26 Proteus 1 week ago buying brands that are suffering and/or for sale, and more often than not, closing them down or turning them into a cheap import But then WHY were the brands suffering? What business model would have worked? Very often these failed companies have been spun up by one or two guys with an idea and a passionate mission, who managed to put something great out there which become all the rage, and then had to scale up production and brave all the horrors of the retail music business. Production, personnel, capital, regulation, supply chain, marketing, trade shows, dealer relations, logistics, etc. For a guy with the skill set, it's easy to build one-offs and prototypes and maybe sell a few - and be loved by everyone for innovation and doing-it-the-old-fashioned-way determination. Being the feisty little guy, doing it right. Scaling that up to actual commercial production - and surviving - is a bitch. I believe the dreamers and founders of every "failed" company we've mentioned burned out on some part of the business - or just got bored - and either cashed or just got out, leaving their brands behind with best wishes to be run by whoever was left to run them.Depending on decisions the remaining caretakers made, and how they responded to music fashion and evolving market conditions, the brands then either thrived or thrashed about, based. A few kinda made it - most foundered. It's possible to argue that FMIC kept most of the flounders alive for longer than they would otherwise have lived - always by trying to continue to build (under evolving production conditions, to be sure) and sell the signature products which had floated the flounders in the first place.Very few companies manage the trick of remaining the same size, with the same character they had at startup. If it's a handful of people doing the thing they love, and that they know how to do, maybe. But it's in most entrepreneurs' nature to try to grow the thing they do, to make more of it, possibly to get to the point where they don't have to work 60-80 hour weeks themselves. Growth is just hard to manage. It takes investment and risk to get economies of scale that make your product more affordable. Once you grow to a certain point, take on responsibilities of personnel and debt, the thing takes on a life of its own, wants to survive at all costs. Then the love goes out of it and it turns into a monster. That monster either grows or shrinks; in any case, it's never again what it started out to be. Unless those key people are in place to continue to infuse the operation with purpose, passion, and fresh ideas, it turns into a zombie hulk.The challenge is to continue to do that One Thing well - just more of it. If you can't, or the market doesn't want it, it may be time to close up shop. I don't know what was so special about Tacoma that they deserved to survive (or Ovation, for that matter, though Ovation at least had a "thing" - just a thing I found ridiculous). On the basis of a number of original products, I think Guild deserved to survive - but whatever the "original" company was was already long gone when FMIC came along, and the brand's family jewels are now under the care of another custodian. Hopefully it will survive.Hamer? Again, I have a great US-made Hamer, a Korinna LP doublecut shape thinline with P90s. It's a wonderful guitar. But in the end, Hamer's thing just wasn't unique enough - and there apparently weren't enough people with warm fuzzy feelings about the original guitars to sustain a brand. Had Paul Hamer's original crew continued building guitars, a few at a time? He'd still be ready to retire now.Did Kramer deserve to live? Not in my view. The company would have sunk in the 80s with its fabulous reason-for-being original aluminum-necks, and only got "important" enough for anyone to buy because of the brain-dead inane Eddie guitars and me-too superStrats it pimped out through the 80s. Not even nostalgia should be enough to save Kramer. Some may have a soft spot for the brand name, not me. (And I'll never give up my aluminum-neck 350.)I do think Steinberger and Tobias deserved better. They were unique items in the market. I can't speak to what happened to them under Gibson's stewardship - but given what Henry J's Gibson was doing to itself, I wouldn't conclude they had to die. ANYway, each of these sagas certainly has its own arc, details that make its business history distinct from the others, and I don't know that we're doing them any favors by lumping them together as "brands Corporate USA bought in order to kill them."I mean, I get being suspicious of "big companies." I get not trusting The Man. But geez! This isn't a national broadcasting company buying a little guitar company. It's not a piano maker diversifying and getting into both guitars and mortgage service. It's a guitar company - who makes and manages the guitars we all like best, integrating vertically by owning a critical component which goes on, I'm guessing, hundreds of thousands of guitars a year. It seems no company big enough to survive is pure and authentic enough to satisfy us.There might be a parallel to draw between General Motors in its heyday and Fender today. GM assembled a family of complementary brands, all of which competed in the market with each other, but only infrequently cannibalized each others' sales. GM also ending up owning and operating many of its component suppliers. And for over 40 years, GM did all that very successfully and, I think, did justice to all its divisions. Each was allowed to be creative and innovative, each was allowed to go the direction its market lead (or in which it lead the market). I think the public benefited. GM had been "too big to fail" for decades before it finally did fail - and it wasn't Big that killed it. It was a combination of the ongoing weight of negotiated benefit responsibilities, failure to adapt soon enough or well enough to changing automotive tastes and needs, complacency about quality, and - worst of all - stagnation of creativity and vision at the top, with a corresponding loss of identity (and then sales) among its brands.FMIC won't last forever - no business can - but I don't see signs of internal rot yet. It seems to me we distrust Fender because it's successful.Ya just can't win.