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June 1998: Celestron Acquired by Tasco, Inc.

Celestron International has been acquired by the Miami Florida based Tasco, Inc.

The Celestron company (founded by Tom Johnson and Alan Hale in the 1960's) was most recently owned by Diethelm, a Swiss based corporation; that firm had little direct involvement (or interest it seemed) in the company. However, Celestron continued to earn respect among the astronomical community as a manufacturer and distributor of telescopes for the advanced consumer. Over the past few years however, there had been a trend at Celestron to become more competitive in the low cost amateur market too. Also Celestron made inroads into the marketing of small "spotting telescopes" suitable for terrestrial and nature watching and binoculars.

Tasco was founded in 1954 by George Rosenfield as the Tanross Supply Company, a wholesale fishing tackle and hardware distributorship. As the company expanded its inventory to include binoculars, its name was shortened to Tasco. Tasco is now one of the major distributors of telescopes which target the relatively impulsive first time telescope buyer in astronomy, although Tasco has grown into other sales areas including terrestrial spotting telescopes and binoculars. George Rosenfield sold the business in March 1996. By then Tasco employed 160 people in Miami-Dade County, Florida and maintained a lcoation in the state of Washington. The annual sales by Tasco in 1995 to 1996 was about $110 million.

This acquisition strikes the astronomy community as something like having a "Ford" acquired by a company that makes no better than a "Yugo". A strength of Tasco is its relatively high volume purchasing and distribution network, and their overseas buying expertise, and their marketing experience. What this acquisition holds for the long term future of Celestron telescopes is unknown, but it has already been the subject of many jokes and wild speculation in the market place - by consumers and competitors alike.

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