Greetings from the soggy south. We’ve had a foot or more of rainfall over the past few weeks here in Houston. A friend, preparing to visit, asked if he should pack a snorkel and mask. We made it through without any water getting inside, but unfortunately some friends were not so lucky. The good news is that we’re not in a drought for the moment.
Please Help Spread The Word By Forwarding This Newsletter To Your Friends
I won’t ask often, but I’m still getting phone calls from people surprised that they are reaching Houston, Texas and someone not named Dick. It’s been a year since we made the announcement that my wife, Mary Ellen, and I bought Hilton Audio, but lots of folks are still unaware. Please forward this email to your associations and calling/cueing friends and ask them to sign up on the front page of the Hilton Audio website: www.hiltonaudio.com. I’m only going to send 4-6 updates a year, so they don’t have to worry about spam coming from me. Thank You!
Report On Hilton Audio Products At CALLERLAB – March 2015
We had a successful trip to CALLERLAB in March. My lead technician, Stephen Chauvin, and I were able to meet many callers from around the world and introduce ourselves. We also got to re-introduce Hilton. We made a few sales and did some minor repair work. While we were not able to straight up donate equipment to the CALLERLAB Foundation, we were able to give a significant enough discount that the Foundation was able to add $2000.00 to its fund by holding a raffle for the 100th MA-220 built in Texas. The raffle also included a carrying case and microphone cable and was won by Monk Moore of Angier, North Carolina.
Hilton Heading To The 64th National Square Dance Convention – Springfield, Massachusetts
Hilton will have a booth in the vendor area of the 64th National Square Dance Convention. Please stop by and say hello. We will be located right next to the CALLERLAB booth. I will have a supply of microphones, microphone cables, and accessories as well as MA-220’s. (IF YOU WANT A MA-220 for EUROPE, JAPAN, or AUSTRALIA, I NEED TO KNOW BY JUNE 15, 2015. ALL SHIPMENTS TO EUROPE ARE ON YOUR OWN.)
On a personal note, New England is originally home for me. I’ve got lots of friends up that way, and look forward to calling up there again. I’m honored to have been asked to participate in several of the after-parties…and that’s a good thing because I’m going to be in the booth most of the day!
Oh Yeah…one more thing about the 64th National…
I’m honored to have been asked, along with my close friend, Ted Lizotte (NH), to be the Key Note Speaker at the 64th National. Ted and I will be speaking at 1:00pm on Friday. Neither of us claim to have the secret to saving square dancing…but perhaps we’ll be able to talk from a slightly different perspective.
What Is Going On At Hilton?
SUMMER SCHEDULE – Shipping Slowdowns and Shutdowns
We will be taking some time away from the office over the summer months. The biggest shutdown will be for our trip to the 64th National Square Dance Convention. We will also take a week off for vacation.
Here are the dates:
June 19 – July 6, 2015 Full Shut Down - National Square Dance Convention
August 3-7, 2015 Shipping Slow Down – No international – No custom items.
(I’ll be away, but Mary Ellen can handle small items.)
September 4-11, 2015 Full Shut Down – Vacation
GOOD NEWS FOR EUROPE! ONE BRAND NEW MA-220 available in Germany!
We still haven’t resolved any of our customs issues with regards to sending equipment to Europe, however, I DO know of ONE brand new MA-220 available in Germany. If you would like this unit, it is available for $1495.00 USD…none of the additional fees you’re used to paying in Europe. Contact me and I will provide further information.
Also, we are in negotiations with a source in Germany to make Hilton microphone cables and accessories along with local repair work available in Europe again. This does NOT resolve our amplifier issue, but it does help with the smaller items, and some service work. Stay Tuned!
A REMINDER – We’re A VERY SMALL Business
At one time, Hilton had as many as 15 employees. Today, we’re basically a “one man operation”. Yes, I have Steve building equipment to help, but he’s not in the office. Mary Ellen helps as she can, but she has to maintain her job so I can afford to run Hilton.
What does this all mean? Well, it means you’re going to have to cut me a little slack. If I don’t answer the phone right way, it probably means I’m speaking with another customer or a supplier. Please don’t call back 5 times in a row. Leave a message and I’ll call you back. Ultimately, the best method of contacting me is via email so I always have a record of our communication.
PLEASE HELP STOP THE RUMORS… There is NO NEW AMPLIFIER being built now or in the near future!
Yes…we’ve talked about what we would like to see for features in the next generation of Hilton amplifiers, and as we work towards that goal, we’ll be asking for your feedback. As of this time, however, there is nothing more than a pencil sketch, and a wish-list for a “Festival-Caliber” MA. That’s it! We have nothing more at this time. Any future Hilton amplifier is AT LEAST two years away.
Why do I need to stop these rumors? Frankly, because if people start thinking now about waiting for the next generation of amplifier a couple years down the road, then I will never build up enough capital to finance the development of that next generation amplifier. Quite simply…if you stop buying MA-220’s…you will guarantee that there will never be a next generation amplifier.
ONE MORE THING TO CONSIDER…
When you are out there searching for your more “cost effective” personal solution in a square dance audio system, whether it be other components, powered speakers, Bose systems, or whatever. It won’t take much more than 25 lost sales here at Hilton annually, to really mean the end of the line. You obviously can decide for yourself that saving a few hundred dollars is what you need to do for your personal needs, but if you think just a little further forward, you’ll realize that 100 different callers with 100 different personal solutions will cause damaging confusion. Gone will be the days of walking up to any amplifier, at any dance, or any convention, plugging in, and immediately knowing what to expect.
Mary Ellen and I have no desire to “get rich” off of anyone. Our profit margins are very reasonable…but our costs are extremely high because of the low volume we do. We’re not gouging anyone…we just can’t offer a custom unit like a Hilton even close to a generic system purchased from a “box store”.
We stepped up to “save” the Hilton Audio tradition because we didn’t like the way it said goodbye last year. We felt it deserved better. We’ll do all we can to keep things going, but that’s going to take your help, and your willingness to continue to support the more pricey (and hopefully still superior) Hilton product.
SPEAKING OF A SUPERIOR PRODUCT……..
I had a conversation with Eric Henerlau at the CALLERLAB Convention. Eric was one of the first to buy a MA-220 from us when we started producing them at the end of last year. Eric mentioned how he took his brand new MA-220 to a “one night stand” he was hired to perform at, and while unloading his equipment, it was RUN OVER by a limousine. His brand new MacBook was destroyed. There was a tire print running across the face of his new blue nylon case. His MA-220 was bent, and partially crushed…and it STILL WORKED for his dance that night! While I can’t recommend running over any of your Hilton equipment…I’m beaming with pride knowing it still works!
New “FlexCoat Wraps” for Microphone Cables Are A Big Hit!
A few dozen callers are now on stage with our new “FlexCoat” decorated microphone cables. We make them to order, so it can take a couple extra days to ship to you, but we think they’re kinda cool! Look for 4 new colors next month.
Hilton Parts and Supplies
We’re in the process of making arrangements with Dick Bull to take over the “older parts” section of the Hilton business. As much as I tried, I just can’t wrap my head around some of the ancient pieces and parts we have in inventory, so I have not been able to provide quality service for parts previous to the MA-150.
Dick has 35+ years experience building and servicing Hilton turn-tables and accessories, so he’s the best option we have for making sense of what we have available. Please keep in mind…Dick isn’t a spring chicken, and the parts we have are limited, and in most cases, will not be replaced. When they’re gone, they’re gone on ALL Hilton turn-tables and equipment prior to the MA’s.
Hilton Microphone Cable – Volume Potentiometer Tests – Phase 2
After three failed attempts at replacing the volume potentiometer currently being used by Hilton, we have finally found one that we’re ready to move on to “Phase 2 Testing” with. We currently have approximately 50 of these new potentiometers being tested by callers. So far, there have been zero reports of failures. Now the new pots aren’t going to last forever either, but they appear to be much better than the one we’ve all come to hate…and replace…and replace.
In “Phase 2”, I am inviting any caller in the continental United States who purchased their microphone cable since we started in Houston (August 2014) who would like to try the new potentiometer to send their cable to me and I will replace the potentiometer it and send it back free of charge. Yes, you’ll still have to pay to ship it to me…but I will return it on my dime. “Phase 2” will begin when we return from the National Square Dance Convention on July 6, and run through July 31st. The only thing I ask is for your feedback.
PLEASE CONTACT ME VIA EMAIL BEFORE YOU SEND YOUR CABLE BACK…I can’t handle 100 of these things at once. Also…before sending…look at the backside of your volume knob. (Where the microphone fits in to the handle. Is the underside of that volume knob BLUE or GREEN? If it’s BLUE, it’s the old style and we’ll switch it out for you. If it’s GREEN, you’ve already got the new one that we’re testing.
WRAPPING IT UP
That’s about all we have to share from Hilton for now. In a nutshell…
- We’re heading to Nationals (Mary Ellen and I). Please stop by the booth to visit and say “Hi!”
- We’re continuing to build up our inventory to better serve our customers.
- We’re bringing much of the work back “in house”, again for quicker service.
- We continue to search for a solution to our TOO consumable volume potentiometer issue.
- We’ve been testing a new potentiometer for a couple months now.
- If you’ve bought a cable from us in the past 9 months, we’re inviting you to test too.
- Dick Bull is going to organize and make “vintage” parts available out of his office in California.
- Any future amplifier designs are nothing more than a “pencil sketch” at this time. In order for those future designs to become a reality, we need you to continue to buy now.