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Whites Electronics, founded in 1950 and producers of some of the worlds best metal detectors has ceased all production at its Sweet Home facility in the USA.
This email was sent out to dealers on June 18th, 2020.
To our valued White’s Dealers-
This is a very difficult message to write, but the time has come for retirement from White’s Electronics.
We are suspending manufacturing operations at our Sweet Home facility while we re-evaluate the future of the company. It is never easy to make these decisions, however, we are faced with the reality of intense competition in the industry and ongoing counterfeit instruments coming from China. Lastly, there have been critical material shortages since the Covid 19 shutdown that we now find insurmountable.
All of us here in Sweet Home are grateful for your service. We consider each of you as part of the White’s extended family.
They say “suspending” manufacturing however it is clear from the content of the email that this is very likely the end of the road for White’s.
This is further confirmed by a post over on Regton’s Facebook page which states that White’s UK is working with White’s USA to secure machines and parts so they can continue to supply and service their machines in the future.
If that is indeed the case then it is good news for any existing White’s owners here in the UK however, as all manufacturing has ceased in the USA it is clear that there is going to be a finite number of machines and parts to be had. What happens when supplies run out? Will White’s UK be able to carry on as a going concern? Time will tell.
Was it really the Chinese?
The writing has been on the wall for a long time. White’s mentions that Chinese counterfeits are one of the reasons for their predicament but surely it is more to do with a lack of innovation on their part over the past 10 years? The machines were looking increasingly old and overpriced and were outclassed in terms of performance.
The real competition was not from counterfeits but from their contemporaries. Nokta Makro, Quest and Minelab had all moved forward and have been producing super high-quality machines with modern features, excellent performance and at prices that White’s just could not match. If you don’t innovate in this business you die. Simple as that. Even Garrett have realised this and released the superbly specced and very modern Ace Apex.
The Chinese have certainly been producing copies…not counterfeits as they now use their own brand names so people know what they are buying, however, most detectorists simply would not purchase these machines so does it really affect the bottom line that much? Also isn’t there a ban on these machines entering the USA?
If any company is affected by Chinese copies it would be Fisher and Teknetics. Their machines are probably the most copied of all time. Will we be seeing them also throw in the towel any time soon?
The pandemic that has swept the world over the past months has certainly hit many companies hard. And as most of the world’s electronics are produced in Chinese facilities and many of these were closed down for two months or more it is easy to see the effects this has had on the supply chain. However, White’s machines are manufactured in the USA. Or should that be “Assembled In The USA”?
If the electronics were produced in the USA then Covid-19 would have had minimum impact on White’s. After all, the USA was not in lockdown for many months and even when it did finally catch up the lockdown was patchy and often very different depending on where you were located. The USA was White’s biggest market. People were still detecting there. Unlike in Europe where detectorists had problems leaving their homes let alone going detecting.
It is very sad to see such an iconic name in the metal detecting industry having to shut its doors. My first detector back in the late 70
s’ was a White’s. It was my introduction to this fantastic hobby and I have very fond memories of it. But, time moves on and companies need to move with it.
White’s, much like Fisher, has pretty much stood still over the last few years. Others have forged ahead and been successful, even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and the resultant recession we are all experiencing right now.
There are still many thousands of White’s machines out there, being used every day by detectorists across the world. I am sure this will be the case for years to come and who knows? perhaps someone will turn up with a plan and the funding to enable the brand to continue into the future, all be it on a smaller scale and hopefully with a more competitive product. I for one certainly hope so.
Since this article first appeared it was announced that Garrett Metal Detectors has now taken over support for Whites machines and customers.
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