At 10:50 PM 3/26/97 -0500, Charles Harpole, K4VUD, wrote:
>So, I live about 10 miles from Sommer, his home and workshop. Drove over
>there some time ago to take a look. Mr. Sommer eluded me but his wife
>came out and said hello and showed me the workshop. I offered to put up
>one or more of his antennas here in Geneva, FL (up to 120 feet!!) and put
>a pic of them on my QSL card with his address, etc. Then, I offered to
>mail every contact I make one of those cards for the next twenty years
>(and I contest a lot). All I wanted was a free antenna; I'd even put it
>up at my own expense. He said, bah, or "no" or something like that.
>Most manufacturers know that they need "an installed base" (i.e., lots of
>their product out there in the field working and showing off) in order to
>sell products. Mr. Sommer does not agree, thus no one in contesting
>world, or dxing world, or anywhere else (?) has his antennas. Then,
>people can easily, and with some good reason, say-- no one has them, thus
>they are no good.
>They cost too much to take a chance on. Wake up, Mr. Sommer. He is a
>heck of a craftsman, I'll say that. de K4VUD
This is a great (typical) ham story! Charles, you wanted Sommer to
give you $1,000 work of antennas that afternoon. You might as well
as asked him for crisp twenty's, neatly bundled together in a stack
so you could easily fold them and put them in your pocket. From his
perspective (an engineer who is incredibly dedicated to his product,
and in his view, the best on the market) that's what you were asking
him for. He is an engineer/craftsman, not a marketing genius.
I have repaired Sommer antennas locally in Minnesota and have first-hand
knowledge of his customer service record. He stands behind his product
and defends the design (both electrical and mechanical) to a fault. I
remember one mechanical failure (an element section snapping off in the
wind when coated with radial ice) that he credited to a mechanical design
"feature" whereby the antenna would "sacrifice" itself to lessen the
chance of a tower failure in this severe environment.
Most manufacturers are not a mom & pop shop. The big boys keep the
engineering and R&D staff locked in the opposite end of the building from
the sale and marketing types. Sometimes they even have separate buildings.
73 de Bob - K0RC
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