Moog Music Downsizing Continues With Layoffs In Asheville

Asheville, NC based Moog Music continues to downsize, reports the Citizen-Times, three months after the company was acquired by InMusic.

The newspaper says that Moog has eliminated “possibly more than half the existing jobs, including most of the production positions.

While there’s been no official word on the layoffs, our understanding is that manufacturing for most Moog products based on modern designs is being eliminated in Asheville and moved overseas. InMusic had previously eliminated job functions at Moog that can be handled by the parent company.

“Tariffs Are Seriously Harmful To American Businesses Like Moog”

In 2018, Moog warned that tariffs instituted as part of the Trump administration’s trade war with China would raise prices and could lead to jobs being moved overseas:

“These tariffs will immediately and drastically increase the cost of building our instruments, and have the very real potential of forcing us to lay off workers and could (in a worst case scenario) require us to move some, if not all, of our manufacturing overseas,” adding, “Tariffs are seriously harmful to American businesses like Moog.”

The tariffs added a 25% import tax on Chinese components used in synth manufacturing, but not on the import of complete synths. This meant that companies that manufacture in the U.S. have to pay a lot more for parts companies than that move their manufacturing overseas.

The Biden administration has left most of these trade tariffs in place.

Moog’s predictions have been borne out in the last five years. The company raised prices notably in 2022, saying at the time ““The ongoing global challenges of material shortages, supply chain limitations, inflation, as well as rising raw goods and shipping costs, have made it necessary to adjust some of our pricing. And now, InMusic appears to be moving the bulk of Moog’s manufacturing overseas.

60 thoughts on “Moog Music Downsizing Continues With Layoffs In Asheville

  1. Sounds like the Moog factory will become the design factory where R&D is done with the final products being manufactured and assembled elsewhere where it is far cheaper to not only acquire components (because the labor to produce them is cheaper) but also far cheaper to manufacturer the end product for the same reason. The products manufactured elsewhere will be of comparable quality to the products manufactured in Asheville but by people with far worse labor and living conditions often barely being paid the cost of living in their country.

    The elsewhere will be sad like most other elsewheres under the “designed in ” schema.

    Most if not all of my clothes and electronics are probably produced the same way and now my future purchases from Moog would be joining that same league.

    It’ll make the rest of the company’s job a lot easier to not have to manage so many people’s payrolls and benefits and to just focus on being a product design company.

    I’m curious to see how this decision influences Moog’s future designs.

    1. Not even design. Check out the recent MusicTribe videos on YouTube, they also do R&D in-house. Behringer also hires original engineers of old synths (probably in a project contract basis) like Gilles for the Kobol, Kuzmin for the Polivoks, and Nishijima who designed the MS-20 for some synth I forgot. They also tried to get onboard the maker of the 303 devilmod but did not happen (google the story, its pretty wild).

      If they were hired for these one off products then its a shame because having them collaborate toguether kinda like a super group to create an og super synth would be awesome but it’s obvious behringer is not that creative nor visionary. Oh well.

      InMusic could keep Moog component suppliers for product consistency as I think Moog was not too evolved as a vertically integrated company to manufacture components of that level. On the other hand, InMusic probably create their own components or maybe already have a supplier to produce in volume so they be cheaper meaning a future Moog can have the same knobs of an MPC Live.

      Moogs will get cheaper and that will get them in more musicians hands but that will come at a quality cost indiscernible for new owners who have never touched the american made Moogs. A win for InMusic, Spotify, Soundcloud, DAW makers, small venues and bars and a big loss for Asheville Moog employees and premium-tier synth buyers.

    2. I can’t see the Moog factory being around in a year. With management being replaced by InMusic, and most of the manufacturing shipped overseas, the building is 4 times as big as they’d need now.

  2. I was surprised to learn that Moog only paid assemblers $14/hr. With that low of a wage, how much could they be saving in Taiwan? How much does that equate to cost reduction to the consumer?

    1. Average income (GDP per capita) in 2022:
      USA: 64K USD
      Taiwan: 32K USD
      China: 18K USD
      Vietnam: 11.4K USD
      India: 7K USD

      You might assume assemblers may be paid the same rate at most in Taiwan as in the US, but probably it will rather be between 2 and 8 USD/hr on the whole for these asian countries.

  3. Interesting as there is a big push right now to on-shore in the US and this is the opposite. In-Music is a 5 years behind the business community.

    1. Businesses are only interested in making money. Low unemployment and rising wages in the US mean that more companies are going to move work to China, where they can get cheap labor.

    2. Reshoring is a big buzzword right now, but it doesn’t make sense for consumer electronics. Most components are made in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. You’re not going to find a factory in Cleveland that makes things like resistors or affordable plastic buttons, so everything would have to be imported. There are no affordable PCB manufacturers or assembly plants in the USA — you’d pay 5x what it costs in China.

      So, yeah, you can do expensive final assembly in the USA that makes it impossible to compete.

      1. Is there any benefit in hand-soldering? 99%+ of electronic circuit boards are populated by pick-n-place machines already. I really doubt there is much saving in direct labor costs; but Inmusic wants to manufacture without the burden of worker protections, pensions, and so on.

        1. There is a benefit for me personally, in that I can repair my own stuff much more easily if it’s thru hole, which is the hand soldered stuff. If it’s smt, you basically hope it’s under warranty, where they will just swap boards, or you take your chances trying to deal with hot air, magnifiers, and solder paste.

        2. “Is there any benefit in hand-soldering? ”

          None of the stuff that they are moving overseas has been hand-soldered, so how is this relevant?

          By offshoring, they can probably cut their assembly costs by 60-70%.

          The only things hand-soldered at Moog would be the high-end reissues, and those aren’t made at the factory. For people that buy a $5k monosynth, the hand-soldering and retro build is relevant. There’s a lot of niche knowledge in making the reissues, so that will probably take a lot longer to move.

        3. > Is there any benefit in hand-soldering?

          Moog does not do hand soldering. If you’ve been to the “factory” since they’ve been in Asheville they receive huge boxes of fully assembled electronics from China. The USA based “manufacturing” consists of fastening the electronics into a case and snapping in lead cables to connect the keyboard, front panel, and main sound and control board. They then do final calibration.

          (The highly limited edition/made to order modular reissues with old new stock and no digital components are a different issue, those were made in house.)

  4. When Moog warned about this five years ago, people said it was lefty woke bullshit, vs a plain statement of fact.

    Typical MAGA-type comment at the time:

    “Publicity stunt. Moog is “employee owned” and wouldn’t move production overseas. Not to say it won’t affect their profit, but it’s really unlikely they would move things to China.”

    1. I guess they found out that 49% employee owned wasn’t enough.

      Unionizing and advocating for higher wages probably didn’t help with labor costs, but it is somewhat surprising that a high-end, boutique synth maker would only pay $14/hour, or $10 to assemble a $1K synth.

      1. ” it is somewhat surprising that a high-end, boutique synth maker would only pay $14/hour”

        Sad but those were probably some of the highest paying synth assembly positions in the world. Yea, capitalism!

        1. The $14 claim seem unlikely since in Asheville McDonalds, Trader Joe’s, and pretty much every place else pay more than that. If $14 is true (I don’t believe it is), then laying off everyone will make their new lives better.

  5. …and don’t say I didn’t tell you. I’ve seen this story too many times..
    Good luck to any of those laid off – hopefully they receive a little package and can find new jobs around Asheville.

      1. Make Noise was founded by a former Asheville Moog employee 15 years ago. Perhaps the layoffs will push others to start their own synth-related businesses. Surely for someone that has been building Moogs for years, that experience would translate into new non-Moog design ideas, synth repair and manufacturing expertise, etc. I’m personally rooting for the former employees. I hope they take that bitter taste from InMusic and spit it back at them with some next-level shit.

        1. That’s great. I did not know that. It might be hard for those who would like to stay in the Asheville area, apparently it’s beautiful. But it is what it is and change is usually a good thing. I just get really sour on these private equity acquisitions they always go the same.. you get a CEO that knows nothing of your business or history and they always lie to the employees that nothing is happening your jobs are safe – all the while you are training your replacement and EVERYONE know what’s happening until the morning you get escorted out of the building.

        1. Well when I actually said it in the previous post about the situation a couple months ago a bunch of folks like yourself said I didn’t known what I was taking about and this was ‘different’.

  6. Good. I might actually buy a Moog at some point in my life then. It’s not like Made in the USA has any meaning in term of quality anyway. But I suppose only Americans are blind to this fact the rest of the world knows about.

    1. It’s not actually supposed to be about the quality of the product per-se, it’s supposed to be about quality of life for the people who make the instruments you love.

      1. Come on, those who have to go are just the solder monkeys and such. There’s no education needed for assembly, screen printing, etc. Only instruction. If they wanted their quality of life improved, they should have gotten a degree or something. Or at least move, from what I’ve heard from Asheville thanks to all the drama and theater around MOog the lsat few years.

        1. true. quality isn’t the ‘guy’ putting it together or designing it. it’s component engineers and quality experts that design the manufacturing line and select the correct components. if you’re not big enough for these folks it’s not really quality, it’s craft.

      1. Sure. My life is going terrific, actually. Know that my worldviews originate from a place that is not the US. I come from a good place, and so the struggles of the US, especially it’s labor force amuse me. What happens at Moog wouldn’t happen here. People in the US don’t give a shit about people in the US. What happens at Moog is simply America running it’s gears as usual. It’s a spectacle, really.

        1. “I come from a good place”… right. In that case be a good person and instead of enjoying the spectacle, you could empathise with the people (and not reduce them to solder monkeys that did not get a degree). It’s not hard to do, try it.

  7. Its not tariffs as a general concept that screwed Moog and other American companies. It is a tariff that taxes parts but not entire synths. Not taxing entire synths higher, while at the same time taxing parts higher makes no sense and was probably put into the legislation by some politician bought and sold by China. It also allowed Trump to brag about being tough on China, but the devil’s in details and, like many other things, he screwed up on the execution.

    1. Exactly.

      The Trump tariffs punished companies that build in America and raised prices for Americans, all while giving a free pass huge companies, like Behringer, that do everything in China.

      Economist know that tariffs ALWAYS backfire, but politicians love them, because they can raise your taxes, without having to vote to ‘raise taxes’.

  8. My apologies for the rant: I understand the financial incentives that have led the new owners of Moog to this latest precipice. However, as someone who believes in the promise and power of unions and workers’ rights, I want to point out that how we choose to define and regulate corporations really is up to us. Which is to say that product “value” could symbolize anything. Yet sadly, we’ve been conditioned to generally equate value with “cheapest”.

    If cheap is the only goal, then the race will always be won by those companies who can produce at scale with resource and labor costs lower than the competition. And yet, my impression has always been that Moog, as a brand and company, strongly valued designing and building quality musical instruments under the stewardship of employee ownership and governance. Sadly, this recent merger seems to have led management to offer up those fundaments to the same sacrificial alter that so many other companies have fallen before.

    In the spirit of sharing: I recently spent time and money piecing together a cheaper alternative to a flagship workstation module. After trying to integrate several “cheaper” modules that, in sum, provided the same features as the more expensive workstation, I ended up selling them all and buying the module I had initially wanted all along. It wasn’t cheap, but the quality and overall user experience is far superior. My point of course is that saving and spending that extra money on a well-designed and well-built “main course” was a better decision than “settling” for snacks.

  9. Exciting days, that made me think of my first Moog to buy. I never cared too much about the sound it’s famous for, but I guess a “Made in Asheville”-version of whatever would hold up in value. It turned out to be a Subsequent CV, mainly because of patch memory, really. And CV because of the semi-modulars and effect pedals with CV that I got here.

    Anyone else hunting down something these days, just for the hell of it?

    1. That’s a cynical take.

      And strange logic, too, when you consider that many of the highly-prized Moog synths are ones made after Bob Moog had to sell the company: the Minimoog (approved by Moog so that the company would be appealing to potential buyers), Multimoog, Polymoog, Taurus, Prodigy, Source, etc.

      Moog as a brand is bigger than any one person, owner or building.

  10. Moog was an ESOP company before being sold, so in theory, the full value of the shares accumulated by the employee-owners would need to have been paid out as part of the acquisition. So employees that had been with the company the longest should have received a very nice payout. Those with shorter tenures probably not so much. I previously worked for an ESOP company that was sold and the buyout price was negotiated at around 300% of the most recent share valuation. I hope Moog took a similar path and the employees received a nice little chunk…

    1. From what I’ve heard, Moog had lots of debt and was sold as if it had no value. So, InMusic could swoop in, buy Moog’s assets and the employees got nothing out of the deal.

      1. If it is true what you say “Moog had lots of debt”, then these employees had 49% of these debts as well.
        If InMusic swept in and take over all shares, then they take over those debts over as well.

        The worst that can happen to the employees is if InMusic only bought 51% of the shares…
        But I have no details on the deal.

        1. Here’s what appears to have happened:

          CEO Mike Adams owned Moog and wanted to retire.

          About 6 years ago, Adams had the company valued, and had Moog Music as a corporation take out loans to buy him out. So Adams got his money, and Moog took on debt equal to the value of the company. Employees owned 49% of that sum, which is $0.

          The hope would be that the company would grow in value and/or pay off its loans over time. This would have been a win/win for both Adams and Moog employees.

          Instead, Moog got hit with the Trump tariffs, the pandemic, an international parts shortage, and a billion-dollar competitor that’s hellbent on making cheap copies of all Moog’s products. This shit hit the fan all at the same time.

          Moog had hit products and a great brand, but couldn’t pay its debts and ended up getting sold to InMusic for its assets. At best, the banks probably got most of their money. Employee-owners got 49% of nothing.

          So – the worst that can happen to employees is that they lose their jobs, get shafted on their retirements and find out that their Moog shares are worthless.

          If you know more, tell me what I got wrong!

  11. “we had no choice, we were forced to do it”

    its an extremely pathetic excuse, because its not true and it makes you sound powerless

    but you own it, you make all the choices… so stop crying

  12. Moog made in China, now Robert Moog is rolling in his grave.
    Rest In Peace Moog Synths!

    Moog is now WOKE the F*ck up!

    I’m buying a Made in America Mavis.

    Face it Moog refused to go more modern in the building process. Before the buyout of Moog it like Artisan Bread Bakers all handmade and a bit over price because it was marketed handmade compared to a machine made. I wonder how much stock the employs have.

    But it is a shame that America is losing another manufacturing plant.

    1. What you and lots of other people don’t seem to realize is that synths like the Mavis were put into a box in the US and shipped from the US, but the circuit boards have been made in China for a long time.

      What do you think was made in the US on the Mavis? I’m guessing that the box was probably printed in the US.

      The high-end reissues are different, but I don’t think their circuit boards were made at the Moog plant either.

      1. Wow now that is a Scam 85% China,12% India, 3% US source and printed Made in America. When the label should read 3% Made in America. I guess I am paying for an over price cardboard box to say Made in America, now where’s my whisky (LOL)

        1. Probably close to 100% of the human effort happened at the Moog plant and the US.

          Circuit boards and electronic components are generally made by robots in China. That’s going to be the same for pretty much any synth made in the US – the US just doesn’t do this stuff anymore.

          If you’re “paying for an over priced cardboard box to say Made in America”, nobody’s scamming you, you’re scamming yourself.

  13. Moog is loosing its most valuable assets which are prestige and vibe. there are so many ladder filters in the synth world, including now the Trigon 6 so it was never that the Moog sound was not obtainable, it’s that it was Moog under your fingers. their image has been tainted and their image was one of their main commodities.

      1. Moog had hit products and was still screwed.

        Companies that had debts going into the pandemic didn’t have a chance after Trump trashed the economy. More jobs were lost during the Trump administration than any other administration in history. Do you really think musicians were making money and could buy gear, when all the bars were closed and concerts were cancelled?

        But let’s blame it on Moog’s designs, the fact that some employees wanted to unionize, or that the company was ‘too woke’.

  14. If you think the price of Moog gear are going to be less expensive you are dreaming. This is all about maximizing the profit on a well known Synth brand. You can book it!

  15. I find all of this amusing. When employees, as with Moog own 49% of a Company they want the Company to succeed. Employees just do not invest in what they do if they do not believe in the Company. Takeovers happen everywhere, Moog is not some singular event. Innmusic seized the opportunity to buy what amounts to a name. They did not ever intend to continue the tradition of Moog as an American product. Moog has a reputation and just like takeovers in the past once it happens we can never expect the same level of product as the original. It doesn’t matter if the product is partially made overseas and shipped to the US and assembled. What matters is that small Companies can act as a team and from one place and the product is successful because teamwork produces it. Whereas large Company’s can build elsewhere and simply employ laborers, you are not going to get the same level of labor or the same level of care because laborers have no interest in success. It is simply a job. Labor is cheaper in other places for a reason. The cost of living is lower. There is no communication between those that engineer a product and laborers once it goes large scale. It becomes a product line and the only important detail is cheaper and faster production. I doubt Bob Moog ever intended for his ideas to become a mass produced line of cheap synths. I’d be willing to bet we see an upswing in the prices of second hand made in Ashville Moog products in the near future once the Moog turns into the Chinese Moog. Especially the boutique synths. Even the semi Modular’s may become preferred over those made in China. Takeovers are not always a success especially in the music industry. I remember when CBS took over Fender and re-tooled instruments like making a 3 bolt neck design for the Stratocaster. The quality went downhill and eventually the original employees took over the Company. The Mexican plant that was started by CBS to save money became a second tier level of guitars and amps and in 1987 the Custom Shop was born. Employees that work as a team often ultimately have more success than large Companies that gobble up small ones.

    1. Your comments suggest you may not know much about Moog synths or the company’s history.

      First, literally all of Moog’s classic keyboards were manufactured after Bob Moog sold out – all the Moog keyboards that are widely revered, including the Minimoog. Bob Moog OK’d production of the Minimoog because he thought that it might make the company more appealing to buyers. So what you think of as ‘Moog’ is a brand that’s been sold many time in its history.

      Second, Moog Music has used mass-produced Chinese circuit boards in many of its synths for years.

      Third, they’re only moving assembly of their mass-produced products overseas. Assembly of the reissue synths that use vintage technology is staying in Asheville.

      I think you’re right about one thing: Moog synths of the Mike Adams era are going to end up appreciating over time, because they are some of the best synths the brand has ever made.

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