Sunday, December 22, 2013

Heathkit "Ask Me Anything" Session

A member of the board of directors of the newly forming Heath Company gave an "Ask Me Anything" session on reddit.com on December 21, 2013. I thought I would post a short summary and a few thoughts on the session.

Some people were frustrated by the reddit user interface (one of the issues, for example: you need to refresh the web page to see new results), the slow pace that questions were being answered, and the lack of many specifics in the answers. Some people left after an hour, however the questions continued to be answered for almost three hours.

Here are some of the key points that were mentioned:

  1. They seem to want to do this on a big scale and cover most or all of the traditional Heathkit product lines.
  2. They plan to focus on more complex kits (much as they did in the past).
  3. They want to revive some original kits, possibly updating them.
  4. They want to move into new areas such as 3D printing.
  5. They hope to introduce a few kits in the first half of 2014.

On the plus side it is good to see some information coming out from the new Heathkit. They seemed to be excited and are exploring a lot of new opportunities while being true to the values of the original Heathkit.

On the minus side they was a distinct lack of details: nothing about specific kits and no time frames other than the first half of 2014. Nothing really new was mentioned that was not already covered
on their web site.

When asked about 3D printing, the response included the statement "We have some ongoing negotiations in this area right now." That implied to me that they may be partnering with some existing manufacturers rather than building all of their expertise in-house. This could significantly reduce their time to market. The original Heathkit did this, one example being the Thomas electronic organs they sold as kits.

In conclusion, I would say I am still cautiously optimistic about the "new" Heathkit. Some attendees were asking whether they should hold off on a planned purchase and wait for Heathkit. I would encourage people to be patient and not expect much to develop until at least this summer.

Finally, they announced a little contest. To honour founder Edward Heath there is a cache hidden in the city of his birth (Brooklyn, NY). It is within arm's reach of a photo they posted. Inside is a passphrase and a set of instructions. The first fan to send the passphrase will receive one of the first kits signed by the Heathkit team.

References:

  1. http://heathkit.com/
  2. http://www.reddit.com/r/tabled/comments/1tdf45/table_iama_member_of_the_heath_company_heathkit/
  3. http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1td554/iama_member_of_the_heath_company_heathkit_board/ce6r5e8

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