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Thread: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

  1. #1
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    So we learn from Scott Tichenor that the "Manufacturing of Breedlove Mandolins, a part of the Two Old Hippies brand, will be moving overseas... In a recent announcement Breedlove's mandolin team learned the entire line would be outsourced in the near future."

    How sad.

    Two Old Hippies bought out the Great Divide Music Store in Aspen, CO from longtime owner and mandolinist Sandy Munro (it used to be a real gem of a store for acoustic instruments, and Sandy also deals in formerly owned Nugget mandolins) -- and they closed its doors shortly thereafter, for good. Aspen has no music store now.

    Two Old Hippies bought out Bruce Weber ("Sound to Earth") and moved Weber mandolins from Montana to Portland, OR, where they also maintained the Breedlove operation.

    One wonders if they now have plans to outsource Weber production, or aspects thereof, overseas as well.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    It's a sad thought indeed. If it happens,then Breedlove will simply just become another 'box seller',selling imported mandolins. I can only hope that Bruce Weber takes a stand against doing the same thing. However ! - we all know just how good some of the Chinese built mandolins can be,& i'm thinking of Northfield here,so,if the Breedlove & Weber range of instruments could be built to at least that standard,then would we loose anything other than that Breedlove / Weber would simply become more Chinese imports ?. It's not a scenario i'd like to see, & i maybe fear for a drop in build quality, & maybe the renowned 'after sales service' that Weber are noted for, might take a few steps backward = not good,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    The service of a company isn't related to manufacturing so nothing needs to change just because production is moved. Quality doesn't have to change either. Would anyone be upset if production was in the U.S. but moving from one state to another?

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle View Post
    Quality doesn't have to change either. Would anyone be upset if production was in the U.S. but moving from one state to another?
    I suspect there is another kind of quality mindset behind these discussions, apart from material and physics. The music that is played mostly with these instruments is all about comforting local homeliness as opposed to distant exotic globality, trusty people you've known all your life as opposed to total strangers, peaceful reliable procedures built to last as opposed to constant fight and danger. It is perfectly understandable when you like your instrument to radiate the same value of familiarity.

    It's easily forgotten that such scenarios exist and can continue to exist, but only as a result of the same dedication and action of the people who created them in the first place; left alone, they will disintegrate. The last resort and consequence (when all luthiers have moved to Coruscant) can always be to build your own instruments for yourself and your friends.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    From Seattle - "Would anyone be upset if production was in the U.S. but moving from one state to another ? ". Not if the same personnel were still doing the building. Moving to a different place 'anywhere,but having a new set of builders,isn't the same.
    We know of the high standards of construction that Weber aims for ( i've no experience of Breedlove in general),so can we really expect exactly the same standards from a different set of builders ?. Maybe having seen the high standard to which the Northfield instruments are made,we can,but only time will tell. There's also the other factor - may folk in the US would prefer to purchase a ''made in the US'' mandolin,not purely for any patriotic reasons,but the US is the home of the mandolins & the music that many of us (including myself) have come to love, & one seems to go with the other. At the time i bought my Weber,i had a beautiful Lebeda mandolin,made inthe Czech.Republic - but i really wanted an 'American made' mandolin,simply because of the connection of the music (Bluegrass) & the instrument as we know it today. For me,& i feel that for many others,that connection will always be there - American music & American mandolin.
    Maybe Bruce Weber could chip in on this topic & tell us the 'proper' story rather than have us speculate all over the show,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    Could there be any consequences in regards to climate / wood variables that might affect quality? Or just the general uncertainty that results from a move of this nature. If I were in the market for a new Breedlove I might be leery of the first few batches out of a new location (China or elsewhere) in the event there are a few kinks they need to work out.

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    Registered User Mando_Zeek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    What would the advantage if they moved their other line of mandolins overseas? so they can compete with themselves?
    I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different. -Kurt Vonnegut

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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Petrus View Post
    Could there be any consequences in regards to climate / wood variables that might affect quality? Or just the general uncertainty that results from a move of this nature. If I were in the market for a new Breedlove I might be leery of the first few batches out of a new location (China or elsewhere) in the event there are a few kinks they need to work out.
    Since most mandolins other than very high end come from China, I'm guessing not.

  13. #9

    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    I bought my Breedlove premier series OF in large part because it was made in the USA as an honest no-frills well-made instrument that plays and sounds great to my ears. I would not have bought it as a Chinese import, even at a third of the cost, because that would turn it into something else even if (if) it were identical. To me, musical instruments are an extension of yourself, and the dead can dance but only if you have a connection to them. It's more than cost, or even quality per dollar, and it's certainly more than profit for company owners or corporate shareholders.

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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    P
    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    So we learn from Scott Tichenor that the "Manufacturing of Breedlove Mandolins, a part of the Two Old Hippies brand, will be moving overseas... In a recent announcement Breedlove's mandolin team learned the entire line would be outsourced in the near future."

    How sad.

    Two Old Hippies bought out the Great Divide Music Store in Aspen, CO from longtime owner and mandolinist Sandy Munro (it used to be a real gem of a store for acoustic instruments, and Sandy also deals in formerly owned Nugget mandolins) -- and they closed its doors shortly thereafter, for good. Aspen has no music store now.

    Two Old Hippies bought out Bruce Weber ("Sound to Earth") and moved Weber mandolins from Montana to Portland, OR, where they also maintained the Breedlove operation.

    One wonders if they now have plans to outsource Weber production, or aspects thereof, overseas as well.
    Gotta make you wonder if Two Old Hippies is another branding ploy that has nothing to do with the real hippies. When you see capital going around acquiring companies only to acquire the name then outsource the product that's not something that a real flower child would be interested in, quite the opposite if my memory serves me. But hey, it's often said if you remember the 60's you weren't there.

    As to the idea nobody would be upset if a company moved to another state is proven wrong by Webers history. When Gibson came in and acquired Flatiron and turned their product around with a skilled shop and then decided to move back to Nashville that was the birth of Weber. There are numerous cases of moving companies just for the tax break, or to shed soon to retire employees so they don't have to pay a pension. A good friend who has worked for a well known computer dynasty is struggling with that right now. His retirement is destroyed because he thought when they moved the plant from the Bay Area to Washington St. He just had to hang on for a couple more years to get his full retirement. Not so.

    Theres quite a few folks (bless their hearts ) that care deeply about who makes the deeply crafted items in their life. They like to know they can call up the shop and talk to "the" head honcho and order a custom instrument and know who is the tech is who's doing the work. That's not going to happen when your contact is a middle man.

    If history repeats itself Weber might split again as the skilled techs are shed when the leap to China happens again. Time will tell.

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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    Following the Northfield model ... Sure. It could happen. Not my cup tea personally but I'm sure we'll see more of it, not less.

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    I completely agree with TonyP. I know it's pure speculation (though not completely unfounded) at this point as to whether Two Old Hippies will do something similar to Weber, but the signs don't look good. One of the reasons I decided to make the investment in a Weber instrument is because I knew I could contact the folks who actually made it if need be. I don't own a Breedlove, and don't have a dog in that proverbial fight, but the implication for Weber does concern me. And if the Two Old Hippies company does decide to ruin the Weber we currently know, I hope the Weber folks once again spin off and keep building instruments here under yet a different name.

    I know there's a big push for us to be politically correct and not say anything negative about Asian-made instruments, but let's be honest: history has not shown that it improves the quality or desirability of musical instrument brands when they decide to move production overseas. I am not even sure that any company has successfully kept the same quality or desirability. This isn't to say that Asian-made instruments can't be good (Northfield comes to mind), but taking a domestic brand and outsourcing it as an import brand has always led to a decline in the brand's reputation... historically speaking. Sales may go up for the company, but the long-term reputation suffers. Simply put, the collectibility of outsourced instruments isn't the same as domestic instruments. Not that the company has any reason to care about collectibility, though. Their target is, and should be, current sales of new instruments, sad though it may be for fans of the brand.

    What's really sad is that I have been considering buying another Weber instrument, and now I'm not sure if I will want to make that investment. This Breedlove move by Two Old Hippies has me very doubtful as to the future stability of Weber as a company. And even though my fears may be pure speculation at this point, it's worth noting. It's something the company ought to know. My next new instrument purchase, just like my previous ones, will only be from a company that I reasonably think will still be around for a while in its current form, so I can rely on it for service and warranty and such.

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    Registered User Dave Weiss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    If you think about it, Breedlove (made in America) was at a non competitive price point. For $1000-1500 you could get a rather plain looking A style or a rather odd looking K or F style. Sure, the styles had some appeal for a few, but when you're a newbie looking at what you can get for the same money, Kentucky, Eastman, The Loar etc. are a lot more attractive...
    I'd be willing to bet that the Weber line will remain "made in America" because there's still a market for that price point.
    >>>===> Dave

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle View Post
    The service of a company isn't related to manufacturing so nothing needs to change just because production is moved. Quality doesn't have to change either. Would anyone be upset if production was in the U.S. but moving from one state to another?
    The history of too many factory moves, even within the USA, is not great. Guild guitars is the poster child for what happens when there are too many changes of ownership over the years, and too many factory moves. The skilled craftspeople at one factory don't always just uproot their lives and move to a new location. The local weather might be different and affect what happens with the wood, and tooling can be upgraded (or downgraded). Every change of location and ownership is a major disruption.

    Guild was a classic brand of American guitar that should have stood the test of time and quality, and stayed right up there with Martin and Gibson. Alas, all those changes of ownership and factory location meant the brand still struggles for respectability and market share, even without moving the entire line offshore.

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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    I often wonder what would happen to our availability to our products, if our relations with China were to suddenly go sour.

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    Registered User Brett Byers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I'm not. As someone who was intimately involved with Weber for 12 years, and as one of the few people who made the move to Bend from Montana, I saw the writing on the wall and I left the company after one year in Bend. I saw many of my friends lose their jobs, and I hope the wonderful people who were building Breedlove mandolins don't end up among that group. They are highly skilled craftsmen who have spent years producing wonderful instruments. I could easily write dozens of pages about my thoughts on this situation, but I'll leave it at that.

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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    There is a movement underfoot to remove the "Made In" requirement for all goods or actually to make a requirement that would ban the use of "made in". The International Capitalists arguing that because components and production happens all over the world that there really isn't any "made in" anywhere anyway. If that happens consumers with nationalist sentiments to buy locally produced products as opposed to foreign made when possible (which I think is probably a lot of people) won't be able to know where things were made. So when your Swedish car is actually manufactured in China you might not know! I have a friend that has a product that he wants to manufacture. He went to China with the idea and the Chinese, at their expense, set him up with an entire team to see that it happens! They make it very attractive for companies to move production there-- way over and above the benefits of lower labor costs! Where I live you can hardly even open up a coffee cart without being overwhelmed with regulations and fees. If our relationship with China soured everything would move someplace else --Thailand maybe--it's the digital age and it changes by the day so today's factory is already out of date. It makes sense to move production to a new place with brand new infrastructure especially if the new place is willing to pick up a big piece of the tab!

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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    lt always seemed to me that Breedlove, more than most companies, emphasised the fact that there was something special about their part of the world and that this influenced their products. The suggestion that the people who worked for them had a lifestyle where music and nature were important was an attractive image, as this bit of blurb on their website shows:

    "THE INSPIRATION
    Spend a few days in the Northwest among the mountains, in the deserts and along the rustic coastline, in breathtaking seascapes, crystal-clear alpine air, and dense, lush forests and your imagination takes flight. As craftsmen, designers, builders, makers, and artists, were fortunate to live, work, and play in Central Oregon; the vast, dramatic playground of the Northwest is part of who we are. Our passion for the outdoors and the natural world are continually influencing the way we design, build and see our instruments.

    There is a special magic found only in the Northwest, and this magic inspired a series of instruments unlike any other. In the Oregon Series we merged the science of sound, flawless craftsmanship, and striking local woods to create a series of instruments that expresses the deepest parts of who we are as a company.

    The one-of-a-kind sound weve engineered in the Oregon series is the result of 20 years of experience of working with myrtlewood. Tonally, it's one of our richest, most-acclaimed heritage platforms. We use it in our highest-end instruments with great success, but ultimately wanted to offer myrtlewood guitars to a wider range of players at a more accessible price point."

    http://breedlovemusic.com/features/oregon

    It's just not the same if it was made in a factory in China.
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    From the press release, it sounds like Two Old Hippies is looking more to make a play at the under $1000 market with more models than just the "Crossover" models. It stated that their new line will be $999 MSRP and lower. Isn't likely they'll be making Northfield quality instruments at that price point. It also sounds like they are discontinuing the old line-up and introducing new models. I wonder how much of the Bend OR Breedlove design will remain? I think they are basically dumping what Breedlove mandolins used to be and going with a low cost Chinese mandolin that they can pass off as a Breedlove to trade on the name, rather than quality. From a business standpoint, I guess it makes sense. They didn't have any line that could compete with Eastman or Kentucky at that price point, and they now have Weber to make their higher end mandolins. The growth in sales is happening below $1000.
    I wouldn't be surprised if some new Weber model shows up between $1000 and $2000 being made in China on the same line as the new Breedloves. Maybe even the production of the lower end Gallatins moves there too. That way Two Old Hippies would be making a mandolin at every price point. The new Chinese "Breedlove" for less than $1000. Chinese Weber between $1000-$2000 and Bend OR Weber $2000+
    I'm not bashing Chinese mandolins. I am a proud owner of an Eastman MD505 that I love. There are some wonderful instruments coming out of Chinese factories. However, that doesn't help the people who have been building Breedlove mandolins for years find a new job. Perhaps some of them will be moved to work on Webers, but I'm guessing that most of them will be looking for work. I wonder if any will come out with their own line of mandolins?

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    Registered User Bruce D. Weber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    Hey fellow mandolin warriors. To put fears to rest. There are no intensions of ever moving any part of Weber to China. We will remain a domestically built family of instruments.
    Bruce D. Weber
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    Registered User wreded's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    I own 3 Flatirons; 1 A, 1 F-5, and one A-style Mandola. Part of the impetus to purchase them was their price, the most important part was not that they were made in the US, it was that were made in Montana. I could take them anywhere and still have a piece of home with me. I was playing at an old folks home one Christmas and a fella came up and asked me my F-5 serial number, he put the finish on it; I was playing at church one Sunday morning and a lady came up afterwards and wondered if it was a Gibson or Flatiron. She had been at the factory the day my F-5 was created and lovingly looked it over reliving memories of her time at Flatiron. So, yes, moving from one state to another does make a difference, not to everyone, but it does make a difference.

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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce D. Weber View Post
    Hey fellow mandolin warriors. To put fears to rest. There are no intensions of ever moving any part of Weber to China. We will remain a domestically built family of instruments.
    Bruce,
    Thanks for putting our minds to rest. Having been a member of the Weber family for many years and knowing you will keep them here is very satisfying. My Isabella sounds better everyday and I can't thank you and Brett for making me such a wonderful instrument.

    OK, now we can get back to discussing more important things like which strings are better or maybe which pick I should use.

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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce D. Weber View Post
    Hey fellow mandolin warriors. To put fears to rest. There are no intensions of ever moving any part of Weber to China. We will remain a domestically built family of instruments.
    Thanks for that. While it is comforting to hear, I'm sure when Breedlove was purchased by Two Old Hippies, there was no intent to move Breedlove mandolins to China either. Who would be in charge of that decision? Is that up to you or Bedell?

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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce D. Weber View Post
    Hey fellow mandolin warriors. To put fears to rest. There are no intensions of ever moving any part of Weber to China. We will remain a domestically built family of instruments.
    There you have it...that should put to bed any anxieties now....Mr. Weber's integrity speaks for itself, and having met him and talked with him at length, I trust his word!
    1994 Gibson F5L made by Bruce Weber's team


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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breedlove production moving to China -- Will Weber be next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce D. Weber View Post
    Hey fellow mandolin warriors. To put fears to rest. There are no intensions of ever moving any part of Weber to China. We will remain a domestically built family of instruments.
    Thanks for that update, Bruce! I love my 2006 Weber Bitterroot F5, and like so many of my Mandolin Cafe colleagues, would hate to see Weber moved to China, with a corresponding loss of employment to the Portland staff. I am much relieved by your reassurance.

    Many of us are looking very warily at the business machinations of Two Old Hippies. They came in, nominally, as "rescuers," but promptly oversaw the demise of Aspen's fine music store (The Great Divide). And now look at what's happened to Breedlove. As Tony Pires commented, this doesn't seem like the kind of business behavior one might expect from "two old hippies" from the '60's. I guess we all change with time. Maybe they should change their name to "Two Outsourcing Entrepreneurs"? Yeah, it's a lot less catchy. But perhaps more accurate?

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