The jukebox world awoke this morning to find that Rowe International is packing its man
ufacturing bags and heading to Mexico. In a story appearing on the Vending Times Web site late last night, Nick Montano wrote:
In a key part of the streamlining plan, Rowe will shift manufacturing from Grand Rapids, MI, to Reynosa, Mexico, on the Texas-Mexico border. This includes Rowe jukeboxes and money-changing machines, as well as Merit terminals. The transition is expected to complete by the end of 2009, when the Rowe factory will close. About 100 jobs will be affected.
Mike Maas, Rowe’s president and CEO, issued a statement about controlling costs and increasing efficiencies that’s becoming all too familiar. We’re hearing similar and more severe statements from leaders of companies around the world in all kinds of industries. I applaud Mr. Maas for doing his best to preserve his company and save as many jobs as he can. I get it. I run a business that has had to shift focus over the years in response to changing markets.
However, as I observed on a recent trip to London for the ATEI and IGX trade shows, our industry has deeper systemic issues. We once set the standard for video games and were once a medium for breaking new music. Now we’ve become myopic and timid. We’re clinging to products and business models that are no longer compelling.
How can we expect to inspire a new generation of enthusiasts when as an industry we’re losing the passion we once had for true innovation? Granted, the price of innovation can be high in this uncertain economic climate, but the very survival of our industry depends on us recapturing the bold spirit and vision that used to define us. We can’t blame the current economy for problems that have plagued us for the better part of this decade. And simply improving efficiency and controlling costs will not lead us into the next era of prosperity.