Big Change(s) at Weber - From sizzle to fizzle


 

TonyS T-Bone

TVWBB Super Fan

CEO change at grill maker Weber​

The company said it is also considering workforce reductions.​

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Grill maker Weber, which went public about a year ago, said today that Chris Scherzinger was leaving as CEO and a director.
Chief Technology Officer Alan Matula has been named interim CEO, the Palatine-based company said. Scherzinger had been CEO since April 2018, according to the company's website.

“We are taking decisive action to better position Weber to navigate historic macroeconomic challenges, including inflationary and supply chain pressures that are impacting consumer confidence, spending patterns, and margins,” Kelly Rainko, non-executive chair of the Weber board, said in a statement announcing the moves. “The management team is well positioned to guide Weber through this transitional period and execute a transformation of the company’s cost base.”

The company estimated fiscal third-quarter net sales of $525 million to $530 million, saying “Net sales performance was affected by slower retail traffic, both in-store and online, in all key markets, as well as continued foreign currency devaluations that impact our reported results. Management believes that the slower retail traffic patterns are the result of pressured consumer shopping behaviors globally, due to rising inflation, supply chain constraints, fuel prices, and geopolitical uncertainty. The company expects these market headwinds to continue into the fiscal fourth quarter of 2022.

Weber also said "it is pursuing a number of financial transformation initiatives, which may include workforce reductions, reducing other COGS and SG&A expenses, as well as tightening its global inventory levels and working capital positions."

The company also said it was suspending its quarterly dividend "and is committed to working with lending partners to remain in compliance with the covenants in its credit facilities."
 

Scott Smith

TVWBB Pro
I can't speak for the rest of the world, but here in the USA, I believe that Weber's biggest problem is the customers - sort of like Harley-Davidson but in a different way. They have traditionally catered to a population of middle-American White males that grew up grilling steak/hotdogs/hamburgers with their dads, and that demographic is changing. They better figure out how to sell to African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, Indians, and everybody else. The trick is doing that without offending the core demographic of white males that buy for their ideal of a traditional All-American cookout. It's a culture war more than an issue with the company or the grills.
 

LMichaels

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
I can't speak for the rest of the world, but here in the USA, I believe that Weber's biggest problem is the customers - sort of like Harley-Davidson but in a different way. They have traditionally catered to a population of middle-American White males that grew up grilling steak/hotdogs/hamburgers with their dads, and that demographic is changing. They better figure out how to sell to African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, Indians, and everybody else. The trick is doing that without offending the core demographic of white males that buy for their ideal of a traditional All-American cookout. It's a culture war more than an issue with the company or the grills.
IMO you're way off base here. They lost when they shifted production to poorer Chinese quality and then relied on their name to allow them to continue to raise prices to crazy levels. All while reducing quality of materials and assembly.
 

Steve Hoch

TVWBB Guru
Sad but true. I wouldn’t buy one of the new ones now, can’t imagine what the future will bring…
If they came out with a 40th anniversary Genesis 1000 model I would probably bite. It would have to be exactly like the old one though.
 

TomKim

New member
IMO you're way off base here. They lost when they shifted production to poorer Chinese quality and then relied on their name to allow them to continue to raise prices to crazy levels. All while reducing quality of materials and assembly.

I totally agree with this wholeheartedly. I take some offense to Scott's comment on the demographic but it also relates to @LMichaels. You have seen many brands start manufacturing offshore (outside USA but still have a few things done at home) like Filson, Carhartt, Ford, Chevy. It is a fine line and it is tough. Two brands that I love (JPress and Brooks Brothers) used to make majority of their clothing in the USA but needed to outsource due to the economy and competition.

It also plays to the fact that these brands have a premium. There is a reason why so many people just get a Nexgrill or a Chargriller or a cheapo set. Many folks look at these as expendable items where it gets used for a season or two and move on (especially the kettle). The diehard weber fans are a niche and not common place. There is a reason why we find so many kettles and gas grills just laying around for free or dirt cheap.

It will be interesting to see if they can turn it around. One thing that we need to keep an eye on is the replacement part market. I know many of us rehab/refinish our Webers for many years. At some point, it just won't make sense for Weber to continue the support and "force folks to upgrade to newer units". Or we have to find other third suppliers for our parts.
 

Steve Hoch

TVWBB Guru
See, that's where Weber's decision to go to offshore production can come back and bite them. Even if they decide to stop selling the few replacement parts they do offer for a Genesis 1000 for example, the tooling is already in China and they will just continue to send parts here under the various names we are already seeing as long as there is a demand for them.
 

Steve Hoch

TVWBB Guru
Straight from the first picture of a person on Weber's homepage right now -

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All-American nostalgia, black and white grilling with dad. I'm calling it like I see it.

By the way, I don't disagree with the quality issues.
Scott, I don't get it. What point are you trying to make with a picture of George Stephen standing in front of his invention?
 

Matthew Turner

TVWBB Member
I can't speak for the rest of the world, but here in the USA, I believe that Weber's biggest problem is the customers - sort of like Harley-Davidson but in a different way. They have traditionally catered to a population of middle-American White males that grew up grilling steak/hotdogs/hamburgers with their dads, and that demographic is changing. They better figure out how to sell to African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, Indians, and everybody else. The trick is doing that without offending the core demographic of white males that buy for their ideal of a traditional All-American cookout. It's a culture war more than an issue with the company or the grills.
Uh...sorry but this is completely off.

Grilling and BBQ culture has always extended to African Americans and Latinos. You could make a very good argument that White Americans co-opted BBQ and grilling from other cultures including First Nation Peoples as well as African Americans and Latinos. Unfortunately, BBQ is inextricably tied to slavery. What we call "low and slow" allowed otherwise inedible cuts or critters to become food for enslaved people. Some of the first pit masters were enslaved women who tended to the food to be served to White slave owners and their guests. Even traditional BBQ slides dishes are tied to soul food, many of which have their origin in slave quarters. Some of the first Black-owned businesses in the US were BBQ joints. Read Black Smoke by Adrian Miller for more on the rich tradition of BBQ in the Black community.

I saw a recent report that 10-12% more Latino households own grills than the rest of the population. Some of the most well-known Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes are based in grilling. Just go to your local Tex-Mex chain and look at the menu. Many of the iconic dishes of the Caribbean are cooked over coals or fire. More recent immigrant groups from East, Southeast, and South Asia all have rich cultures of cooking over live fire or charcoal. Convincing immigrants and minorities to grill is not the problem. Quite the contrary. Weber was probably a catalyst in bringing the grill to the mostly-White suburban sprawl of the mid-century.

I don't know how to fix Weber's issues. I'm an academic not a marketing exec. Legacy companies, with very few exceptions, face an uphill battle as their products become so ubiquitous to the industry as a whole that they are almost considered generic. Like many legacy companies, they have been extremely slow to respond to market trends; front-to-back burners, pellet grills, kamado style grills, portables, grill tech. In some cases their tardy response was done with exceptional incompetence (Smokefire).
 

Dan Leighton

TVWBB Pro
I saw the announcement this morning on MarketWatch. A few years back I even bought a spare 2007 Genesis just to have the parts in the future after checking our the new Weber grills. Tinny Chinese imports with the big prices for the Weber nameplate. With any luck my Genesis my son's Genesis will outlive me as long as burner tubes, flavorizer bars and grates remain available. I miss station wagons too and will keep my sedans rather than buy an SUV or Crossover!
 

Scott Smith

TVWBB Pro
OK - let me try this example - the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

It was successful during approximately the same era as Weber, but they realized that every culture had music and that to move forward, they needed to broaden their tent. Thus, they starting recognizing Rap artists.

I'm just saying that every culture has grilling just like every culture has stuff wrapped in dough. Weber needs to make sure they are embracing everybody. I'm not sure I'm seeing that yet. I see their appeal to a younger generation, but what are they doing to make Weber the go-to grill of every household of every culture?
 

Bruno

TVWBB Platinum Member
Weber kettles are used by every nationality in the US. Wether Weber is making quality gas grills these days seems to be a reasonable question. My only gasser is a Q-320, I do want to pick up a Genesis one day. Probably not new.
 

TimA

TVWBB Pro
Scott, I’m not trying to be rude, but you’re 0-3 guy.

Weber caters to white guys? Laughable!! That’s both the funniest and dumbest thing I’ve seen online today, and that’s saying something. Then you post a photo of George Stephen as proof? Guy, float back to reality and spare us all the pandering BS.

I suppose you think Weber should do a rainbow colored kettle too, because they’re far too straight. Get a grip
 

Bob H.

TVWBB Hall of Fame
I think that the Webers that I have will last for my lifetime and then used by the next generation.......
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
I see their appeal to a younger generation, but what are they doing to make Weber the go-to grill of every household of every culture?
We've got a large collection of Weber product catalogs from 1959 to present. For many years, it was all members of the Stephen family featured in catalog photography. Starting in the 1970s, you begin to see attempts at trying to appeal to women, young people, and people of color. Successful attempts? Half-hearted attempts? Hard to say. Today, I'm sure the question of how to appeal to the broadest demographic is an important consideration for Weber.

From a 1974 catalog, this one tries to hit all the demographics.

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Some pics from recent product catalogs...

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2021webercatalog-1.jpg

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