Is it just me or is Laser Performance causing drama left and right

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by tkjazzer, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. tkjazzer

    tkjazzer Member

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    1) it appears to me (without any knowledge) that Laser Performance is behind the drama that trigger the vote and rule change.

    2) Laser Performance seems to me (as a customer) as taking away any dealer who is not selling "enough" lasers. You might notice that there are drastically fewer online Laser dealers.

    Should we all boycott and buy from the company in Australia?
     
  2. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    They have protected territory, you'll have a hard time getting a boat built by PSA into any of LP's territory. Same with parts..

    How do you boycott a company that runs out of inventory anyway ?
     
  3. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    I think the dealer-centric business model which helped the class thrive 40 years ago has become obsolete in the age of internet commerce and global offshoring of manufacturing. This is the root cause of the drama, be it expensive class-legal sails or ownership of intellectual property.
     
  4. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Maybe..

    Something to be said for being able to drive 30-60 minutes in North America and get the part you need that day though. Same thing for having the local dealer on-site at regattas in their area or going to look at a new boat before buying...
     
  5. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    The absolute only reason dealers are not selling boats as they used to is dealers are not selling boats as they used to.

    Also, the builders are not building and selling boats as they used to. Buiulders used to be guys who designed a boat and tested it and fell in love with it and tehn tried to tell everybody else, "Look what ' made!!!."

    Dealers used to be guys who absolutely loved sailing and everything about it who decided to take their interest and knowledge and skills and enthusiasm and have a go at making money from that set of passions and skills. Laser dealers used to eb the guys screaming, "Look what I'm sailing!!!. Want one??!!! I'll help you rig it and show you how it worksand fix it when you break it and keep parts around for when you lose or bust parts and if anything new comes out I will test it myself and let you lknow if I love it enough to buy it."

    Much like sailing associations, dealerships cannot be run like businesses by people who are looking at the bottom line. The Laser and every other small boat prospered in this world while dealers ( and sailboat association leaders) were just the folks who loved the game and wanted to do everything possible to drag others out to play.

    Certainly a well run storefront ( or pretty class publication) is a nice thing but the reason people buy boats from places like APS, layline and other mail order houses is knowledge of teh salesmen as much as the the content of the store ( or publication). Those mail order houses are staffed with experts who know more and care more than those folks who are still manning local dealerships.

    Sure, all of us would love to buy local, but when the local dealer doesn't even know which tiller is the very best one for me and what length a fellow who hikes like me needs, or which line is the very best for my application..I may as well order over the phone or internet with a person who at least knows what questions need to be asked of me before he can give me any decent advice.

    Laser selling , dealership management and association mangement are each way more than selling things for the right price, keeping good books and appearing to be professional. The sailors will either feel a real welcoming extended hand backed by trustable knowledge sufficient to guide anyone who asks all the way to the Olympics or World Championship...or when failing to find that Water Mitty fantasy, the may have been a laser sailor person will find that fantasy elsewhere.

    Dinghy dealers and class mangers need to be absolute experts about those dinghies they promote and have the sense to keep a phone and computer handy such that no one who ever asks for information or product can possibly find that product or answer more easily than by asking that dealer or class manager.

    When the answer is, "There are a dozen options" those go to experts must be fluent in most of those dozen and be prepared to discuss the pros and cons, or the curious sailor will go elsewhere...and likley to some other toy.

    Rumor has it parts like dolly wheels are currently not in stock at the old North American Laser company. Last year the rumors had to do with a lack of sails, rudders, and centerboards.

    The rumors OUGHT TO BE...Since those new guys took over, every part is always available and warranty service and customer service in general is better than it has ever been.

    Why??

    because anything less means the new guys suck by comparison to someone else and

    guess what new guys??
    Everybody who has even the slightest bad experience is going to tell everyone you suck and why you suck.

    Businessmen know that.

    ALL businessmen know that.

    Most people who have never even run a business know things like "One bad customer experience negates the good will of a thousand happy customers."

    As we know the new guys know all about how to run a business..

    and as we know they aren't doing it very well at all.

    The last rumor I heard was about 120+ customers who were totally pissed at teh fruitcakes who cannot even manage to keep a supply of dolly wheels?? WTF?? Do these clowns think Seitech dollies are supposed to be dragged around on their frames??

    Their actions scream..."Drag your dollies suckers. We don't give hoot.".

    They MUST want us to go to regattas, gather around, have a few beers to loosen up our inhibitions and ...

    stand around cussing and complaining about what a bunch of sorry assed useless fools have bought the tooling and taken over occasional production of some sort of half assed line of not very well built and serviced sailboats...

    What do I mean by implying the boats are poorly built??

    Well guys,...if you fruitcakes don't even comrehend the necessity of something as obvious and visible as a wheel and tire...how can we believe you would notice a reinforcement where a cleat goes or care whether the hull and deck are properly bonded together??

    OMG the thickness of the mast sections could not possibly be a concern of yous.

    I suspect everything you do is done with the same don't give a damn about the customers who buy these toys.

    We all know how they could have kept us from feeling this way and writing stuff like this...

    They are businesmen and ...well ...what do you think??
     
  6. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    Much as I have enjoyed sailing Lasers for 30 years, I am beginning to question whether I might be happier sailing another boat where (a) spare parts are actually available and (b) new equipment (e.g. a mast section) doesn't fail the first time I use it. I met a Laser sailor yesterday who told me that the latest unavailable part is the auto-bailer. Now, if only the RS100 wasn't quite so expensive...
     
  7. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    FWIW, to the best of my knowledge, parts & boats supply haven't been a concern in Australia. It seems to be a European / American problem.
     
  8. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Your too kind - It's a Laser Performance problem.
     
  9. Super Delegate

    Super Delegate Member

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    I completely agree. Nice rant Gouv.

    Although, I will add this just to mix things up a bit. I am aware of some long-overdue restructuring within the company. Changes abound, and with them will most likely be a change in inventory management. The company itself has been through quite a bit in the past 10 years, multiple changes of ownership, changes in branding, dealing with a failing economy, (losing Gouv) etc.. As we all know, a small sailing dinghy is considered a luxury expense, and when the market deflates based on a bad economy, it hits people in the pocket, hard. Expendable income shrivels and people tighten up, as a result businesses (like LP) tighten up also. I would estimate LP has been extremely conservative with its sales projections and therefore ordering less product on hand, a familiar story across the country in many industries.. The problem is probably multi-layered, I would imagine the builders are also having a tough time responding to the low projected orders vs. keeping enough staff and resources.

    You are right in assuming that it is a business, and there is a bottom line. Although it might be a leap to think that they are sacrificing build quality just because they didn't have the part you want in stock. I'm not sticking up for them, because I've been there, I've been looking for some things when they were out of stock. I just know how business works and am willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Most people there, the sales guys, many of the shop workers, are avid laser sailors and love the boat just as much as we do.

    Personally, I would love to see people sailing all sorts of different boats, but I would hate it if people left their lasers because of a temporary inventory problem. If you can't sail your boat because you are missing a dolly wheel, well, I don't know what to say. What did you do before Peter ever made the dollies? You didn't drag your boat to the launch, did you?

    All I'm saying is keep the faith my brethren. There is a reason this boat has survived longer than any other.

    Go ahead, flame away...
     
  10. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    No, no real flaming.

    Soon we can't get just a bailer chute anymore. APS may have two legal ones left. Have to buy the whole assembly. $17 for a parts kit vs $80 something for the whole thing.
     
  11. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Keep the faith in what ? Laser Performance or the ILCA or ??? :(

    LP has had a couple of years to get their inventory act together, adjust forecasts etc.. Have we seen any progress or change. Perhaps it's more then that ie cash flow issues and vendors no longer giving them extended terms.
     
  12. Super Delegate

    Super Delegate Member

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    These aren't apples in a grocery store or spark plugs at Napa, they are custom built products that are being sourced from only one builder. Its not like you can go elsewhere when they run out, they are at the mercy of the manufacturer.

    I saw a change when they had trouble getting blades last year. They went with another type of FRP blade from a different vendor. That is a proactive step.

    I agree though, I do think cash flow is probably the main problem in all of this.

    I was saying keep the faith in general, don't be so quick to jump ship.

    I have my issues with the ILCA though... another matter.
     
  13. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    Keep the faith? I think all of us have "faith" in the boat. We all appreciate what Bruce Kirby created for us and all the fun it has given us over decades.

    But we have one manufacturer who seems to be disappointing many of us with the lack of availability of parts when we need them and often poor quality parts when they are available. And one half of that company seems to have got themselves into a dispute over design rights and royalty payments which apparently threatens their right to build legal boats. Then we have a class association which wants us to change our Fundamental Rule to help that manufacturer in their design rights dispute, and whose officers won't or can't fully explain why we should make that rule change and won't or can't answer all our questions about it. It's hard to have "faith" in either that manufacturer or that class association any more.

    Meanwhile there is a builder in Australia which appears to have its act together, and a company owned by the same family who owns the Australian builder which appears to have some ambitions to expand into other regions and which is apparently "threatening" to create a new class association for a boat which won't be called a Laser but will be remarkably like a Laser.

    If someone can supply good quality boats that are just like Lasers and can provide good after-sales service, then personally I don't care whether it is made in Australia or China or Rhode Island and I don't care whether it's called a Laser or a Kirby Sailboat. Or am I missing something here?
     
  14. Super Delegate

    Super Delegate Member

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    Those are good points, and I will say it again, I am frustrated with the class politics and have been for years. I am merely playing devil's advocate and trying to define what are legitimate complaints and what are not.

    It would be naive not to assume that purchasing parts from Australia wouldn't be a temporary fix. How long until they are backordered, they would now be flooded with US orders. The same strain would be set upon the builders, would it not?

    The point is, we don't know what will happen if the Laser class gets turned on its head. No one can predict that. If we create a new class of Kirby 14's, then would all of the other 200,000 Lasers now be obsolete and unable to compete in a regatta? Probably, right? I mean, it is a "class", that is the point. And do you really think a Kirby 14 with its antiquated design can truly compete as a new class on the world stage? I don't believe it can. Not with all of the sport boats out there now. The strength of the Laser class is built on its overall size and quantity, starting at square one smells like disaster.

    I think the class and its builders, dealers and everything else in the Laser world has only survived this long because we, the people, wanted it. If we split everyone into groups we are dividing the very foundation of this class. You may sail a Kirby, I sail a Laser, different regattas, smaller numbers, less interest. I can't predict what would happen, but it seems like an ominous answer to, no doubt, a very difficult question.
     
  15. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    True, we don't know what will happen. But if the Australian builder does start selling boats in other regions of the world that comply with the Laser Construction Manual but are called Kirby 14s, then I'm sure it would be possible to come up with a form of words for a class rule that would allow the 200,000 Lasers already built and the new Kirby 14's to compete in regattas together on equal terms. If the boats are all identical who cares if they have different names or different logos on the sail? It seems to me that it would be in the interests of the builder to facilitate such an outcome.
     
  16. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    As the replica suppliers have shown, it's not that difficult to get spars/blades/sails from other sources. All along the builders have tried to maintain at least two suppliers so it would never be an issue with a single manufacturer. IMHO, and if I recall correctly, I don't consider the blades a proactive step, it seemed like a re-active step when one supplier cut them off and LP didn't want to buy anything from PSA (or PSA refused to sell them their blades ?)
     
  17. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    Blades have for a very long time been an issue with the number of suppliers. PSA saw an opportunity to begin supplying blades and thus becoming that 2nd supplier. As Tracy has pointed out before, subsequently Compton wanted to cease production because the company was no longer interested in producing them and that decision was unrelated to the production of blades in Australia but related to changes in direction of the company. PSA ability to supply the boards world wide was in my opinion impossible considering the size of the business and LP was forced to develop their own blades. You also need to consider that the produces of replica parts don't need to meet any tolerances, it much easier to supply something that just looks like a laser rudder than having to supply something that fits within the tolerances of of dimensions, weight, flexibility, strength, bend characteristics etc.
     
  18. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    I can't comment on the replica blades as to how well they have duplicated shape/weight/stiffness, but I can comment on the replica spars that are available in the US, having sailed with, weighed and deflected a few and they match up quite well. None of this stuff is exotic or high tech so I wouldn't be surprised to find the blades match up either. Our friends in the far east have proved to be quite adept at copying :mad:
     

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