Apollo Transco Vinyl Manufacturing Plant Goes Down In Flames — Literally

News of a massive fire destroying the Apollo Transco lacquer-production facility in Banning, California, has sent shockwaves through the vinyl industry, as the cause of the blaze remains unknown. The facility, which was one of the only two known establishments capable of creating lacquer discs used to form vinyl master discs, was completely destroyed in the inferno.

The fire broke out in the late hours of the night inside the chemical-mixing area of the 15,000 square foot structure, according to Sam Smith, Apollo Transco’s manager. The blaze quickly spread, and authorities have now confirmed that the building was completely destroyed. Thankfully, no civilians or firefighters were harmed in the incident.

The lacquer discs created at the Apollo Transco facility were used to form vinyl master discs, from which additional record copies were pressed. While vinyl masters can also be crafted through a process called direct metal mastering, most vinyl record companies use lacquer as it is intricate and difficult to manufacture a cutting piece required for direct metal mastering.

At this point, it is unclear how much of an impact the fire will have on vinyl manufacturers. The episode may well disrupt ongoing production plans and prompt an industry-wide pivot to the aforementioned direct metal mastering. Vinyl manufacturers may have to look at other options to continue their production and keep the demand for vinyl records going.

Apollo Masters was founded in 1936 and relocated to Banning in 1987. In 2007, the company acquired the assets of Transco Masters, thereby carving out an even more substantial share of the market. With vinyl sales having increased each year since Apollo’s Transco buyout (including 1.24 million units sold during 2019’s Christmas week), the investment seemed wise, and future prospects appeared bright. However, now it is difficult to say when or if the company will rebuild and resume operations.

The vinyl industry was already experiencing a resurgence in popularity in recent years, with vinyl sales increasing each year. The news of the Apollo Transco fire has come as a blow to the industry, which has been relying on the facility to continue producing lacquer discs for vinyl master discs.

Vinyl Alliance, a trade group and advocate of vinyl records, issued a statement expressing their sorrow at the Apollo Transco blaze and called it “a sad day for the vinyl industry.” The newly-formed organization also said that it hoped employees and firefighters were free of injuries, and that Apollo would return to business as soon as possible.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and authorities have not yet released any official statements on the matter. Apollo Transco’s manager, Sam Smith, said that they were fully cooperating with authorities to determine the cause of the blaze.

In conclusion, the Apollo Transco lacquer-production facility fire has dealt a severe blow to the vinyl industry. With the facility being one of only two known establishments capable of creating lacquer discs used to form vinyl master discs, it is uncertain how long it will take for the industry to recover. Vinyl manufacturers may have to look at other options to continue their production and keep the demand for vinyl records going. The Apollo Transco fire is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of vital industries and highlights the importance of robust safety measures.