The People behind the Amplifiers
The biggest the story behind the name Magnatone is of the people that made them possible. In the cases of many of those people, their stories go well past the the history of Magnatone, so I've included some additional biographical information below.
Dates are listed in (parentheses) and may not be 100% accurate. If you have information about someone on this list, or someone who should be on this list, please contact me.
|Al J. Allen||Service Dept. Torrance; National service manager, Harmony (1966).|
|Tom Ames||receiving, Torrance.|
|Jim Ashe||metal shop, Torrance.|
|Paul Barth||Guitar designer and engineer (1958-60,1964-68).|
|John R. Bartholomew||Engineer (1956-1961) Chief Engineer (1961-1963).|
|Joe Benaron||President, Thomas Organ Co.|
|Don Bonham||engineer (1957-1961?).|
|Arnold Bernhard||Chairman of the Board of Directors, Estey 1958-1961|
|Paul Bossert||engineer (1967)|
|Don Bergstrom||mechanical engineer (Torrance and Harmony), production supervisor (harmony).|
|Jimmy Bryant||guitar consultant, 1960s.|
|Arnold R. Buckles||VP of Production, part owner, director (1957-1959).|
|Lee Burch||woodshop, assembly line (1958-1959).|
|Frances Casey||sales and service coordinator, Westbury.|
|F. Roy Chilton||President (1957-1960).|
|Rual Cogswell||General Operations Manager (1961-1965).|
|W.E. Combs||Plant manager of Estey Musical Inst. Corp. (1967).|
|Monte Craviss||management, Torrance|
|Tish Cunningham||administrative, Harmony|
|Charles J. Daniels||vice-president of Production (1959), Chief mechanical engineer (1959).|
|Carl Dickerson||employee, Dickerson Inst.|
|Delbert J. Dickerson||owner, inventor, Dickerson Inst.|
|Arthur E. Duhamell||President, Owner (1947-1957).|
|Estel V. Duhamell||Director of Sales (1950-1955).|
|James Evans||engineer (1962-1965), western regional service manager (1966)|
|William Foster||sales coordinator, Harmony.|
|Don Garvin||QA testing, engineer (1966-1968).|
|Ralph Greer||engineer (1961-1963).|
|Stanley Green||President (1961-1968).|
|Veronica "Ronnie" Gross||Sales supervisor (1966); Eastern Sales Manager of Estey (Mar.1967).|
|Alfred "Al" Hamel||consultant (1965) General Operations Manager (1965-)|
|Fred Heyden||director of engineering (1962-1964)|
|Roy Hunt||sales consultant (1963-1966).|
|Nathan Hellman||Vice-President, engineer, part owner (-1957).|
|Tony Jerome||National Sales Manager (1963-1965).|
|Irving Kappy||President of both ORCOA and Estey Tape Recorder Divisions (1963).|
|Rob Klembus||draftsman and designer, New Kensington.|
|Saul "Sonny" Knazick||Vice President, ORCOA and Estey 1961-1968.|
|Fred G. Krueger||Engineering consultant, Estey Electronics (1959-1961).|
|Bill Layton||engineer, Harmony.|
|Jay Levine||director, shareholder, ORCOA and Estey (1960-1968); Board chairman, Electro-Learner (1969).|
|Gary Loeffler||quality control, Torrance.|
|Larry Ludwick||design engineer (1964-1966).|
|A.B. McMahan||employee, Dickerson Inst.|
|J.M. McClintock||President, 1965-1968.|
|Louis G. MacKenzie||Chief Engineer, Magna Electronics (1951). Also associated with Musicast, Inc (Muzak) in the mid 1950's and later formed MacKenzie Electronics, Inc.|
|Henri Milano||Accordonist, National Sales Manager of Estey (Mar.1967).|
|Anthony J. Price||chief engineer, engineering executive, national sales manager (1962-1966)|
|AL Rosenberg||Eastern regional service manager (1966).|
|Arthur R. Schmoyer||inventor, 20.7% shareholder, Electro-Learner. (1969).|
|William Souweine||VP for Marketing and Sales for Estey (1963).|
|Dick Stuber||purchasing agent,(-1963-)|
|Jim Stineman||maintenance, Torrance.|
|Bob Thweatt||cabinet shop, Torrance.|
|Maurice Varin||tool and die shop (1959-1965 minimum).|
|Joseph F. Walsh||VP of sales (1958-1959).|
|Bob Warren||engineer (Torrance) chief mechanical engineer (Harmony -1968)|
Arnold Bernhard became famous in the financial world for his method of normalizing the values of different size companies for the purpose of picking investments. This work was done through his two companies, The Value Line Fund, Inc. and later, the Arnold Bernhard & Co. Inc. Bernhard rescued Estey from bankruptcy in 1950's and as Chairman of the Board for Estey, acquired Magna Electronics in 1959.
John R. Bartholomew
Jack Bartholomew was hired by Magna as an engineer in 1956. He was promoted to Chief Engineer in 1961 and held that position until early 1963. Following his service in World War II as an Air Force pilot, Bartholomew was a design engineer for north American Aviation Corp. He was also responsible for several custom sound installations in southern California including organs and sound equipment at Disneyland, and his installation of a concert model organ and 22 tone cabinets in the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Jimmy Bryant was a professional guitarist in the 1950s and 1960s. Initially, his relationship to Magnatone was as an endorsing artist, but he was eventually hired as a consultant. He performed at Magnatone shows and events, and held clinics where he demonstrated both guitars and amplifiers for impressed crowds. In the summer of 1967, Bryant became a product consultant for Vox. Whether or not his relationship with Magnatone ended coincident with this move, or prior to it is unknown.
Arnold R. Buckles
Arnold "Buck" Buckles was a share holder and
vice-president of operations for
Magna Electronics from 1957 to about 1960.
Joe Benaron brought him to Los Angeles to manage all production
facilities for Pacific-Mercury Television Corp in early 1956.
The following year, Buckles, along with Roy Chilton and a few other investors
at Pac-Merc bought the already established Magna Electronics.
At Magna, Buckles was VP for operations and ran all aspects of the Inglewood facility. In 1959, perhaps coincident with the sale of Magna to Estey, Buckles sold his stake and opened a business, ARBCO, in the San Fernando valley manufacturing printed circuit boards.
Rual Cogswell, Jr.
Hired as the General Operations Manager of Estey Electronics, Inc. in 1961. Previously employed by Magnavox in Torrance. He held this position until 1965 when we was replaced by Al Hamil. Cogswell died in 2009.
There isn't a lot of concrete information about Nathan Hellman that I've been able to collect (but this is what I believe to be true). In the late forties, Nate Hellman worked for George and Victor Trad as an chief engineer at Tradio, Inc. in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Tradio sold coin operated radios for restaurants called the Tradiola as well as Tradiovision television sets, and something called the Tradio-ette. Prior to that, Hellman worked for Ainsley Radio and Fada Radio. He relocated to southern california sometime between 1948 and 1955 or so. It is unclear when he became a part owner of Magna Electronics (he could have been partners with Duhamell from the beginning), but by the time of the sale of Magna in Jan 1957, Hellman was part owner and Vice President.
After the sale to Chilton and group of investors, Hellman ran a wholesale electronics and radio supply store in Los Angeles called Dow Radio. He was president, and Art Duhamell was vice president. Hellman died in 1965 at the age of 48. He was married and had at least one child.
Byron Roy Hunt moved to Riverside California from Indianapolis in the 1930s. He was the manager at a retail music store for many years. Either in the late 1950s or early 1960s he was hired by Magna/Estey as a sales consultant. His employment/consultancy continued even after Estey moved to Harmony, although Hunt never moved from Southern California. Hunt was an organ and accordion guy, and did what he could to steer Estey in that direction in the 1960s. (Hunt not to be confused with theatre proprietor Roy C. Hunt, also from Riverside).
In 1964, Estey was rescued from bankruptcy by Commerical Credit Corp. (CCC), Estey's chief creditor via Commerical's subsidiary, the Textile Banking Co. Through restructuring the company, CCC installed board directors and influenced the decision to remove Stan Green as president. In 1965, Jack McClintock, a professional executive, was elected president. Unlike Green, McClintock was much more involved in day to day operations at Estey, and was respected by engineers for this professionalism and involvement. The most significant change to occur during the McClintock years was the move from Torrance to Harmony. By October 1968, McClintock had moved on and was Vice President of the nearby Will-Burt Co.'s fabrication division. Later, in the seventies I believe he started a boat manufacturing business, J.M.McClintock & Co., first starting with aluminum and fibreglass canoes and expanding into small sailboats.
Anthony J. Price
Tony Price started at Estey in 1962 as an electronics engineer. Downsizing eliminated several senior engineering positions ahead of him, and in 1963 Tony was named engineering manager of Estey. As lead engineer of the M-series Custom Series, he oversaw the development and design of the amplifier line. He also helped develop the Starstream series guitars with Paul Barth in 1964, of which the vibrato mechanism was patented in his name. Price moved with the company to Harmony, but with the product line well established, Estey's Director of operations, Jack McClintock, promoted him to National Sales Manager. This involved lots of travel for regular visits to distributors. In 1966, Price left Estey to work for ESB, Inc.