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Old Jun 19, 2015, 09:37 PM
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FROM THE MIND OF A MADMAN
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Maybe Graupner has moved on from the MM, about 3 or 4 years ago Graupner reps, from Germany as well as Korea were in California. They were visiting a few RG65 regattas and showed a lot of interest in them. For big business they need to market what sells. Maybe sales peaked for the MM here in the U.S.
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Old Jun 19, 2015, 09:44 PM
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Just purely my opinion, but I don't think it's a matter of not caring about the U.S. but the MM was HUGE in Europe way before many people had ever heard of it in the U.S. so it isn't surprising the emphasis is there at least for the time being. Also, Graupner SJ are still learning about what is profitable and how to make things profitable in terms of actual models (not electronics, which they had experience with previously).

Hopefully in time they will find a way to start importing them. As a former class secretary it's frustrating because in early 2013 before the bankruptcy we were registering more boats in the class than ever before and were one of the fastest growing classes in the AMYA. Obviously the way things played out changed all of that. I realize it couldn't be helped but still very frustrating! It's a great boat and has a lot to offer.
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Old Jun 20, 2015, 11:50 AM
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The market has changed since I became interested in RC Sailing for sure. The Dragon Force DF65 has certainly captured the interest of many new and senior sailors alike.

It reminds me of the Nirvana "gold rush" days of a some years back. The price point would seem a critical issue. Nirvana's were priced very attractively in the beginning and sold like "hot cakes". Today they are priced at about twice what they once sold for. They are still a very good product but the lower priced DF65 has caught the attention of those looking for a bargain.

It's been interesting to observe several production boats having had great runs over the years; the Seawind, Fairwind, Nirvana, Yamaha RTW, MM, even the Fortune 612 is still being produced with new graphics. Some have taken breaks from production and come back a time or two. Perhaps cycling production gets the manufacturers a fresh shot at new customers coming into the hobby?

I don't know what the Graupner folks are thinking, but I would like to see the MM's sold domestically for those that want one.

I know we agree they are one of the better sailing boats out there. They are really fun to sail and especially easy to transport, making them great for road trips.

Boomer
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Old Jun 20, 2015, 01:15 PM
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We may bring them to the U.S. provided that there are active distributors willing to sell those directly to the consumer.
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Old Jun 20, 2015, 01:43 PM
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We may bring them to the U.S. provided that there are active distributors willing to sell those directly to the consumer.
We would love it! Demand is still there for such a great boat as long as the price is reasonable. $400 or so from Europe might be ok for class diehards, but with competing boats like the Dragonforce selling for less than half that, growth and sales will be slow. Hopefully there's a way!
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Old Jun 20, 2015, 08:29 PM
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We may bring them to the U.S. provided that there are active distributors willing to sell those directly to the consumer.
Wrong word - suggestion to drop the "s" and get one distributor going first - especially if you expect direct sales. Multiple distributor"S" will do nothing but compete with each other, and which one will be responsible for warranty and customer service, questions, knowledge?

I've seen it happen in the big boat market - where a distributor will handle multiple lines of boat makes, but it is up to the dealers to keep up good customer relations - Something you had before the "fall-out". The dealer that may have gotten "burned" as well as distributors may have been stuck with boats they couldn't market when buyers found out there was no factory support.

I find it interesting that it was the factory that pulled out of the market, and now wants a distributor to handle all the work to re-establish the brand again.

Sorry about the rant, but it is a personal opinion, and I would find it hard to be a cheerleader - regardless of how good the product might be. Might want to rethink a bit if you are really serious about getting back into the US market about how you treat and support those trying to market your products - as well as those who buy them.

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Old Jun 21, 2015, 10:08 AM
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Graupner US Distribution

It is interesting and perhaps encouraging? to see a Graupner rep posting in this thread. The RC sailing sector of the RC Hobby market is small and specialized and not well served by typical Hobby Stores unless they happen to have a RC sailing enthusiast among their sales folk, most do more harm to the sport than good by pushing poorly made "ready to sail" boats that give the sport a bad name.
Initially Hobby Lobby Intl distributed MM's in the USA and did a very poor job of it. Sandy Squitieri from Tampa area FL took on a Graupner distributorship focusing on the RC sailing market and built a very nice business supporting the growth of the MM class with kits and parts. I believe he built up to a level that the last shipment he took was 100 kits? Then Graupner cut him off at the knees when the company re-organized!
Any new distributor will almost certainly want to proceed cautiously against this background. I have heard that Graupner USA wants a new distributor to invest somewhere in the region of $75,000 in inventory. That seems to be a self-defeating requirement.
Meanwhile, I recommend buying direct from Graupner, Germany. The process is simple, delivery is fast and prices delivered are very reasonable! If anyone has questions on how to go about this either read my product review of the MM HOTT RTR Part 1 (see link in earlier posts) or post a question here.
Mike
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Old Jun 21, 2015, 04:40 PM
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It is interesting and perhaps encouraging? to see a Graupner rep posting in this thread. The RC sailing sector of the RC Hobby market is small and specialized and not well served by typical Hobby Stores unless they happen to have a RC sailing enthusiast among their sales folk, most do more harm to the sport than good by pushing poorly made "ready to sail" boats that give the sport a bad name.
Initially Hobby Lobby Intl distributed MM's in the USA and did a very poor job of it. Sandy Squitieri from Tampa area FL took on a Graupner distributorship focusing on the RC sailing market and built a very nice business supporting the growth of the MM class with kits and parts. I believe he built up to a level that the last shipment he took was 100 kits? Then Graupner cut him off at the knees when the company re-organized!
Any new distributor will almost certainly want to proceed cautiously against this background. I have heard that Graupner USA wants a new distributor to invest somewhere in the region of $75,000 in inventory. That seems to be a self-defeating requirement.
Meanwhile, I recommend buying direct from Graupner, Germany. The process is simple, delivery is fast and prices delivered are very reasonable! If anyone has questions on how to go about this either read my product review of the MM HOTT RTR Part 1 (see link in earlier posts) or post a question here.
Mike
Well put Mike. $75,000 is a bunch. I wonder if the European distributors have such tough requirements? I suspect no, but who knows?

Ordering from Europe is better than nothing, but the class deserves better than that. Too bad it appears Graupner USA isn't more interested in making it more attractive.
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Old Jun 21, 2015, 11:02 PM
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I don't want to pre-judge what they might have as a plan at this point. I can't image anyone that knows much about this RC sailboat market would be willing to accept such a one sided arrangement.

The trick is getting product landed in the U.S. a reasonable sum to make it practical to develop a realistic dealer program. No one is going to make a living selling just Micro Magic sailboats. Graupner USA sells all of their other products as far as I can tell. To me it would be incumbent on them to get the boats here at a fair cost.

Kyosho does it. You'd thing these folks could figure how to do it to. Be interesting to find out their thinking.

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Old Jun 22, 2015, 01:20 AM
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I have no idea where this number originated from. The contacts we had with a few dealers did not impose investments beyond what would be considered to be a normal level of inventory and spare parts to service and support the market.

If there are any serious parties out there willing to carry the MM line they are free to contact us or drop me a PM.
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Old Jun 22, 2015, 09:59 AM
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That number is ball park and was reported to me by a third party. However I would imagine that an order for 100 kits plus spares and electronics would be in the region of $25-30,000? In any case my point was that Sandy started out smaller than this and only worked up to that level after a couple of years hard work as far as I can tell. That is still a big gamble for a small guy starting out.
Am I way off base?
Mike
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Old Jun 22, 2015, 10:10 AM
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That number is ball park and was reported to me by a third party. However I would imagine that an order for 100 kits plus spares and electronics would be in the region of $25-30,000? In any case my point was that Sandy started out smaller than this and only worked up to that level after a couple of years hard work as far as I can tell. That is still a big gamble for a small guy starting out.
Am I way off base?
Mike
Not at all in my opinion. Makes sense to me.
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Old Jun 22, 2015, 11:01 AM
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It would help to have a dealer (local) network to handle problems, explain assembly, sell product and spare parts, and just (in general) be there for the buyer - new sailor, or experienced.

If Graupner is looking to allow a distributor to sell product without all of the supporting functions, but at distributor costs - not dealer costs, I think the idea isn't very sound and promises to just add to the poor image of Graupner corporate.

A very good big boat sailing friend ventured into the selling of in-line skates and skate boards - only to find the big companies liked to "dump" product at their retail cost which was less than his buying cost. Xerox tried same thing in late 1970's - getting office supply houses to handle, sell, install and maintain copiers --- and shortly thereafter Xerox opened their own stores selling - Hey --- Xerox copiers ! Guess who had the best cost selling the same copier? Guess who ended copier sales and service? Guess who had to close their stores and go back to direct corporate sales .... and who got the bad rep?

If Graupner wants to sell overseas - and without a supported dealer network, then the costs for a (US) sailor to purchase AND ship needs to be less than - or equal to the actual selling price that European sailors see. I understand there are freight costs involved, but it is Graupner's decision to market and if retail costs are so high here, there simply won't be many sales at all.

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Old Jun 22, 2015, 11:18 AM
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I think the" buy in" is less than the numbers being discussed. But the number is meaningless with out the appropriate margins! Volumes are not going to be earth shaking, so profit margins have to be there for any deal to make sense. We all know "No" or "low profits" translate to poor or no service!

Sandy from the indications did a good job for the original Graupner, but like many who become involved in a "buy out", he may have gotten the shaft. I don't know the facts but I sense that in his case they "threw the baby out with the bath water".

In conversations I've had with Sandy, dealing with the German Graupner was not a "cake walk" and required him to fill the voids in their lacking business practices. Perhaps the new owners are better business people and have better quality control and shipping abilities.

For any hobby shop to take on the line, they'd have to have adequate margins and inventory turns to merit adding the stock. As has been discussed, most brick and mortar Hobby Shops know little about RC sailing or care. It would a positive thing for an RC Sailor to take them on rather than someone that could care less.
Time will tell,
Boomer

It is nice to have Mannie from Graupner USA respond to our comments ! Thank you!
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