The following letter has been making its way across social media since yesterday:
June 18, 2020
To our valued White’s Dealers- This is a very difficult message to write, but the time has come for retirement from White’s Electronics. We are suspending manufacturing operations at our Sweet Home facility while we re-evaluate the future of the company. It is never easy to make these decisions, however, we are faced with the reality of intense competition in the industry and ongoing counterfeit instruments coming from China. Lastly, there have been critical material shortages since the Covid 19 shutdown that we now find insurmountable. All of us here in Sweet Home are grateful for your service. We consider each you part of the White’s extended family.
I remember when Tesoro metal detectors announced they were closing their doors for good. I personally hated to see it happen but I also was not surprised. Although I personally love their detectors and they are even my go-to for relic hunting sites with high iron they lost touch with what the metal detecting community wanted.
Personally, I would put my Tesoro Mojave up against even the latest and greatest digital detector on the market at sites with high iron/very little modern trash. The problem was Tesoro was still building them to look like toys from the 1970’s, S shafts, snoopy brown and all were single tone metal detectors.
Take the Mojave, put the electronics in a nice, modern box under the arm cuff on a carbon fiber shaft, have another one with ground balancing with same set up then have a third with a separate tone for iron audio that you can turn down and market the relic hunters and I believe they would still be in business. I have proven to people over and over that the Tesoro’s are absolutely fantastic relic detectors. Unfortunately, Tesoro just could not keep up with the times.
Before I continue, I want to say a few things. First, this is just my opinion and you are going to see that phrase a lot throughout this article. Second, those loyal to Whites are not going to like this article but it is my opinion on the matter.
Whites, unlike Tesoro, hand had some great technology and were the leaders of the industry for a long time so what happened? In my opinion Whites quit listening to what us the detectorists wanted and fell behind.
I remember when the Whites V3I came out. As I recall it was late summer (what year I don’t recall) and it was my worst year ever for selling metal detectors. I sold everything but Whites detectors and everyone was rushing out to purchase a V3I. What caused my worse year of sales also produced my best year the following spring. I was selling Minelab E-tracs like crazy and many of them had purchased the V3I the previous year. Not one of them were happy with it and some had been loyal Whites users for many years.
Later that fall I received a call from a gentleman looking to buy an Minelab E-trac. He had heard a lot about them and was thinking of purchasing one. Him and I talked on several occasions. He was a loyal Whites fan and was struggling with the idea of purchasing a Minelab. He had been detecting many years, had a lot of great finds and from every phone conversation I would say a seasoned detectorist. Our last conversation he told me he had a V3I. I asked him how he liked it. I will never forget it, he got really excited, his voice raised and he started telling me things like how he could change the tones however he wanted, could change the screen color and went into telling me all about the features. I was just as excited at this point; I was talking to someone who took the time to learn the V3I and I am about to hear how great of a metal detector it is. I then asked him “what have you found with it” there was a long pause and he came back in a voice that sounded like I deflated him “nothing good yet”.
In my opinion, while the other manufacturers were releasing metal detectors that went deeper, faster for less money, Whites was busy adding cool features that made their detectors more customizable but at the same time more complicated but where was the performance?
Whites last big release was the MX Sport. In my opinion (tired of hearing that yet?) it was released to compete with the already popular Garrett AT Pro. The problem with this is its almost two hundred dollars more than the AT Pro that already had a cult following! It did not help matters that a lot of people who did purchase the MX Sport have had problems with them and have had to send them back for repairs. About a year ago I was talking to a guy who was sending his back in for repair for the third time!
I am sad today like many others but my sadness comes from a different place. While many are sad to lose an American metal detector manufacturer, I am sad that Whites didn’t keep up with the times, didn’t listen to what us, the users wanted.
How do you compete with Minelab that is offering the Equinox series that is just a little more than an MX Sport? How do you compete against Nokta Makro that is hungry for our business, wants to know what WE the user want in a metal detector?
While I’ve heard excuses already like Whites couldn’t compete getting undercut by foreign manufacturers, I call BS. Look at Garrett right now, they are doing it! I’ve had the opportunity to see the Apex in action and its impressive and innovative! Garrett is changing with the times and are proving to us they want our business! It can be done and I welcome competition from anywhere, in the end it is better for us detectorists. I have every major brand of detector hanging on my walls and some you have never even heard of, there is no brand loyalty from me! I use what works, I buy from companies that I feel are innovative and want our business, are listening to what us the customer wants and I feel Whites has not done that in a long time.
When Tesoro announced they were closing their doors I predicted Whites would not be too far behind and I was right. The world is changing, Detectorists expect more for less, we expect new, innovative detectors and not the same old thing renamed. People have gotten smart, new players entered the market and have shown us that they want our business and will bring us new technology.
I assumed Whites would be next after Tesoro so who do I think is next after Whites? In my opinion I fear Fisher/Teknetics/Bounty Hunter will be next. They are rarely talked about anymore and most people have moved on from their outdated technology. It’s been a long time since us hardcore detectorists have seen anything great come from First Texas. In my opinion they are surviving by flooding the big box stores with many entry level to mid-level metal detectors and going after the impulse buyers. Unfortunately, I do not think that will last forever and I suspect their time is running out. Make no mistake about it, I do not want to see them go but again, us hardcore detectorists are not falling for the renamed, same technology. Heck, they are not even re-naming their high-end detectors just adding different letters to the end and they’ve been doing it for years. I would love to see First Texas step up, listen to what us users want and decide they want back in the game. If or when they cease to make detectors once again, I will be sad to see another American manufacturer fail. Many of us in the metal detecting community have been hearing rumors for years that First Texas has been working on something big. Currently they are working on a PI metal detector and I’ve heard rumors it will be priced anywhere around two to four thousand dollars. Again, just my opinion but I think Fisher will be greatly disappointed that it does not fly of the shelf. The normal now is metal detectors that do it all and for under a thousand dollars. Unless it is something completely different or they have something else in the works that is very innovative, I don’t think this PI will sway most of the metal detecting community into believe First Texas is back in the game.
I wish every metal detector on my walls was American made but I stopped falling for their antic’s years ago. Us detectorists had no choice except to purchase overpriced detectors that had very few changes from their last model and I for one got fed up with it.
For those who want to blame the foreign manufacturers I will say this. Garrett (an American company) started this trend with the AT Pro many years back. Offering better performance for less and they are still in the game because they WANT our business, they are listening and they are staying with the times. The Apex is a perfect example!
While many will look back and reminisce about the good old days and the manufacturers who left us. I will be living in the present, using the best technology for me, and praising the manufacturers who took us out of the age where we had to settle for a name change and a few new options on each new model.