Unhappy Announcement! It seems that there will be no more of those wonderful breakfast meetings started and carried on through the years by Richard and Barbara Alfano. It was rumored that other volunteers would take over, but it has not happened. The meetings gave great pleasure to so many former employees, as indicated by a photo taken of a happy five who attended the next-to-last meeting--meeting 8.
In that vein, perhaps this Zenith Book blog can compensate in a small way for the loss of the breakfast meetings. It can summon up memories of Zenith from not only the writer but the memories of all Zenithites (Is it OK to use that word?) Memories can be preserved by this blog in, addition to the Zenith Facebook pages which have the address--
--and join in the conversation and discussion about that great company Zenith, which is, sadly, no more, yet warm in the memories of so many. Please note that there is not much “on” the Zenith Facebook as yet, but there will be much more as we all learn how to interact on Facebook. Note: About 300 million do use Facebook, worldwide. So can we!
REMEMBERING JOE WRIGHT 1912-2002
Joseph S. Wright was president of Zenith from 1959 to 1983. John Taylor, then Zenith vice-president of public affairs and communications, wrote that Wright ran Zenith during the golden years of television, and had built Zenith into the leading television brand and one of America's most respected corporations.
Wright was also know as being fiercely competitive in the courtroom, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Eugene F. McDonald founder and president of Zenith, enlisted Wright to be the leader of his attack team in Zenith's First War against the RCA patent cartel, which was in egregious violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
Wright came to Zenith from the Federal Trade Commission where he was in charge of ensuring compliance with the Commission's order to cease and desist from unfair competition. Philip Curtis, who was Zenith's "point man" in the War, characterized Wright as "the government's bulldog, and Zenith needed a man with a bite."
Wright who was the company president from 1981 to 1992, ran Zenith during the golden age, according to Taylor, and was involved with it well into the digital age. He was also part of the group that organized the Electronics Industry Committee for Fair International Trade in 1972.
For relaxation, Wright sailed his sail boat the "Siren Song" in many of the Chicago-Mackinac races.
Joseph Wright--another Zenith "man to remember."
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The advertisement goes on to say in a succession of paragraphs--
Another thing that can be said: He wasn’t a “suit.” You’d never find him at the 19th hole after 18 holes of golf. And he was seldom called Robert, but most always Bob. To sum him up, he was a kind, gentle man who was always happy to take the time to teach you electronics stuff.
In the previous article, Bob Adler’s invention of a low noise beam-type amplifier is mentioned in the summary of his inventions. Its full title is: electron-beam parametric amplifier, or EBPA.
In this blog, the Zenith magazine ServiceWorld has been mentioned. Few people within the company had ever viewed it, because its 28,000 copies were circulated solely to the Zenith Distributors, and to Zenith dealers and service centers. Below is a photo of the cover of the first edition published in the published in the summer of 1973.
--and, continuing inside the front cover--
The creation of ServiceWorld magazine
stems from a decision by Zenith management that Zenith should capitalize on its reputation for service to its customers, and to reinforce the famous Zenith message The Quality Goes In Before the Name Goes on.
All service-related departments of Zenith were gathered under one roof in Glenview, Illinois, comprising a "consumer services department" that incorporated all service-related activities such as warranty claims, technical writing and training, replacement parts and accessories, and customer communications. The division was under the direction of Albert S. Medica, one of Ross Siragusa's bright young executives brought over from Zenith's long-time rival, Admiral Corporation. The magazine ServiceWorld was the concept of Medica, and was carried out by the self-effacing author of this blog, whose puss is pictured beneath Nevin's on the second page of the first issue, shown in the foregoing.
The creation of the customer service department and ServiceWorld magazine was actually a last desperate effort by Zenith management to stem the losses Zenith that had suffered as a result of losing the Second War against the RCA-Japanese cartel, the details of which will be described in a forthcoming Post of this blog. As a result of that loss, Zenith profits had fallen from the 15 per cent of its "salad" years to a disastrous, money-losing 4 per cent.
Here is another page from the first issue showing Medica's concept of "who we are, and what we do." (Hi, guys! What has become of all of you? It has been 41 years since these photos were taken. --rec)
ServiceWorld Magazine was a quarterly publication. Only six issues were published as the act of establishing the consumer services department had failed in Zenith's effort to overcome the effect the dumping of television sets on the market by the RCA-Japanese cartel. (The story of which will be told in a forthcoming Post of this blog.)
It was all a matter of the "price-point," which is defined as "the suggested retail price of a product determined in such a way as to compete with prices of other products." (Definition is from Business Directory. com.) Because of the load of carrying the Zenith distributor system, and Zenith's insistence on the highest quality, the cost of a Zenith television set was inevitably higher than a Japanese set "dumped" on the market at a lower cost ensured by the Japanese government. A customer might buy a Zenith television set that cost 5 percent more than a dumped Japanese set because Zenith would service that set as long as the customer owned it (Do you recall that 1926 "Zenith credo" described earlier in this blog?). However, if the cost was 8 or 10 percent higher, that American customer may not buy the Zenith, despite the urging to "buy American."
(Customer: Hey! If it craps out, I can get it serviced somewhere else, perhaps at a Zenith servicing center, so why should I pay more?)
As a result, and as has been described, Zenith was hemorrhaging money, and would be forced to "go overseas"; that is, transfer all production to Mexico. If it had not done so, it would have been out of business in two years. Too bad for American production workers who would lose their jobs.
Now let's look forward to Post 4 of this Zenith Book Blog! More interesting stuff is coming. And please--join in! Contribute! Criticize! Correct errors! Moan, if you feel like it. But Help! Help! Just click on the pencil or box below and unload yourself. Or even write and article, as Bob Podowski did.