[TenTec] Argonaut VI

Michael Chowning mike.chowning at mgccc.org
Thu Nov 24 12:05:36 EST 2016

  Thanks for the update.  On this Thanksgiving Day I am appreciative for the many hours of pleasure the Ten Tec products have given me in my off hours.  I have had two Eagles in my past, and still hold on to my Omni VII.  While I would be tempted to buy another Eagle, I believe there is a ready product in your inventory that without modification can produce some cash flow; that is the Ten Tec Argonaut VI.  It is a delightful qrp rig, within the cash means of most hams' discretionary budget without too much xyl objections.  I would send you the money today for a reserved pre-order.
       Mike, N8TTR

> On Nov 21, 2016, at 1:36 PM, Mike Dishop via TenTec <tentec at contesting.com> wrote:
>  Greetings Friends and Fellow Ten Tec Enthusiasts,
> Iwanted to update you on what is happening in Sevierville.  The SmokeyMountains are literally fogged in with smoke in some places as Tennessee hasmany wild fires burning. I was there two weeks ago and have never experiencedanything like it. Driving down Jellico Mountain on I75 it became literally IFRconditions with near zero visibility from the smoke.  
> Assome of you know Ten Tec has been occupying office condominium space behind thesite of the former factory were now a Wal-Mart Express is sitting.  Thissite is not appropriate for our needs.  Starting last week, weare moving out of this location into a more industrial friendly space.Unfortunately this location is not zoned for commercial walk in traffic, so thedays of someone showing up at the factory door unfortunately have come toan end. After an entire year of searching for any possible opportunity tomove, this is all we have been able to come up with. Commercial realestate is completely out of control in Sevierville county because of thetourist industry, and unless we have about a half million dollars toinvest in the factory location you can just forget about it.  Ten Tec is"too small" to receive any incentive, tax breaks or help from the localso called "Economic Development" office. My opinion is thatthe State and local government of Tennessee is about as economically unfriendlyto a small business or start up business as is possible.  For example, inother counties in TN the standard is to create 10 new jobs to get anyincentive. Sevier County arbitrarily requires 25 jobs.  By mycalculations, 25 jobs would be around a million dollar pay roll if the jobsaveraged 15 dollars an hour to the employee with a 25% more overhead to theemployer.  Any business having that kind of payroll better have about 10million in gross receipts which would put it at DOUBLE the IRS definition of asmall business and QUADRUPLE the IRS definition of a microbusiness, so it isobvious that the economic development offices do not have any mandatewhatsoever to support or help ANY small business reason the scale of anindividual person's finances.   The fact that Ten Tec must havecontributed millions of tax dollars to the local economy over the last 50 yearsmeans nothing.  In many states, these economic development offices arepartially funded by the local Chamber of Commerce. It is my opinion theseoffices function as intelligence gathering units to forewarn their members ofany possible competitor entering their area. If small business is truly theeconomic growth engine of the United States it is apparent to me why we havegrowth problems if we depend on these organizations to help us as individuals.It seems ironic that the company named TEN TEC for Tennessee Technologies can'tget any assistance at all in Tennessee considering the state's advertising oftheir "Tennessee Technology Initiative".   If you are wondering why I wrote all thisabove it is to head off the endless string of expert recommendation that Icontact TVA and the local economic development. I’ve done it and nobody is going to help Ten Tec in the State of Tennessee. 
> Toget back on track, I stated above we are moving the remainder of this month.You all know what that means. Service will be slow this month.  Robertdecided not to have you send in radios this month so we wouldn't have to movethem.  There is no cause for alarm or speculation.  Service willcontinue just as soon as we are moved. I hear and read all kinds of gossip andcomplaints and this and that about our service, and none of it even close toaccurate. We have serviced hundreds of radios this year and have a bunch ofhappy customers.  You will see in the reflector some guy complaining orsaying he is worried and then five people saying everything was fine.  I'mso sick of it.  Really it is so frustrating, especially when some of youcall or write me up in Ohio about your twenty year old radio.  I can'thelp you. I'm not in Tennessee. The people there run things and do their jobessentially under Boyd's supervision. I don't want to sound condescending oraloof or unreasonable or unfriendly but please see this from my perspective.There are thousands of you and one of me.  I am responsible to run thiscompany and pay the people who work here whose families depend on me.  Iam an electrical engineer and my time needs to be spent getting the newproducts developed and out the door, not with a dial string for your old thingthat I neither sold you or received any benefit of selling to you.  Canyou directly call the president of Icom?  Does Eric answer the telephonewhen you call Elecraft?  It is just not possible for me to answer everyemail and every telephone call about service issues. If you call me atDishtronix and leave a message asking me to call you about your Ten Tec I'm notreturning your call.  If I answer I'm going to tell you we have put up theprocedure that you email service at tentec.com.  Yes, I have a telephone atTen Tec and no, you can’t have it.  We are short staffed because we do nothave sales volume at this time to support a large overhead.  This way,Robert can go through all of the email and respond at one time in the morning,then spend the rest of the day shipping radios and parts orders without beinginterrupted. He is there three days a week, so you don't get answers onMonday or Friday. Sure, I know some of you don't like it. There is no needto tell me about it. I don't like it either, but until we start having alot more cash flow that is the way it has going to have to be. For those thatcomplain about how long it is taking, please understand this is a milliondollar endeavor and money like that just doesn’t grow on trees, at least forme. Of course any of you wealthy gentlemen looking for a good cause to donatesome money too -  I would love to have the cash on hand to turn thingsaround tomorrow. Until then I’ll be working 16 hours a day seven days a weekwith no days off and scrimp and save and spend carefully and build up slowlyjust like every other hard working guy has to do. 
> WhatI am going to try to do next is set up sort of an email hotline for critical caseswith Bob if he will do it. I just thought of this and have to talk to him aboutthis.
> OK,enough about that.  Let’s get on to some better stuff. Many of youknow that under RFC and RKR Ten Tec quit doing their PCB assembly inhouse.  Those of you who have known me over the decades at Dishtronix knowmy shop suffered heating issues that made it tough for the machinery to run inthe end of January to February artic blasts.  Well, I have a new and verynice double insulated, heated and cooled free span metal building where I'vemoved my PCB assembly operation and this is something I'm very excitedabout.  The building has a metal skin totally covering the inside withgood overhead fluorescent lighting and conduit encased electrical outletsevery 12 feet around the perimeter.  I have retired the older ContactSystems placement machines in favor of newer MYDATA (Micronics Sweden)placement machines. I installed the first MY9 machine this last June and havebeen using it to build boards for the RX340 commercial orders we have beenfulfilling.  Ten Tec did have a MY9 when they were building boards inhouse. The MYDATA machines are the choice for high mix medium volumeproduction, especially when equipped with the Agilis quick change feedersystem. Feeders usually cost more than the machines in this business, and I'vebeen growing my collection all year.  I am about a third of the way tohaving the collection of feeders I would like to have. Earlier this month I gotlucky and was able to purchase the bar code software which will allow me toload and unload components from the machine by just scanning with the barcodereader, and it is done offline.  It will help with inventory control andcomponent management which is a real nightmare considering Ten Tec has over7000 different line items.  
> TheMY9 machine has a capability to hold up to 96 different components and has asingle mounting head. As I write this, an air ride big rig is getting closerand closer to Ohio hauling a MY19 machine in from San Francisco which can hold anadditional 160 different components (total 256 8 mm tapes) and has 8 mountingheads!  Hopefully this machine will be brought online successfully and notbe damaged or in bad shape as I've bought it sight unseen.  I've alsomoved the 8 zone, lead free capable, pin chain conveyor equipped ElectrovertBravo 8105 oven to the new building last weekend.  This gives us thecapability to process double sided surface mount and the ability to reliablyprocess BGA chips.  I've also purchased this summer but not yet installedan X ray machine to do 100% inspection of the BGA reflow solderingprocess.  With the existing equipment (stencil printers, board washers,etc.) this will give us what I believe is the most well equipped and modern PCBmanufacturing of any amateur radio manufacturer in North America.  Ibelieve the other guys outsource their board assembly.  It may be thesmart thing to do, but I personally prefer to buy and house my own componentsin house and to have total control over my assembly process.  I find itrequires more time to outsource and get constant bids for things like this thanto just own the equipment and do it myself. I think you get a better product atless cost. Of course the best reason in my opinion for doing it all in house isI can do as small of a production run as I want, IF I am willing to spend thetime to set up and do it. Hence the decision for the quick change capability ofthe MYDATA system.  So, all in all what this means is the Phoenix isrising. I am rebuilding Ten Tec and preparing to do some serious manufacturing,which brings me to my next point.
> Mostof you know we have been bogged down and overwhelmed with the commercial sideof our business this last year since I officially assumed the helm in January.With trying to replenish the hard to get /  long lead time /  lasttime buy /  obsolete parts, rebuild the PCB assembly operations, moving,and so on we just haven't had the horsepower to build any amateurtransceivers.  Well, the good news is we have caught up on our commercialcontracts.  Be glad we did this. You know all the stuff I wrote aboutabove?  The commercial contracts paid for that. Without this TEN TEC wouldnot exist right now. We are at a very important cross roads right now. What do we do next?
> Someof you know we are developing new products.  Those are still off on thehorizon.  What I need to know is how many of you would purchase Eagles ifthey were available?  I'd like to do a run of 100 of them next. It is agreat radio.  I like mine every bit as well as my Orion II.  The DSPfunction is superb.  
> Wehave to talk a little bit about price.  When the Eagle was launched it wasa $2100 radio with no accessories.  You all know the story of the blow outsales and the liquidation as the previous owners sold everything that wasn'tnailed down on their way out.  Some of you got fully loaded radios for$1299 or whatever.  You know they didn't even cover their assembly cost onthat, right? Some of you got real bargains.  Of course only the last 35radios or something were sold at that price but you get the point.  Youwill never see a price like that again.  If I have to sell and Eagle atthat I will close and lock the doors and be done with it.  A strip modelneeds to sell at 1699 at least.  The more you are willing to pay for aradio the faster the new radios can come out.  We want to build radios andsell them so we can keep the production team in place so we can meet the demandwhen the new radios come out. Everything we do tomorrow depends on how much yousupport us today.
> I'mcertain some of you have heard that I and two partners acquired Alpha and thatI've been officially at the Helm since August.  It is a separate companyfrom Dishtronix / TEN TEC.  Of course I will be building the circuitboards for those products as well.  I'm after something business peoplecall economy of scale, essentially having enough product flow through the doorsto totally occupy the machines and infrastructure.  I'll be making apost on that reflector as well to update those customers also.
> Bythe way, we do have RX340s available to build on short notice now.  
> Letme close by wishing you all a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving holiday, one of myfavorites and of course the reason I see my dentist in November for my prefeast tune up.  The Sevierville team and I appreciate your support for TenTec, where we believe we are once again Making America Great - One Radioat a Time. 
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