No Marshmallows, Just Term Papers
Harvard Business School
November 30, 1990
Techsonic Industries, Inc.:
In July of 1989, the top management of Techsonic Industries, Inc. of Eufaula, Alabama, met to
make plans for an important industry trade show coming up in October. Techsonic, a privately held
company, was the leading manufacturer of depth sounders, devices that used sonar to help sports
fishers measure the depth of the water beneath their boats and locate fish. Techsonic sold its products
under its well-known “Humminbird” brand name. The upcoming annual trade show was often used
to introduce new products to the market and it was a company tradition to have something at the
show each year to excite its customers and the industry.
The company had three new products in various stages of development: a new depth
sounder—the “901”, a VHF (very high frequency) marine radio, and a navigation device based on
newly available satellite technology. Whereas the 901 would be an extension of Techsonic’s existing
line of depth sounders, the radio and the navigation device would be the start of two new product
lines. The company had completed substantial market research on all three of these products and had
to decide which ones it would proceed with and the priorities it would attach to each. In addition,
Techsonic’s Chairman Jim Balkcom and President Tom Dyer wanted to see marketing plans for the
new products before the trade show.
In 1989, Eufaula, Alabama, was a small southern town with stately old homes, beautiful
dogwood trees, and numerous bass boats on trailers headed toward the town’s lake. Techsonic
Industries, located on the shores of Lake Eufaula, was founded in 1971 by Yank Dean IV, an inventor,
Eufaula native, and bass fisher. During the early 1970s, bass anglers began using sonar depth
sounders to measure the depth of the lake bottom beneath their boats. The depth sounder would also...