[TenTec] Future of Ten-Tec in the Amateur Radio Market

Jerry Stewart ne4l at hughes.net
Tue Oct 17 00:21:36 EDT 2017

Right after the Dayton/Xenia Hamfest, I posted to ask if Ten-Tec had any 
news or announcements there as that is the premiere event in the USA for 
manufacturers to introduce product and make major announcements.  I had 
begun to despair of the company re-entering the amateur radio market.  
Although I don't think I received any response on this message board, I 
did very kindly receive private e-mails from a few members who 
communicated news that they requested I not divulge (I haven't and I 
won't) but that I took as encouraging.

Sadly, none of the things which they were told have as yet come to 
fruition.  There has been zero communication from the company on its web 
site and the ever-decreasing traffic here is a reflection of the 
community losing faith that the company will return to the amateur 
market.  I just received an email today from someone who purchased some 
NOS Ten-Tec parts from me, that when he sent an email query for a single 
replacement part for an Omni VI, he received the following reply:

“Thank you for your email inquiry regarding parts availability and/or 
pricing.  We are currently doing a large production run of 
commercial/government receivers through to the end of the year.    
Unfortunately, we will be unable to fill your request at this time, but 
hope to be able to respond to your requests in the new year.

Thank you for your patience as Ten Tec moves forward with its ambitious 

Tentec Sales & Service. “

Next YEAR?! Ten-Tec had a loyal following not just because of its gear 
but because of the "Legendary Ten-Tec Service".  When Ten-Tec was 
purchased the last time, the new owner put out an informational release 
that addressed certain business realities that although being 
legitimate, were done with a tenor that gave the impression that 
customers wasting employee time contributed to the downfall of the 
business and that as a practical matter, his strategy was not to have 
any direct communication with the customers and the indirect 
communication would only be part-time, and as the above reply would 
suggest, pretty ineffectual.  Since that time, there have been no other 
official announcements on the Ten-Tec web site.  I know he floated the 
idea of running 100 Eagles off the line on this page if people would 
commit to buying them in advance.  Since the market for those rigs was 
trashed by the RKR fire sale and he wanted the full retail price, that 
didn't seem to go anywhere.

Of course, people on this page have made various comments that he should 
do this or that over the ensuing months (years? I've lost track) and 
that is natural arm-chair quarterbacking by fans, AKA people who care 
about your product and have made an emotional investment in your brand.  
The same thing can be observed in the auto industry and even more-so in 
the motorcycle industry.

Well, this seemed to have festered and culminated in a rant against the 
place where his most loyal customer base likes to talk shop. More 
goodwill down the drain.  I WANT to be optimistic about Ten-Tec's 
future, I've got over a dozen TT rigs.  At this point I am very dubious 
of that future.  When the only bright spot is "Hey, I got my rig 
repaired. Yay!" and I am glad that service is still being provided, I'm 
not hanging my hat on that.  I really don't think that a design that 
will be 8 years old, minimum, if reintroduced to the market will compete 
well with the IC-7300 and a plethora of other rigs that are 60-70% of 
the price of an Eagle.  The Omni VII is over 10 years old.  When I look 
at the single amateur product that is being offered for sale, it is an 
amplifier for which you must pony up a 50% or so deposit and wait 8-12 
weeks for it to ship.  This indicates an inherent aversion to risk that 
would be classified as too high by an objective business analyst.  50% 
should more than cover the actual production cost, discounting front-end 
engineering costs which are recouped via sales and facility costs, which 
continue if you ship anything or not.  If you do not have enough 
confidence in the sale-abilty of your product to keep some in stock, why 
should I risk purchasing something that, from the sales strategy of the 
maker being my guide, may be hard to unload?   With the idea on the 
Eagles, again the desire to shift risk to the customers was expressed.

Again, I am VERY desirous of Ten-Tec re-entering the market as a maker 
of high quality ham gear.  I am willing to pay a price premium if 
support returns to a more normal, customer friendly level so that I can 
enjoy buying from a domestic supplier.  If, however the present customer 
service model is continued upon relaunch, it will be Elecraft (which I 
owned once, very briefly) or a 'rice box'.  If staff have not been 
trained in how to politely gather information needed from a customer, 
listen to an issue enough to say "do you have the latest software?  Try 
a download and reset.  If that doesn't do it, we'll need to issue you 
you an RMA for service to look at it." and get off the phone, that is a 
MANAGEMENT issue not a 'problem' with your customer.  If I am interested 
in buying a rig that does not sell through retailers and the management 
of a direct sales operation doesn't want staff "wasting time" talking to 
customers to convince them they need to buy what you are selling, who IS 
going to do that? All problems in a business are management problems, 
100%, 100% of the time.  I hope things turn around, I really do but I am 
far from optimistic at this point.  I am NOT bashing the new owner, just 
pointing out the concerns that I have.

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