"Damon" period at Estes
I've seen quite a few references to rockets from the "Damon" period at Estes. I'm assuming this Damon person was a designer at Estes who made particularly cool rockets - it seems I always see this tag on the more unique models (ie, not just 4FNC). Can someone fill me in on details? Is there a list anywhere of the models Damon designed? Is he/she still around and available to answer questions about that era at Estes?
And speaking of such things, where is Estes design work done now? I read somewhere (here or TRF) about a fellow who went down to Penrose and received a very un-warm welcome. Sounded like the building is about closed down. Since they were bought out (a while ago, I know) by some bigger company I'm wondering if most of the operations have been moved elsewhere. It'd be cool to see the new "HQ" since they are doing tours in Penrose any more.
Damon was a toy company that bought the company from Vern. I have no doubt that others will know all the details off the top of their head - the years it was owned by Damon, the effects of the sell out, and when the current owner bought it, etc.
I thought Damon made medical equipment. Maybe you're thinking about Toy Biz, who owned Quest for awhile.
Damon Engineering,Inc was a medical products company. They purchased Estes Industries,Inc in Spet 1969, until early 1990 when NOMAD Partners, the new owners of DAMON since January 1989 sold off Estes.
Mar 25, 1988 SmithKline's Bid for Lab Testing Firm Reflects Desire to Keep Top Spot in Field
Apr 6, 1988 Damon Corp. May Be Target Of Takeover Bid
Apr 14, 1988 Damon Corp.
Apr 25, 1988 Damon to Spin Off Biotechnology Unit To Its Shareholders
Jul 6, 1988 Damon Corp. Calls Proposal Too Low But Offers to Meet
Jul 7, 1988 Two Firms Drop Proposed Buy-Out Of Damon Corp.
Aug 17, 1988 American Magnetics And Partnership Plan Damon Corp. Offer
Aug 19, 1988 Nomad Partners L.P. Begins $200 Million Tender Offer
Aug 22, 1988 Damon Sues to Block Nomad Bid Alleging Stock Manipulation
Aug 24, 1988 Damon Holder Sues Over 'Poison Pill,' Magnetics Overtures
Sep 1, 1988 Damon Corp. Claims American Magnetics' Bid Threatens Spinoff
Sep 20, 1988 Damon Corp. Plan For Holders Rights Is Upheld by Court
Sep 29, 1988 Damon Holders Tender Over 50% Of Shares in Offer
Oct 7, 1988 Damon Seeks to Thwart Bid
Oct 12, 1988 Immediate Spinoff Of Damon Biotech Proposed by Nomad
Nov 7, 1988 Damon Corp. to Give Financial Information To Nomad Partners
Nov 14, 1988 Nomad Partners Extends Offer
Nov 23, 1988 Nomad Extends Damon Offer
Nov 30, 1988 Nomad Extends Offer
Dec 7, 1988 Nomad Partners Extends Offer for Firm to Monday
Dec 9, 1988 Damon Corp. Discusses Merger
Dec 22, 1988 Damon Says It Talks With a Second Suitor On Possible Takeover
Dec 27, 1988 Damon Corp.'s Talks With Possible Suitor Have Been Suspended
Dec 29, 1988 Nomad Extends Hostile Bid
Jan 3, 1989 Damon Corp.
Jan 17, 1989 Damon Tentatively Clears Acquisition By Nomad Partners
Feb 21, 1989 Damon Biotech Taps Terry for President, Chief Executive Posts
Apr 17, 1989 Damon Corp. Posts $7.6 Million Deficit For Its 2nd Quarter
May 31, 1989 Partnership Acquires Damon
Aug 11, 1989 Damon Biotech to Seek More Outside Funding
January 4, 1990 Partnership's Unit Will Sell Its Hobby Products Business
hope this helps
Hmmm, I didn't know that's what Damon did when it wasn't buying a toy company.
Go to page 4 at
where Vern explains his rationale at the time for selling the company.
Damon made medical equipment and supplies, but they also had a division that was a competitor to Edmund Scientific. In fact, there was some cross promotion in 1970 as Estes customers were sent a Damon Education catalog and Damon Education customers were sent Estes catalogs. IIRC there was even a joint catalog at some point.
In the mid 80's they were known for their biomedical testing equipment (i think their cash cow was diabetic tests), and they were one of the first companies to bring out a simplified test for HIV. I think at that point some of the management saw a potential for being able to print money, and that's where Shockie's time line kicks in.
Don't forget that Damon also bought Centuri, with both companies co-existing until Centuri shut down around 1983. Toward the end, the companies became more and more intertwined with several identical product offerings.
Yes... but it was more of a 'merger' than Centuri 'shutting down'... go to http://www.ninfinger.org/~sven/rockets/rockets.html and scroll down and check out the last couple or three Centuri catalogs... You'll find that the last Centuri catalog is produced EXACTLY like the Estes catalog of the time. The layout, symbols, everything except the products (most of them, interestingly enough the Pola-Pulse (Estes) launch controller is an exact duplicate of the Power-Pulse (Centuri) controller). If you read the last three, you'll see that about 1/3 of the Centuri line had been dropped by the time of the last catalog. Now Centuri was before my time, but I've really been enjoying reading all their old catalogs and stuff. Both companies were owned by Damon and Centuri was simply 'absorbed' into Estes and faded away...
Now to the orignal question... when people refer to the "Damon era" they're referring the changes made to the Estes products/company after Damon bought them out, as compared to when the company was owned/operated by Vern Estes. There was a marked change in the appearance, quality, quantity, direction, etc. of Estes products after the buyout from before. I got started during the Damon period so it's hard to speak firsthand, but I've talked to people about and read alot about 'the old Estes' and there were a lot of changes, both good and bad. Overall I didn't see it as a bad thing, just different, but then again I wasn't accustomed to the 'Vern Estes' Estes either, so other's will probably differ. I HAVE seen and experienced the difference between the Damon Estes and the current post-Damon Estes and I personally feel there has been a reemphasis that I don't particularly care for personally, but that makes sense to their board of directors/parent company and makes a good business case for them.
You're probably referring to my posts about my visit to Penrose and my observations of the appearance of their facilities and finding only a speaker and locked door and a semi-polite brushoff. Meh, that's a common thing now; direct 'personal' contact is out, even amongst individual people, so why should we expect companies to be any different.... I didn't mean to imply they were about to close the doors or anything, but my wife, who was a retail manager for many years, commented that the unkept appearance of their facilities is usually a sign of a business in trouble. May be a sign of a business about to be relocated to China or something... I don't know... But I DO know that it's an interesting contrast between the impersonal customer-disconnected Estes we now have (as others have pointed out in their elimination of their customer service phone lines to Christine ) and the personal friendly customer-oriented approach taken by Tim Van Milligan over at Apogee 40 miles away in Colorado Springs, and from what others have said, Quest over a hundred miles west or so, and from personal experience Semroc, who is also a VERY customer-service oriented business, as well as Dr. Zooch and others. IMHO the main thing Estes has going for them with most rocketeers is that they're the largest motor manufacturer out there. If it weren't for that, IMHO I think they'd be seen as a largely irrelevant 'toy company' by most rocketeers. Tim Van Milligan used to work as a designer for Estes, and I'd bet he has some interesting stories to tell, though he probably wouldn't...
Hope that helps... I hope some of the 'graybeards' will tell us more about the 'pre-Damon' Estes, since that was before my time. Check out those catalogs at ninfinger, I've really enjoyed reading them! OL JR :)
hey, ol' jr, didn't i see you over at TRF?! Guess this is a pretty small community we're in, eh?
Thanks to everyone for the details. I've read a few articles on Vern and the beginnings of Estes (including the article linked to above) and I have to say I wish I'd been a rocketeer back then (I was 6 in 1969 and didn't even know model rockets existed, sad to say). I really like what I hear/read about Vern's approach to the hobby and business in general - the level of customer service they provided should be the standard. I enjoy many of the modern Estes rockets but I'm not impressed with the company - their motiviation is clearly on profit with customer service at the lowest level they can get away with. Many of the modern rockets also seem very toy like. The RTF models are particularly lame!
Right now I'm really enjoying learning about the older Estes models and beginning to collect them. I'd love to collect the entire catalog but not sure that's possible even with eBay - some models just don't seem to be available and the old ones are dang expensive! I'm sure I will wind up cloning some of the oldest ones. And of course, while Estes has a strong appeal as one of the oldest and most prolific companies, there are other companies whose catalogs are equally if not more creative and important to the hobby that I would like to collect as well. No doubt this can be a life long pursuit that I'll never really finish - which is half the fun! And at some point my wife may draw the line as the collection takes over the house!
"Centuri" is a company name.
Centuri was not absorbed by Estes. Centuri did not shut down.
Centuri corporation actually owned (and may still own - don't know how it's currently structured in the "Estes-Cox" era) Estes.
Centuri corp simply stopped making Centuri branded rocket products for retail sale. Look at the Estes catalogs and copright info in the not-so-distant-past. They say "Centuri corp."
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