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ITs here The link to the VC tour Video

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Dec 16, 2006.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    This took some doing since I never did this before and some road blocks the Pc mac type But as you can see I got it done
    Enjoy the Video .its about 9 minutes long I had to chop some to fall within sixe perameters The video quality could be better but I had to use a lot of compression because of size constraints

    Note We were allowed in the R&D Dept and also insid the control room where they poured the molds I saw how every mold is computer monitored


    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3397773981046662187

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  2. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Looks reasonably nice, and showed alot of the stuff that we saw, as well as some of the people. Good job on the posting Elk.

    Gooserider
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Pretty amazing to see the same woman and guy essembling same guy spraying the enamal . Different guy is the control room of the mold pour
  4. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Cool video. Thanks for posting it, elk.

    If all those processes are at the same plant, that must be one huge plant! I'm glad to see some serious manufacturing still here in America. I hope these guys can survive the current, economic, China syndrome.

    Did they say how many different stove models they make there? Is it all their stuff?

    Man, I wish I could have gone there with you and goose. Looks like a fun tour.
  5. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    cool vid elk, thanks for posting that!
  6. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    The Foundry never closes It would take too long to bring the furnaces back up to temp They employ 3 shifts

    I
    If you read the prior visit post Say you are Stove manufacturer X and you place an order for chineese Castings. F rom the time you place the order and the finished casting arrive on the east coast thats 4 months later The castings first are trucked to container ships then travel the pacific then unloaded on the west coast and trucked east. Bear in mind the time they are handled and the jostling they take If some get damaged on the way Its another 4 months to get replacements. Manurfacturer X recieves the castings and some are dammaged or of inferior quality.
    What is he going to do? He can't send them back. The orders are already placed so he makes due with what he has Quality control just went out the window Think back to last year with the Katrina effect when pellet stoves sold out in Sept and orders kept comming in but most parts are outscourced to China and tripple and more demand is being made I think you are starting to get the idea why quality control was such an issue with even the best manufactures, So much so they started looking around for a better situation. Well European cast are more expensive but only 2 months from order to delivery and they are running at capacity. There is only one other foundry VC. Guess what VC is taking work from the Chineese and europeans V

    Remember all the post last year about waiting for stove deliveries? and all the quality control issues not only last year but this year from stoves built during crunch time. Human nature kicks in here Even after the parts arived it was rush time Tell me how that works for quality craftsmanship?
    As we are doing the plant tour with the chief engineer. I asked him Why VC is not making a pellet stove? He told us it had to do with too many moving parts, then anounced that they own the bottom feed patterns used By Harman. He also said they take on subcontract work. meaning there furnaces need to be run. They were casting frying pans. It was hinted that one would be suprised how much VC is in other manufactures stoves Not just parts but patterns and engineering. Did you know VC holds the pattern for top loanding?

    I have you thinking, the next time some one disses VC in favor of brand X do they know that they are buying VC engineering and parts?

    You watched the Video Now tell me who has the best oppertunity or best handle to monitor quality control? Not the importers from china. At VC all rejected parts get melted down and made again. Employing 3 shifts is a place that is thriving.
  7. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Downeast I hope you enjoyed the video
  8. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    All American manufacturers could take a lesson from this. My opinion is the video was slanted to the company, but did a good job of chroniclizing the process.It could have been on PBS. Where did we lose the pride in craftsmanship? Watched this three times, was facinated in the process, not the characters. If I sold stoves, I would buy the DVD's and every other media and give each person that walked through the door a copy. You have the pride of patrotizism, and the pride that WE made these stoves.
    I burn pellets, but will find a place for a wood burner in my home.
  9. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    Oh, by the way, I swear the third segment of the vid, with the magnet loading the furnace, that was my 52 Merc. :coolgrin:
  10. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    would you believe that most of the recycled metal is from old brakes parts Calipers drumbs ect. What you don't see is the remarkable job done for personal safety and every efort to recycle
    Even the water used in the enamaling processed is recycled
  11. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    We have a major recycler out here that makes trusses and mostly crusher balls. The metal is good down the line, so why can't we take advantage of the down slope, versus shipping it to China?
  12. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    The place is BIG, actually it's two places, the stove plant itself, where they finish the stove parts and the foundry plant where they cast the parts and do the initial finish work. Between the two plants, they employ about 350 people. The foundry is one of the two biggest electricity consumers in the state, it takes serious juice to drive the induction furnaces that they use to melt the iron. They also use a great deal of propane to pre-heat the metal before dumping it into the furnace - this is because the propane costs less than electricity and also to ensure that the iron is totally dry and that as many contaminants are burned off before they start melting.

    My understanding is that the cast iron models come from the VT plants, the plate stove models are made up in Canada, and the grills are made out in Indiana. The VT plant does about 20,000 stoves / year, with a varying split between wood and gas units. We saw the warehouse, full of stoves stacked floor to ceiling - probably about 10 units high

    They were also very emphatic about not wanting to make pellet stoves because they had way to many moving parts and were basically problems waiting to happen - I would say that what I've seen here on the forums backs that up - I see lots of people having mechanical malfunctions with pellet stoves, but few or none with wood or gas stoves. There is a fairly uniform spread of people having install problems, or needing to do maintainance repairs with all fuel types, but the breakdowns are on the pellet units. Also pellet quality seems to be more of an issue. There is discussion of how different varieties of wood burn, and how to process it, it will all burn if handled right. OTOH, I seem to see pellets being treated as much fussier as to what burns and what doesn't do right. Not to mention that if cordwood gets wet you just let it dry and burn it, but if pellets get wet.... (This is not intended as a rant against Pellet burners, but rather a summary of why VC doesn't want to deal with them.)

    Minor trivia detail that I mentioned before, but you may have noticed that all the gas grills you see are about the same height - except that the US made VC grills are taller. This is because the Asian made grills are sent over in container freight units, which have standardized dimensions. The Asian stoves are all the same height because that is the size that lets them get the maximum number of units into a shipping container.

    To amplify what Elk was saying about shipping Asian cast parts - It takes about 3-4 months from order to delivery for Asian parts, and you either need to do source inspection, or pray that what you ordered is what you get. Either option has problems. You also have a problem with predicting orders given that long a lead time - it makes modern "JIT" (Just In Time) manufacturing practices very difficult at best. With the VC foundry an order of parts is a few hours or a week to deliver (depending on where in the US the order is trucked to) all the people you deal with speak english as their primary language, and all the QC issues are easier to deal with.

    The foundry has to keep the furnaces going 24/7, and can do 240 pours / hr into a set of molds. The mold setup is really efficient. they have a machine that takes the two mold plates for the male and female sides of the parts - I didn't measure the plates but they looked like about 3' x 4', and can have as many parts on a plate as will fit properly. and put them on opposite sides of a box. They blow the mold sand into the box to fill it and then compress it to make these blocks of mold sand that are shoved down the line right next to each other, such that each block has a male part on one side, and the female part on the other, and the actual void that the molten iron is poured into is the space between the blocks. When we went through, they were casting frying pans, four pans per mold, for one of the major high-end cast iron cookware companies. (They make about 20K pans a year for that company) They can change out a pair of mold plates in just a few minutes, and take pride in how fast they can make a swap and get back in production.

    VC keeps a "library" of every set of plates they've used, so they can always make parts again if needed. When a pair of plates is swapped out, it goes back to their mold shop to be examined, and touched up and repaired as needed so that the molds will be in perfect shape any time they are called for.

    A great deal of the post casting processing is done with a large array of mechanical jig fixture machines to ensure consistency in things like the placement of holes and such. They did what looked to me like a very efficient blend of automation and manual work to use the best properties of each. They also did a lot of work to keep things safe both in the direct sense of guards and PPE, etc. and in doing things like rotating people through several different jobs in the course of a shift in order to prevent repetetive stress injuries.

    Gooserider
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Several big reasons, all of which contribute to the problem

    1. We invented alot of the technology, and built our plants using the first generation technology that was used as the basis for building later improved equipment, facilities, technology, skills, etc. This old technology formed a sort of technological "lock-in" because it couldn't compete with the more modern stuff, but it was to expensive to walk away from existing plant and start over. The overseas competitors built next generation plant from scratch, and were able to operate more efficiently because they weren't propping up all the older infrastructure.

    2. Arguably excessive gov't regulation on where plants were built, how they operated, what they were allowed to have for emissions, etc., etc, ad nauseum, made it uninviting to attempt to build in the US when it was possible to build overseas with far less hassles. (look also to all the neighbor's screaming "NIMBY", then complaining about how the job market has gone to crap...) Regulations have costs, both the obvious physical cost of compliance and the less obvious costs of record keeping and other expenses of documenting the compliance. Reducing that regulatory compliance cost is a big incentive for companies to go elsewhere.

    3. Labor unions, coupled with government regulations that give the Unions an unfair advantage in negotiations run up the cost of labor to the point where it is prohibitive to operate where unionizing is a business risk.

    4. In some cases, the foreign technology is better than what is available in the US. I remember a few years back, there was a big flap when Harley Davidson bought several million $ worth of CAD/CAM hardware from Japan. Harley's response was most interesting, they claimed that they had developed their technical requirments, and looked for a U.S. source. They were willing to pay up to 25% MORE to get a US source, but went to Japan when they found that there was NO US source that could meet their needs at ANY price!

    When businesses find it less expensive to ship their raw materials to a foreign country, get stuff made, and ship it back to the US, we shouldn't blame them for doing this, but instead should be asking why is it possible and what can be done to fix it.

    Gooserider
  14. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Then why could I buy a Morso 3610 in New Hampshire for less than $1800.00 with the warming racks while a similar sized VC was well over $2000.00?

    VC makes a great stove, (my parents are in ownership of their second) but why the misinformation?
    Maybe Jotul is more expensive but they are not the only European stove maker.
  15. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Jotuls, VC and Morso are approx the same price - sure, you can find differences, but basically the same.

    Jotul and other European foundries are union shops. The North American arm is probably not.

    Why do I mention this? Well, having had dozens of friends that dedicated their lives and careers to VC and then got tossed out on their asses with ZERO benefits....well, we can puff our chest out with pride for "Made in the USA", but it makes one think about the "contract" between a plant and the workers. Jotul can make a profit while providing their workers with long term employment, benefits, time off, etc. etc. - So far VC has been unable to do this.

    While I am as amazed as the next person with the technology and quality, what is the total picture? Elk seems to gloss over the fact that all the corporate profit goes to Canada and that multitudes of workers and salespeople have been left behind with nothing.

    This is obviously NOT the fault of current management, but it taints the image a bit to know that the company has not been a success for many of the people that gave to it....of course, including the original founders...who left 100% broke ($1).

    Gooserider - you complain about the unions - but, on the other hand, do you support a family guy working for 10 or 20 years at VC and then being shown the door and told to clean out the desk? Is that the "price" we pay for "owned in canada and made in the USA"? Have we become the "slave labor" that we complain about elsewhere?

    Sounds like we are grasping at straws when we proclaim a Canadian company which owns the VC plant "by default" as being our ideal of American Made.....maybe someone can come up with a better example.

    BTW, Toyota and Honda, etc. etc. make great cars right here in the USA with our workers. Is that really American Made? Or are we simply the "chinese" to the Japanese? In other words, who is steering the ship?
  16. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    I think elk was referring to the cost of outsourcing the castings. If a company does not do their own casting they must buy these castings from someone else. In general, the cost of Asian castings are less that what it would cost to buy those same castings from a European foundry.

    The retail cost of your Morso is affected by many things, not just the cost of the castings. This is why, as Craig correctly pointed out, all the similarly sized cast iron stoves (of similar quality) are essentially the same price. Many factors go into the cost of each of these models. Where the castings may be cheaper in one model, there are other factors, such as distribution, market segments, corporate/shareholder, dealerships, etc. that contribute more to the costs and cause the retail price to balance.

    BTW, when we were touring the Morso cast iron foundry (which is in fact a third party foundry) they mentioned that they also do the castings for the Volvo company. All quality foundries will be doing casting for many sources. As far as I know, there are no foundries making castings exclusively for one company.
  17. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Elk seems to gloss over the fact that all the corporate profit goes to Canada and that multitudes of workers and salespeople have been left behind with nothing.

    The post title is A link to the video tour. that's the subject in discussion here. I glossed over only what I saw. Can one tell me the video covered the sins of corperate responsibility 15 years ago?
    I supose no one should buy Kodac or poloriod GE GM Ford Maytag and many more companies the reneged of pention plans. The plant tour is what I actually observed, dedicated American citizens working. What is your purpose to discredit their dedication in 2006? Are you trying to discredit American workmen and opperations What few we have left? Are you saying it is better to buy our products made outside USA and not support our own worker citizens? Is this because of things that happened 15 years ago? Many of the current worker were not there
    Are you saying we are better supporting the workers with wellfare and unemployment benifits? BTW CFM is traded on the Toronto stock exchange, anyone can buy shares, including USA citizens. ITS not exclusive to only Canadians or Americans

    I do not have a satistic, but I am willing to bet all workers at the plants are American citizens. I doubt that they comute from Canade, a 3+ hour trip each way to earn $15 an hour

    Every public traded company is ownerd in part by out of USA stock holders. To me they earn the lable of American Made. The plant is in USA . The workers Americam citizens. Last time I
    checked Canada was still part of America
    We in USA, do not have exclusive right to America. Un like Toyota, Vermont casting was founded here not imported her to avoid tarriffs.

    The post was the plant tour Video start a new thread to bash VC or their workers oe their product

    Oh the great European stove maker like Jotul has also suffered its embassisment of recalls with their gas stoves


    And Toyota is in a massive recall camgaign. One can always find something to detract from images There are no model companies Except Extenda flue and my remodeling company
    edit and Seaken company
  18. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    What??!! Are you dissing my company? [grin]
  19. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I've been hit by layoffs, but I will NOT join a union under any circumstance, as I am firmly of the opinion that unions are primarily in place to protect the less competent at the expense of the skilled.

    IMHO the first thing that a management should be allowed to do if a Union starts getting nasty is to post a "Help Wanted" advert for the position at the existing wage less 5%. If there is an adequate number of qualified applicants, then just who's interests are being "helped" by the Union?

    In terms of the entire global competition thing - I lost my last job, in part because of US gov't regulations - I was working for a high-tech company that was owned by an Israeli firm. Like all high-tech companies, and most other modern companies, we got parts from suppliers all over the world, put them together, and sold completed units. We ended up with massive layoffs both in Israel and in the US for a number of reasons, in part because I think we saturated our rather specialized market, but the US ended up getting hit much harder because US GOVERNMENT TRADE REGULATIONS made it cheaper for the company to build product in Tel Aviv and ship it to either the US or to elsewhere in the world than it was to build it in the US. The ONLY countries that it made economic sense for us to sell "US made" product to were the dozen odd countries that wouldn't purchase from Israel. The US facility ended up with a skeleton crew to build those machines, and to function as a backup facility in case Tel Aviv is blown up.

    Did I like it? No, but I don't blame the company - they don't owe me, or any other employee, a living. They DO owe their stockholders a return on their investment, and that requires them to look for the optimum balance of expenses. I do blame the US gov't for doing such an incompetent job of screwing up the trade situation, but then that is fairly typical of governments in general.

    But I don't have a problem with globalization - international trade is merely a question of scale... The same logic that says a product made in China is "bad" because it "cost american jobs" says that a VC stove made in VT is bad because it costs jobs that could have been had in Mass.... Or that a product made in Woburn is "bad" because it took jobs away from Billerica.... And so on down the line.

    The notion of "all those profits" that end up in other countries is also ridiculous! If Wally World sends $100 in profits to China, it merely means that the Chinese have $100 that they need to spend IN AMERICA, because those little green bits of paper aren't worth anything until they come back to the US - In the meantime I can take the money I saved purchasing the "cheap import" at Wally-world instead of the "American Made" product, (which incedentally employed just as many americans once it left the factory) and buy more stuff with it, thus employing MORE americans.....

    VC is also most unusual in that most of what goes into a VC cast stove (remember the VC plate stoves are made by they "evile furriners" up in Canada) is actually made in the US. More complex products are sourced from all over the world.

    Everyone talks about Harley as the epitomy of "American Made" - yet when Kawasaki opened one of the first plants to assemble "Japanese" motorcycles in the US, one of the m/c magazines did an article where they took apart a brand new "american made" Harley, and a US assembled KZ and made a pile of where each bike's parts came from for every part where a country of origin could be determined. The Kawasaki had more "Made in USA" parts than the Harley. This may have changed somewhat over time, as HD has made a definite effort to source more of their parts from US suppliers lately, but Harley still gets most of their suspension, electronics, brakes, and fuel system parts (among other things) from overseas.

    Gooserider
  20. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, you can't win anymore with the American Made thing.....according to Elks description, Toyota and Honda and any other company that employs American workers here is now a American Company. You can own stock in them also. That confirms the point I made about us now being the slaves of the rest of the world! We're good enough to build the stuff, but not good enough to manage or design?

    As far as a company owing someone a living, you can't swing too far one way or the other. We spend a large part of our lives working for one company or another, and the companies Do owe something to long term employees. Of course today that means cutting any promised pensions. What a sad world it is when you work for a company for 15 or 20 years and they replace you because someone can do the job for 5% less. Hey, Goose - I have a better idea. Let's do the same with CEO's and top management. If someone will do the job for 5% less, we kick them out and they get none of the golden parachute....

    Personally, I hardly look or care about country of origin. I look at quality and value.....and in some cases the conditions under which the product is/was made. I feel just as much kinship with someone in Mexico having a job as I do someone in Alabama. In the end they are all just people trying to provide for their families.

    It is good to know that Elk considers Mexico and Brazil to be American made....
  21. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Elk, thou doest protest too much. When people discuss VC they are discussing recent history. Myself and other are clearly speaking about EARLIER owners and operators of the company.....relatively recent!

    That is fair game, because they have been BAD a lot longer than they have been good in the last decade and more. That guy Colin did a LOT of damage.....so much that it will take a while to right the ship.

    Also, I thought you were going to post a video or pictures that YOU took, not a corporate video!

    We are glad to hear about your trip and experience, but that is where it should end. Anything more can seem like a blantant commercial, which would then create the opposite effect you are trying for - i.e., people come here to shoot the Bull, not to hear the corporate line.
  22. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Craig You reserected this post again I had not typed one more word about VC since the date of my last post on this thread.
    My head is not in the sand I know the problems in the mid 90"s I know how they treated their dealers
    I know they sold grills to the box stores in direct competition with their specalty dealers.
    I know they opened up factory stores within protected areas.
    I know many mid 90 Resolute Acclaims cracked heat plates which was later corrected with an insulated refactory package later in the 90's.

    ITs not VC I support, the company could be called Jack Ass stoves for all I care
    I know what I saw, dedicated skilled American citizens making, a quality product. That's what I support. In the day and age where almost everything is outsourced overseas,
    Seeing American pride and workmanship I fullly support. I feel it is better to see our fellow blue collar workers working gainfully employed, than collecting in the unemployment line.
    My days of youth, I lived in a mill town. Famillies and whole town ecomomy never recovered, once that mill closed.

    I don't call this comercialism, but a bad case of American Pride. If you feel my pride distorts my judgement, then you might as well ban me.
    I'm also guilty of shopping local hardware stores and lumberyards. Not a fan of preditory large box stores, that add little to the host community, but increasing crime and traffic.
  23. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    actually, i liked the video, i found it quite educational as an information whore ( i'll take it from anybody) lol, i watched it several times, was really kool, im going to get the boss to look at it when he has some time to, im definately NOT going to get into the "made in the usa" arguement "biting a hole in my proverbial tongue" suffice to say the video was obviously not shot in china but in VT with real live american workers, if sombody from another country is paying them to work in america, its bringing money back here from whereever its coming from and thats a good thing. i'd rather see a manufacturing plant owned by a foriegn entity employing our workers paying good salaries producing a world class product,(such as VC) than see american investors send american money to some sweatshop making junk, paying pennies for wages, and shipping it back here for us to buy.

    dang it , i wasnt gonna get into this, guess i did , just my 2 american cents
  24. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Tain't nothin wrong with American made. I own three Chevy trucks, a Plymouth, a couple of Poulan chainsaws, an American made splitter and two little Norwegian heaters assembled in Portland, Maine.

    Oh, and a big ole Virginia woodstove.
  25. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Hey, the football game is over. I'm going to yell at Ms. Elk because you definitely need a backrub from splitting all that wood. Don't worry, the holidaze are almost over!

    BTW, just for correct dates - the jerk Colin did not drive VC under until 2004, so as i said recent history.
    "MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO (February 23, 2005): CFM Corporation announced today that it has signed a definitive transaction agreement for the acquisition of all of the common shares of the Company by Teachers’ Private Capital, the private equity arm of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan."

    "This transaction is clearly in the best interests of all CFM stakeholders, in light of the alternatives that emerged during the strategic review and the Company’s deteriorating financial condition”, said Colin Adamson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CFM Corporation. "
    ------------
    I would not be bringing this stuff up if it was mid-90's, but 2005....well, that was last year! This man was almost singularly responsible for the death and milking of the company. Now that he is gone, it is a new day!

    I'm certain you would want customers to know that the company had "deteriorating financial condition" and was unable to go on without a bail out - in 2005. Just as a company can build up "good will" it can also build up "less than good will" and the former company did that......the Teachers union, as I understand it, had little choice in the matter. They had money loaned to CFM and stood to lose it if they did not salvage the company.

    I have owned VC stoves and sold them for many years - profitably. They are good, if not great, products. I really wish the entire story of the company was a happier one. If anything, it proves the opposite of what you are trying to say - that you CAN'T have a entrepreneur create a american company which is profitable for all involved. The only folks that ended up making any money were the turnaround and buyout artists and investment bankers.
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