1) It is easy to start a speaker company. More seriously you'll find a lot of those companies are not big at all, and many sell expensive stuff. If they can just sell a few, they can survive. Hence instead of Fisher dominating the entire market* you have a super fragmentation into lots of little players.
2) *I once visited the factory outside L.A. where in the 70s and early 80s they manufactured Fisher speakers, and shipped them out in HUGE quantities. They had their own rail siding...which went INSIDE the factory!!
I was once part owner of a medium sized warehouse (about 80,000 sq ft). We had several tenants. One outfit was a 'cable' distributer (large scale electrical supply); another sculpted Styrofoam things, and then sprayed the finished product with some kind of lacquer. They could make anything that looked like anything else, mostly for use in large displays that could be moved around easily. Even faux columns (Doric, Ionic etc), sometimes used for 'upscale' entrance ways.
One outfit made loudspeakers--consisting of the owner and a few employees. This was the early '80s. His product (I don't want to give the name because of reasons) was visually first rate. Had his own woodworking shop, and made colorful lacquered cabinets to order. His designs were 'bookshelf' type. He bought drivers from wherever, stuffed the boxes, and shipped them out to wherever he could. The idea was to offer 'boutique' and upscale product, sold through salon's (back then there was no Internet direct sales). I didn't think he'd be able to get away with it, but he actually lasted about seven or eight years. Paid the rent on time, so everyone was happy. I think he was doing it because he had money from other sources, and it was a place he could 'get away' from his wife for long stretches. Funny thing is, I never heard his product (although he offered to give me a set. He did, however, make me a new set of grills after the foam on my L100 disintegrated).
With product robotically CNC stamped out in Indonesia, Malaysia, and China, I don't see how anyone would attempt anything like that in the US, today. A few outfits like Klipsch still make 'em the old way, by hand. I don't think you can easily stamp out a folded horn-- albeit using flimsy superthin veneers. The expense of hand made furniture (which is what they are) makes sales limited and costly.
Dick Pierce (who comes across as something of a curmudgeon--but is always worth paying attention to), wrote the following (sourced from one of the old Usenet forums):
I was fortunate (?) to visit the JBL facilities in and around Los Angeles, and there gave witness to some of the most incredible things I have ever seen.
First, who is the largest producer of electric fog-horns for use in marine navigation, such as lighthouses? Why, JBL, of course. They took over that title when the Wurlitzer Organ company gave up the ghost.
I was given the 50 cent tour of the factory. First, to the cabinetry department. Here is a model of reasonably efficient, good-quality high volume cabinetmaking. Panels are cut to size and routed using appropriate jigs. Glue is then spread on the joints and the cabinet is assembled and held together using gigantic rubber bands. The whole affair is popped into the woodworking equivalent of a microwave oven (actually, an MHF RF heater) and the glue is "cooked" for about 5 minutes, after which, the cabinet is ready for finishing.
So far, so good. The cabinets are inspected for any damage, and bad units rejected. So far, about $25 has been invested in a cabinet for something like a JBL L-100. Now the fun begins. The rejected cabinets, rather than being tossed away, are shuttled over to a room occupied by a bevy of middle-European craftsmen, who take the cabinets, sand off the veneer, and glue on a whole new veneer skin. This takes several hours per cabinet, and, as I later calculated, costs about $100 per repaired cabinet. Now, given a reject rate of about 20%, this means that it costs nearly $40 per cabinet when you spread the cost of repairs over the entire production run! Now you know why JBL products can be so expensive!
Now, the scandalous thing (to my mind) is that the latest and greatest L100 Classic is made in Malaysia (or thereabouts), using super modern manufacturing and super cheap labor, but sells for the about the same 'adjusted for inflation' price of the LA produced L100s from the '70s. LOL