Techsonic Industries

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Harvard Business School


November 30, 1990


Techsonic Industries, Inc.:

Humminbird—New Products


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.

Company Background1


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...