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auriga
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/02/06

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starman1]
      #5944926 - 06/28/13 02:45 PM

Don,
You are the most knowledgeable guy around in this field on these forums, so if you don't know, I don't know.
Bill Meyers


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greedyshark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 10/31/05

Loc: 3rd Rock
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: cn register 5]
      #5944933 - 06/28/13 02:48 PM

Great thread. As a business executive in the corporate world, IMO, this is pretty simple... It all comes down to strategic decisions that did not deliver. I'm not about to second guess those decisions or the factors that drove them, but the facts are the facts...or in this case, the numbers. I fear that Meade, in it's current carnation, is done.

Charles


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: greedyshark]
      #5944942 - 06/28/13 02:51 PM

OK, Charles, so where from here?

No matter what happens, I really like the idea of CN finding a way to bend things to a better future rather than just letting entropy get an unanswered smack at amateur astronomy.

-Rich

Edited by Starhawk (06/28/13 02:52 PM)


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greedyshark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 10/31/05

Loc: 3rd Rock
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5944960 - 06/28/13 03:03 PM

Quote:

...I really like the idea of CN finding a way to bend things to a better future rather than just letting entropy get an unanswered smack at amateur astronomy.




I'm not so sure I would call it a "smack". If they go the way of Cave, Criterion, Tasco, etc., their "early-product" legacy will live on. As has been noted, good things can still happen if Meade IP and infrastructure fall into the right hands. The question I believe you are asking is how does CN get a seat at the Round Table. Answer: $$$

Charles


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5944974 - 06/28/13 03:07 PM

Jon,

I think you have hit the crux of the matter. The NexStar 102GT Xmas scopes flew off the shelves. That's the one where if you looked it up, you found the mount alone was usually sold for $279 and there they had it for $200, so I got one for my daughter. And what I found is, as expected, the OTA is a bit big for that tripod, but since it was basically free, how upset can one get about that? I swapped if for a C80ED, which seems quite perfect on that mount, and my little daughter finds it less daunting and happily drives it around the sky looking at things. The OTA isn't a waste- on a Unistar light mount it gives very good views, and even more so considering they basically paid me $79 to take it from them.

I do suspect those were meant to make it impossible for Meade to get significant profitable sales from that outlet, though. Meade spent a lot of time under some pretty ruthless business men, and their main competitor clearly learned from previous black eyes and busted lips.

And I suppose if you don't enjoy widespread good will, then you're well advised not to trip. Whereas Unitron may have gotten itself into trouble, I don't have the impression other primes in the industry were specifically gunning for them (anyone know different? I really don't know other than noticing I've never, ever, heard a harsh word about that company). I've been there when Yuri came over to talk to Roland, who introduced him as, "Ah, our competitors are here" and they proceeded to discuss the details of a mount package assembled specifically to go with a TEC OTA for a TEC customer. I know for a fact things aren't like that with Meade and Celestron, or as far as I can tell, anybody.

-Rich

Quote:

Quote:

The result of all this seems to be that the upper end of the market is growing while the entry and lower mid level may actually be shrinking.




I think it is a mistake to think that Meade's problems are anything more than Meade's problems. Orion seems to be able to support the entry level and lower mid-level market. You spend $200 on an Orion scope and you are going to get a simple but decent scope with acceptable quality eyepieces and an acceptable finder and mount.

Meade has been trying to exploit those same markets but without the integrity to provide a reasonable scope for the money. In the beginners forum, when it comes to decent, affordable scopes, Meade is lacking.

You provide someone with a good quality first scope for their money, they'll be back. Provide them with a plastic mount with marginal eyepieces and they will go elsewhere if and when it's time for a better scope.

Walmart ... I really don't know but my guess is that a manufacturer who looks at it as an opportunity to connect with budding amateur astronomers and not as a way to make a quick killing can make it work.

The Nexstar102 GT that sold at Costco for $200 might be along those lines.

Jon

Jon




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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: auriga]
      #5945034 - 06/28/13 03:31 PM

Quote:

Don,
You are the most knowledgeable guy around in this field on these forums, so if you don't know, I don't know.
Bill Meyers



Bill,
Thanks. Though I did take courses in economics and business when I was young, much of my learning about the business world was working for a company that nearly went bankrupt 3 times, and recovered, before the owner finally sold the business and retired (don't ask about the new owners). What saved the company each time was bargaining with creditors.
And in working for another company that didn't survive.
There are a few obvious things that have to happen for Meade to survive:
1) income has to increase
2) expenses have to get cut somehow.
3) they have to downsize
4) they have to pay COD for supplies and negotiate long-term paybacks of creditors with interest.

#1 above can be accomplished by concentrating on the profitable side of the business and letting the rest go. This is hard for a company used to offering 350 products when a simple analysis shows only 50 of them make all the profit. It might mean a reduction in sales, but it would happen with a minimal decrease in profit dollars.
#2 above is even more difficult when you've already fired nearly all your management and down-sized your quarters. It probably means sourcing from China and selling the Mexican facility, something Meade may be institutionally reluctant to do because of the huge investment to get it going.
Every penny counts: reducing advertising, employee extras (like a 401K), etc.
#3 Means reducing the offerings to maybe 50 products and having them in stock at all times for immediate shipment and offering terrific customer service for problems. If those 50 products sell and don't have problems, and work well, Meade's reputation could rebound. What would those products be? It depends. They could be dobs, they could be computerized SCTs, or entry-level refractors.
#4 is predicated on the assumption there is cash flow. At this time, that could be a false assumption. You can't pay back long-term notes without a cash flow to do so. And that means sales at the dealer level and the ability to ship product.

Complicating the whole thing is the fact they're a public company. They should be a private company at this point, but no one can afford to buy out the stockholders.

Now, if they chose chapter 7 liquidation, and the corporation dissolved, it's possible that a small group of investors could buy whatever assets might be necessary to a startup company with the intention of doing just what I envision. That group of investors could be Chinese, I suppose.
Would they come back as MEEDE Telescopes ( ).

An outside auditor needs to ascertain whether the company can be saved at this point. It's fairly obvious the people on the inside haven't made the right decisions for years. The earlier post about how long you can take a hit is directly germane.

[EDIT: the above is not altered if there is a large infusion of cash. Without changes, the cash infusion would quickly dissipate. That cash could be used to increase sales, or to buy off creditors long enough to turn things around. But there would have to be a plan about how to do so before any investor would supply the necessary funds. The fact there are offers on the table says someone obviously has a plan how to turn things around.]

Edited by Starman1 (06/28/13 03:35 PM)


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rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: jimb1001]
      #5945038 - 06/28/13 03:32 PM

Quote:

Are there really that many spectacular sights left in the night sky?






Yes, plenty, even from the average suburban site. But you have to get out and look at them.


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rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5945071 - 06/28/13 03:45 PM

Quote:

is weird, so explaining it isn't really that easy.

So, for a parallel example, Tasco made all of its money on consumer optics. When their consumer optics business went down, they were taking Celestron with them, because whether Celestron was doing well or not, it wasn't going to produce the wheelbarrows full of cash needed to keep Tasco healthy, and Tasco was spending all of its money on capacity to mass produce inexpensive consumer optics.




Basically...with the note that Tasco, aside from its Celestron acquisition, never made a single scope. They were always an importer and nothing more till they took on Celestron from its Swiss owners. Not being very knowledgeable about the production side of the optics, relations between Tasco and their Celestron folks were, shall we say, "strained."


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MikeBOKC
Post Laureate
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Reged: 05/10/10

Loc: Oklahoma City, OK
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5945077 - 06/28/13 03:48 PM

As for negative comments on CN "killing" Meade, the simple fact is that this is a hobby with an enormous amount of word of mouth about the technical details and performance of the products made for it. That word of mouth goes around here, on various other on-line fora, at local clubs and star parties, basically wherever astronomers gather. The bottom line is that when a company buys back-cover ads in the major hobby publications touting a new line of products and declaring how they are the greatest thing since sliced bread . . . and then they turn out simply not to work at all . . . the word of mouth is going to be pretty negative. The best way to avoid Meade's current predicament would have been to make products that worked.

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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5945116 - 06/28/13 04:10 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Are there really that many spectacular sights left in the night sky?






Yes, plenty, even from the average suburban site. But you have to get out and look at them.






Uncle Rod has a book for you if you need some help knowing what to look at.

Regarding Tasco and Celestron: as I recall Celestron was basically ready for bankruptcy when Tasco took over.

By the way my spell checker does not recognize Tasco, it keeps suggesting fiasco. I wonder if it's smarter than I think...

Jon


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rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5945132 - 06/28/13 04:27 PM

Quote:




Uncle Rod has a book for you if you need some help knowing what to look at.

Regarding Tasco and Celestron: as I recall Celestron was basically ready for bankruptcy when Tasco took over.






I think it was more just a case of their owner at the time, Diethelm, wanting to be out of the scope business. In fact, I believe they'd wanted to be done with Celestron as long back as the Halley fiasco...it just took 'em till 1998 to find a buyer.


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amicus sidera
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/14/11

Loc: East of the Sun, West of the M...
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5945162 - 06/28/13 04:45 PM

Quote:

Maybe part of this is we need new ideas and new products. To me that means less emphasis on making them curvy and more on things which are extremely practical, easy to use, and gosh darn it work well.




I wonder if part of the emphasis on the style of newer scopes ("curvy", as you described it) isn't an attempt to sell to to the female demographic.

I have no idea how many female amateur astronomers there are currently, but as women comprise about half the total population making a product that appeals to them, thereby increasing market share, must have crossed the manufacturer's minds. Perhaps that's why, as a man, I'm not particularly enthralled by many of the newer instruments, especially go-to SCT's. In my opinion they are quite a bit less practical and business-like than my old LX-5, despite being loaded with "technology" - or more likely because of it...

Fred


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5945172 - 06/28/13 04:49 PM

The audit reports state that Meade has "going concern" principle problems....in the financial world, that's a DON'T LOAN THESE GUYS MONEY flag....and not just a little flag....a great big see it from the space station flag....without someone buying them up, they're toast.....and this MIT thing seems to be just a Bain Capital clone, buy it up, sell off what's worth selling, and the rest goes into bankruptsy (i.e. pensions, employee investments, stockholder's investments, etc......)

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piaras
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/26/09

Loc: Niagara Region
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: ColoHank]
      #5945184 - 06/28/13 04:54 PM

Quote:

If Meade's been trading in the low single digits, then I suspect anyone willing to pay ten dollars per share could buy as many shares as they wanted or could afford. It probably wouldn't be a very sound business decision, but that's a way to take over a company.




Yes you could but why give the people who screwed up the company, the reward. The directors likely have the most skin in the game, and they are the problem. Maybe one of them was the seller of those shares on May 20th. Today only 2800 shares cross the desk, with only $ 0.01 change to the share price. It is down for the day.

You will need that money for turning the business around. Tell the debt holders that they either take a haircut or lose it all. After that cut the product line down to what sells best at a reasonable profit to maintain and build on what you have. Customer service is number one no matter what anybody says. I worked retail and wholesale for 25 yrs, and take care to your customer through good and bad, and you have one for a long time.

Once stable the company should only need infusion of cash for R&D of new or redesigned and improved product. it will not be into profit for 5 yrs but is will be a better company in the end.
Pierre


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
*****

Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: piaras]
      #5945221 - 06/28/13 05:12 PM

Well, it's unclear who actually "screwed the company". Business is like cards. You're dealt a hand, and you play it as best your sense and wits and the other guys' sense and wits allow. Some hands have a higher probability of winning when dealt than others. Meade's been through all kinds of management changes and restructurings through its long history. Likely every single one of those management teams made some decisions and placed some bets that impacted the scope of potential decisions and bets, given the hand and what new cards were dealt, of subsequent management teams. In business as in cards, winning is never just a matter of the trying harder. Sometimes the cards flop in such a way that no matter how hard you try, you can't beat the other guy's hand.

I think what is being suggested here is that the community of users has an interest in preserving Meade as a source wholly independent of who managed it, which management team was responsible for which poor decision, and how strong competitors' hands are relative to Meade's. And heck, it's only money, and in this case it is utter chump-change that we're talking about. There are probably CNers whose houses and cars exceed the value of Meade. No matter what the outcome, there's not going to be any rich rewards for anyone employed by the company.

Regards,

Jim


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starrancher
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/09/09

Loc: Northern Arizona
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5945360 - 06/28/13 06:44 PM

Some folks just play poker better than others eh?

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piaras
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/26/09

Loc: Niagara Region
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5945533 - 06/28/13 08:28 PM

Quote:

Well, it's unclear who actually "screwed the company". .... Business is like cards. ......No matter what the outcome, there's not going to be any rich rewards for anyone employed by the company.

Regards,

Jim




Oh I agree with you on that. I was using the idea of the collective decisions made in the past and current. Some things one can control, that is the internal stuff, and the rest you are the passenger along for a ride. How one acts and reacts to these over time decides the fate of the company. One of my employers lost his business with just one call. Had been in business for nearly 80 yrs.

Many parts of the Astro business is small cap and even micro cap companies as well as start ups in the garage/basement. The economy has a major effect on this size of company and the capabilities to survive a stumble in product, financing and health of the owner(s) etc is difficult.

Who is the white knight in Meade's case, we will not know for awhile, but for sure there will be pain for any and all who work there through this time of uncertainty. Bad enough that that it has been 5 yrs now for everyone.
Pierre


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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) new [Re: piaras]
      #5945660 - 06/28/13 09:47 PM

Bottom line - is Meade dead?

-drl


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starrancher
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/09/09

Loc: Northern Arizona
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) new [Re: deSitter]
      #5945716 - 06/28/13 10:17 PM

Quote:

Bottom line - is Meade dead?

-drl




Hopefully not .
I really like all my Meade stuff . My 8 inch Schmidt Newtonian is a great short focal length wide field scope that can show great Andomeda in its entirety with a 1.25 " Plossl 26mm . What else can do that with 8 inches of light grab ? Most everything else you must pan back and forth only seeing parts of it at a time or you don't get that kind of light grab . The AR5 is a PDG achromat too . All the old filters are great . The Narrowband , the OIII and on and on . Hopefully JOC saves the brand .


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mac57
super member


Reged: 02/19/13

Loc: DeLand of Oz, Florida
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: deSitter]
      #5945723 - 06/28/13 10:23 PM

Whew! After reading through all of these posts, one thing always was in the back of my mind. Growing up in the 60's, the only "real" scope manufacturers I was aware of were Celestron, Questar, and Meade. I recognized these companies for what they were; respected makers of quality equipment. When I finally decided to seriously enter into amateur astronomy, I was stunned at the number of lines that Meade produced. Even more stunning was the general negative attitude of CN members against Meade. No one ever said "Don't buy a Meade", but I got the drift. It seemed that everyone had either a Celestron or an Orion(Who?). I joined CN so I could make an informed decision about what my first scope should be, and owe a lot of what I know to the great people in these forums. My initial high opinion of Meade soon eroded, as I originally was thinking of a Meade as my first scope, simply through brand recognition. The mistakes that Meade made will not be forgotten quickly, and even if they manage to continue somehow, I feel that the bad taste many people have will only be resolved by years of re-building consumer trust. It doesn't look like Meade has that much time.

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