Transcript of Video Titled "Massage Chair Industry Update - September 20, 2021"
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Alan: Hi, I'm Dr. Alan Weidner from 'Massage-Chair-Relief.com' and today is our biweekly massage chair industry update for Monday, September 20th, 2021. I hope you're doing well. We are experiencing a little cool down in the weather here, and I'm afraid the summer is winding down, and that makes me sad because I love summer and I'm not a big fan of winter. Even though I grew up in Canada, and I love playing hockey outside, I'm not a big winter guy.
[SCREEN TEXT: Factory Video of Daiwa Supreme Hybrid]
Alan: But anyway, having shared that, those two bits of thoughts with you, we received a new video from, it was from a distributor in England or in Great Britain. His name is Jeffrey Sam, and he's a very nice fellow. He reached out to me to point out a couple off things on my website that I needed to update or change, and in the course of discussion, he sent me a video from the factory where the Supreme Hybrid is built, and it talks about the internal components, and if you go to my YouTube channel, you will see that video, and it's quite informative. It's a couple of techs or engineers at the factory opening up the chair and looking at the roller mechanism, which as you know, is a hinged mechanism and at the top and the bottom portion of the L-track are two separate rollers, and it's a great video. You might, I think you'll get a kick out of it. It really does open up some of the, it kind helps you understand a little bit more about how that chair works.
[SCREEN TEXT: My Visit to Luraco to See the New i9 Model]
Alan: Now, speaking of split or hinged L-tracks, I was at, I finally got to visit Luraco last week, and spent the day with Robin, and Tom, and Kevin Le, the two owners of the business, and it was a great visit. It always is, every time I go there, I always enjoy it because they are, these guys are engineers by trade, and they spend their time thinking about the massage chairs, and how to build them, and what needs to be done to make a massage chair work better. And so, I was excited to go just because the new i9 is coming out, and I wanted to see it and sit on it, and I hadn’t sat on it since the prototype was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas almost two years ago, and it was very, very rudimentary, and very early stages of this three-year, two to three-year plan to build it and present it to the market. Anyway, I went there and had a great time with them. I got a lot of information on it, and I'll share some of it with you in this video. I will be putting out a blog post later this week about it as well, so you can read it, and I took some video footage of the production area. They walked me through the whole place, like their, I guess you could call it a factory. They have, where, OK, and I don't know what the percentage is, but the previous Luraco chairs are considered made in America because a percentage of the chair's parts are made in America, but they have, they're trying, and they were challenged a few times on that when they were introducing their chairs as American-made chairs, and they were – apparently, someone had filed a complaint, and so the government agency came by, I don't know if it was the Trade Commission, but anyway, they came – or Customs or whatever. They came by and they requested paperwork from Luraco for all their components to prove that their, you know, what was built in America and what was imported from Taiwan, their non-critical components were from Taiwan, and after going through a lengthy evaluation of Luraco, they were deemed, it was deemed appropriate for them to say their chairs were made in America. Well, that lit a fire in them, and they did not want to ever be challenged again, because it is a bit of challenge on their integrity, and to say made in America is a big deal, and that’s something they don’t shy away from. They advertise that on all their pieces, unlike some other companies we know, or at least one other one that says their chairs are made in America when they're not at all made in America, and everybody knows it, except the consumer to whom it is told it is made in America. But Luraco genuinely does make a good percentage of their chairs in America, a good percentage of the chair makeup is in America. Well, because of that experience with the inspection and the audit, if you will, they decided they're going to make more of their chairs, the next model, in America, and so the i9 is the product of that, and a lot of it now is built in America, in Arlington, Texas, where their main office is. And you know, I have recorded my previous visit to them, and they tell me it was six years ago. I can't believe it was that long ago, but we took a video of it then, and the whole layout of the back portion of the headquarters is different now, because now they're making the frames of the ottoman, the frames of the chair, and they're making the roller track. They are making, oh my goodness, they're making the plastic molding of the chair. They are making the leather. They are applying the leather. I mean, so much of it, I don't know what percentages, they asked me, and they knew it was more than 70% or 80% of it now is made in America. It could be even more than that, and they have vendors in America that make certain components that they bring in to be a part of the chair, and those are also made-in-America components, so they have, they are, their goal is to make a chair in America, and by golly, they're doing it. And this chair is a nice chair. It has, you know, it had all the things that I'd advertised or mentioned previously, and that I'd written in my previous blog post of what we knew, of what we already knew about the chair, but there were a couple of things that I learned about it that were fantastic and that really impressed me. There's a picture of Kevin and Tom Le standing in front of their wall of fame, if you will, or their wall of patents, and they have, you know, they have like 42 patents, and they’ve got six or seven patents pending, and for this chair, and for some other product. But they have, oh, and then for the new, then sorry, those six or seven new patents are for the i9. For example, the Butterfly rollers, the rollers don’t do, just go in and out, they go up and down like butterfly wings, and I have a video of that, part of the segment, and when I post on the blog, you'll see it. Their split L-track, it's not a hinged L-track, it's different from the Daiwa chair in that the, it's hard to describe, but they actually come together, the rollers come together, and when they come together to form the L-track, the rollers actually come down that track and stay on it, and then when they recline it for the stretch program, it comes apart, and it's kind of rounded down here, so the rounded ends come up, and so the rollers don’t go over that, but the rollers do massage the back, and because of the positioning of the body, now you can get a stretch done, a full-body stretch. And so, that split track, they call it a split track is now also patented, and they, and oh also, one thing that is unique about to it is that because of the split track, as opposed to the Daiwa, which has 2D rollers on the butt and 3D rollers on the back, this one has 3D rollers all the way up and down, because it is one long track. I mean, the track is one track, it just breaks in half, you know, I kind of thought of it like one of those drawbridges, you know, where they, it's one, the bridge is one, but it comes up like this, and so cars can't go past and fall in. That’s kind of how this is, it joins, but when it's down, of course, the cars can go across the bridge with no problem. When it's down, and it's in the L-shape, the rollers work just fine going over top of that track, but as soon as they recline it for the split, for the stretch, the rollers don’t go all the way down in to the seat, but they go down to the back, which is where you need it. You don’t really need it in the seat when you're fully reclined and your seat's up a little bit, but you do need it on the back, and that's where the rollers work. Anyway, I hope I explained that right, I probably messed it up by trying to explain it. They have the sliding doors. OHCO, heretofore, had been the only company with armrests that opened up so that people could access the chair and disembark from the chair from the side of the seat. Well, this one has sliding doors, kind of like a sliding, well, just a sliding door, like on a house, a sliding door that opens and closes. These doors, on each side, slide back. There's a little knob you lift, it's kind of tucked in to the material, and it slides back and forward, which is kind of a cool feature, and it also has sliding shoulder airbags. It has a little knob, and you can shoulder mechanism, shoulder airbag mechanism up and down for taller or shorter bodies, and speaking of taller and shorter bodies, this chair can handle people up to, I was shocked when they told me this, it can handle people up to 6' 10". We've never seen anything like that, and I mean, OK, so when I was sitting on the chair, they brought the rollers all the way up, and it was like up here on the crown of my head, and so for someone who has a neck, you know, maybe a lot higher than mine, it will hit that neck, and I was amazed by it. I think it creates some logistical issues as far as, because the track is really long, so there's not really any place to rest your head. So, they have a pillow there so you can elevate your head, and so it's, and so your head's not falling back too far in to this cavity, where the rollers go up as high as you know, 6' 10", for a body as tall as 6' 10", but it can also handle bodies as short as 4' 5", and I'm about 5' 9", and it fit fine. The width was fine, it's a little narrower than the iRobotics 7 Plus, but it is a little bit more cozy, it'll feel a little bit more cozy for the smaller bodies, where the i7 Plus is maybe a bit too wide. But where was I going, oh, so this thing can handle super high heights, and the roller mechanism is stronger than the Legend Plus L-track, which is known as a more gentle Luraco chair, and this one is definitely more aggressive. It does a great job on the top of the shoulder blades, the levator scapula muscles. It goes up the neck and does a good job there, and it does a great job on the butt and the back. What else can I tell you? Oh, it has arm rollers that, the arm rollers, now they're a little different than what we saw on the D.Core Cirrus. The D.Core Cirrus was a long, like a long piece of pipe or plastic that goes along the arm, and it, oops, I don't know if you can see that. It goes along the length of the arm, and it spins, you know, longitudinally. Well, this one has, I think, I can't remember how many rollers it had, but I think it was three or four, maybe even more, but a patented type of roller that goes along the width of the forearm, and the wrist, and the hand, and that was intense. The airbag really squeezed hard, and it was a little intense, and so we were chatting about how maybe the airbag pressure could come down a little bit so it's not squeezing the hands as much, but it really does work the wrists and the hands, and the, you know, the upper stages of the, or the mid to lower stages of the forearm, a very strong hand-and-wrist massage. Let's see, let's see, I think that’s about it, it's got calf rollers and the calf rollers, the roller mechanisms are kind of cool. I talked about that when I took the video of it, it's not just a roller that goes around, it's a plastic roller that looks like the other chairs, but then it has little tiny rollers that are part of the big roller, and so when it spins it's less surface area grinding in to the material, and they feel that that will decrease the wear and tear on the linen in the calves, but the massage was good.
[SCREEN TEXT: i9 Model vs. the Custom i9 Edition]
Alan: Now, and one thing I didn’t know when I went there, before I went there and I found out there is that the, oh, the body scan is super fast. I think I mentioned that. The body scan on the iRobotics 7 Plus, it takes about a minute and a half to get a very thorough scan, but they’ve put in microprocessors that process data a lot quicker and so now they’ve got a quicker scan, and the response on the remote control, which looks very much the same, it's like that Apple or smartphone configuration, and it responds a lot quicker to the touch of the finger. But anyway, oh, where was I going with that? I get going, now I can't remember what I was going to say, but I get off on these tangents. Oh, what I didn’t know when I went there was they have the typical i9, the standard i9, which is going to be priced at $10,990, and they have the Custom Edition, which is going to be priced, I think, at $13,990. And the Custom Edition has, they program your name in to the remote control, so every time you hold up the remote, and you turn it on, you'll see your name, this chair belongs to you know, Alan Weidner, or whoever, and they also stitch in a leather name plate, if you will, on the pillow, and so it'll have your name on it. So, it really customizes it to the owner. It'll have a wireless armrest charger, it'll have a blood pressure monitor, it's a new one compared to the one they have for the other chairs, this one has a voice-response technology in it, and something they are also introducing for the Custom version is a battery pack backup. And this is fascinating because I have heard experiences of people having, apparently it's not as common here because, in the United States, the grid, the electrical grid is a little bit more stable, but in other countries, or in a real bad storm when everything shorts out, and you lose your power, you know, some people have been back in their massage chairs and they’ve been a little stuck, it's hard to get out. And if you're compromised with your health, like you can't move, or you're in a lot of pain, or you're quite elderly, how are you going to get out of a chair when it's tilted back and there's nobody around you? Well, if that happens, just like if you're in a store, or a building, and the lights go out because of a power surge, or a power outage, the generator will turn on the auxiliary lights, and this has a battery pack, which will immediately turn on, and it will turn on and create, like it'll bring the chair upright without you having to do a darn thing. Sorry about the lighting there, it looks like we lost it. Just a minute, we'll get it back on, or not. Well, anyway, sorry about that. Anyway, so the battery pack is an interesting idea, we've never seen that before in a massage chair. So, that'll be interesting to see how well that is received, because I think it's a fantastic idea. Just because I've heard of people who get stuck in a reclined position, and they can't get out, and that is a bother. OK, and so I think that’s about all that I have here. It still has the memory program, the rollers are quad rollers and they're a slow and methodical, like the i7 and the Legend were. It's a very easy assembly, it comes with the ottoman already attached, and so all you need to do is add the armrests, and that’s pretty basic, and there's very large-handled bolts, two that go on each side, and it's quite, very, very, quite simple to assemble, from what I've been told. And it'll fit through, without the armrests on, it'll fit through, you know, a 29-inch doorway, which is what we kind of expect from chairs nowadays anyway. Alright, so that’s the i9, and you can watch for this. If you have any questions, feel free to call me, or you know, call, well, the rest of the staff don’t know much about it yet because we just kind of heard about it, we just learned about it on Thursday, but if you have any questions, give me a call or reach out, and you can, you know, get hooked up with me and we can talk about it.
[SCREEN TEXT: Price Increases All Around!]
Alan: Alright, you know, this last couple of weeks, we have, it's been, we've seen a rash of price changes, and we, I'm going to just, I'm going to read them off to you to make sure that I get them all. But the Kumo went up in price from $9999 to $10,999. The JPMedics and Ogawa shipping was increased this week. Osaki and Luraco are increasing their extended warranty prices. So, we had this onslaught, and in the course of just a few days, this was a week, a week and a half ago, and in the course of a day or two, we had all these prices go up. And of course, this should not shock anyone anymore because of the COVID logistics hassles and the expense of shipping chairs over here now, and I've heard that companies have to bid for containers now, because there's such a shortage of them, and the shippers are smart about it, they can make money on this, so they're letting people bid on the availability of these containers, and so the prices are going up. What used to be a $5000 container cost is now $20,000, and maybe more now.
[SCREEN TEXT: Update of Ocean Traffic Going in to the Port of Long Beach]
Alan: So, it's really ridiculous, and of course, speaking of logistics, I was in Southern California a week ago, or just over a week ago, and I was visiting my store down there, and my son and went to Huntington Beach just to, he used to live there, so we went out there just to take a look, and so he could go back to his old stomping ground, and we could enjoy the ocean breeze, and you know, I'm in Utah, it's the desert here, we don't get a lot of ocean breeze. But anyway, we go there and, you know, I've always talked, as you know, if you’ve been following my industry updates or watching my blog posts, we've talked about the backup that there was earlier in the year, of ships all along the horizon of the, off the coast of Huntington Beach, or off the coast of California, and it would extend all the way up to Long Beach, which is quite a number of miles away. Well, I kind of forgot about it because a lot of the companies have restocked their shelves, if you will, and they had chairs available, so I wasn’t worried as much about back-orders. But you know what, I saw ships backed up like right off of Huntington Beach, and you could see them, every you know, number of yards apart all the way down the coast in to, you know, of course, and I took some video of it, and I'm trying to get it on to the blog post, so you can see the video, but it's legit. I mean, I couldn’t believe it, I've heard people tell me this, my Southern California customers, but it truly is, it's a traffic jam of ocean freightliners off the coast of Southern California. And then when they get in to the port, apparently, there's not enough staff to handle the processing through Customs, and then there's not enough truckers to handle all the influx of product, and I, there's a Wall Street Journal article that talks about this traffic jam. Yeah, I just happened to find that this week too, that talks about companies are, because of the backlog that there's been, companies are ordering way ahead of time to try to have sufficient stock for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and the Christmas holidays. So, it's stocked up again. As a matter of fact, this article said, at the worst time, there were 40 ships backed up along the horizon of the coast of California. And now, and then it dropped down to like 9 or 10 ships is all, but now it's back up to, and this guy says 37. We counted, we tried to count, but we couldn’t see because of the fog or smog or whatever it is kind of obscured it a bit, but it looked like to me that there were well over 30 ships along that horizon, and there may have been more that I couldn’t see on the other side of those ships on, beyond the horizon even still, like an armada of ships. But there were quite a few ships, and I was shocked to see it, for my own eyes, you know what I'm saying, for my own eyes. Well, let's see, I think that’s just about it.
[SCREEN TEXT: New Store Coming to the Bay Area]
Alan: Oh, my son Carson, he was the one that was with me in Southern California, he is now working, starting, just started training last week to work at my Utah store. So, he'll be the guy at the Utah store, Michael is back at my Southern California store, and we're still working, I'm going up this Thursday to hopefully finalize the lease. Man, it's been a pain in the rumpus trying to get a lease signed in Southern California, not because we can't sign one, but because you know, you want to negotiate a little bit, and they don't negotiate much there at all, and I'm talking about even, and I'm not talking about prime real estate, I'm just talking about real estate. It's kind of shocking to me how difficult it is to negotiate, and I'll be paying twice as much rent as I am on my most expensive other store, which is the Arizona store. Fortunately, I got in to the LA store a while back when the prices were depressed a little bit, but holy cats, this Bay Area pricing is unbelievable. Well, it shouldn't surprise anyone, my daughter lives there, and they rent a house that’s 1300 square feet, and they pay $4800 or $4700 a month. Of course, I'll be paying more than that for less square footage, so I guess it's, maybe they broke me down and they made me realize 'You know what Dad, you just can't waltz in to Northern California and find those kinds of deals.' But anyway, oh well, I guess I just told you, that’s where we're opening the store is in the Bay Area, and it'll be, it's in kind of the central east Bay Area, and that’s where we're going to be, I can't believe I just divulged that without actually having the lease signed. But anyway, you know, when you talk too much, as the Weidner's typically do, we say too much, and more than we wanted to say. But anyway, that where we're going to be opening the store is in the Bay Area, and we're very excited about it, we've been planning it for years, and I thought maybe during the COVID cycle maybe the rents would be a little less. But nope, they're not budging, they don’t budge, it's like you know, take it or leave it, we've got someone else coming in if you don’t, and it kind of blows my mind. But anyway, hopefully we'll have that store open, the goal is to have that store open before Black Friday certainly, but hopefully early, end of October, early November. But we'll, I'll keep you posted once I kind of go over that a little bit more, or get a little bit more in to the details of the build out and all that stuff, but we're excited we could be in Northern California, and it's been a long time in coming, but anyway, there you go. And so, if you're going to get a chair for Christmas, and you live in the Bay Area, or you can, it's easier for you to travel to the Bay Area, just give us a month and a half or so, and a month and a half, two months, and we should have all of the store open, and staff hired, and chairs sitting there waiting for you to sit down in.
[SCREEN TEXT: 888-259-5380]
Anyway, OK, well, I guess that’s about it for this week. If you have questions, feel free to call me anytime, or us, 888-259-5380. Either myself or someone else will answer the phone for you, and we'll be able to help you. And of course, you can always reach out to us through our various and sundry social media platforms, whether it's YouTube, or Facebook, or Twitter, and we're going to start going on Instagram, so that's another way to communicate with us.
[SCREEN TEXT: All Stores Back to Regular Hours!]
Alan: And of course, you know, you can always just come to the store anyway. All of our stores now have regular hours, we're back to regular hours. We were shut down, you know, by appointment only during the COVID thing, and we were really slow to come back to that, to come to hours, but we now officially have all of our stores open for regular hours during the week, and you can see what those hours are on the website, under the locations, you can go to each of the locations and see what the hours are. But anyway, I've talked far too much, but lots of exciting information, you know, about the new chair from Luraco, price increases across the board, and backed up traffic on the ships coming in to California.
[SCREEN TEXT: Please "Thumbs Up" Like This Video!!]
Alan: It's all exciting, but anyway, if you found this video helpful, please feel free to thumbs up 'Like' us on our YouTube channel. And of course, help us spread the word about massage chairs by sharing this video on your social media platforms, and with your friends and family. I'm Dr. Alan Weidner from 'Massage-Chair-Relief.com,' and I will see you again in two weeks. Bye bye.
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