By WB0RUR, on the scene
BENTON HARBOR, Michigan — Greg Huntersfeld says it was the job of a lifetime.
“It was great!” exclaims the Hattenborough, Michigan, ham who was hired by radio manufacturer Heathkit to keep the company’s Benton Harbor manufacturing facility clean.
The world-famous company reopened for business late Wednesday afternoon. It went out of business later the same day.
“My job lasted 53 minutes,” says Huntersfeld, dejected at the prospect of finding new employment.
“The only ‘kit’ we sold was a box of spare parts I found behind a bookcase: a faceplate from an HW-101, a big meter from a 1960’s era tube tester, and a loading coil from an SB-220.”
“I threw in some other odds and ends, too – like a handful of Sweet-N-Low packets and a Lipton tea bag I found in the break room.”
The revived company designed a business plan focusing on new technology and innovation – but fell gloriously short of the goal.
Company President Spiro Crosby declared Heathkit back in business less than an hour before he declared it out of business.
“This ceremony heralds the beginning of a glorious return to radio manufacturing for Heathkit!” he stated.
“We are prepared to announce the development of – are you ready for this – a-state-of-the-art solid state transceiver! That’s right! NO vacuum tubes, folks!”
Immediately after making what he thought was a ground breaking announcement, reporters informed Crosby that solid state transceivers are now commonplace. The 68-year-old executive then declared the company bankrupt and asked the reporters to leave promptly.
But Huntersfeld, the janitor, was convinced to stay a few more minutes to clean up after the press conference debacle.
“It’s okay,” says Huntersfeld philosophically. “The reporters hardly touched the grand opening cake at all. In about 15 years, think about how much each piece will fetch on eBay!”
No word from Heathkit officials if the company will attempt to make yet another and hopefully longer-lived comeback in the future.