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Re: [TowerTalk] Force 12?

To: "Jim Lux" <>, "WA2BPE" <>
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Force 12?
From: "Malcolm Ringel" <>
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2005 20:18:09 -0500
List-post: <>
Not to be argumentative or contrary, but after all is said and done, there
is simply no excuse for not returning telephone calls ....period. Response
need not be immediate, but no response at all is just plain & simply
unacceptable/rude....particularly if there are existing customers who are
somewhat "captive" to proprietary items.
There may be explanations for temporary circumstances, but the Force 12
situation seems to be beyond "temporary".  I suspect it is somewhat
"personality driven" on the Force 12 end.
Malcolm, K3KZ
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim Lux" <>
To: "WA2BPE" <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2005 6:23 PM
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Force 12?

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "WA2BPE" <>
> To: "Pete Smith" <>
> Cc: "Alan C. Zack" <>; <>; "Bruce
> Osterberg" <>; <>
> Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2005 11:09 AM
> Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Force 12?
> > This is indeed a disconcerting topic.  I am due to replace my aging
> (original mfgr) and the list of candidates is shrinking.  Surely F12
> realize that "..there's trouble in
> > River City..." and that bad PR can bury them regardless of product
> performance.  Surely they understand $$$ - or do they?
> >
> > Tom - wa2bpe
> >
> >
> Having worked for small manufacturing companies in the past, perhaps I can
> shed some light, although not any on Force 12 in particular.
> Many companies that sell to the ham market are selling in very small
> and are fairly small operations to begin with.  And, the antennas might be
> sideline to a primary (but not very big) business. (Just how many antennas
> of one particular model do you think a company like Force 12 sells in a
> year?  A dozen, perhaps?... There may be half a million licensed hams, but
> very few of them buy an antenna in any particular year (especially since
> they tend to last forever.. otherwise why would you get questions about
> refurbishing 15 or 30 year old antennas on this list).
> I worked for a company that sold, among other things, specialized fans
> primarily in the motion picture production business that cost many
> of dollars. Our manufacturing department consisted of ONE person, who made
> ALL the fans we sold (some dozens in a big month, typically), as well as
> of the other 3 or 4 products.  Sure, if he went on vacation, the owner
> go back and try and assemble fans, but, in general, you'd be better off
> waiting for him to get back. Our service department was the same person,
> plus one other person, who also did deliveries, but could do basic repairs
> (replace a knob that had fallen off, etc.).  If we had a big manufacturing
> order for another product, your fan order might sit for quite a while
> we could fill it from the factory. This is one reason why we counted on
> distributors to hold some stock, and we really, really discouraged factory
> sales (to the extent that it was *always* cheaper to buy from a
> or retailer than the factory).
> For another example, from a small high-tech company that did work mostly
> government contracts, and hence, whose cost structure, timekeeping, etc.,
> was all designed for excruciating detail to pass DCAA audits. Over many
> years, at times, they had a "product" of sorts that they would sell in
> limited quantities (say, a few units over the period of 12-18 months), and
> then we'd go onto other jobs.  We weren't really a retail company,
> the owners might periodically think about it.  If you were to call for
> or support on that product 5 years later, several issues would come up:
> 1) the person who designed that product might no longer work there, and in
> any event, there's no staff assigned to support the old product.
> 2) the documentation might be in a box somewhere in storage, and not
> particularly well organized for retrieval.
> 3) there is no budget for support (aka "and what charge number to I put on
> my time card for this work?").  If someone had a question that could be
> answered in (literally) a few minutes, it's not a problem, but if any sort
> of files needed to be retrieved, faxes sent, photocopies made, etc., you'd
> have to find something to charge the work to, and in a small company,
> may not be any sort of "marketing" account that you could legitmately
> it to.
> Heck, this situation arises where I work now, at JPL, when someone calls
> asking for some information on some spare parts used in some subassembly,
> some assembly, in some subsystem, for a spacecraft that was launched 15
> years ago.  I might have "inherited" the documentation, but I may never
> actually seen it, since it's in some document storage warehouse miles
> I'd certainly have no idea which individual file box to retrieve of the
> that the information might be in.
> Finally, there's just the reality that in a small company, there may not
> much margin for error or unexpected events. They may have more work to do
> than there is time to do it in, and may not be very good at triage.  If
> you've got a $50K delivery that has to go out in a month, you're behind
> schedule, and there's a hefty penalty clause, you might be totally
> on that order, to the exclusion of other things. Often, what gets short
> shrift is marketing (why a lot of small companies go out of business...
> they're so busy working on today's business that they don't have time to
> get tomorrow's), but responding to enquiries and product support on old
> products can also get buried in the "to do" pile.  You also tend to
> concentrate on your bigger customers.  The ham who spent $1K a couple
> back on you isn't a very big fraction of today's business.
> The cyclical nature of business takes its toll, particularly in small
> companies.  When there's lots of business, there's too little time
> to respond, because you're up to your rear in reptiles. When there's no
> business, there's no budget or people left to answer questions, because
> remaining two or three are desparately scrounging to keep the business
> (or have gotten a full-time job, so they can eat and have a roof over
> head).
> In some ways, the ham market is sort of cursed. It's a small market,
> overall, and not a particularly spendy one.(yes, hams are cheap.) There's
> lot of products out there, really good products, that came about because
> someone built one for themself, found it worked well, and was convinced to
> sell it to others, but the volume isn't enough, or consistent enough, to
> really make a living at it.  These are the folks with 2, 3, or 6
> or even, the guy and his wife at the kitchen table, but basically a "labor
> of love". Then, there are huge companies (like Kenwood, Yaesu, etc.) that
> have enough "other" business to make the ham side finanically
> There are very few "in the middle" sorts of companies (say, able to hire
> 50-100 people) where they're big enough to ride through bumps and waves of
> business, and have enough "slop" in the budget to accomodate casual
> inquiries.
> Jim, W6RMK
> _______________________________________________
> See:  for "Self Supporting Towers", "Wireless
Weather Stations", and lot's more.  Call Toll Free, 1-800-333-9041 with any
questions and ask for Sherman, W2FLA.
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See:  for "Self Supporting Towers", "Wireless Weather 
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