Will Whites go the way of Tesoro?
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  1. #1

    May 2010
    White Plains, New York
    Minelab GPZ 7000; Equinox 600 -- Teknetics EuroTek PRO -- Grave Digger Tools Nemesis shovel, Sidekick hand digger -- Bunk's Hermit Pick
    24283 times
    Metal Detecting
    Honorable Mentions (1)

    Will Whites go the way of Tesoro?

    At an outing I attended last week in Arizona, there was talk about Whites lagging sales, and worries they will close up like Tesoro over the next year. Normally I wouldn't pay attention to idle talk, but the person doing the talking was a Whites employee.

    Since the introduction of the two Minelab Equinox models, other companies are struggling to try and catch up. What are your thoughts on the future of the "Big Four?" Minelab; Garrett; Fisher; Whites

  2. #2
    Oct 2018
    Tesoro Tejon and Mojave
    159 times
    Metal Detecting
    Looks like we may start living in a First Texas Products/Minelabs world.

  3. #3
    Apr 2014
    Whites Spectra V3i, Whites MX5, Whites BH 300, Whites MX Sport, Tek Europro, Tesoro Compadre, Makro Multi Kruzer .......... No longer own....... Etrac, CTX3030, G2, Fisher F4 Tesoro Bandido
    310 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I don’t have access to Whites’ sales numbers or their P/L figures so any thoughts [of mine] on their continued business is more of a guess than anything else. I am a fan of their machines (I actually prefer Whites machines) so naturally I am hopeful that they are making metal detecting equipment for many years to come.

    I am likely in the minority here, but I don’t see the Equinox as being the slayer of all competition. I would guess that metal detecting enthusiasts see it that way, but the average person doesn’t have the slightest idea of what the Minelab Equinox is. What enthusiasts see/demand/want is far different from what the average person sees/demands/wants.

    I know a lot of people who have some interest in metal detecting; most of them wouldn’t dream of dropping more than a couple hundred dollars on a machine. To them it simply isn’t worth the money: they view metal detecting as a once-in-awhile activity that their kids might enjoy.

    When it comes to brands I’ve yet to experience anyone (outside of those who are fairly serious about metal detecting) who has heard of Minelab. The brands they typically mention are Bounty Hunter, Radio Shack, Whites, and Garrett. Occasionally someone has heard of Fisher, but even that brand isn’t well known outside of those who take the hobby fairly serious.

    The question I most often get — once someone finds out that I enjoy metal detecting — is “is brand X a good metal detector to buy?” Not a specific machine — just a brand. Oftentimes they’ll mention the box store they saw the machine in — and they usually know the price of the machine they saw. For the most part, as far as they’re concerned, all metal detectors are the same (as far as function) and all differences boil down to price and brand.

    Back when I owned/used an Etrac it wasn’t unusual for people to ask why I wasn’t using a Bounty Hunter, or Whites machine. They just assumed that those two brands were the best (since they had seen mostly those two brands — and/or Radio Shack).

    My guess is that most of the metal detector manufacturers sell far more of their entry level machines than they do their mid level to high end machines. I’d also guess that the bulk of their profits come from those lower end machines. I’d also guess that a good percentage of those lower end machines sit in the closet/garage all but the first month or two after the purchase.

    A look at local listings (Craigslist, FB, the newspapers, etc..) bears that out — probably 98% of the machines offered for sale are the lower end models. Lots of Bounty Hunters, Radio Shack, Whites, and Garrett. Occasionally there will be a mid-level or higher machine listed for sale, but even then they’re usually Garrett or Whites.

    I think the Equinox had to put a dent in sales of higher end machines — almost all of which are sold to enthusiasts. I also think that market is fairly limited in scope (compared to the fairly large entry level market). I actually think the Equinox cannibalized more Minelab sales than it did sales from other brands.

    I think what harmed Tesoro the most was their lack of marketing. I don’t believe I’ve ever had an experience where someone (who isn’t an enthusiast) had heard of the brand. In fact the local dealer (who sells Tesoro) does everything he can to talk people out of buying a Tesoro. I honestly don’t understand why he carries Tesoro — given the way he treats the brand. That dealer pushes Minelab — hard. Enough so that I’m convinced he makes a bigger margin on Minelab products.

    I don’t believe the lack of a screen (most models) was all that harmful to Tesoro. I lend my Compadre out to people who want to try metal detecting and everyone of them has loved that machine. They like the simplicity of the machine, and they love the fact that it finds good targets.

    My thoughts on the other brands…

    First Texas — I think they’re positioned well for the future. Their entry level machines seem to be fairly dominant and Bounty Hunter is a very well known brand in that market segment. People see their machines in the places they visit — including online — without having to specifically search for metal detectors. Their Fisher and Teknetics brands remain reasonably competitive in the higher end segments and there is a good amount of interest in their yet-to-be-released Manta (or whatever it will be named) on the high end.

    Minelab — Lots of money behind the brand. They’re the market leader in higher end machines and advertise quite a lot. I suspect their entry level machines don’t do all that well (market wise) so there is room for improvement — or room for disaster (if they don’t shore that end of the market up). I think Minelab lost margin because of their own product eating sales of their higher end machines, but expect Minelab to roll out a couple of higher end replacements in the next year or so.

    Garrett — They seem to have a fair chunk of the entry level market and a pretty decent share of the mid-level market. I think they got a big boost from their sponsorship of various metal detecting shows on television, but that venue appears to be all but gone now. They do a pretty good job with social media marketing though. I suspect they’re disappointed with the sales of the AT Max, and I think the Equinox likely hurt Garrett more than it hurt any other brand.

    Whites — I think they need a better entry level marketing plan. Their product (I believe it is called X-venture) isn’t well known and doesn’t appear to have much support from the company. I think Whites is doing ok with their next level machines — Treasure Master and Treasure Pro. I think their strength (sales wise) is with the MX7, MX Sport, MXT All Pro but I suspect they’re not gaining market share (just selling to Whites fans for the most part). Their new gold machine appears to have some support, as does their latest TDI Beach machine, but it is too early to tell if those machines are earning extra sales. I suspect the V3 and V3i are selling rather slowly now — thanks in large part to the Equinox and its lower price(s).

    As much as I’d love to see a new waterproof V3i, I think Whites really needs to concentrate on marketing their lower end machines to new buyers and building brand recognition. The brand is very well known with people 40 and over, but the younger generations don’t know as much about it. Whites has a decent social media presence though and a lot of brand loyalty from its users, so it does have the building blocks it needs (if they decide to take advantage of them).

    I think Whites should tear a page out of their old book and introduce a throwback machine — no screen, beep and dig machine in a light weight form, multiple tones, manual ground balance, great discrimination machine that retails for $250 - $300. There are a lot of enthusiasts who want such a machine and it would be a great way to get people talking about (and interested in) the brand. If they could make it waterproof that would be icing on the cake. Best of all — they shouldn’t need much R/D to do it, and they could use existing parts for the most part.

    Nokta-Makro — Outside of enthusiasts nobody (USA) has heard of the company. Still, I think the company is well positioned to grow their brand. Thanks in large part to their constant innovation and drive to improve their products. They have a decent social media presence and Dilek is worth her weight in gold and then some. With the coming entry level machine, Nokta-Makro should make some inroads into that end of the market, and the developing multi-frequency machine is sure to draw a lot of attention on the other end.

  4. #4
    Charter Member
    Oct 2014
    Garrett: AT Pro, AT Gold & Infinium; Minelab: Explorer SE, II & X-terra 705; Tesoro: Tejon & Outlaw; White's: V3i & DFX
    31220 times
    Relic Hunting
    Banner Finds (2)
    Thank you for sharing your very well thought out post!

  5. #5
    Like some people here, I own different brands of detectors and I'm still hoping we have a place to send our detectors in for correct analysis/repairs no matter who comes and goes.
    "Let Thy Hand, Oh God, guide me through the ways Thou seest are needed for those that seek to know Thy way through any effort of mine."

  6. #6
    Jan 2007
    Gold Canyon AZ
    ML SDC-2300, Fisher F-75, XP Deus,
    668 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Whites resembles Tesoro in one way - departure of very active founder and family continuing to own/run the business. The temptation in those curcumstances to underinvest/over “harvest” the proceeds can lead to a downward spiral. Apparently a near total turn-over of engineering staff had occurred, perhaps more than once, in the last few years. The V3 line, for example is unlikely to be developed further - the cost of writing new code that complex is probably beyond their means, especially since the engineer who did the V3 software now works for First Texas.

    Garrett’s lack of change in its product line is puzzling. The failure to introduce a lightweight version of the ATX is stunning.

    First Texas seems to be moving aggressively to adapt to new realities in pricing of detectors. Currently, for example, Costco is selling the BH Discovery 3300 for $89. Until recently that unit was priced at $349. Less dramatic, but pretty large price cuts across their product lines have gone on in the last year. They can do this because of their huge volume and perhaps dealing directly with big box stores for the BH brand. They have even introduced direct to customer sales on their Teknetics and Ameritech brands.

    The European companies have an ever growing regional market and products focused on their hunting conditions - emphasis on tones and sensitivity to mid-conductors along with good iron handling.

  7. #7
    Jan 2007
    Gold Canyon AZ
    ML SDC-2300, Fisher F-75, XP Deus,
    668 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    A good measure of the magnitude of the effort/cost of bringing a new machine to market is the very small number of new introductions we see.

    With the exception of Nokia/Makro, truly new machine introductions for the rest of the industry seem to occur at 2-5 year intervals per manufacturer. First Texas had a burst of new models a couple of years back with the F22/F44 intro. since than, a pinpointer. This from a company with a large engineering staff and financially healthy.

    These are small businesses. Development teams are tiny - then there is the whole business of “productionizing” the electronics design. Reducing the complexity/cost of the boards and components so that the build cost in minimized and the ease and reliability of assembly is assured. Then mechanical design has to go through the same process. Committment of hundreds of thousands of $$ for tooling and initial component procurement. A big deal - and a big risk.

  8. #8
    Apr 2009
    1613 times
    I hope some manufacture or tech savvy start up is working on incorporating artificial intelligence for detectors.
    I think at present things have gone pretty much as far as its going to go with current technology.

  9. #9
    Charter Member
    Come out from under your bed today...... DO SOMETHING!

    Jun 2008
    Yarnell, AZ
    Ace 250 (2), Gold Bug 2, Tesoro Cortes, Garrett Sea Hunter, Whites TDI SL SE, Fisher Impulse 8, Minelab Monster 1000, Falcon MD20, Garrett pinpointer, Calvin Bunker digger.
    8185 times
    Metal Detecting
    Honorable Mentions (1)
    As with ALL successful companies, they must evolve. Those in the marketing offices know this. Those that evolve will survive. I have been with Garrett for decades. To say again, Garrett has a good business profile. They will evolve and survive. And, I believe, so will Bounty Hunter! Watch this one fill the entry level niche with good, cheap machines to attract the beginner. TTC
    Kace, Terry Soloman and Possum like this.
    Think about it: If you cannot first take care of yourself, how can others depend on you?

  10. #10

    Mar 2008
    Minelab Equinox 600
    325 times
    I think Tesoro's biggest issue wasn't advertising, but simply the lack of innovation. It's hard to advertise a group of machines that just haven't changed in decades. Tesoro needed badly to shift to digital to keep up. I know on here you have people that swear by them (I had a Tejon which was a super solid machine), but the majority of the public are not interested in driving a stick shift, when most vehicles are automatics. It's a small subset that does.

    As far as White's, I think their biggest issue was they just got lost with the emergence of the likes of the XP Deus, Minelab, and even Garrett. They feel more like a Saab of metal detectors to me. Great machines, but just a much smaller contingent of loyal followers. When you turn on the Youtube channels of people metal detecting, you see them swinging typically one of three machines; XP Deus, Garrett AT, or a Minelab. So when people who watch those videos go out to buy their own detectors, that is what they get.

    Like it or not, the Minelab Equinox has set the bar for metal detectors. The XP Deus is still too expensive for the casual hobbyist or person looking to get into it. If Garret can upgrade their AT line to be more lightweight, multi-frequency, they will be golden. If White's gets themselves a multi-frequency machine out and then can advertise it properly, they could see a resurgence of their brand. I know they have had national commercials in the past, but they were very vanilla. I think the key for all these brands is to become a staple on the Youtube channels featuring metal detecting. Youtube is the new TV.
    Last edited by Philvis; Nov 27, 2018 at 02:49 PM.

  11. #11
    Charter Member
    Nov 2018
    Portage, MI
    Bounty Hunter TR550-D
    26 times
    RF Design
    To do AI in a detector needs a fast processor, fast processor eats batteries. Something like a Analog Devices Black Fin DSP processor at 400-800 Mhz adds a lot of complexity and development cost. The software licenses on the development tool set and the required hardware are about the same as the cost of the engineer's salary...

    What you get today is rule based, and the assumption that your target is the size of a quarter?...

  12. #12
    Charter Member
    Oct 2014
    Garrett: AT Pro, AT Gold & Infinium; Minelab: Explorer SE, II & X-terra 705; Tesoro: Tejon & Outlaw; White's: V3i & DFX
    31220 times
    Relic Hunting
    Banner Finds (2)
    IMHO: I am wondering if White's could modify their V3i multi-frequency (three) machine to be lighter, additional frequencies (i.e. 15 KHz and 45 KHz), lighter, waterproof and gear the user options down a bit. A faster processor would be needed, but well worth the effort, cost and may lead into a different "class" of detectors for the company. I occasionally use my V3i & DFX machines and do find them fun and productive in the field.
    Terry Soloman and Possum like this.

  13. #13
    Feb 2008
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Whites, MXT.
    5131 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Well we certainly see the pendulum swing from brands and models periodically. Perhaps others are doing better at adapting their business models than White's at this moment . I remember when all we heard about was the Minelab SE, then it seemed to go toward the Etrac, then XP deus was all the rage ,then At Pro , now it seems to be Equinox 800. I have stayed with the first generation MXT for a decade or so , I would like it better if they could go waterproof with it , but other than that I'm still pretty happy with it . I think that if these manufacturers can put out a fairly light weight machine, that is simple to learn, waterproof ,and keep it well under a $1000. they should do well.
    Terry Soloman likes this.

  14. #14
    Charter Member

    Dec 2015
    Ann Arbor
    Equinox 800
    37979 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Honorable Mentions (2)
    I hope not we need more brands and options

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  15. #15
    Aug 2015
    Windsor, ON
    Fisher 1235-X | Garrett Infinium LS
    151 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by Escape View Post
    I hope some manufacture or tech savvy start up is working on incorporating artificial intelligence for detectors.
    I think at present things have gone pretty much as far as its going to go with current technology.

    Yeah sit at home, drink beer, send the detector out on a quest through Google Maps and don't let it back in the house till its weighted down with gold. lol


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