Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Fall of The House of Ampeg

One of my correspondents forwards me the linked article which is a sad state of affairs, indeed.

Let me back up a bit to my garage band days in New Jersey. Paul Faro had an Ampeg B15 amp which was his pride and joy. Made in north Jersey, Ampeg was known for their blue vinyl coverings and bulletproof rugged construction. They were a favorite of serious musicians and they were, as the saying goes, built for the road. I never had the dough to afford one. Like a lot of others my metier was Silvertone from the House of Danelectro by way of the Sears catalog-another New Jersey company in the music trade by the way.

When Ampeg closed their doors, there was a flurry of spinoffs in the great diaspora, which included Sound, the creations of Jess Oliver, and the efforts of Dennis Kager, so I am told. Andy Fuchs of Fuchs Audio Technologies knows more of the folklore of this supernova than nearly anyone else around.

There were some signs of life yet. The line was bought by Magnavox and moved to the south, and production of the mammoth SVT bass amp continued. When that failed, someone in Japan made a few more SVTs and then, it seemed, the flame guttered out for the last time.

But Ampeg reemerged from the ashes when St. Louis Music, the folks who manufactured Crate amps and a lot of other stuff bought the name and the rights out of bankruptcy, and started production in a new facility in Yellville, Arkansas as SLM Electronics. The future seemed bright. However, it was not to last.

It seems that SLM Electronics was bought by something called Loud Technologies which seems to be a conglomerate of musical equipment brands. I have not reviewed the SEC filings that brought the plan to light because EDGAR was down this evening.

With that, Loud Technologies announced plans to close the Yellville facility fire the workers, and move production to Viet Nam.

Larry White, a 58 year old production worker at the Yellville facility is now going to be out of a job. At an age when most folks are thinking of retirement Larry, a veteran of the Viet Nam war, will be thinking about getting something to eat. What he said about all this is poignant and tragic, because there does not seem to be one damned thing that any of us can do to stanch the hemorrhage of jobs from the working folks in this country.

Larry said, "Forty years ago they were trying to kill me, and now, they've got my job."

Larry, I've been there. Not as a vet but as an older worker bee kicked out in the street and wondering what the hell I was going to do to eat. The hurt doesn't go away-it just scabs over.

Shame on you, LOUD Technologies, whomever you are. I mean, what the hell's the matter? People in Arkansas who work their asses off in poultry plants for $6 an hour not cheap enough for you? People in Mexico, our neighbors, too damned expensive? China even? What are you made of?

In the future, I shall figure out what it is you do and dissociate myself from it.


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