Ping robot's splash does not spell Huge profits
After the Wall Street Journal featured the company's ping pong-playing robot on its front page in January 1985, national and local newspapers and tv channels jumped on the Simplicity Tool Co. bandwagon.
NBC's Today Show flew robot inventor Gus Berliner and business president and his wife to New York to appear. (The series had Berliner play against the robot). David Letterman bought among the robots and shot ping pong balls. Tales were carried by all 3 local television network affiliates . The Oregonian featured a photograph spread. If you want to find out more, you can have your reference at PingpongClan:
And last week, the company declared its R-II and R-III ping pong-playing robots will be showcased in Oregon's booth at Expo $86 at Vancouver, B.C.. The machines will be a permanent display from the Oregon Pavilion. Live presentations will be held May 24 to 26 and Sept. 19 to 21.
Clearly, Simplicity Tool is hot.
Why then haven't earnings gone through the roof?
"With all that promotion, it's amazing just how many individuals have never heard, of it," the 79-year-old Berliner laughs. "It makes you wonder what (advertisements and promotion ) are all about."
A flurry of requests led after the first Wall Street Journal article. But another attention has resulted in little, if any, deviations in the sales norm, Berliner said.
Indeed, while Berliner has been racking up what probably amounts to tens of thousands of dollars worth of free air time and newspaper space devoted to his table tennis robot, even the mild manufacturing company has been quietly making its money selling and producing antennas and hardwood siding covers.
Berliner said the organization's sales usually total approximately $600,000 to $700,000 annually, split about evenly between the antennas and siding covers. The dining table tennis robots, about which most of the fuss has been made, make up a very small fraction of the firm's business. Berliner said the firm has sold roughly 3,000 since he invented the unit in the early'70s.
The company manufactures, two versions of the robot--the first R-II, that sells for $485, and also the R-III Loop, for $645. The latter is more elaborately constructed and can imitate the"loop" table tennis popularized from the Oriental, Berliner said.
Simplicity Tools Co. opened its doors in 1954 as antenna maker. Revenue were few in those early days as virtually the sole station broadcasting at that time was Channel 27, said Berliner, who bought the firm in 1963.
He enlarged the firm and switched its attention to antennas for cable systems. The business now features 136 different models of solid bar yagi bays, yagi arrays, quad arrays, vertical stacks and other futuristic-sounding antenna models.
Another firm of Berliner's Marx Fabricating, a maker of wooden reels for Alcoa and other aluminum companies, was recently dissolved. Berliner has since rented the space to a woodworking company.
Simplicity began manufacturing siding covers in 1963. The pre-cut, pre-fitted, aluminum covers are used on houses to protect joints and corners in wooden and aluminum siding. Berliner estimated that he ships 2 million joint covers annually to buyers in the building industry. Clients !!include!! We yer haeuser, Masonite and other siding manufacturers.
Today, Berliner is considering expanding to the walking cane business. He's come up with a lightweight, flexible, aluminum cane layout he says could be put into production. Berliner is not yet sure about the prospects for this a cane. The company has not yet produce almost any manufacturing schedule or revenue projections.
Berliner started work on the ping pong robot following his two kids left home and he had been left with no playing partner. Berliner had in mind a machine very similar to a baseball pitching machine, using wheels to hurl the ball forward. The robot has arms that support nylon netting. The netting catches balls returned by the human player and then sends them back into the robot for a different function.
The first complicated part was discovering wheels that could throw a ping pong ball without squishing it, and the moment has been coming up with the proper gearing and mixes to replicate the backspins, overspins and curves of competitive table tennis.
The latter hurdle was cleared using a few small electrical motors with nylon gearing. The initial problems was more difficult.
"The problem in throwing a ping pong ball is that it's so damn mild," Berliner said. Finally, leather belting material was found to go around the wheels and hold the ball without damaging it.
A rough draft of this machine was made in 1974. Sitco T.T. Robots Inc., a subsidiary of Simplicity Tools, has been made to market the robot.
STrong interest came on from Japan and West Germany, both powerful table tennis areas. In these times, 30 to 40 machines a month were being marketed to Japan. Another 15 to 20 a month were selling at West Germany. More than half of the 3,000 robots sold have gone to foreign businesses.
SAles then fell when Simplicity Tools' Japanese distributor came out with a robot of its own. The one difference between both machines, Berliner explained, is the Japanese model didn't have the automated ball recycling feature the American version did.
"There is not much we can do about it," he explained. "We do have a couple patents, but these items are easy to go around. And we are not likely to go to Japan and sue them." Simplicity now anticipates greataer earnings of the robot due to an increased interest in the game. Table tennis was embraced as an Olympic sport and will be featured at the 1988 Seoul, Korea Olympic games. Berliner last year donated a Sitco robot into the U.S. Table Tennis Association, which utilizes it at its training center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"The most advanced players won't use it so much as a specialized training system but as a workout," said Robot Tretheway, national director of the U.S. Table Tennis Association. "It's alos simpler on the trainer. I can take the controls off the table and go back and sid on a chair."
Normally, controls enabling the player to alter directions and spins are clamped underneath the table. They are removable and may be manipulated remotely.
"I have found it especially good for entry-level juniors," Tretheway said. "It's fun. It helps them plays a bit longer." Tretheway said the robot has difficulty replicating some shots--its own loop shot has a lot of topspin and it can't do a fall shot in any way. And"it can not produce an aggressive sittuation with plan," he said. However,"it is actually the only real machine. There's only another machine on the planet worth looking at (Stiga's out of Sweden). And it can't recirculate the balls how the Sitco robot ". Nevertheless, its likely that the robot will remain only a sidelight for Simplicity Tools.
While the press continues lavishing time and space to a device he invented almost as a lark, Berliner said he will continue to oversee development and sales of the company's actual bread and butter--the antennas, siding covers and possibly the cane.
"We are diversified," he said. "And the advantage we have is that no one (of Simplicity Tool's goods ) are related to the other." Berliner said he prefers the eccentric mixture of product lines; the slicing from little markets where earnings tend to be large and competition is usually non-existent.
"It saves a great deal of stress," he explained. "I hate the fighting an squaling that goes on in various other sectors." Read more about ping pong table:
Bah pour le droit tu as à peu près toutes les facs d'Ile de France.
Pour la sociologie tu as évidemment, Paris-Sorbonne (Paris 4), Diderot et Nanterre (Paris X). Sinon tu as nouvelle Sorbonne, Saint-Quentin en Yvelines et Cergy-Pontoise.
Après tu as deux autres grosses facs de sociologie, c'est Panthéon-sorbonne (Paris 1)...mais c'est le campus de Tolbiac. Et après tu as Paris 8 à Saint-Denis... Et quand je dis Saint-Denks c'est prêt du terminus des bus. Sachant que Paris 8 est une fac ouverte. Moi qui n'y suis pqs je pourrais y entrer comme je veux en chaussettes, claquettes et avec juste un caleçon sur moi. Pour être franc leur bibliothèque a l'air très belle ... Maisi, niveau sécurité elle a la réputation de l'Afghanistan.
Après si tu cherches à aller en psychologie tu as Paris 13 à Villetaneuse ou Cergy-Pontoise et Descartes en plus de Paris-Sorbonne et Diderot (les trois dernières à Paris).
Ca a réellement un intérêt de faire ses études à Paris, mis à part le kiffe de payer 2 fois plus cher son loyer et sa bouffe quand on a déjà pas une tune puisqu'on est étudiant ?
Je suis d'accord avec Phylos, pourquoi venir sur Paris ?
Le RER ça pue mais le métro c pire. En plus le pass Navigo il est cher
C super pollué. Mais y a des magasins folichons. Et puis tu peux trouver un peu n'importe quoi si tu es prêt à faire 2h aller-retour de RER métro tram bus. Les appartes de 10m² valent environ 500¤/mois en plein Paris. J'ai vu une pub qui parlait de "décrocher son appartement".
Mais sinon ça va