Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Ask me about Lava Lite. Top 5 unanswered questions go to Lava Lite for answers

As do most of my good ideas, this one came to me after waking up in the morning. As most of you know I have been talking with Dale, the CEO of Lava Lite in an attempt to bring the collecting community and Lava Lite on to the same page. I am going to be answering questions about Lava Lite today. Anything I don't know the answer to I will put on a list and the top 5 questions will be presented to Lava Lite.

Ready? Go!

~edit~

Here are the top 5 questions and answers.


The top 5 unanswered questions.

#1. Formula, formula, formula. Will the exact formula from the 90's be used? What exactly is going on, and what happened to make things so bad?

#2. Will new lamp designs be more bold? The past 10 years worth of lamp designs have been bland, can we spice it up a bit?

#3. New base finishes in 32/52oz lamps? Copper? Chrome? (Personal note: I'd love chrome)

#4. New grande colors? We want more color options

#5. This will be my question. You mentioned that small batches will be possible when production starts in the USA factory. Will it be possible to request custom lamps, as well as send in globes for refills on lamps such as the consorts and giants?


"
#1. 

This is the big question. This was our big question and our problem to solve.
The formula was not the problem. Not following the procedure is where the problems have existed. The formula is the exact formula used in the 1990's. The process of making the formula has to be followed precisely every time.The proper heating of the wax/formula to an exact temperature is a long slow process. This is followed by a slow cool down. Every time, every batch.The problems occur when heating too quickly/and or cooled too quickly. Our two key people spent weeks at a time supervising the process. We also have an independent engineer/quality person in China. This was incredibly frustrating on our end initially. It was very simple to us.  "Just follow the formula." The real issue proved to be the process was being rushed. Less Time= Less Labor. Factories can do many things to their cut costs. Not many products exist where the end user can detect any change in quality. Our product quality is totally visible. Our team communicates with our factories every night by Skype. When they aren't present they are watching the manufacturing on Skype. We watch them like a hawk. 

#2. 

You will see many new designs and products that I would consider bold. The Clearview is the first of many being released this year. The process of creating products is painstaking and costly. From concept to release takes roughly a year. Next years design work has already begun. Having a constant flow of new interesting and exciting products are critical to our success. 

Questions #3-#5 are all good questions that primarily relate to marketing and product development, now and in the future. 

New attractive products are the lifeblood of any good consumer product company. New sizes, finishes and colors are currently in the works or in development. My personal favorite size is the Grande. The Grande could be the ideal product to initially manufacture in the USA for the following reasons: Ability to be nimble to changes, smaller batch sizes, ease of adding new colors, inventory management, upscaled finishes with smaller limited quantities and reduced lead times for products to enter the market. Initially US made product will be more costly. The larger sizes are not as price sensitive as our current line. Custom lamps would be very costly and probably not feasible.

Refilling globes would be possible and would need to be further explored. I can't provide specific timing to many of LL's current projects. These are works in progress. I assure you that our very experienced team are pros at handling any challenge. There is never a dull moment at LL. 

"

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This isn't really a question but more of a plea again for the return of mighty wave machine because this what we have to deal with in order to get one. If you guys can make them and sell them for under $100 who wouldn't buy?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Wave-Machine-30-inches-wide-extra-l...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Lava-Wave-Machine-LAVA-SIMPLEX-16-/...

Okay here is Dale's answer to question number one. Direct quote.

"

#1. Formula, formula, formula. Will the exact formula from the 90's be used? What exactly is going on, and what happened to make things so bad?

This is the big question. This was our big question and our problem to solve.
The formula was not the problem. Not following the procedure is where the problems have existed. The formula is the exact formula used in the 1990's. The process of making the formula has to be followed precisely every time.The proper heating of the wax/formula to an exact temperature is a long slow process. This is followed by a slow cool down. Every time, every batch.The problems occur when heating too quickly/and or cooled too quickly. Our two key people spent weeks at a time supervising the process. We also have an independent engineer/quality person in China. This was incredibly frustrating on our end initially. It was very simple to us.  "Just follow the formula." The real issue proved to be the process was being rushed. Less Time= Less Labor. Factories can do many things to their cut costs. Not many products exist where the end user can detect any change in quality. Our product quality is totally visible. Our team communicates with our factories every night by Skype. When they aren't present they are watching the manufacturing on Skype. We watch them like a hawk. 
"
More to come this weekend.
Then not following "procedure" occurred in the 90s as well. You take a 1994 32oz and compare it to a 1999 32oz and you'll see a huge difference. Then compare that 1999 globe to a 2002 globe and there's even more of a difference.

Anyway, I'm really glad he's sharing with us. I hope they contact me again, as I could have spoke to Ashour for hours. I'd like to personally speak to Dale myself, since I've been waiting for the opportunity for nearly 10 years!!!

Autumn, I'd really appreciate it if you could tell him to contact me, as I was the one they first contacted. I'd love to have the opportunity again.

Autumn - Matt may be a good guy's brain to pick to bring some additional queries back to Dale.  Matt is very particular about certain yearly vintages that he prefers, especially late 94 to 95.  You need to work with Matt to get that opinion quantified so you can query Dale on the whys.  What led to differences in the 93 vs. 94 vs. 95 vs. 96 runs? Is it just the flow, or is it also color saturation in the wax and/or master fluid?  We essentially need to go to Dale with examples of what we considered the heyday in terms of globe quality from their made in the USA days.  Not sure if they kept daily/monthly/yearly manufacturing logs, but it would be interesting to to try to work with Dale to pinpoint the time when Lava Lite truly nailed it in terms of globe quality.

From one of Matt's threads: "I'm looking to expand my collection mostly to so my spare bases have globes.  I'm looking for Lava World USA globes preferably red/yellow 02, and blue/white 03 from late 1994 and 1995.  I have conducted several experiments with these globes and not only do they flow best, the globes are free of imperfections and air bubbles.  That has always bothered me with lava world globes."

Maybe at some point we can get into that, but for now I don't see it as being very important. There is only so much variation in the flow of the lamps through the 90's and honestly I think they are all good. Right now we have bigger things to accomplish. Keeping the quality in the 90's era while making new products without getting stuck in the 90's is what the goal needs to be. It is 2012 now, there is a lot of work to be done to make up for the lost decade. What Lava Lite needs from us is feedback. They need to hear what we like and what we don't like. If enough momentum is gained over a specific product it may make a difference in the product. We can also serve as a confirmation that the quality of the lamps are in check.

Jim said:

Autumn - Matt may be a good guy's brain to pick to bring some additional queries back to Dale.  Matt is very particular about certain yearly vintages that he prefers, especially late 94 to 95.  You need to work with Matt to get that opinion quantified so you can query Dale on the whys.  What led to differences in the 93 vs. 94 vs. 95 vs. 96 runs? Is it just the flow, or is it also color saturation in the wax and/or master fluid?  We essentially need to go to Dale with examples of what we considered the heyday in terms of globe quality from their made in the USA days.  Not sure if they kept daily/monthly/yearly manufacturing logs, but it would be interesting to to try to work with Dale to pinpoint the time when Lava Lite truly nailed it in terms of globe quality.

From one of Matt's threads: "I'm looking to expand my collection mostly to so my spare bases have globes.  I'm looking for Lava World USA globes preferably red/yellow 02, and blue/white 03 from late 1994 and 1995.  I have conducted several experiments with these globes and not only do they flow best, the globes are free of imperfections and air bubbles.  That has always bothered me with lava world globes."

Autumn, you mentioned in chat that no one seems excited about the formula news/post. I guess for me, Lava Lite or Dale or whomever can offer any explanation possible, but it doesn't change the fact that the formula has been bad since 2003(ish). AND furthermore, until new lamps come out with proper flow and clarity, I really don't care what/why/how it happened. Just fix it. It's not that hard! If production comes back to the US, there should be NO REASON why they can't replicate what was done in the 90s. 

Your right there is no reason why they cant replicate it again, I know it wont happen over night and will take time but it can be accomplished.
More to the point there is no valid excuse for messing up the process in China if more labour and time was needed then so be it - just push up the price to accommodate it but maybe that was part of the issue - the price was fixed and things were getting squeezed.

I am interested in what was happening when they told them exactly what to do and had most of the equipment used in the US. Its very surprising to know that the formula was followed precisely and to think that we moaned that they changed the formula - we didn't think that it could be the process affecting things much.

The other thing is that all this time there had been issues with the process and LL had sent people there to try and fix it and they were watching them a lot but why was it still going bad? Was it because LL didn't own the factory so could only try and persuade them or was it completely down to cost - LL didn't want to pay more to the factory for more labour and time???

I still think a different formula was used. The wax looks different. 

If you cook a pie for 10 minutes at 1000 degrees vs cooking a pie for an hour at 300 degrees its going to look different.

Erin said:

I still think a different formula was used. The wax looks different. 

The reason production is coming back is to make sure the lamps are made properly.

Erin said:

Autumn, you mentioned in chat that no one seems excited about the formula news/post. I guess for me, Lava Lite or Dale or whomever can offer any explanation possible, but it doesn't change the fact that the formula has been bad since 2003(ish). AND furthermore, until new lamps come out with proper flow and clarity, I really don't care what/why/how it happened. Just fix it. It's not that hard! If production comes back to the US, there should be NO REASON why they can't replicate what was done in the 90s. 

The factories made that choice on their own. Lava Lite had nothing to do with them wanting to cut manufacturing costs. Lava Lite doesnt own the factories in China, they work off of orders. Lava Lite says "we want this many lamps with these specifications" and the factories follow it as close as they can, as well as make their own optimizations. Unfortunately for us these optimizations meant bad lamps. At the time Lava Lite thought they were simply not following the formula, but eventually they figured out they were screwing up the process. Now the chinese manufacturers are strictly monitored to make sure they did not mess with anything.

Tim Gill said:

Your right there is no reason why they cant replicate it again, I know it wont happen over night and will take time but it can be accomplished.
More to the point there is no valid excuse for messing up the process in China if more labour and time was needed then so be it - just push up the price to accommodate it but maybe that was part of the issue - the price was fixed and things were getting squeezed.

I am interested in what was happening when they told them exactly what to do and had most of the equipment used in the US. Its very surprising to know that the formula was followed precisely and to think that we moaned that they changed the formula - we didn't think that it could be the process affecting things much.

The other thing is that all this time there had been issues with the process and LL had sent people there to try and fix it and they were watching them a lot but why was it still going bad? Was it because LL didn't own the factory so could only try and persuade them or was it completely down to cost - LL didn't want to pay more to the factory for more labour and time???

I suppose you and I look at this a little differently.  To me, what is going on with Autumn and Dale is not about gimme, gimme, gimme, I want it now, now, now.  Its also about a company trying to repair a once proud heritage.  I applaud Dale for his candor and hope he continues being straight with us.  Yes, their lamps have been bad for a long, long time, but at least they are trying to determine root cause.  I would rather hear some scientific rationale why things went bad instead of gee, we don't know what is happening but hopefully it will improve.  If they can quantify what happened, that tells me they can fix it if they care to do so.  Its all a matter of statistics and isolating variables. 

I prefer a transaction to be a little beyond here's my money, give me your product.  We all wax poetically about customer service this and customer service that.  That is what Dale is doing here.  It shows me that he gives a damn.  I am sure he would rather be cruising the city with his super hot wife in his ultra expensive car, but he is taking some time to reach out to his customers via Autumn.  That shows me at least that he gives a crap and restores faith that they may turn it around.  Yes, the proof is in the pudding, but at least I am more receptive to what they have to say now.  If its all lip service remains to be seen, but I see this as a step in the right direction.

Erin said:

Autumn, you mentioned in chat that no one seems excited about the formula news/post. I guess for me, Lava Lite or Dale or whomever can offer any explanation possible, but it doesn't change the fact that the formula has been bad since 2003(ish). AND furthermore, until new lamps come out with proper flow and clarity, I really don't care what/why/how it happened. Just fix it. It's not that hard! If production comes back to the US, there should be NO REASON why they can't replicate what was done in the 90s. 

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