What caused the fall of RCA?

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What caused the fall of RCA? Empty What caused the fall of RCA?

Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:05 pm

I am somewhat of a history and trivia buff. I have always wondered about why RCA, THE largest electronics company, and one of the largest companies, PERIOD, fell off the face of the earth. I have lived long enough to see General Electric, Westinghouse, RCA, General Motors, International Harvester, Philco, and myriad other industrial giants fade from view. RCA intriques me most. There was a company that had its fingers in every pie that concerned electronics. They called the shots and squashed anyone or anything that got into the way. And the RCA name is still able to sell whatever it is slapped onto, some 30 years after its demise. I have never read an in-depth accounting of who or what did RCA in. Input anyone?

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WC

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Post by simplex1040 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:53 pm

computers. They tried to get into computers.
They tried to diversify and sell frozen foods and carpet, rent cars, and publishing which lead to financial ruin.

Sarnoff's death in 1970
selling back to GE in 1986 Who sold it to Thompson of France.
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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:01 pm

I appreciate you input. I have heard the reasons you cited, but I still don't see how those would kill the largest electronics firm. How did RCA get bought out by GE to start with? And why was it sold? Who made that decision?

Take GM for example. It's demise started in the 1970's. Horrible designs, cutting corners, falling quality, corporate greed. GM sold off or spun off subsidiaries that allowed it to weather rough economic times. Delco-Remy, Guide Lamp, Delco Radio/Electronics, Allison, Detroit Diesel, Hughes Electronics, AC Spark Plug, Frigidaire, Euclid are only a small number of the divisions of GM that no longer exist. Pensions and benefits were a part of the problem, but that had gone on for decades. GM abandoned the commercial car chassis business, the medium duty truck business, the heavy duty truck business, the school bus chassis business. GM now sells over-priced turds that nobody wants. Something similiar happened to RCA. I just need to find out what and who, and when. What frozen food comany? What carpet company? What rent car company? What publishing company? When? Who? Why? How? Surely someone existed in the RCA organization that could have run the company after Sarnoff's death. Did not his son run RCA for awhile? What was his gig? How did RCA get sold to GE? GE itself was on the ropes in the '80's. Was this deal like the Studebaker-Packard merger? The weaker company bought the stronger company and they both went down? I appreciate your input, Sim, and just need a little more information to satisfy my curiosity.

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WC

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Post by 75X11 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:41 pm

Take a look at the Wikipedia rundown on RCA's history. As with most of their entries, this would make a starting point for further exploration. My mother worked for their CRT plant in Marion, IN in the early '60s. I remember that plant stayed open until one day in 1993 when they put out the Go Away mat and ceased operations.
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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:52 pm

I had a friend whose parents both worked at the RCA plant in Bloomington, Indiana in the 1960's. His dad bought a school bus and hauled riders to RCA to make extra money. Bob's dad was always bringing home electronic items that had "failed inspection" on the line. Apprently, if you worked for RCA and had a friend/neighbor/relative/total stranger who wanted a certain electronic item, Bob's dad would slip the inspector responsible for that item some cash to "fail" the item and then Bob's dad could buy it for cheap. Then Bob;s dad would sell the item for near retail. I read the Wikipedia article and it was too vague in certain details. Like you said, it is a starting point. Frankly, that article gave me more questions than details. Thanks, you guys, for your input. The answer is out there.

Regards

WC

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Post by Bill Cahill on Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:09 pm

The way I heard it was GE never sold RCA. What happenned is long ago they hired Zarnoff to run RCA, and, keep it as a competitor.
Zarnoff started making major mistakes when he did stupid things like cutting corners, and, then, started sending construction to Japan before anyone else did. He cut the labor force here, and, business started going downhill fast in the '60's.
Zarnoff tried going into food production, and, that was the end. GE fired him, and, I think in 1972 sold the name to Japan, and, closed all plants here, putting RCA Victor out of business. All funding ceased, and, buildings abandonned. I once saw a computer picture of the plant in NJ being stripped of equipment, and, stuff being tossed into dumpsters. I was told somone saved a large nipper statue.
The building was eventually sold, and, is now an apartment building called Victor apartments. It has the restored original closks, and, steeple on top that Say RCA.
INside they have a music room with a grand piano, and, a nipper dog statue near it. They have one modern large picture advertising RCA equipment, and, what looks like a Victor 111 outside horn grammophone painted red, white, and, blue.
No kidding. I saw it in an earlier picture of inside of apartment building. The mannufacturing plant is now part of the main lobby of the hotel.

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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:26 pm

I read the Wikipedia article again. This time more thoroughly. Apparently RCA tried to become a major conglomerate and abandoned or neglected its core business. RCA did not fail specifically, it just died of neglect and a lack of interest on the part of its managers, apparently. Just like fading into the sunset. I have a 1992 RCA console that was built in the Bloomington plant. I have a 1996 Console that was built by Thomson Electronics, supposedly in Mexico(?). Both have been great tv's. My year old RCA flatpanel was built in cyberspace somewhere.

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Post by Bill Cahill on Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:13 pm

Here's the link on the hotel. More changes have been made, and, thsese are different pictures, but, they do show the music room with the piano, and, nipper. You only barely see the clock tower now.
http://www.4walls.us/The-Victor-70804/images.html

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Post by simplex1040 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:58 pm

Yes trying to do "other" things that your corporation does not have a background in spells disaster as usually your cash flow starts going down so you start cutting corners and closing plants of your core business.
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Post by 75X11 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:34 pm

It seems like some large and long standing businesses have a "death gene" and at some time, it just cuts in and the company drifts along on the money and reputation it had and then just gives it up. Sears, Roebuck & co. grew stronger and bigger until about the time that the Sears Tower was built, then they started gliding, and falling and selling away itself. Iirc, they only occupied any space in the tower for only 5 years, then they couldn't afford to be there. One thing about RCA though, It's rapid demise showed that it took sheer will to make it adapt and succeed while it did.
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Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:01 am

I predict that we will live long enough to see the demise of Walmart. It is getting so big that it is starting to feed on itself. I have Walmart stock and keep track of the company. It is under assault from unions trying to get a toe hold. It is being sued for employment practices. Upper management has veered from the solid footing set my Sam Walton. They have a hard time attracting competent and dependable employees. There is so much inventory in distribution centers and store back rooms, but no employees to get it on the shelf. Sears was the largest retailer in the world less than 30 yers ago. Now look at them. Walmart will be in the same boat if someone at the top does not open their eyes. The Walton family is so rich that they could care less.

Walmart has one of the largest trucking fleets in the US. They own thousands of trailers and hire other trucking companies to pull some of them. They are trying to get into the manufacturing and the oil refining business. They want to refine, and market fuel so that they can control fuel costs to their fleet. Emerson is now a Walmart brand. They have so much variety that they have insufficient stock of their popular sellers on the shelf. Still, they are cutting hours to their employees. They are doing just the opposite of Sears, but it will be just as disastrous. Sears canned their own brands like Silvertone, Homart, etc., and started selling what everybody else sold. They were no longer unique and were not lower priced. Walmart is getting to be the same way. Their "Great Value" store brand used to be as much as 20% cheaper than the big brands. Now only a few cents seperates them, so they are no longer the value they used to be. Many of their commercials are geared to recruiting employees rather than marketing the company. My Walmart stock has been a traditionally good performer, but I am getting nervous. My broker thinks I should consider bailing. Apparently, I am not the only one considering that.

Walmart has threatened to pull out of markets where conditions are unfavorable to them, witness Washington, DC. That is like GM killing brands, Olds and Pontiac, with its resulting loss of market share. RCA neglected its core business and went down the tubes. International Harvester get silly over horsepower and their differentials and final drives could not take the pressure, along with letting the unions call the shots for too long. The same with Studebaker. It goes on and on. When a company divests itself of all its income streams, where will the income come from? GM learned the hard way, and will NEVER be like it was 50 years ago. Walmart is in the same boat as Sears. You would think that the people at the top would learn from history.

Regards

WC

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Post by Guest on Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:19 am

I agree with you 100% about WalMart. I worked for a company that used to supply them with telephone systems. One day a location had a minor problem ( but a major effect on operation) with the telephone system and called in. When the technician wanted them to enter a code on the dial pad of the main phone, the WalMart employee in charge went wild!  We were told to send a new unit overnight, so we did and they without phone service for 24 hours instead of a few minutes. I have my own business now and was called to fix a problem at a local WalMart. They insisted I where a dark blue shirt and didn't believe my diagnosis of the problem, then told me I couldn't leave until they said it was OK!  CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT!!!!!!!! Needless to say when I get a call for WalMart service I laugh and hangup!
 
When we stop being humble we begin to crumble, this applies to everyone and everything.

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Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:29 am

Walmart used to have its own "radio station" piped into the stores with music and information 24-7. That was canned due to costs. The employees really liked that. Now they play a CD over and over at 42 minute intervals with Justin Bieber and Dixie Chicks crap 25 times a day. Little things like that can put a company on its butt. Walmart is hell on its suppliers. It is Walmart's way or the highway. Almost all damaged merchandise is charged back to the vendor. It will only take one of Walmart's major suppliers to tell them to take a hike for disaster to strike. I fear that day is coming.

Regards

WC

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Post by simplex1040 on Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:40 pm

Dollar general is giving walmart a run for their money. They are building in small towns that walmart cannot afford to build in. I avoid walmart at all costs. I go to the Dollar General about 6 blocks from the house.
I stopped buying groceries at walamrt a few years ago, their produce stinks so bad why do they even have it.
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