Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wilcox-Gay gets Majestic

Wilcox was just a little company in in Charlotte Michigan making radios and transcription recorders. They started out around 1910 manufacturing amateur radio components and kits at an office on West Lawrence Ave in Charlotte. In the 1926 they branched out into consumer radios. In 1931 Paul Gay joined the company forming Wilcox-Gay Corp. They moved into the old Bennett furniture factory and expanded into tape decks, reel-to-reel, televisions, police radios, and record players. More here.They launched the Recordio in 1939 which was a major coup. It was advertised to the middle class in both Ebony and Life Magazine and it sold well. It recorded 78 rpm transcriptions with decent fidelity. Musicians recorded on these machines including Les Paul and Johnny Cash. In 1939 they sold 25,00 units. But the world was beginning to adopt magnetic tape and the great depression was hurting them.

In 1950 Leonard Ashbach of the Leonard Ashbach Company acquired a controlling interest in Wilcox-Gay. The Ashbach Company already owned Garod and Grundig. Simultaneously Ashbach was privately funding Jack Eigen, a WMGM host turned real estate developer opening social clubs on Manhattan.
One of the first things Ashbach did was arrange for Wilcox-Gay to purchase Majestic Radio and television to fully merge the 3 companies he was heading. It was prudent and it consolidated a signifigant portion of American radio manufacturing. Ashbach dropped the Majestic brand and in 1955 modified the Grundig branding to be "Grundig-Majestic."
More here.

The Feds have had a lot to say over the years to Leonard Ashbach.
-1954 Leonard Ashback Co. Vs. Lear Inc; Abatement.
-1955 Birnbaum Vs. Wilcox-Gay Corp. Abatement.
-1956 Wilcox-Gay declares chapter 11 bankrupcy
-1965 Nichimen Co. Vs. Leonard Ashbach fraud judgement
-1970 SEC injunction against the sale of unregistered stock
-1973 enjoined by the SEC for fraud

In 1960 they re-located to 743 LaSalle Street in Chicago. It was probably related to their 6 year saga trying to get out of bankruptcy. In 1961 they got up from under the SEC and promptly Ashbach changed the company's name from Wilcox-Gay Corp to Wilcox-Gay-Majestic Electronics Corp. But only 2 years later they declared bankruptcy again and this time were gone for good. Some sources put their closure as 1958 but magazine ads can easily be found to the 1960s more aligning with the 1961 chapter 7 filing with the SEC.

But Ashbach wasn't done. After sinking Wilcox-Gay he moved to Encino California and got a job heading up Monarch Electronics in North Hollywood. There in 1967 he relaunched the Majestic brand to make 8-track cassette tapes. In 1969 their subsidiary Concertone started making those flimsy mini cassettes. But in 1973 the SEC spanked him again for fraud. The trail ends there.