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Brief History

Walter Miller, VM Founder

The following brief history was written by V-M Corporation President Victor Miller
for the January 1996 V-M “Collector’s Voice” Newsletter:

"Fast Forward" ..... Through a few high spots of V-M Corporation's history!  It is inspiring to see the effort Gary is putting into keeping the products and legends of V-M going this many years after our bankruptcy in 1977.  I consider it a privilege to contribute in some small way to this tribute to the dedication, skill, loyalty, and decades of hard work of employees, suppliers, distributors, dealers, and independent service centers who made up the V-M action team.  A special "thank you" is due the loyal manufacturers who kept including our record changers and/or tape transport mechanisms in their products - and to the consumers who bought those products as well as items sold under our own name.

Benton Harbor was the scene of record changer manufacture before V-M Corporation existed. My father Walter Miller, was an electrical engineer building up New Products Corporation, a custom die cast operation, through the heart of the depression of the 1930's. He had also started Modern Plastics Corporation, a custom plastic molding company in 1937. The reputation of those two companies for quality, service, and value led to his being approached to produce record changers for the blossoming phonograph market. Commencing in 1940, New Products Corporation produced the Erwood "blade" type record changer. Some 2,300 of these cumbersome units were being shipped daily by the time World War II cut off all consumer product manufacture (shortly after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor).

V-M was created as a separate entity in 1944 and distinguished itself early on by producing initial quantities of one of Dad's classified wartime inventions. When the war ended, this separate entity jumped into the production of record changers just as soon as such consumer product manufacture was permitted.

In addition to phonograph manufacturers, early customers began to include independent service shops and electronic parts distributors. This then led in the early 1950's to designing and building amplified phonographs, consoles, and tape recorders - and selling tape transport mechanisms to other manufacturers. We had "binaural" sound in our tape recorders as an adaptation by late 1955. Then came "stereo" tape recorders, stereo record changers and stereo phonographs by 1958.

Our best year for sales and earnings was 1962, but we were serving an industry that subsequently got wiped out so far as U.S. manufactured products were concerned. As the battle got tougher, we tightened our belts and hung in, trying to also apply our technological skills to special motors, amplifiers, etc. These we had hoped would become standard products used by many U. S. manufacturers, resulting in lower costs and a more competitive position.

From 1971 on, we were on a shoestring. In spite of everyone's dedication, that string broke in 1977. When we could no longer produce, we filed for bankruptcy in the interest of protecting general creditors to the extent we could, from various predators. With the permission of the court, we converted what we could to cash for the benefit of employees and suppliers.

V-M remains a registered corporation in the State of Michigan, but is no longer engaged in manufacturing activities. Service parts and manuals are now available from V-M Audio Enthusiasts at 37530 E. Meadowhill, Northville, MI 48167. Let me say that it is great to have this opportunity to express my appreciation for the confidence manufacturers, distributors, dealers, service shops, and consumers placed in our products and in the men and women who built them. Many thanks! God bless you all!

Victor A. Miller
January 1996
Revised: January 2000

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