Ten-Tec has a new owner with long-term vision

TenTecLogoMany thanks to several readers who sent a link to this discussion by software engineer, John Henry (KI4JPL) on the Ten-Tec email discussion group:

I wanted to bring people up to date on what is happening right now.

I had a discussion with the new owner last night, and I wanted to relay some information.

He is now officially the new owner of TEN-TEC.

He is planning the rigs and amplifiers and other accessory products to engineer and to manufacture for the coming year to cover the purchase and expenses for the year, working on the details of the various plans for service, sales, and marketing, etc.

Don’t underestimate the amount of time and planning and effort that this business strategy planning maintaining overhead etc stuff takes.

Learning lessons from the past to help the future of the company be more viable.

What will you see? and when?

Planning on having the OMNI-VII back in production in 1st quarter 2016, hoping to ship in 2nd quarter 2016.

Dayton, He will be there, going to try to get the same TEN-TEC booth/booths as possible. Showcasing the existing products, and possibly something new based on the existing products, time will tell.

He did say that he will either bring back the Orion II or have an Orion III. Time frame is tbd. could be as early as end of 2016 or Dayton 2017????

There might be improvements/changes to certain rigs, e.g. maybe there will be an OMNI-VII+ maybe an OMNI-VIII in a year???

The Eagle will go back into production some time after the 1st OMNI-VII run.

Prices will return to the original pre liquidation sale prices when the new website is up so that each will be at a point that will make enough profit to make the company viable. Other features will get added where possible.

TEN-TEC was actually shipping a $200 bill with every one of a specific model that it sold this last year.

There were so many ways that TEN-TEC has been hemorrhaging over the last couple of years, and even back a bit further, that changes will have to be made. Some the public won’t like, but then the alternative is that TEN-TEC would close forever.

Also remember, it was made public that the two owners of RKR were looking for a new owner, and how many stood up to say “I’ll buy it/fund it/save it”. This gentleman did and will do what he has to do to keep the brands alive.

There are plans to bring back some VERY good products, items that have been big sellers for TEN-TEC just a few years ago, and were profitable and have been requested for quite some time.

Also, there are still commercial orders coming in that will be there for maybe another year or two using the same RX331/RX340 platforms that will help him maintain a cash flow that will help realize amateur market production runs. There might be a need in the future to try to raise some more capital if certain plans come to fruition with commercial and fema customers, if those work out, may need to raise some cash to buy the parts, so there might be a gofundme funding campaign set up, where amateur customers can help donate to purchase the parts, and then part of or all of or x times the amount of the donation is taken off of their next order of a TEN-TEC product > a certain dollar amount. No, don’t look for exchanging your $100 donation to cover 1/2 of a Rebel, that won’t happen, Talking a major product, e.g. an OMNI-VII, or a high powered amp….. To do this first class, we need a 200K capital infusion for a new factory building and some new equipment to replace that was liquidated if anyone cares to step
up and accelerate our success. 400K would give us the facility, equipment and capitol to put everything back in production to a stocking basis and allow us to complete the Orion III. If 400 people will give us 1K each, we will commit to the Orion III of your dreams in 18-24 months and give you 2K off the target price of 5K as well as engrave your name and call on a plaque on the new building that says you helped build it and save TEN TEC.

Where do I fit in?

No, I’m not the owner, but I am going to do whatever I can in the evenings to ensure that TEN-TEC is a success. I want to see it be a success, and maintain what can be maintained of the people, and improve it’s image/products/etc back to where they were years ago. The owner is quite insistent that I remain intimately involved with TEN-TEC even if it is on a part time basis. It is my choice of how much or little I spend on TEN-TEC
and the door is assuredly left open for me to come and go as I please. He wants me to be the VP of Engineering, but, well, time will tell how all of this plays out.

I am also working on digital modes for HRD, so, my evenings are quite interesting.

In the future, who knows?

Where do you fit in?

Be patient, this is a total reboot of a company, ripping away the excess that bleeds it dry (e.g. high rent, using an MRP system that costs $$$$ monthly when something is already in place to take care of it, changing to a cost effective internet/phone system, so many “luxuries” will be removed and put in their place the necessities to get business going profitably), and building the business and products with the key employees to make it strong again. You build the employees, the employees build the company. But it will take time.

The products are there, the technology is also there for the future (some things that were in the works that no one in the public knows about) that the new owner has a plan to finish soon.

Actually, TEN-TEC does need to take the time it will take to make it a success. Otherwise if he runs headlong into this as was done in the past, he will fail. If people buy rigs and amps and tuners and other accessories elsewhere in the meantime, well, that is their decision. The market continually has new and continued customers. existing customers periodically look for something new, enough of a continual market that should sustain itself for years.

The new products coming out that are planned include continuances of good known technology, and of course some are a step ahead of what is in the market today, and you will see those in 1-2-3 years.

I will not divulge nor answer speculation on anything further than what I have stated above as to what products, when, etc. I can also tell you is that the owner has emphatically stated to me that this the last time Ten Tec will change hands for the next 15-20 years or so as he is my age and plans for us both to operate it until we are in our 70s or physically unable to continue, so Ten Tech could not be in the hands of anyone more SERIOUSLY long term goal oriented. He has wanted Ten Tech for a long time for the excellent DSP AGC technology built in to our transceivers so I think it is safe to say that there will be future generations of the Omni, and Orion style units as finances permit. But again in order for this to happen it is critical that YOU support TEN TEC by purchasing existing TEN TEC products. Look for the Omni 7+ next year.

So, whereas he still wants to remain anonymous until his formal announcement in the first quarter, I myself am convinced that this will work, enough so to help him wherever I can, and so are the key core employees at TEN-TEC. If anything, our message at this time is please be patient with the negativity. There are other things happening behind the scenes which can not yet be publically discussed before they are finished.

If this sounds like cheerleading, well, then so be it, I care about TEN-TEC, the people, the legacy, and will do what I can to make it a success, and, if this fails, well, we will give it a valiant effort.

Please understand that I have other commitments from now until Monday next week that I may not be able to respond/answer questions until then. But do realize, that I have disclosed about as much as I can for now.
This statement came from a draft I created, and the new owner gave me inputs on, which items he felt like disclosing now, etc. So, there may be some he/I/our’s mixed up, but I hope the message from him is clear. TEN-TEC is something he is passionate about, and is committed to making it a success. Yes, there are trials and tribulations, but, he is convinced he can do it, and I will do whatever I can to assist, and so will various core TEN-TEC individuals.

73, KI4JPL

John Henry

This is a most interesting development. As many of you know, I’ve always loved Ten-Tec equipment–I consider their amateur radio receivers to be some of the best on the market. It’s been a tough few years for them and I certainly hope the new owner can inject some energy and innovation behind the brand. I will post updates as they become available.

26 thoughts on “Ten-Tec has a new owner with long-term vision

  1. Dan Robinson

    I have a somewhat disheartening story regarding Ten Tec. Some years ago, I purchased a one owner RX-340, and kept it for a while, but last year decided to sell it (I have detailed my reasons for doing so in some FB posts, in favor of a NRD-545). But before I did sell, I decided to send it to Ten Tec because it had started exhibiting drift, slight drift, but there nonetheless. I did what I considered to be a good job of packing the receiver, and sent it down to Ten Tec. My thread of emails to Ten Tec began in November and it wasn’t until some time in January that I sent it. To start, I should say that the Ten Tec technician was fairly helpful in the beginning, sending instructions on BITE testing, which I did perform but revealed no errors. When the receiver got there, they did confirm its arrival but only after a few emails from me, and they reported a turnaround time of “about 4 weeks”. Then from roughly the end of January to February 27th, I dropped into a hole in which there was little or no communication, until one that said they had performed only a power reset, and repaired the rear coaxial connector, which they claimed was due to my own mis-packing (which I frankly doubted at the time, and still do). Then there were emails referring to some “major ice storm” which had closed the Ten Tec offices. My emails stop at that point, but at some point in the days after I finally received the RX-340 back. There was no reference to any realignment work having been done on the receiver, which was the reason for my shipping it to them in the first place. And the drift was still there — as if nothing had been done at all to the receiver, though they charged me several hundred dollars, apparently only for a “power reset”. I ended up with a damaged rear coaxial connector, and a receiver still with drift. Again, I proceeded with selling the radio, primarily because I had decided it was inferior to others I had, including a NRD-545 and older Watkins Johnson receiver. But overall, the experience with Ten Tec service left a bad taste, and on that basis alone I would not purchase again from them. Others may have had five star experiences with their service department. I did not.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      That is very unfortunate, Dan. Did the repair work take place this year? I ask because ever since they moved to their new location, I’ve found some of the staff unresponsive. I think many were preparing to flee the ship.

      In September, I went to the W4DXCC convention in Sevierville. I called Ten-Tec and asked if I could stop by and take a few pics of their new offices and assembly areas. (In the past, I knew key people at Ten-Tec and they knew me–I wouldn’t have even called to say that I was popping in.) The front desk person told me she’d have to clear that with their corporate office in Colorado first. She tols me she’d call back later that afternoon.

      When I arrived at the convention, I mentioned this to my buddy Dave (a ham). He said, “They won’t call you back. They’re owned by Alpha. Alpha doesn’t return calls.” He was right, too. Never got a call back.

      Well before I knew the Ten-Tec staff, though, and before I had become a Beta tester for their transceivers, I owned an OMNI VI+. Beautiful rig. I bought it used from someone who had only operated it for one year and wanted an Icom Pro III. The rig was in mint condition.

      I did notice that the OMNI had a little encoder noise when the RF was turned down and the AF turned up. They recommended I bring it in so they could take a look. I simply drove it the 1.5 hours to their repair shop. I dropped it off in the late morning and picked it up early afternoon.

      Paul, their service manager, went over all they had done: checked and re-worked board grounding, an alignment and full check up. He said that when I brought it in the niose was within spec, but they were able to minimize it a bit more (and they did). Those beautiful LED displays were simply a little noisy when paired with a very sensitive receiver.

      I (internally cringed and then) asked, how much did the repair cost? Paul said, “nothing–it’s on us.”

      I hope under the new owner and leadership, Ten-Tec service is brought back to its previous level. My experience with them was always five star.

      Really hate to hear your story, Dan. Sounds like you did everything right and the process only caused frustration and an extra outlay of cash. No fun.

      -Thomas

      Reply
  2. buzz

    Opinions free of charge: TenTec has always had great design and build quality, but the only areas I see as innovative are their Rebel and Patriot radios. TenTec has consistently ignored the all-mode VHF-UHF amateur markets in favor of HF rigs that don’t compete well with the big 3. The Eagle, a fine looking rig, is twice the price of the comparable Yaesu FT-450D.

    Meanwhile more and more amateur satellites are being launched but the pickings are slim on new rigs to work the birds. HF propagation is in the sink much of the time these days and hams are looking for new stuff to do. TenTec should support this.

    Another way to get ahead of the big 3 would be the portable SDR transceiver action happening in the maker movement. TenTec did take some tentative (hi) steps in new directions when they became a dealer for YouKits – a company that is constantly experimenting and revising – but that relationship seems to have ended.

    I do not see that focusing on more Omnis, Orions and amplifiers is going to take this company very far.

    Reply
  3. Mark Kenward

    Ten Tec has made some terrific products over the years and I hope they make it back. If more of us had supported our only USA ham company(for a time) they would be in better shape.

    I can attest that the Eagle is one fine rig……as is the omni VII.

    I have a Omni VI option 3 and a Paragon II right now, and they hold up well against todays receivers.

    Best of luck to the new Ten Tec.

    P.S. I like the RED dots.

    K8VF

    Reply
  4. Armol F Walrath KB1PIF

    I sent a Jupiter to them a few years back and they said it was all repaired and sent it back. It still didn’t work. Same problem..It was tested by Paul Clinton and sign off as all okay. I tired to repair the DSP board but that proved not good. So I ordered the board on 29 Nov 2012, Shipping and handling was 247.00. I got the board and installed it in the radio and then things started working. I could not get the radio to change Modes in menu. I called them and they said to send it in and they would fix it. I sent it in and they said it was finished and I sent the money. When the radio came back it didn’t work. Transmitt was the problem..this was back in Dec 2012. There was problem with the PA and friend of mine had to repace a LM 358 on the PA board. He fead 4 watts at the preamp pin 1 and got a 100 watts out. The parts that they put in was a 32127 encoder and a circuit board # 81962, and I can’t find any info on thios board.. Modes were made to the preamp Transistor 2SC1971 to a RD06hhF-1. On this board there are tw0 NE612A and on the schematics that I have has two MC1496D’s and there was some modes made to the circuit board to place the RD06hhl-1 in the circuit. I have the radio ready to send to TEN-TEC but have not got an answer from them.. I have own this radio from 2012 and has not work from the time I sent it to Ten-Tec back in 2012..With that kind of servive they should not start back up if they can’t give good servive to people that own their equipment. I own Kenwoods and I repair them and the best radio that I rebuild it the 940S and I have alot of them in my shop…WORKING….KB1PIF

    Reply
  5. Michael Black

    Al Kahn had started Electrovoice in the 1920s, then cofounded Ten-Tec in 1968. I’m not sure what happened (I think I did know once upon a time), but I assume Electrovoice got too big, or Al retired. And Ten-Tec was something to do.

    It was a time of every one wanting high power, so QRP was like a chance to do something new (like “ultralight dxing is today), helped along because it was still easier to use transistors for low power. So Ten Tec came along, selling mostly modules (I can’t remember if they were ever in kit form), but also nifty cabinets and I think the modules in cabinets. All were very simple, direct conversion receivers (these were ham band only) and various transmitter modules, CW only and mostly crystal controlled. Some of the target seemed to be US novice licensees, which at the time were limited to 75 watts, CW and small segments of 80, 40 and 15 metres.

    Eventually they went to a more formal equipment, they had a four band direct conversion receiver for about a hundred dollars by 1971. But it took some time before there was any superheterodyne receivers, or SSB equipment. I think it was the Argo, circa 1974, an SSB transceiver with 5 or 10 watts output.

    And for what seemed like a long time (at the time), it remained simple and low power. They did continue with CW only equipment alongside the SSB stuff.

    They started as the traditional ham companies were fading out, eventually becoming a major US ham company with equipment comparable to anything from Japan, except it was always HF equipment.

    Al Kahn died in 2005, I’m not sure I knew the company was under new ownership. But it’s a transition time, the original owner gone, new ownership coming in. It sounds like the first new owner let things slip (we’re they closing things own, that talk of a liquidation sale makes me wonder), and now another new owner.

    Tat may not improve things, but on the other hand, it may mean a return to previous greatness. Why bother buying it if they aren’t going to keep it going?

    Michael

    Reply
  6. John AE5X

    Really disappointed at this latest bit in a string of bad news from TT. When they announced their impending move last year, coupled with discounted prices on their few remaining products and a merger with Alpha, I think many of us knew something was up. Damage control by John Henry soon followed in the form of positive-sounding explanations. And now he mentions a GoFundMe account and the need to raise $400,000 to get going again?!

    I think the Big Elephant in the room is being ignored. That elephant’s name starts with an E and is based in California. They seem to be doing everything right, not only in rig design but in customer service as well. Even the company owners participate in interacting with customers online for all to see regarding problems, feature requests, etc. If TT gets going again, this is what they will have to compete with as E has raised the bar on what customer service means. And will potential TT buyers trust that the follow-up care will be there in terms of tech support, spare parts, etc? We no longer look to a manufacturer to simply design and sell us a $$$ radio – we also need to know that our investment will still be operational down the road and that its value will hold. I have no doubt my E rig will be supported years from now – that confidence in TT is non-existent.

    Reply
  7. Wade/KJ4WS

    I really hate the horror stories we have been recently been hearing about Ten Tec. I know that my good contact Gary, had to leave because of health issues. Paul Clinton, however continues to be very helpful at answering questions and parts. I enjoy working on the older Ten Tec gear for customers. Many times here recently, we have been able to source parts from other places after Ten Tec has told me that this or that part is not available aka unobtainium. Recently my health has been up and down so we are really backed up on repairs. Also, I am finding more work than we can get done. I will just cross my fingers, and hope for Ten Tec to have a great turn around and get back on top or their game. No matter what happens, my model 586 Paragon will never be for sale. It would be a big shame to see Ten Tec go the same direction Heathkit did. Ten Tec service has always been Legendary and second to none as far as I am concerned. We are wishing the new owner/s the very best of luck. Why he wants to hide his identity has me really puzzled. If it was me, I would be shouting about it from every rooftop we could find….
    73 de Wade/KJ4WS

    Reply
  8. Joe

    I have always wanted to buy a new Ten Tec radio (got into radio age 12 now 76). But from the out set I have heard how hard it is to get service from Ten Tec on their radio’s once you have purchased one. First tried on the phone. Solid state transievers are not that simple to most of us. And it was then shipped back to the factory and the turn around time, according to owners, was just too long. In all those years, even though ten tec cost more, if it was not for this I would have bought one. I think Ten Tec is a beautiful radio; inside and out.
    Joe W. Davis
    N4EJF

    Reply
  9. John T. (TOM) Turner - K4TVI

    Does anyone have an update on the possible new owner buyout of Ten Tec? We need to keep this US company from going under. I want to see them back building a full range of ham gear including high quality 100W rigs and 2.0 kW solid state amplifiers.

    Reply
  10. Pingback: Who Owns The New Ten-Tec / RF Concepts Company Now? | Factual Amateur Radio Technology Services

  11. Jason

    Is this thread as dead at Ten-Tec seems to be? It’s now March, almost April, and still nothing. No website, no sales, no service, nothing. It’s not looking good people….

    Reply
  12. David Arnholt

    I sent a Jupiter (Green Screen ) in for service near the end of Feb or early March 2016. The rig was gone appx two weeks when I received a call from Ten-Tec that the service was complete. It’s back on the air. While it was gone I had my trusty old Omni C fired up and digging out dx on 40 cw.

    Reply
  13. Duane

    I’ve used Ten Tec equipment since the mid ’70’s with good results until present. Two years ago (Summer of ’14) I sent a nice Orion back to Tennessee to have the display replaced as it had vertical lines thru it. In spite of multiple calls, no fix was provided. At about 18 months, (late Fall of ’15) I was called to inform me that the radio was totally trashed, needed the receiver repaired and aligned, needed new finals in the transmitter (they went to far as to say someone had replaced the finals with incompatible parts and would never work anyhow) and was probably NOT worth fixing. In my humble opinion, this is all a pack of lies as I TALKED ON THE RADIO the night before I sent it in. How stupid do these people really think we are???

    My remedy for this problem is that I have switched to other radios I own and sincerely hope they enjoy their new Orion as I will NOT pay for being lied to by people who are trying to burn me on repairs. I’ve sold all of my Ten Tec equipment and will never be burned again by these liars. It’s such a shame that the USA companies can ‘t produce radios and service them while treating their customers with honesty and integrity. RIP Ten Tec as I am DONE!!!

    Reply
    1. David Arnholt

      I’m sorry to hear about the Orion. I recently had a Jupiter serviced by Ten – Tec and it came back in great operating condition. I bought my first Ten Tec gear in 1980 and have used T-T only since then, other than amplifiers.

      Reply
  14. Brian

    Ten-Tec is probably finished. The new owner has found gold in the commercial/military stuff and the website for amateur stuff has been dormant and unchanged for over a year now. As a HUGE fan of Ten Tec gear, this is sad, but in my search for a NEW rig, I’m off to Elecraft now. Can’t wait forever for Ten Tec to come out with something new.

    This is what happens when sooo many hams go and by Japanese radios. The END of American gear.. thanks to all who sent their money to the Big Three.

    Reply
  15. Barry

    I sent them an email this evening asking if they planned on producing any kits or amateur radio products. With the demise of Heathkit, it sure would be nice if they picked up the market.

    Barry

    Reply
    1. Barry

      Got a reply from TenTec. They don’t plan on building any more kits. No news on other products. They mentioned they still had some 80 meter receiver kits for sale.

      Doesn’t look like they’re going to proceed as far as I can tell.

      Their website seems to have their progress stopped with respect to new consumer products.

      I hope I’m proven to be incorrect as I’d love to see someone pick up the kit and amateur/shortwave market.

      Barry

      Reply

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