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Old 08-02-2019, 12:13 AM   #1
mrtexas
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Default Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Anyone know the real reason for the closure? Not making enough money? Sales declines? Or owners wanting to retire?
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:22 AM   #2
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Lee Atherton has left the building.
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

From what I have read, lack of workforce and loss of a good chunk of their facilities because of rent going up (trying to do X amount of work in a space smaller then could handle the work load).
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

The new owners were a relatively young couple and a long way from retirement. I met them and it was clear that they wanted the business to succeed. The progressive loss of key employees and their expertise had been going on for years, well before the new owners acquired the business and shrinking cash flow (what determines success or failure) from slower sales did not give them enough time to get a handle on the business. They were seeking investment partners, but ran out of time.


The previous owners (an investment group not associated with the hobby) who bought the business from the Atherton family likely laid the foundation for the firm's ultimate demise.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:05 AM   #5
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Yeah, investment groups only care about the return. If the return sags below some number they liquidate and close or sell. They care nothing about the business or the workers except whatever money they can get out of it. It is just greed. Most small businesses that got to be large ones did so with hard work and long hours. Venture capitalists or investment groups have no use for that.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

It is not as easy as just throwing muck at an investment group. There is a reason they are "investors" - it is to make money. Also, they probably had to pay the prior family to buy the business - this now creates a debt load where one may not have existed before.

Roll forward . . . the new owners (and associated investors) now have to service the debt load as a part of their daily operations. In short order (without increasing Sales), what was once a solid "family business" can no longer afford to be in business . . . just not enough revenue to cover the expenses, nothing to reinvest and little to pay people (last of all the owners in most cases).

It is NOT easy - have been on both sides of this equation . . . at times being way over leveraged and unable to keep the business alive and at other times making good decisions, having some timing and luck on my side and making a real go of it. One thing I can tell you is that buying and/or owning and running a small business - is NEVER easy . . . even in the best of times.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:05 AM   #7
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Bored&Stroked,


I agree, but in this instance, when the going was good, as it was for many years, little if any was reinvested in the business to keep it healthy. Fabric and top material inventories were run down to the ground, for example.
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Overhead is generally the largest drain on a small business. If you have to make large monthly payments plus keeping a payroll going and purchasing materials, its not easy.

The other factor is the yoyo affect that the economy can have on the auto restoration support businesses. One year they may have overwhelming orders that are hard to fill and the next year may be dead as a doornail.

Anyone getting into a restoration support business needs to be flexible enough to survive the bad times and keep up with the good. Folks that have all their equipment paid for with lower overhead can weather a lot more than those that don't.
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Old 08-02-2019, 03:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

I hate to say it, but unless a business can keep up with what has now become popular you will probably soon see financial problems. Let's face it, the number of full blown restorations on early Ford V-8s has declined a lot in the last 5-10 years. I notice at V-8 National Meets you see fewer and fewer new restorations. That equates to fewer customers. Much of the car hobby participants have moved into the 50s,60s and later. Goodguys and NSRA have both had to raise the car years that are acceptable at their events due to declining participation. The same has to hold true for the aftermarket parts suppliers. TCI which was a big supplier of aftermarket street rod chassis for Model A through '48 chassis and parts has moved the 50's and 60's chassis and subframes for muscle cars. Their new catalog has very few aftermarket chassis parts for the early cars.
It's all a tough business because these vendors are supplying a hobby which is based on the hobbyists disposable income at the time.
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Old 08-03-2019, 11:50 AM   #10
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Yep TJ, one V8er told me " just about all the 32 Fords that are going to be restored, have been". You could extrapolate that to other years as well. I am sorry to see LB disappear, I feel lucky to have my concourse car done and I purchased the interior kit for my current project coupe many years ago.
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Old 08-03-2019, 12:34 PM   #11
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

I find that when this old 87 year old takes his 84 year old ford to a car show hardly any of this generation of show goers stop to hardly look or talk. The entrance fees have gone up above affordable amount for fixed income budget folks so there are very few pre flathead engine cars displayed at all. Its a shame.
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Old 08-03-2019, 01:03 PM   #12
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Mike,


Not quite yet; I've several in process. Fortunately, all of them have their LeB/B upholstery and tops waiting to be installed.
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Old 08-03-2019, 04:41 PM   #13
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

A friend in the Model A sheet metal and wood parts business got in it when Carline had 25 employees 25 years ago. Paul is the only one left now. No wood parts made either any more. His son-in-law has taken half the building over for building oil drilling gizmos.
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Old 08-03-2019, 05:48 PM   #14
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

maybe the investment banker was one of the current lot of demo presidential aspirers???
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Old 08-03-2019, 06:17 PM   #15
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Quote:
Originally Posted by keith oh View Post
I find that when this old 87 year old takes his 84 year old ford to a car show hardly any of this generation of show goers stop to hardly look or talk. The entrance fees have gone up above affordable amount for fixed income budget folks so there are very few pre flathead engine cars displayed at all. Its a shame.
I'm in my early fifties and I used to attend plenty of car shows as a teen and up to my early thirties. Never recall seeing many flatheads. Most "hot rods" had Chevys or Fords. Even now at a local show with over two hundred cars there was only one Flathead! Hoping to keep the spirt alive with my build.
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Old 08-03-2019, 07:13 PM   #16
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

On a Happy note I just received an order from Cartouche (Mac's).
I deliberately ordered a small item as a trial.
I ordered 22 ft. of Taupe windlace for a 32 5 window I have with an old poorly installed LB interior.
The windlace arrived today (2 weeks early) and it's perfect.
Sooooo
I'm encouraged....I'm sure I'll need a few more items as I remove and re install the interior...
Keeping my fingers crossed that the loss of LB will not be as bad as we all feared...
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:54 AM   #17
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Simple: The demand for antique auto restoration is falling. Kids today are more interested in throw away cars like Toyotas than restoring old Fords.
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Old 08-04-2019, 12:22 PM   #18
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Quote:
Originally Posted by philipswanson View Post
Simple: The demand for antique auto restoration is falling. Kids today are more interested in throw away cars like Toyotas than restoring old Fords.
The above, is what it's all about. That is where the disposable income is.

Kids to me are under 40 (I'm 74). My son turned 50 this year and even though he was raised by a "Motorhead", he likes flying, Razors and has a $30K boat. He has just started buying things, instead of financing them. He has no interest in old cars!!

I was a racer, in my day and even though my first car was a '48 Merc, I went with FE's and SBF's, after that. Why? Because that was where the HP was!

Of those Honda and Toyota, kids, very, very few, will ever go to early Fords (or any early car), they'll restore those H & T's!

Very, very sad but, that's what will happen When we are gone, and that won't be far ahead. Who will replace us........... Basically, no one!

32-48 FH's will become like the Model T collector's, still there but, no real money in it.
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Old 08-04-2019, 02:23 PM   #19
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Good move already having the kits in hand David! Would be interesting to know how many inquiries you get by folks actually doing concourse restorations. Big difference in the details between that and the tour cars. About how many/month come in? I hope there ARE lots, but fear hot rodders with deep pockets are buying the Dearborn cars to convert because it is cheaper then fixing a rust bucket project.
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Old 08-04-2019, 02:52 PM   #20
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Default Re: Real story on Lebarron Bonney?

Mike,

If I count by the number of inquiries, it's often dozens per month. If I count by the number of inquirers, it's a fraction of that or about ten a month. (That includes inquiries about '32s, '33s, '34s, '35s, '36s, and some '37s.)

From what I see showing up on the HAMB and ebay in the way of parts removed from older restorations, I agree that some are being cannibalized and that likely will continue until all forms of interest in cars of the subject period cease to exist.
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