Vinyl record industry dealt setback after fire destroys key manufacturing facility in Banning

BANNING, Calif. (KABC) -- A fire that ripped through a commercial building in Banning earlier this month dealt a devastating setback to the vinyl record industry.

Vinyl record sales have been resurging in recent years - fueled by nostalgia and audiophiles who prefer the tone over digital - to the point where they are expected to soon overtake CD sales.

But that comeback is now being impacted by the loss of a key step in the manufacturing process.

On Feb. 6, a three-alarm fire caused catastrophic damage to Apollo Masters in Banning, a facility that manufactures the lacquers that are used to make master discs in the vinyl manufacturing process.

To make a vinyl record, the vinyl needs to be stamped with a plate. And the lacquer is used to stamp the plate. Apollo Masters is one of the only producers of those lacquers.

"It was a gut punch," said Dennis Callaci, general manager with Rhino Records. "Knowing how this will affect music lovers who like vinyl, mom-and-pop shops who've supported vinyl, it's devastating."

He says the biggest hit will be to vinyl versions of new releases, since there are already lacquers manufactured for older records.

Until the issue is addressed, the record industry won't be able to press new releases.

"There's one other company in Japan, that's been hit hard before this happened, there's talk among some in the industry that somebody else has technology, that we can find methods."

It's not clear yet when or if Apollo will be able to rebuild the facility. Eyewitness News reached out to the company for comment, but has not heard back. The company posted a statement on its website:

"To all of wonderful customers. It is with great sadness we report the Apollo Masters manufacturing and storage facility had a devastating fire and suffered catastrophic damage. The best news is all of our employees are safe. We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time. Thank you for all of the support over the years and the notes of encouragement and support we have received from you all."
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