for many years to come i am sure.
I anticipate 2 more will be folding shortly. Benz and VDH as both owners/designers are getting up in age. Too many one man operation business have no succession plan. No sons or daughters interested in continuing the legacy. The owner/designer dies, the company folds.
ARC is an exception and so will VPI as son Matt will take over from Harry eventually. I'm sure there will be others.......i hope.
D'Agostino is no longer with Krell. He is now D'Agostino Inc. Ford, Ferrari and Porsche were never, "one man shows." Saul sold Marantz thirty some years before his death, to Superscope(1964). Two years later, the stuff was being made in Japan, by Standard Radio Corp. The marque never meant the same thing(post Saul and tubes). Different histories than Joule and Hovland.
Rodman, the point was to illustrate that if the business is economically viable, there is no need for it to die out. Every one of the guys mentioned above started out small and grew their business into a larger sustainable enterprise. I'm well aware of the histories of all of the men I named above, and of course who doesn't know that Dan D'Agostino is still churning out products...his face is plastered all over the audio landscape pitching his products.
Everything in hi-end audio is dying. The rate of decay varies depending on how the outfit you are citing is set up and what kind of products it sells. No matter how you slice it though, the tree is dead. If it continues at all beyond my lifetime, it will be a mostly DIY niche with a few guys like Vinnie Rossi left standing. The crazy pricing will subside as well. For the most part rich guys only want that stuff because they can afford it and you can't. As we die off, so will the allure that feeds the rich guy ego now.
And let's not forget the bigger picture --- the last economic meltdown was just a preview. The next one will surely result in devastating inflation. We are headed for the Middle Ages.
As an ordained audio haruspex, I foresee troubles too. IMO, prudence dictates that audiophiles who expect to be involved with our hobby buying very good gear from well capitalized companies with good reputations and long histories. IOW, companies that have a good chance to be around if you need help.
Given that many of us are in our late 50s to late 60s, I wouldn't fret about too long a horizon. Even if we stick around, how long will our hearing (aids) hold out?
A couple of notable examples includes Harman, ARC, Paradigm, Focal. There are many other fine companies. The one listed just came to mind as I was writing this post.
Consider ... if legends like a Bob Carver or Mark (The Man) Levinson completely retire, who will run their last closely held companies. Although I am sure their name and brand will live on for a long time, who will support the gear from their most recently resurrected privately started ventures.
Again here is another example that quickly comes to mind, not a blanket statement. ARC supports most of its older gear with original stock parts. And some of those early ARC models are 30+ years old. ARC is part of a larger audio group, but still continue on even though its founder and audio legend William Z. Johnson is no longer with us.
Similarly, I am confident that if I blow a Paradigm driver in my Sig. 8s, the company will be around and parts will be available for the mid-term.
By contrast, some of the super-high end boutiques who charge a gonad for their gear are probably not well capped, high volume operations. Let's face it, we're getting longer in the tooth. And some of us don't even have teeth. How many of our kids will be around to support these cutting edge companies.
Here's another factoid. Hi Fi House, an old B&M store in my area just closed its doors after 30 years in business. How can the manufacturers stay in business if the retailers can't survive.
Look audio haruspicy has its limits. So take my comments with a cup of electrical component entrails. LOL
BIF - I have been a practicing audio haruspex for nearly 20 years and, until today, had no idea there was a title for the practice, much less the potential for ordination in my field. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. To date my prognostication has been met with responses ranging all the way from completely ignoring me to calling for my head. Perhaps by gaining a title and official sanction I would benefit my credibility. What is the name of the organization that conferred your ordination and the powers that such a title entrails? I need something to bolster my cred herein. The natives dismiss me much too readily for my liking.
And Schubert, I hope you have misdiagnosed. My scenario, as I forsee it, includes electricity but revokes the right to vote or own property. Those privileges will only be bestowed by birth or divine provenance.
@Macrojack ... you'll have to communicate with Al(Almarg) to learn how one can become an ordained Audio Haruspex. Also studying to become a licensed Audio Phrenologist. That way, there will be no need to lose your head. Just make it available for phrenological inspection.
Lastly, I am taking advanced professional training to perform audiophile tetraphylectomies.