UGS appears only to have made the Heirloom for a few years but the store continued to thrive and the company offered AR turntable modification parts until 1999 at the least and upgrades and repairs even longer, during the last few years the upgrades listed on their website in a couple of sentences, but in 2000 the AR upgrade parts disappear from the UGS website and a new site for Merrill Audio had no mention of them, the only products offered there were a turntable setup booklet and an audiophile rack and by 2004 the only product offered was the booklet.
We have not managed to get fully rid of George Merrill however, he formed a company in 2007 with Anthony Scillia called Merrill-Scillia Research that manufactures a couple of high end turntable models that show a direct lineage to the Heritage, a year or two later he teamed up with a local studio owner Robert Williams to form another company called Merrill-Williams Audio that manufactures, er, a high end turntable model that show a direct lineage to the Heritage (deja-vu) and from the Merrill-Williams premises he also runs a company called “George Merril’s Analog Emporium” that services hi-fi’s, in addition he appears to have given permission to a company called Vinyl Nirvana to manufacture and sell some of the AR modifications that UGS sold, although the more complex parts like the plinths are missing from the VN catalogue.
The Unitra union had inside it the bulk of Polish consumer electronics manufacturers and had by the late 70’s more than 20 members employing over 50.000 people in total, operated almost 100 factories and in the budget sector of the market were doing some impressive numbers, between 1972 and 1979 they manufactured 72 million radio sets for instance. At the peak of its size in the late 70’s early 80’s the company had grown to a size that meant it had to split itself into 5 subdivisions, sales, MERA was their computing and business electronics division, Unitradom handled consumer electronics, Telecom did communications equipment and Unitraelectron did component manufacturing and professional electronics.
The most notable of the companies that were made part of Unitra were Zaklady Radiowe Kasprzaka (ZK - ZRK), Fonica, Radmor and Diora Świdnica, and while there was some continuation of the usage of those companies original brands the bulk of them was by the mid 70’s sold under the Unitra name both in Poland and internationally except in the USA where the products were sold under the Unitronex (See below), Audio Lab, Two For The Road and Impact brands.
It may come as a surprise to some but Unitra was by that time mostly an export company, it did sell to the west, and was particularly strong in selling electronic components in western Europe, loudspeakers in France and for a time sold them to the USA and a few other markets, all in all the company was exporting to over 80 countries. But their largest customer were poorer countries and Russia, but by the 70’s the Russian consumer electronics industry could not keep up with demand for its products and Unitra filled the gap both with Unitra branded products but also more importantly as an OEM and component supplier. It gave some western companies, primarily European and Japanese an access to the Russian market via proxy, but unlike other East European companies that designed their own equipment Unitra licensed most of their more complex CE designs from foreign companies and used a lot of specialised western parts. The Russian market was so important to the company that they sometimes sent out economic data in Roubles rather than Dollars.
The company was privatised in the early 90’s and still exists, primarily as a holding company.
The company appears to have exited the home loudspeaker market in the mid 80’s although the actual timeline is not known to us, but sales of car audio speakers seem to have gone on a little longer possibly even to the break of the Polish communist economy in 1989. The company is still around but these days acts mostly as an OEM and ODM agent for Eastern European companies.
Utah American Corporation
The company pretty much specialised in supplying cheap drivers and sometimes fully built speakers to companies looking for alternatives to established brands although you will find both loudspeakers and drivers with the Utah brand on them that were sold separately. But quite often you will find drivers from Utah in musical instrument amplifiers and cheap home loudspeakers from companies such as Olson Electronics that were below the specifications of anything you will find in any catalogue from the company.
U-Vola See --> Syn Factory