Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Motorsports Authentics On Verge Of Bankruptcy

Story from Reuters.

I guess when you make crappy products, this sort of thing will happen. In all seriousness though, I remember saying years ago that this was a bad idea when you a complete standardization of racing apparel and diecasts. The market worked better when there were competing companies that actually made items worth buying. Maybe it's because I stopped collecting, but the diecast business doesn't seem to be as booming as it was. I haven't bought a new racing hat in over a year because the older ones I have are better. I think it's time to declare MA a failure. My fear was oversaturation of a few certain drivers, and that's what happened. There really are fans of drivers other than the top 5 most marketable and when those fans can't find anything to buy to support their drivers, they go away. Add to that less people watching and paying attention to NASCAR now, this really shouldn't surprise anyone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

MA turned into a really bad place over the past several years. I worked there for quite a while and was a part of one of their MANY massive layoffs. As it turns out, that was the best thing that could have happened to me.

If you think their product quality was crap (I'm not totally sold on that idea), you should have seen the working conditions for the office staff. Horrible would be putting it nicely. Imagine departments being cut 80-90% (some important departments, like Team Relations, were disbanded completely and their duties passed on to others.) Same work load. Just FAR fewer people to do it. Add to that the totally antiquated computer systems (some systems were from the late 1980's) and totally ass backwards procedures. Nightmare. Everyone seemed to be more concerned about collecting "cover your ass" documentation than they were about actually doing their jobs. It was more important to shift blame than it was to actually get product to market. When, former president, Mark Dyer was there, that wasn't the case. He let a lot of people go when he arrived, but then he started hiring more people to replace them. Once Dyer was gone, that changed. Massive layoffs were the order of the day. It made it tough to babysit the fickle licensing departments of the teams, while worrying about your job. I'm sure everyone's job is tough, but there is no way you can possibly imagine how frustrating it was to work in a place like MA.

Your comment about the company only producing products for the top drivers. Well, that is true. MA did that because that's all they could sell. Basically every item had a minimum order quantity. That basically meant, MA had to buy a certain amount of each driver's individual item in order for the vendor to produce it. You could say, "well just buy it and put it in the warehouse and sell it later. At least the product will be available." Well, that's what former president Ruth Crawley preached. That not only led her to "seek other opportunities" it also led the company to have a HUGE amount of worthless inventory once the driver, number, sponsor, team logo, etc changed. Who wanted an AJ Allmendinger #84 in 2008? Well, MA had thousands of items to choose from.

If you knew the total royalties MA had to pay to produce goods, you would understand why a lot of the product is so expensive. In this day and age, the only people who made money off NASCAR souvenirs and diecast were the drivers, the teams and NASCAR. You would be shocked to learn the astronomical express shipping fees MA paid to get product to market because the teams kept changing the artwork (all you Dale Jr fans would be surprised to know that your hero and his company was the worst, by a LONG SHOT.) I saw the company spend $5000 to ship product overnight to a track and the product they shipped was only valued at $1000 retail. However, the teams wanted that product at the track, no matter what MA had to do to make that happen. That team didn't seem to remember sending that item through almost 20 revisions before approval was granted (that process took about three months.)
I don't mean to bash MA. There are still a lot of good people there. However, once the company got off track, it was really hard to right the ship. When they hired Mark Dyer as the president, he had finally seemed to stop the bleeding and actually make a profit. Then, out of the blue, he "decided to leave" and the company began to spiral out of control again. This time, there was no safety net to catch it. It almost seems like someone doesn't want the company to make money.