Heathkit Educational Systems Closes Up Shop?
For the second time since 1992, Heathkit Educational Services (HES) has shuttered its doors. Rumors of the legendary kit-building company’s demise wereposted on QRZ.com, with several readers bringing the news to the attention of the ARRL. In August 2011, Heathkit announced it was returning to the kit building business, and in September, that it would once again be manufacturing Amateur Radio kits.
The ARRL tried to reach Heathkit to confirm that the company is still in business, but their phone and fax numbers have a continuous busy signal, and e-mails to the company have gone unanswered.
On LinkedIn, a popular networking site, HES Chief Executive Officer Lori Marciniak listed her employment ending at Heathkit as of March 2012. Likewise, Heathkit’s Marketing and Sales Director Ernie Wake listed hisemployment ending in April 2012. An unsubstantiated report on Wikipediastates that “[in] December 2011, Heathkit Educational Systems laid off most employees and in March 2012, the company indefinitely suspended operations.”
Tom Ferriter, of Technical Education Products, is an outside sales representative for HES, based in Hampden, Massachusetts. “Heathkit is telling us that they have temporarily closed, but that they are hopeful that they will be able to reorganize,” he told the ARRL. “While they’re not telling us too much, they did say that they were having poor sales for a myriad of reasons and are hopeful that they will be able to refinance the company and negotiate with the bank to refinance some of the debt.”
Pictured above, on a strangely related note, over on Evil Mad Scientist RobotGrrl is building a Heathkit.
30 thoughts on “Heathkit Educational Systems Closes Up Shop (Again?)”
This is a shame. Heath was a big deal in the ’60s and ’70s. I have several dozen electronic items from that era that were Heathkits and they’re of uniformly high quality. I understand it’s been quite a while since they produced kits for the consumer market. At one time they were big enough to have their own retail store in Detroit.
They had a retail store a few miles from my home in Massachusetts, too. I still shed a tear every time I pass the location.
That is too bad. In the 70’s I built a Heathkit 25 inch color TV, oscilloscope, and nixie tube multimeter as part of a correspondence course for the grand total of $140.00. And they all still work.
Thanks, GI Bill!
They still existed?! I had only ever heard them mentioned as something nostalgic from the 60s and 70s. It is sad that they didn’t manage to reinvent themselves during this new wave of DIY.
The market is there, the (heathkit) marketing isn’t.
From my understanding, they started out with a garage parking sensor and 1 or 2 other kits. Nothing substantial. They said they were going to get back into the Amateur Radio market after seeing a deluge of support from amateur radio operators, but I don’t think they actually did.
Shame, too, since there is a market for them both in amateur radio and in electronics (I saw someone above say they built an oscilloscope, that’s pretty cool!).
They’ll be nothing like the origonal Heathkit again.
it looks like they barely tried and were not willing to work through the growing pains that came with reopening the company.
[…] Part 1 of a Heathkit build. It is so cool. Also weird timing because the day I posted it, they also decided to shut down again. They must have seen the blog post and were terrified XD. The build is a lot of fun, so go read […]
I bought a Heathkit door bell a couple of years ago from Home Depot. It was already assembled but had a nice tone to it. I also bought a Heathkit motion light at the same time. I was hoping it was the start of more Heathkit products but I don’t think they understood how to tap the Maker market. Too bad… There are so many things they could have done to inspire people to have a second look at them. I would have loved to have worked on the campaign.
It’s quite possible that a company like the old Heathkit just can’t work today. There are plenty of companies still selling electronic kits: Ramsey, Velleman, Sparkfun, Lady Ada and more. Ramsey seems to come the closest to Heathkit, in that they sell enclosures along with the kit. But they’re based on standard enclosures, not custom-made like Heathkit’s, And no one has really ambitious kits like TVs or oscilloscopes.
I love the Heathkit brand – I assembled a few of their kits and still have one of them. But let’s not give the Heathkit managers a hard time for not re-creating the old company. There are plenty of maker-savvy businessmen around today who haven’t done it either.
[…] news that Heathkit has closed up shop (again) Chris Wittington remembers: That is too bad. In the 70′s I built a Heathkit 25 inch color TV, […]
I think if I was some electronic catalog company I would buy the company for the name and test the waters with three or four kits, because the original reason for the company is still out there
Even way back when, you could buy finish products at fair prices, and Heathkit prospered
I also miss the old Radio Shack and Lafayette companies of that era
Maybe Radio Shack of today might go back to that time to see how it is done, because now I only go to one when I need some connector right now, forcing me to over-pay, plus wait while the lone clerk sells a cellphone
I built many Heath ham radio kits. The manuals were the best out there for building the unit, aligning and testing it, and trouble shooting it if needed. I just rediscovered the HW22 I built years ago in my attic and will have it on the air again shortly. Great way to relive my youth!
I look at a modern Yaesu transceiver and can only wonder how they would put together a kit to equal a modern unit like that. But it would be a blast to build it!
Heathkit Educational Systems Closes Up Shop (Again?) | MAKE
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