Turning the Tables: a Q & A with Mat Weisfeld of VPI Products
There were so many great friends and product representatives at our Grand Opening that we couldn’t get around to chatting with all of them that week. Now, we’re pumped that we could visit with Mat Wiesfeld, the president of VPI Products, which manufactures high-end turntables and accessories. They’re made right here in the USA by this small, dedicated, family business. We quizzed him on what he thought about our new store, what the resurgence of vinyl means for VPI, and what’s on the horizon.
Q: What did you think about the HiFi Buys Grand Opening?
I loved it. I thought the store was immaculate and well laid out, very welcoming. A bit of southern comfort. I felt like I could just come and hang out. Walking into the home theater room was like walking into a friend’s basement. In each room, a customer can easily swap out gear based on their budget. The HiFi Buys name is an icon in the audio history, and I’ve talked to a lot of people who got their start at the store.
VPI has a long history with Alan. It’s been great to see him make that transition to HiFi Buys from Audio Alternatives. We’ve been working with him for 20+ years, so there’s a chance VPI was with HiFi Buys the first time around.
Q: What’s it like working with a niche market and a dealer like Alan versus a “big box” store?
I think brick and mortar stores are the heart of industry; you can order online and get a big inventory, but you’re not getting the expertise and experience like you would at HiFi Buys. There’s just not that feel and connection. At HiFi Buys you’re immediately welcomed and you’re part of the family. There are immediate support and visuals, and in-store demonstrations. This stuff’s expensive; at the store, people can go in, sit down and demo it and ask questions. And every person at HiFi Buys is great; I’d go have a beer with any of them!
Q: What has the resurgence of vinyl meant to VPI in general?
It’s been extremely overwhelming. This company was started with Grandma, Mom, Dad, and Leo, who are still working for us. I was working part-time for gas money; back in the day, we would produce 10-20 turntables a week full steam ahead. Now we do 40-50 turntables a day and it’s still not enough. It has been extremely exciting. I was in teaching for a while then went to VPI full time. We have increased staff, we love making tables, and we’re proud of our work and that they’re made in America. I took over when Mom passed away and it’s great to see the family business still going.
Q: You’ve created a Forum post on your website. How’s that going?
We’ve created our own VPI forum so we can have a conversation with our fans and potential customers. It’s good for customer support; we are actually on there answering questions. It’s a great way to engage with clients and dealers.
Once, someone was complaining about how long it takes to get parts. Dealers would sell bulk of the product, and then VPI would sell the parts directly. I didn’t like that; we like directing the buyer back to the dealer. That way they could come into the brick and mortar store and hang out, maybe buy some records. It’s kind of a disservice to buy directly from us, because you may get the part but you don’t get to see any more of the cool stuff the store has that you would like.
Q: Tell us about your product line.
The Nomad is $1,000; it’s our lowest priced turntable. We know our product is an investment. Dad started company as an “excited engineer;” he loved making turntables. At first we had a SKU of 22 products, similar to each other; Alan and I talked about how many models there were, and we went from 21 to 6 models from $1,000-$6,000. $6K is a reachable investment for someone to save for.
Q: Multiple toner arms–why?
I’m on the record with this statement–I think it’s crazy! Our toner arms are removable and easy to swap back and forth. You really don’t need multiple arms mounted because with ours, you can save a lot of money by getting the separate arm wands and switch them out. With that being said, with resurgence on the mono record side, you can have a turntable with 2 tone arms you can have one arm set with your mono cartridge, and another set with your stereo cartridge. Switching from mono to stereo is as easy as flipping a switch.
Q: What does the future look like for turntables, and for VPI?
Overall, we’ve been focusing on the Nomad; they’re the tables that get the person in the door. Our mission is to expand this audience with events and education seminars at stores like HiFi Buys. That opens the products up to someone who’s never experienced them before. Our newest product is the Avenger. HiFi Buys was the first to display the Avenger in a dealer setting. Next up for 2016 is my signature product. More later!
Ready to spin some vinyl? Let us show you just how good it sounds on a VPI turntable, made right here in the good ‘ol USA by the Weisfeld family. Come on into the store! Check out more product news on our Facebook or Twitter social, too.
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