|History of Howard Electronics
Howard Electronics was started in April of 1946 as a sole
proprietorship by my father, Mr. Fred Howard, and my mother, Mrs. Ruby Howard.
The main business during those times was repair of five-tube radios, irons,
toasters, and, due to my father's electrical background, he was able to rewind
electric motors. Times were tough back then, but in 1953 television arrived
Wichita and my father, like all other technicians in the area, started
learning how to repair televisions. Our only station at that time was in
Oklahoma City, which is 150 miles away. That meant there was a business in
long-range antennas and towers. As soon as Wichita received its first TV
station, then customers required a rotor on that long-range antenna. Soon Wichita
had three TV stations well established and the sales and service of
television and installation of antennas flourished. I worked after hours
with my Dad running TV calls on weekdays after school and installing
antennas on the weekends, until joining the Air Force in 1959.
In 1963, the Federal Communications Commission established
a radio frequency band called the Citizens Band. Use was light back then, but
my father was very interested in communications so he started selling, using
and repairing CB Radios. We then became "Kansas' Oldest CB Center" and that
title still stands today.
In 1970, I returned to work for my father, for pay this
time. The business now had two families to support. It was soon apparent
that due to the size of televisions compared to the size of the shop my
father built, we could not turn enough televisions through the small
shop to support two families.
Then came CB Radio. We decided in 1972 that for every TV
that was stored in our small shop, we could store fifty CBs in the same
location. We no longer had to break our backs lifting the large TV chassis.
So the decision was made to sell and service CB radios exclusively. That
turned out to be a very good decision as around 1974 there was a CB
explosion. Everyone jumped on the CB bandwagon and had to own one. Also it
seemed like everyone wanted to sell them. Manufacturers could not keep up
with the demand. Some manufacturers were pumping out a million CBs a month
and there were still not enough to go around.
Then came the FCC in 1978 to crack down on the way
manufacturers designed their CBs and to introduce 40-channel CBs instead of
the usual 23 channels. The FCC imposed stringent rules on the way CBs were
designed and most manufacturers decided not to build
CBs after that. The field then went from about 107 CB manufacturers down to about
6 major manufacturers. Knowing what the FCC can do to the CB business, I felt
that we had better have something to fall back on in case something would
happen to CB. Along came cordless phones, which were being built by the same
manufacturers that had survived the CB bust. We had another great ride
selling and servicing cordless phones and again we were able to establish
ourselves as Kansas' first full service cordless phone dealer. After about
10 years, cordless phones were becoming too expensive to repair and without
service, we would not be able to compete in the sales market, so we called
it quits on cordless phones.
During that same time, CBs were making a comeback and most
of the CB shops had gone out of business. It then became very lucrative for
us to be in the CB business again. We performed sales, service and installs
of mobile equipment. We have since closed the CB
business in 2003 and moved into our new location where we have plenty of
room to grow. We now dedicate all of our time to improving the HEI website
and trying to make it the best Soldering and Desoldering Website Distributor
in the World.
In 1992, a salesman by the name of Bob Wells of Wells and
Associates came by and
left a desoldering tool with me. He told me to try it out and let him know
what I thought of it as he was just starting to represent the company. I
already owned three desoldering tools that I had purchased from a discount
distributor to the tune of $500 apiece. These three desoldering tools
were working, but as the circuit boards became smaller, the desoldering
tools were doing more and more damage to the PC boards. The little desoldering
tool that he left did not look like much and I was busy and reluctant to use
it. Finally one day I tried it out and I could not believe what I was
seeing. This tool would allow us to desolder a 100 pin, through-hole chip, and
after we would desolder the last pin, the IC would fall out on the bench. It
was totally unbelievable to say the least. This tool was very new to the
market so I decided that if I was so blown away by the performance of this
tool, there should be a lot of other technicians who would drool over it as
I was so very right. The National Sales Manager for the
manufacturer made me a deal that I could not refuse so I decided to give it
a try. As it happened, I was able to exhibit at a trade show sponsored by an
organization that I had been a member of for a number of years. I was able
to sell all of the tools that I had originally ordered and then some. We
started a one-third-page ad in Electronics Now and they started selling
quite fast. Also to our surprise, we were selling all over the world. It
really was an amazing little tool and still is today. They have made a few
improvements, but for the most part it is still the same tool that we still
In 1995, we became "Distributor of the Year" on this tool
and have been the leading distributor every year since. By the way, the tool
DEN-ON SC7000Z and it still is the best desoldering tool that I have
found. Since that time, we have expanded our business many times to include
all phases of soldering,
SMD rework, including
solder paste, lead-free wire solder, eutectic
wire solder, solder bars, flux,
extractors, hot air guns,
hot glue guns,
technicians' magnifying work lights,
vacuum pickup tools, and
IR rework machines. We
are constantly looking for new tools for our customers in the soldering and
desoldering line. We only handle tools that meet with our approval. That way
we can safely offer our 60-day money-back guarantee. We also purchase direct
from the manufacturer when possible, whereby we are able to offer our low-price guarantee.
Since the inception of Howard Electronic Instruments, Inc.
in 1992, we have accumulated well over 15,000 customers in our database, many of
which are the leading electronic manufacturers around the world. We are very
proud to say that we have done business with a very large percentage of the Fortune
and Global 500 companies of the world. We are also proud to have added almost every
University and College in North America, and many around the world, to our list of customers.
We got our
Internet site up and running in 1996 and also had a way of purchasing
directly from our web site through e-mail. It was not very secure back then
because everything was so new, but we are very proud to say that now we are
as secure as technology will let us. We have done everything to make
our web site as secure as possible, so purchasing on the site will be a very
gratifying experience. We have tried to make it as flexible as
possible so a first time buyer can feel at home, or we can meet the
requirements of the large corporations purchasing on the web site.
We now have a very formidable line of soldering, desoldering,
and associated products and can meet all levels of application and every
budget from the professional to the experimenter. We will continue to
specialize in soldering and desoldering products for the professional
technician, engineer, and manufacturer and will continue to grow our
line to include all tools, including test and measurement instruments.
We will continue to remain small enough and flexible enough to
support the needs of our customers, yet large enough and dedicated enough to meet
the demands of our most demanding clientele. We will also continue to invest
heavily in the Internet as that is surely the wave of the future. We are
proud to have been one of the pioneers in our field for Internet shopping.
Should you have any particular thing that you would wish us
to carry on the web site, please give me a call at the toll free number
listed below or send me an e-mail at
Thank you very much for supporting our business. We will continue to do our
best to be worthy of it.
Jerry Howard and the family at Howard Electronic Instruments, Inc.