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Bob Hornick

York Barbell

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Bob Hornick

I hear that York Barbell has sold all of their manufacturing equipment, that all barbells, plates and even the Olympic lifting sets are manufactured in China. A telephone call to their toll free number confirmed this. It is sad to me, that all manufacturing has gone overseas. I'm sure the product is still a good one, but sad that all USA production has ceased. Companies simply can not compete with the price of goods produced overseas.

Andy Jackson used to lament the "passing" of U.S. barbell companies who could no longer compete with foreign providers....but he would always add" You know Bob, weight is weight and it will all build muscle."

If I visit York again it will be sad to look at products and know that none of it was produced in Pennsylvania. :(

I apologize if this has already been posted by someone, I tried "searching" could not find it.

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Jan Dellinger

Bob:

Nobody is more sorry about the turn of events to which you alluded than yours truly. I worked at York Barbell Company from August of 1976 to January of 2002.When I left, over 87% of their total number of skews (individual items) were imported from China. In fact, the company was part of some sort of joint venture agreement with an outfit in China which had a foundry, as well as other manufacturing capabilities. In fact, a number of other American fitness concerns (or should I say, outlets for products) also bought from these same folks. Actually, some of these concerns, like Wal Mart, bought in much greater volume than York Barbell Co. This lack of comparative size and volume buying, produced some bench/residential equipment-product shortages in crucial sales periods for York Barbell/USA in recent years.

About once a month I see Bob Jones, who last run U.S. Lock and Hardware in Columbia, PA, which is where genuine York Barbells were made even before I started working there. Of course, in preparation to selling York Barbell company to York Barbell United Kingdom/Canada/Australia, the former sold U.S. Lock. As I see it, the latter purchasing Bob Hoffman's old company was strictly a matter of getting legal usage of the York name in the United States markets.

It's possible that over time York Barbell may not be made in China as I understand that York-Canada, which has been in business for decades, has a ery productive foundry somewhere near Toronto, or at least in the province of Ontario. Perhaps they will ultimately be made at least in our hemisphere.

But as Andy Jackson pointed out, people don't care where barbell and dumbbells come from as long as they are a commodity (cheap). Of course, this allows average users (you know, the millions and millions of momentary weight trainers) to buy, say, a 300-pound Olympic set and have no real compulsion to seriously use it. Always easy to sell it at the inevitable yard sale, or hawk it in the classified section of the daily newspaper. Frankly, once average people get wise to the fact that Olympic sets and plates are always available at half of the current street retail price, in the classifieds, even the mass merchandisers will have trouble unloaded a 300# set for $100.

By the way, the venerate Mr. Jackson may have been generally right about barbell plates (Olympic), to someone who wants to seriously use a 300# set and beyond, the notion that a bar is a bar is a bar, is kidding oneself. But that is another discussion beyond the scope of this forum.

Jan Dellinger

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Steve Capozzoli

I purchased a Power Bar from York Barbell the first time we went there, about three years ago. I had just finished reading "Muscletown, USA" and was excited to add a piece of York equipment(made right there in historic York, PA) to my basement gym. Needless to say, I was kind of suprised and a little disappointed to unpackage the bar and see a "Made In China" sticker on it.

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Guest Bill Hinbern
I purchased a Power Bar from York Barbell the first time we went there, about three years ago.  I had just finished reading "Muscletown, USA" and was excited to add a piece of York equipment(made right there in historic York, PA) to my basement gym.  Needless to say, I was kind of suprised and a little disappointed to unpackage the bar and see a "Made In China" sticker on it.

It is sad indeed, as well as frightening, the state of affairs with regard to manufacturing here in the US. However, a number of things have contributed to it. The high cost of litigation, pensions, health care here in the US for any companies to even consider going into or staying in business. Then there are the governmental agencies such as the EPA, OSHA, Workman's Comp., etc. I understand that our government wants to cut social security benefits in half. What is really frightening is that most people will outlive their pensions and health care benefits!

Manufacturing here in the US eventually through much frustration says to heck with it and goes overseas where there is none of the above. Furthermore, companies like York were started by the "real hands" on guys who actually lifted weights. Virtually all the employees in the beginning were weightlifters, including the owner who kept a careful eye on what was going on!

Then enter the "bean counters". People who don't know a barbell from a dinner bell. Even the York Weightlifting Hall of Fame is woefully lacking in memorabilia. I would venture to say that there are at least a dozen collectors here in the US that have more material than York. Books, courses, magazines, equipment, etc. Any one of these collectors could and have put up a display that would put York to shame! Sad. York could have been and should be the leader in every kind of piece of equipment for the home trainee. All types of dumbbell bars, benches, gadgets, etc. Instead, several other small companies have popped up over the years to supply the demand. York, through its arrogance, evidently didn't want to be "bothered" with it. Same holds true with training books and courses. They published nothing since the 60's. Most of it was published in the 30's, 40's and 50's. And then it stopped. They had, not one but two magazines. Hoffman was no sooner in the ground and they ceased publication. How York stays in business is anybodies guess.

I recall a friend of mine who has sold barbell plates for over 25 years. He began selling York plates exclusively. In the beginning, after a year or so he started having problems. First, York began raising the minimum amount per order, say 5,000 lbs. He agreed to that. Then, when he ordered 5,000 lbs., they would ship 2,000 lbs. In addition to that, his orders would take 6 months to receive! Now, mind you, the whole time, York barbell plates were far more expensive than the imports. He, just by chance, mentioned this to me and I introduced him to a friend of mine who is a barbell manufacturer on the west coast. The plates were naturally imported. But, they shipped smaller quantities and in a timely manner.

For years, the public equated iron barbell plates with York. York had something very, very valuable in business. Brand recognition. This takes years and years and tons of money to develop. They just threw it away.

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Joe Roark

At least one person has contacted me after being absolutely frustration-saturated with non-cooperation from York Barbell in regard to a research project. He simply wanted information about their history in reference to the iron game.

The EMPHACIZED to him that they are trying for an image change and though they do not deny that former iron connection, they do not have time to deal with details such as he wanted.

I suspect the current employees don'y know know kettlebells from kettle popcorn.

York has succeeded. In changing its image.

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David Harrington

Last time I visited the York Barbell Store ( a few months back) they had very little to sell. Hardly any equipment and not one bumper or rubber composite plate on display. The only books on sale was John Fair's book and perhaps one other. Very sad indeed. From what I understand it was York's discontinued food division (Hi-Proteen Powder) that made Hoffman most of his fortune. I don't know how the company is doing financially these days. I'm unsure if they own Costas' Foods which is what is left of their food division. Costas' located in Pottsville, PA produces the "Muscle Sandwich" which was formerly the "Hoffman's Club Sandwich" later known as the "York Barbell Club Sandwich." They also produce the "Costas' Club Sandwich"which is available in some supermarkets here in central Pennsylvania.

---David

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Guest wolf hasenmaier

According to John Ruskin, famous English social reformer from 19 th century, the law of economy forbids it to receive for minor money major value. Maybe mass production adds a new perspective but in individual confectioning of service Ruskin is absolutely right. A high quality 300 lbs set sounds still unlikely to me. Eleiko is the premier choice for IOC WL, and they are several times more expensive. There is a reason why - quality.

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Jan Dellinger

David:

You are pretty much on the money about supplements making the most money for BoHO. When I went to work for York in 1976, they were grossing about 15 million per year (people always assumed it was more like twice that), and 60% of that figure was garnered from supplement and candy bar sales. In fact, the single product which sold the greatest number of unit annually for decades was the Hoffman Club Sandwich. Ironically, this item was marketed as a healthy "energy" bar when in fact, it had a substantial number of calories and was made with palm kernal oil, which is anything but healthful.

Protein (or as York spelled it "Proteen) products also made a lot of $$$ for York. If one looks at ads for a one-pound can of Hi-Proteen in S&H it was about $5 per can when they started marketing this product around 1953. However, in 1978, it was still selling for $5 a can. Obviously, over a 25-year period the cost of ingredients to make the product had to go up considerably from the original cost structure in, say, 1953. So care to guess what the profit margin on the 1# can of protein was in 1953, because York was still making $$$ on the same 1# can in 1978? Granted, the profit margin wasn't as great in the latter year, but it was still profitable.

York Barbell became YORK BARBELL shortly after WWII and thru the prosperity of the 1950s. Because they had their own foundry, when WWII broke out they were able to still sell barbells and dumbbells (made of concrete in a separate foundry in East Prospect near York). Everyone else who had been selling weight before was effectively out of business because a-l-l- scrap iron went to fashioning war materials. Plus, York also got government contracts thru this period for cast iron clamps on airplane engines and other nicknacks which the government kept renewing for years and years after WWII ceased. Even in my time, U.S. Lock and Hardware had to take outside work(like for) cast iron stove parts, etc. in order to keep the tonnage sufficient to efficiently run the foundry. And, of course, after the war, York had quite a headstart on anyone who wanted to get back in the barbell business.

Secondly, not long after WWII, department stores and retail stores from hither and yon started carrying 110# sets and small dumbbell sets, and York Barbell was pretty much the lone source they could go to.

Also, in the early 1950s, Hoffman got into protein, and we have already taken a look at the profit margin at the outset.

Terpak Sr. confirmed that,basically, between 1950 and the early 1960s York Barbell Company just exploded, making more money than any of them ever thought they could. Sad to relate (a favorite Hoffman expression), by the end of that decade, the gravy train at York Barbell was starting to slow down.

Jan Dellinger

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David Harrington

Probably one of the biggest blows to York Barbell was when they lost their distribution deal with General Nutrition Centers (GNC). In my opinion this was a major turning point and ultimately lead to the demise of their food (supplement)division. In the early part of this decade it appeard that the "York Barbell Club Sandwich" was going to go mainstream with distribution in local supermarkets and grocery stores. The York Club Sandwiches were selling out in the markets but instead of replenishing the shelves with Club Sandwiches, the distributor would fill the space with less popular York Barbell Candies like their Molasses Coconut Bar. Meanwhile, thousands of Club Sandwiches sat in their warehouse. I actually spoke to Ron Oravitz (sp?) at their food division about the poor distribution of the Club Sandwich because I had a real intrest in their buisness. Unfortunately it was already too late as they had ceased production of all York Barbell candies.

---David

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Tom Ryan

Jan,

Your words about the Hoffman Club Sandwich aren't exactly music to my ears because I ate more than a few of them, although not nearly as many as I ate of other types of protein bars. The club sandwiches did taste good but I knew that they weren't all that good for me.

I bought the Quick Gain Weight by the 4-pound canisters in the late 1960s and I was able to get wholesale prices from York because I bought large quantities. To Hoffman's credit, he did state that the product was not exactly the most healthful product imaginable (my words, not his), but he said he sold it because the public wanted it.

I also ate tons of the chocolate covered quick gain weight bars -- as many as 8 per day -- but later stopped using any bar or protein product that contained brown sugar. These products did taste good but I got wiser as I grew older

Then I complained bitterly to York circa 1996 when they ceased producing protein bars that didn't contain brown sugar. (I may have discussed this with you, Jan. I know we had a few phone conversations about some topics.)

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Bill Piche

Sounds like York did not survive because they did not actively look down the road? When you are at the top, the last thing you should do is rest on your laurels. If anything, you should be working even harder than before you got there.

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stan jaffin

All of this is both sad and true. I know what I saw and sensed while at York's early summer IPA meets of a few years ago. On the old Garage Gym forum there were a few threads about how Muscletown was biased against Hoffman. If anything it may have been too kind.

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Jan Dellinger

Stan, Bill, Tom & David:

For whatever it's worth, my take on the downhill slide of York Barbell, which started around 1970s (and arguably a bit before) is that it's analogous to a symphony orchestra trying to play on in the middle of a concert after the conductor has been incapacitated and no one is leading.

Obviously, the "conductor" would be Bo Ho. York Barbell Company was always a wholly owned proprietorship legally, but in everyday terms that meant the company was run strictly at the whims of Bob Hoffman. This was no secret, but company stagnation problems began setting in as Bob got up there in age and, predictably, lost a fair measure of the vim and drive he had displayed in decades before.

This is not meant as a criticism of BoHo because a loss of drive is inevitable in human beings, especially as they get past age 70, which Bo Ho would have been in 1970 (72, actually). At that point, it's natural to want to reflect on what one had achieved, and be content to rest on his laurels. And the fact that york Barbell was able to continue as long as it did thereafter is probably a testament to the depth and breadth of the empire Bob oversaw, especially when taking other considerations into account.

Of course, the intrinsic problem persisted: Bob really wasn't moving forward anymore, and the well established pattern over the previous few decades had cast his lieutenants (John Terpak Sr. and Mike Dietz Sr.) in the role of caretakers.

Their personalities, ages, interests and circumstances prohibited them from formally picking up the reigns. Granted, for those of you who know the inside skinny (or even some of it) I'm glossing over a lot, but the fact still remains that "the company" was left to run itself. And frankly, there was an overt philosophy expressed by the management of the company during the 1970s and most of the 1980s that the company had always run itself.

Whether this was what they actually thought (and it may well have been), wishful thinking or resignation to the situation, this speaks volume about their level of business acumen...or lack of it. I should also note that this was precisely the time that cheap, shoddy-quality imported iron and steel bars were increasingly encroaching on the USA's most prominent name in barbells and dumbbells.

Likewise, the 1980s was also a prime period of commercial gym expansion across America, high schools were greatly renewing interest in free weights and expanding weight rooms, fitness-equipment companies of all sizes were popping up from coast to coast, even interest in competitive bodybuilding was peaking (my opinion) among rank and file fitness buffs, and part and parcel with the bodybuilding-weight training craze was the explosion of the supplement market.

All of these were areas in which York Barbell had done pioneering work, and, yet, York Barbell seemed to be going low profile,if not the opposite direction entirely, at the exact moment when the rest of America was getting into fitness/strength conditioning via weights. Why? Bo Ho's personal waning ambitions were only a small part of it. The corporate nature of York Barbell, along with Bob's age, had a lot to do with it. REmember I referred to York Barbell as a solely held proprietorship earlier. According to the tax laws which applied in the 1970s-'80s, the tax bite upon the death of a company principal was much, much stiffer under this form of corporate ownership than any other structure. Terpak Sr. told me that when Bob finally passed in 1985, the IRS could have rightfully demanded an assessment of 4 MILLION dollars. Annually, York Barbell was GROSSING about 10 million dollars in sales at that time.

Mike Dietz Sr., who was the company treasurer, and, thus, handled the financial, as well as manufacturing, end of things, was playing for this contingency long before 1985. Even in the late 1970s, Mike was not shy about why he was trying to slow things down. He said pretty openly that we, as a company, did not want to make too much money (that is pretty much a direct quote)because that would be that much more money we'd have to pay when Bob finally closes his eyes. Plus, he personally didn't think Bob would live to the age he did because, among other reasons, Bob had been in some serious traffic accidents over the course of life (first was in the late 1930s). So, between any complications which emerged from these as he aged, plus any new mishaps life sent Bob's way, the odds were starting to go against Ironman Bob.

In business, as in life, you are either going forward or you are going backward. York's management of that period seemed to believe you could play for a stalemate, which proved to be disasterous thinking. It should also be noted that the "pull back" was very comprehensive as it was during this time period that York's fitness outlet in Whittier, California, which was established in the 1960s if memory serves, was closed down. So, essentially, at a time when literally everyone else in the fitness world was running to California to open up shop, or at least an outlet, York Barbell was closing down a well-rooted operation.

If the aforementioned sounds too farfetched to be believed, as I'm sure it is to some of you, I assure you I am not making any of this up as these "thought processes" were talked about candidly around the office.

David brought up the supplement situation. This was a money maker and as such no effort was made to expand this area. In fact, subsequent management regimes in the post Terpak Sr./Dietz Sr. era pretty much took the same tact, looking at whatever revenue supplement sales generated as "found money," meaning that whatever it grossed annually (even as it receded)was money they didn't have to make up somewhere else.

When I left York Barbell in 2002, perhaps the only area of the business which was showing a profit was the supplements. A lot of that is thanks to Ron Oravitz, who was a good, knowledgeable guy caught in a less-then tenable situation. At the same time, the shakeout in the food industry in the late 1990s-early 2000 was very integral to their profitability. Between the USA and Canada, five or six labs/manufacturing facilities made virtually all of the energy ( or meal replacement) bars for the entire health food industry,regardless of the size of the company.

Of course, the big names set the tone, with Met RX buying one of these labs to exclusively make their products. Then, Weider followed suit and essentially took another lab facility off of the market as far as producing product for anyone but himself. So that left literally only a couple of other production facilities in the northern hemisphere open to everybody else in the energy bar market. Because York Barbell owned a very low overhead facility (converted double row home, so I was told, and paid workers of even many, many years of service in this facility in the range of $7.00 per hour)they could offer energy bars at very low cost to supplement companies. So, while they had ceased making energy bars for themselves, they made serious dollars making them for others.

David, when Susquehanna Capital, the venture capital group, bought York Barbell around 1997 or '98, there was initially a lot of talk from them about whittling down the original supplement/energy bar line, reworking it to a performance-oriented product line, and, ultimately, getting at least the energy bars in supermarkets pretty much throughout major markets in the USA. This looked very promising as they had made great sums of money over the years in the snack food business. Hence, they had considerable prior contacts for getting products in these types of outlets. This resembled a rescue to me.

As things turned out, however, none of this occurred, and it was finally decided that more money could be made just turning out product for others. Again, considering how things were going in the barbell end, perhaps this was the "business" thing to do.

One move on the supplement side which blew up in their face was switching the name of the supplement line from Hoffman to York Barbell. While at first blush this would seem like a smart thing to do for a variety of reasons, it did not play well in practice. Specifically, the wholesale food distribution network (there is a pretty small number of regional distributors who controlled literally everything of a health food nature which ended up on the shelves of stores large, small and in-between) had known the name Hoffman for years, but had no familiarity with the name York Barbell. Yes, everyone knew Hoffman and the York Barbell company was from the same pool, but in terms of marketing and customer identification in their world, York Barbell was like throwing a completely new name out there.

Hence, whenever Ron Oravitz called on these controlling regional distributors, he was asked by them, "How big an advertising budget is York Barbell devoting to the promotion of its new product?" Ron was stuck because he knew that there was no substantial ad budget devoted to pushing these energy bars. So without the marketing push, these distributors were not willing to devote shelf space to, what to them, was an unknown name. Hence, the disappearance of the Club Sandwich, and other bars, from the public.

York Barbell also ran into one other potentially very damaging problem when they changed the name of their supplement line from Hoffman to York Barbell: The mega mainstream corporate entity Hershey Foods, maker of YORK Peppermint Patties, threatened to sue them over usage of the name "York." After some observation, research and posturing, Hershey went away, probably after concluding that York Barbell labeled-energy bars were no threat. But you can see why such a scare might have sent York Barbell's management into the comparative safety of the private labeling business.

Joe and Bill, I apologize for the extreme length of this, but honestly, I glossed over a lot in this response. I sometime see entries and refrain from responding because I know more than a brief answer will allow.

Jan Dellinger

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Jeff Preston

Jan no need to worry about the length of your posts. The inside stories are highly treasured and the value is immeasurable.

This is exactly the kind of input Joe was looking for when he and Bill set up this little cyber cafe of iron!

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Tom Ryan

I second Jeff's thoughts, Jan.

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Joe Roark

Jan, there is no such thing as too long a post when it is fact-filled and orderly, as is yours.

I only hope our membership has an appreciation of exactly what is being offered to ironhistory.com when you sit to type (assuming you sit).

Thanks for being here!

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Steve Gardener

Jan your post was quite the one to read. You made mention to some reference and of course I have Dr John D. Fair's book which took up from where you left of on the running etc of the biz - I noted that the book covered promises that were, apparently, made to those looking after the company re being left money in the will and so on.

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Jan Dellinger

Steve:

I wondered when someone was going to bring up who was and wasn't mentioned in BoHo's will.

First, I have to confess I have only read parts of John Fair's book, not the complete work. The parts I have read did not address either of Bob's wills.

In the past when people have brought up the will(s) with me, they were usually referring to why Grimek, or any of the other early York lifters, were not mentioned. Am I on the right path?

In the early 1960s, Bo Ho was telling other noteworthy persons in the supplement-food industries and the competitive lifting scene that when he left this world his guys (meaning the oldtimers like Grimek, Stanko, etc.) would "be millionaires." I got this from the late Dave Mayor himself, as he was a sales representative for York Barbell until his retirement, and he acknowledged hearing Bob say this numerous times at many different venues. In fact, (Joe can verifiy this) Bob did an editorial in S&H mag somewhere in the early 60s, which made the same claims, if I'm not mistaken.

In my understanding of the situation, apparently this must have been the original will Bob had made. Terpak Sr. once showed me a paper which had the name of numerous names ranging from Grimek, Stanko, Mayor, Bachtell up to and including Bill March, Vern Weaver and Dick Smith the Olympic lifting coach and claimed that this was to whom the company was originally supposed to have been left (or divided among legally)when Bob passed away. In all, there might have been as many as 19 names on this list.

Things took a different direction about 1978. the angina which plagued BoHo was worsening to the point where he underwent heart surgery at York Hospital. Prior to that, and for pretty much the rest of his life, he was taking a lot of heavy medication. So about this time Bob, due to the combination of angina and meds, was often very befuddled. Not that he had absolutely no lucid moments, but he tired easily, and when tired his mind played tricks on him.

Probably because he was going under the knife, or the recognition that his best years were behind him, the company's lawyers Dick Budd and John Boddington counseled Bob that he should reconsider the disposition of the company in the event of his passing. In short, they convinced him that fragmenting the company up between so many persons could very well endanger the corporate welfare of York Barbell. Hence, the original will was, apparently, scrapped and a new one was drawn up leaving the voting shares (ownership and control) at York Barbell among Terpak Sr. Mike Dietz Sr. and Alda Ketterman, who was, for the lack of a better description, BoHo's common-law wife. Perhaps "longstanding cohabitation partner" would be a more updated term.

By the way, there was also a separate trust fund (Joe can correct me if I'm wrong) which named three or four women and Harry Utterbach, who came to work at York Barbell in 1936 with Mike Dietz Sr. and was company traffic manager until he retired.

Fastforwarding to when BoHo actually passed away and the second will was on the front page of the York Daily Record and there was no mention of the old lifters:

I can tell you for a fact,Grimek was hurt personally. I'm basing that awareness on the fact that Grimek often stated that over the years Bob "always preached loyalty." And there was no question that Grimek had been as loyal as could be. So without the slightest doubt in my mind, I can say that when Bob passed away, he was expecting to see his loyalty returned by Bob, although he never actually came out and said it at that stage. And I don't think it was a matter of him getting a ton of money either. Even a relatively small amount would probably have satisfied JCG. The bigger issue to him was just being mentioned in the will.

People who read this might immediately make the assumption that "loyalty" to BoHo meant not ever jumping to Weider. Actually, Grimek could have done considerable commercial damage to BoHo/York had he left and set up his own mail order business, essentially becoming a competitor. And for years, (late '40s-early '50s) Sig Klein attempted to persuade JCG to leave York and set up his own mail order training business. This was more than just talk as among Klein's gym members were many very successful NYC business types who had every connection necessary to make a venture of this sort really fly...and perhaps just as importantly, Klein trusted them to do right by Grimek.

Klein's enticement to JCG was that "if Atlas can make huge money, you, in the hands of my friends, can make even more." And the impact of losing Grimek in such a move was not lost on Hoffman, according to Terpak Sr. The latter, who was apparently aware that Klein was trying to lure Grimek away, brought up this very scenario to BoHo. According to Terpak, Bob readily admitted that Grimek would be irreplaceable, and would take considerable of the existing market with him.

So, the local paper with Bob's will comes out and there is no mention of JCG or any other early lifters (save Terpak). For weeks on end, Grimek never said a word about the omission to my knowledge, but there was no question he was hurt. Perhaps turning this into something of a public humiliation for him was the fact that when out socializing at a local club he and his wife belonged to, people who he didn't know personally would come up and say how bad they felt for him being slighted. Watching this from a distance, so to speak, it was like he could not escape the repeated mention of the will.

In my view, this kept eating at him to the point that he engaged the legal services of the office of Harrisburg attorney William Gastouplous (spelling is as close as I can get) and attempted to contest Bo Ho's will. It was JCG's contention that in 1978, Bo Ho was in an obviously vulnerable mental and physical state due to his on-going health problems, heavy medication, mental deterioration, etc., and was manipulated into changing his original will.

If memory serves, when it came up for consideration in local courts a couple of times, judges decided that his case did not have sufficient merit and it was, essentially, thrown out. While that may not be the precise legal explanation, I do remember his efforts never got enough traction for an actual trial. And some of the surviving names on the original list, like Dave Mayor, were watching Grimek's attempts to contest BoHo's will because if he was successful, there would have been others contesting it as well. However, they realized that Grimek was the key; he had to be successful to set the precedent.

Yes, unpleasantness developed between some folks who had been friends, to one degree or another, for decades. Under oath during a pretrial deposition, Alda was supposed to have made the statement that Grimek was "just another employee" at York Barbell, totally denying the monumental impact he played in attracting customers to York Barbell over the years. And Grimek was upset with Terpak Sr., who was present when the will was changed in 1978, yet chose to not tell Grimek or other of their contemporaries.

Eventually, "the hatchet" got buried. When Terpak Sr. passed away in 1993, JCG attended the funeral.

Steve, I hope this addresses the issues to which your referred. If not, you have to me more specific.

Jan Dellinger

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Tom Ryan

Jan,

Thanks for the info in your last post, although most of it I either knew or suspected.

Yes, the rift that developed between the old lifters was unfortunate. I had a long talk with Dave Mayor after the USAWA/IAWA world meet in 1989 (I think), at which he served as one of the announcers. We sat at the same table during the dinner afterward and we were still talking long after everyone else had left. When I asked if he had any contact with the other members of the old York gang, he said that he would see Grimek from time to time but also stated "well of course I don't talk to Terpak".

It was clear from our conversation that money didn't mean that much to him as he told me how one or two of his children had the luxuries that go along with being wealthy, but he didn't need them. Like Grimek, I suspect that he would have been happy simply to be included in the will, and the considerable contributions of March, Smitty and others should also have not gone unrewarded.

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Guest vince anello
Bob:

    Nobody is more sorry about the turn of events to which you alluded than yours truly. I worked at York Barbell Company from August of 1976 to January of 2002.When I left, over 87% of their total number of skews (individual items) were imported from China. In fact, the company was part of some sort of joint venture agreement with an outfit in China which had a foundry, as well as other manufacturing capabilities. In fact, a number of other American fitness concerns (or should I say, outlets for products) also bought from these same folks. Actually, some of these concerns, like Wal Mart, bought in much greater volume than York Barbell Co. This lack of comparative size and volume buying, produced some bench/residential equipment-product shortages in crucial sales periods for York Barbell/USA in recent years.

    About once a month I see Bob Jones, who last run U.S. Lock and Hardware in Columbia, PA, which is where genuine York Barbells were made even before I started working there. Of course, in preparation to selling York Barbell company to York Barbell United Kingdom/Canada/Australia, the former sold U.S. Lock. As I see it, the latter purchasing Bob Hoffman's old company was strictly a matter of getting legal usage of the York name in the United States markets.

  It's possible that over time York Barbell may not be made in China as I understand that York-Canada, which has been in business for decades, has a ery productive foundry somewhere near Toronto, or at least in the province of Ontario. Perhaps they will ultimately be made at least in our hemisphere.

    But as Andy Jackson pointed out, people don't care where barbell and dumbbells come from as long as they are a commodity (cheap). Of course, this allows average users (you know, the millions and millions of momentary weight trainers) to buy, say, a 300-pound Olympic set and have no real compulsion to seriously use it.  Always easy to sell it at the inevitable yard sale, or hawk it in the classified section of the daily newspaper. Frankly, once average people get wise to the fact that Olympic sets and plates are always available at half of the current street retail price, in the classifieds, even the mass merchandisers will have trouble unloaded a 300# set for $100.

    By the way, the venerate Mr. Jackson may have been generally right about barbell plates (Olympic), to someone who wants to seriously use a 300# set and beyond, the notion that a bar is a bar is a bar, is kidding oneself. But that is another discussion beyond the scope of this forum.

Jan Dellinger

Jan How are you My Friend??? :) E-mail me at www.anellobodyfitness@wowway.com

Vince Anello

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David Harrington
Jan  no need to worry about the length of your posts. The inside stories are highly treasured and the value is immeasurable.

This is exactly the kind of input Joe was looking for when he and Bill set up this little cyber cafe of iron!

Thanks for the info, Jan. It does explain a great many things. In regards to the Grimek-Hoffman suit, I believe the attorney you are referring to is Wiliam C. Costopoulos. Costopoulos is a noted attorney who has taken on numerous high profile cases over the years in the central PA region.

I think another blow to the York organization was the sale of Muscular Development Magazine (to Twin Labs) which had been a tool to promote York Barbell products. York Barbell still owns the rights to Strength & Health Magazine though it is not in production.

---David

Edited by David Harrington

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Jan Dellinger

David:

William Costopoulos is the name of Grimek's attorney I was going for.

At first blush, selling "Muscular Development" magazine might appear to have been a bad idea, except for these contradicting aspects:

For starters, long before "MD" was sold, and "Strength & Health" ceased publication, putting out these magazines was literally metabolizing considerable amounts of cash assets from York Barbell coffers. Paper and printing costs escalated greatly during the 1970s and '80s. In fact, during the early 1970s, even Bo HO recognized this reality and took the mags to bimonthly publication.

Further, magazine distribution system in this country at the time these mags were sold, or ceased, gave more than a few publishers a feeling of malaise. During some of this period, MD and Muscle Mag International was distributed by the same company. The only phone conversation I ever had with Bob Kennedy was initiated by him, during which he complained bitterly about the vague system under which he/we got charged for distribution. He also was amazingly candid about the run-around and veiled scare tactics he received from this company when he wanted a more itemized or thorough accounting of what he was actually paying for.

Understand, MD and MMI were competitors, so Bob had to be very frustrated to call and ask what our experiences were with this same company. And just getting another distributor was much easier said than done. First, you signed a contract for a period of time, but bear in mind that there was, at that time, a surprisingly small number of distributors who basically had control of literally everything that went on newsstand/book stores/reading outlets shelves across America. And everybody worked by pretty much the same standards.

All of these folks worked on a "returns" system which made smaller mags and "part time" publishers poor...and nuts. In essence, you put out an issue and then those copies that weren't sold went back to the distributor's warehouse, while a new issue went on the newsstand (assuming a monthly publication release). So one would think that you get a complete sold percentage of that first issue immediately. Well, you got a read out saying what percentage of sales that issue showed....let's say it came in at 62% of everything printed sold. And that was one month off of the newsstand.

A couple of other times annually you received additional readouts which kept tracking that and subsequent issues sold/returned. Ironically, returns from that first issue which seemingly sold 62% keep coming in and counted against you for as long as a year afterward...and of course, the percentage sold of that original 62% kept dropping, perhaps as much as35-40% until the tracking was closed. At this time, you (publisher) get an invoice for their service for distributing and processing the returns. Obviously, the more returns they handled, regardless of how long it took,the higher the invoice. So it took forever to figure out how a particular issue did. And it was nearly impossible to pinpoint if a charge was accurate, or for that matter exactly by what standard they were determining the number of these returns. Yes, you got the returned unsold copies for each issue of the print run back....eventually...maybe as long as two years would go by. And then if you had the manpower, time, you did an exact count and compared these figures against two-year-old readouts. York Barbell had too many other things going on to attempt this.

Plus, this does not take into account any high profile issue placement services like retail display allowances, distributors could perform. For extra $$$, you could get your monthly issue at the rack at the cash register. Of course, this was only done by huge mags or publications. In the iron game, Weider did this with Muscle & Fitness and Shape. To my knowledge, he did not spend these huge dollars to showcase FLEX similarly.

Now, in order to break even under such conditions, one's mag had to generate considerable revenue to justify the cost. There was no way you could sell enough copies to reach this figure...only thru product sales. When S&H began publication, mail order-style was how one sold barbells. However, the nature by which barbells, training equipment and even supplements were sold in real volume had changed from mail order style to more mass merchandising-oriented. By the 1980s most of York's sales were in chain retail stores yet they did nothing to dovetail the marketing of their products with their magazine promotion. Pretty much they relied on dealers to advertise York products, offering ad allowances. However,by this time, there were a lot more product names for dealers to choose from, and fewer and fewer dealers were willing to live off one product line, especially as imported iron flooded the market at cheaper prices.

Then, too, as pointed out in a previous post, York Barbell's management was clearly in a massive holding pattern, so developing new products to keep up with even rudimentary changes in the fitness/supplement markets was out. Often, it seemed the desire to continue publishing was strictly a matter of "that is how we always did it" on the part of the York management during the '70s and '80s. No business rhyme or reason. When in doubt as to what to do, do what you always did...blindly. So, what about this scenario suggests that keeping MD would have solved anything in light of management attitudes.

On the other hand, it made all sorts of sense for Twin Labs to buy MD. York Barbell, at the same time, got relief from the continual red-ink hemorrhage and a nice windfall to boot.

When Susquehanna Capital took control of York Barbell in the late 1990s, there was strong thought given to reviving S&H, positioning it as a house organ geared for the athletic training market. However, after looking at all of the potentials and pitfalls, they decided that there was no way a venture of this kind was going to be anything but a financial drain.

Jan Dellinger

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Steve Gardener

From my limited experience and talking to old and new publishers it's about the same now.

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Tom Ryan

Of course S&H was revived as an online publication circa 2000 and I believe Harvey Newton was the editor. I don't see any evidence that it is still published, however. Anyone know differently?

I can certainly relate to the problem of return issues of MD and S&H because every time the college sales of my books are higher than usual for a particular month, I know that many of the copies will be returned due to bookstores ordering too many copies. This occasionally causes me to have a negative units sold figure for a month (or two). That is no fun at all! :(

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