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Anyone know the history of Estes?

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Hello,
I noticed that now Estes is a Centuri company. Anyone know the history of Estes? How many times did the company change hands. Also, with all the clone kits coming out. Are there any copyright problems with instructions and decals? I noticed some clone kits contain copies of the original instructions.

Brian
 

jflis

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Estes was privately owned by the Estes family until the early 70's when Damon bought both Estes and Centuri (at different times)

Over the coming years, Centuri was closed down in pieces with Estes picking up the slack, untill Centuri (as a rocket company) was no more. The overall corporate holdings (including Estes) were held by the Centuri Engineering Co, as the home of Centuri was Arizona and the tax laws there were more palitable.

To this day, all of the Estes holdings are inthe name of Centuri Engineering, even the trademarks for the logo and such.

Over the years, Estes/Centuri has been bought sold many times, but I don't have the full history. Many do and I'm sure more of it will come out in this thread.

jim
 

flying_silverad

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If there was ever a book or publication of the history of Estes/Centuri, I think alot of folks would own a copy. I know I would. When I was young, I always thought it would be cool to work for Estes.:D
 

shockwaveriderz

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don't forget that Estes/DAMON also absorbed COX Manufacturing....I have seen the logo Centuri-Cox on Estes stuff...
 

cydermaster

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Originally posted by flying_silverad
If there was ever a book or publication of the history of Estes/Centuri, I think alot of folks would own a copy.
Or a (auto)biography of Vern - I'm sure hes got some tales to tell!
 

flying_silverad

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Originally posted by cydermaster
Or a (auto)biography of Vern - I'm sure hes got some tales to tell!
EXACTLY!! Jim...you're pretty artistic with the quill and ink...what say you?
 

jpasqual

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I remember emailing Tom Beach of Sport Rocketry magazine after an article which interviewed Lee Piester of Centuri fame and asking him if he could interview Vern Estes of his experiences in Rocketry. That would be a great topic for us history buffs. I hope someone can convince Mr. Estes to do that interview
 

shockwaveriderz

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A resource that you might be interested in checking out is a Yahoo group called OldRockets..... there is always dicussions going on in there on various aspects of model rocketry history..

https://groups.yahoo.com/group/OldRockets/

For example, Model Missiles,Inc was founded by G.Harry Stine and Orville Carlisle. At first Orville was hand making the BP motors for the MMI kits. When consumer demand outstripped supply, G.Harry furst contracted out motor production to a fireworks manufacturer called Larry Brown of Brown Manufacturing Co. Well Mr.Brown had some problems (catos) making the BP motors and thats when Vern Estes was approached about making the motors. Vern very soon developed the worlds first automated motor making machine nicknamed "Mabel" and pretty soon motor supply was outstriping motor demand, so Vern Estes had the bright idea of going into the model rocket motor and kit building business for himself and the rest, as they say, is history.....

I might add that Larry Brown is the person responsible for 18mm x 70mm motors as the casings just happened to be the size of some common firework devices ......
The original Carlise hand made rock-a-chute motors sold by MMI were .5 x 2.25" ....
 

shockwaveriderz

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additional Estes History:

founded 1958 in Denver by Vern, building contractor.
Year later moved to Penrose to take advantage of space(lower land costs) and proximity to Highway 50. Sold company in 1969 to Damon Corp.

1990, Trust Corp of West Capital partners bought the company and turned it over to Barry Tunick who was a Hasbro exec who had been in charge of the Cabbage Patch dolls.

list of Tunick achievements:
Estes now employs 200, twice that of 1990.
revenues in 1990 were < 15 million, now $35 million
the company is profitable.
expanded distribution with Walmart, Kmart, and Toys'r'us, while
retaining hobby shop and mail order distribution
expanded product line with RTF and E2X "to appeal to time-starved families"
Acquired Cox.
 

jflis

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Originally posted by flying_silverad
If there was ever a book or publication of the history of Estes/Centuri, I think alot of folks would own a copy. I know I would. When I was young, I always thought it would be cool to work for Estes.:D
I was actually offered a job at Estes from Christine but had to turn it down. Estes offered me VP of Education with the function of traveling around the country introducing a course of study using model rocketry in the classroom. Developing the course of study would have been my first function.

I was seriously tempted and spent about 2 weeks turning it over, but in the end I had to say no... bummer, in a way :)

jim
 

jflis

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Originally posted by flying_silverad
EXACTLY!! Jim...you're pretty artistic with the quill and ink...what say you?
Interesting question... It would be interesting to pose the question to Vern this summer... I'll have to remember to bring it up
 

flying_silverad

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Too Cool. Working for Estes. I remember one of the catalogs...can't remember which year, had an aerial shot of the factory. I asked my mom if she would drive me out there when school was over and I could work there during the day and camp out at night. I think I was 8 or 9.
 

Gus

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One interesting thing about Estes is that the founder, Vern Estes, remains an icon in the rocketry community, yet the company he founded is now so faceless. Except for Christine, we never hear of anyone else at the company. Who's the president? Who are the designers? Who decides what models are coming out? What are they considering? Would they like some give and take from their custormers?

Are Estes employees all little Dilberts working anonymously in the bowels of some gigantic conglomerate? The Outlander and Renegade are great new kits. Who designed them? Mars Landers and Little Joe IIs sell for hundreds of dollars on Ebay. How come Estes doesn't reissue them?

On this forum we hear from lots of people involved in a multitude of rocket companies like Fliskits, Aerotech, Thrustline, Squirrel Works (I appologize to those I've left out). Hearing from these folks is what makes this forum so good, and is what keeps us interested in these companies' products.

I sure wish somebody from Estes (besides the wonderful Christine) would step out from behind the little OZ curtain and start to communicate a little more with the rocketry faithful.

Whooooo!!!

OK. Now I feel better.
 

DynaSoar

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Originally posted by jpasqual
I remember emailing Tom Beach of Sport Rocketry magazine after an article which interviewed Lee Piester of Centuri fame and asking him if he could interview Vern Estes of his experiences in Rocketry. That would be a great topic for us history buffs. I hope someone can convince Mr. Estes to do that interview
Some chapters about Vern, some about The Early Days, and some about the company, with pictures of course. Space between them some short essays from astronauts etc that got started with rocketry, and it'd be a historical work with interest well beyond present day rocketeers. After all, there's more than a couple pieces of Estes in the Smithsonian. It'd probably also bring in a major wave of BARs.

If I didn't have to stay at Yale and write science junk, I'd do it in a heartbeat.
 

shockwaveriderz

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gus:
actually there is a long time Estes employee who lurks in here and is taking the pulse of us rocketeers..her name is Mary Roberts....


Mary Roberts started working for Estes in 1973.....she holds one of the most complete histories in terms of historical documents not only of Estes Industries, but the NAR and G.Harry Stine to boot.... she know where all the bodies are buried.......


And our paths crossed back in the very early 70's and we didn't even know it...

Back in the very early 70's before she started working for Estes her husband was in the ARmy stationed out here at Ft.Knox,KY..... At that time I was living and playing out in Radcliff and Elizabethtown Ky.... Mary lived here in Elizabethtown,Ky for a few years back then....In fact the apartment that she lived in is only a few blocks from where I curently live.....


Estes is a TOY COMPANY now folks so we are going to have to deal with it.... the "golden age" of Estes has long been gone, about as long as Vern Estes has been gone from Estes Industries..... AT an Old Timers Reunion once, Vern was asked, if he had it to do all over again, would he change anything, and he replied, " I would not have sold Estes Industries"........
 

jpasqual

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I hold some bits and pieces of items I kept from the days when I started into rocketry back in the early 70's. I even have the original box in which my Alpha 3 kit came in - my first rocket - can't forget what a thrill it was to get something from Estes back in those days - I really hope someone can get a collection of old rocketry times and write a book or something on the subject. Maybe Vern can write a book on his experiences. I find this post to bring back some great old memories and I'm glad theres people sharing some of there experiences with the rest of us BAR's - Thanks guys
 
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