The wonderful history of the Curtis Mathes Company
A company that cared about the product it made and the people it gave service to was an American trait. The merits of the product, however, couldn't save Curtis Mathes. The rest of the American TV makers moved as far away from Dallas and the rest of the country as possible. Some were swallowed up by international conglomerates; some exist today only as brand names. Curtis Mathes filed for bankruptcy.
The company, under new ownership, tried to regroup in the middle 90s under the name "UniView" with a WebTV-like box — before WebTV, even — but nothing came of it. UniView still exists, still working on set-top technology and other neat stuff, but what brings in the money these days is, of all things, television — sets imported from the Pacific Rim and sold at Kmart stores under the Curtis Mathes brand. Obviously the "most expensive" tag won't play in the land of the BlueLight Special.
The roots of today’s uniView Technologies Corporation and the once great Curtis Mathes Company are traced back to 1899 with the founding of the Olive & Myers Manufacturing Co. and Houston spin-off Myers-Lottman Co. (later to become Myers-Spalti).
Engaged in the production of quality household furniture and mattresses for nearly sixty years, they became the two strongest furniture manufacturers in the Southwest.
While the furniture business grew in Dallas and Houston, Curtis Mathes and his older brothers were amassing a reputation for the distribution of automotive parts and the manufacture of tractor lighting equipment and automobile storage batteries in the West Texas town of Plainview. In early 1920, Curtis Mathes organized The Mathes Company.
Building on his experience as a direct salesman for Philco of Pennsylvania, the newly formed Company was named a distributor of Philco products for the West Texas area. However, the Philco radio was so new that no retailer would take on the Philco line, even in the bustling city of Amarillo, so the Mathes Company opened its first retail store. As a distributor and retailer, Mathes’ new retail store out-traded, out-advertised and generally out-valued competition. In less than a year, the Philco brand moved into first place in Amarillo and within two years absolutely dominated the area. This established the Mathes Company strategy of choosing its territory and always finding a product and market niche.
During the 1930's, the Company expanded into evaporative coolers and safety fans. During World War II, the Company bought Hub Furniture Co., a supplier of wood cabinets for Mathes coolers, and focused on the manufacture of Mathes Mastercraft furniture.
Following the war, the Philco brand was discontinued and full attention was given to the Curtis Mathes line. The Company further expanded into plywood production, residential cooling and heating equipment.
With each addition, the Curtis Mathes organization gained additional experience in woodworking, metalworking and electronics, as well as in the business of retail, manufacturing and distributing.
In the spring of 1955, the Mathes Company was sold to Glen Alden Co. of Wilkes Barre, PA.
In 1957, Curtis Mathes & Associates purchased a major interest in the Olive-Myers-Spalti Manufacturing Co. The new firm, called Curtis Mathes Manufacturing Company, combined its decades of furniture building and electronics experience, first to enter the hi-fi business and, in 1959, the television industry.
With these changes, Curtis Mathes started its tradition of combining top quality video and audio products housed in fine furniture. Just four years later, the Company entered the world of color television, beginning the era in which the Company became a household name.
Curtis Mathes was the first manufacturer to offer a completely solid-state product line, with an unprecedented four-year warranty.
Curtis Mathes, Jr. purchased the company from the shareholders.
Curtis Jr. began demonstrating what would become another hallmark of the Company: heavy use of advertising to position and promote products.
That year, an $18 million advertising investment yielded sales of more than $152 million. Millions of Americans came to know that Curtis Mathes was..."The most expensive television in America, and darn well worth it!"
Curtis Mathes established ColorTyme, a home entertainment rental company, to meet the increasing demands for quality home entertainment equipment.
The Company began franchising its name across the country, the corporate headquarters were moved from Athens to Dallas and the Company’s manufacturing plant in Athens, Texas was sold.
Employee Stock options 1983, one could build up quite an investment in the Company.
The entire Company was sold and relocated back in Athens.
After being sold again the year before, the Company was acquired by Enhanced Electronics Corporation; on November 8, the Company’s stock was first listed on the NASDAQ Small Cap Market as CRTM.
COMPANY NEWS; ENHANCED ELECTRONICS TO BUY CURTIS MATHES
Published: October 14, 1993. The Enhanced Electronics Corporation said yesterday that it would buy the Curtis Mathes Corporation, a television maker once known for its expensive sets. Enhanced Electronics also said it would purchase WRC Inc., the repair affiliate of Curtis Mathes. Neither purchase price was disclosed. Curtis Mathes now sells and rents audio and video equipment manufactured under its name by other companies. The company, based in Garland, Tex., once employed 3,500 people and now has 50. Enhanced Electronics, based in Dallas, said it would resurrect the Curtis Mathes reputation as a manufacturer of high-quality products "that are the most expensive in the world," said Phil Scheldt, the company's chief financial officer.
Enhanced Electronics Corporation officially changed the Company’s name to Curtis Mathes Holding Corporation to reflect its commitment to the Curtis Mathes brand name.
Subsidiary Curtis Mathes Marketing Corporation began development of uniView technology, a proprietary, computer-enhanced television technology that allows viewers to "surf" the Internet, receive faxes and e-mail, search for movies or other programs based on subjects, stars or ratings. This unprecedented convergence of communications capabilities into a single device set the direction for both the Company and the home entertainment industry for many years to come.
Curtis Mathes Holding Corporation becomes uniView Technologies Corporation and restructures to incorporate two divisions: the Technologies Division containing the uniView and uniView Xpressway technology, and a new Curtis Mathes Division containing the Curtis Mathes brand name. As uniView Technologies Corp., the company continues the development and implementation of innovative hardware technologies and solutions to license for a variety of niche markets including education, banking, hospitality, telemedicine, home office and consumer electronics.
uniView Technologies Corporation made three acquisitions: CNS, CNSS and Network America. These purchases bring the most critical resource needed for continued growth in the high tech industry, PEOPLE. The staff in these three companies enriches the technical level of the company to a new unprecedented level and allows uniView Technologies to deliver the only end to end solution. This new company structure for uniView Technologies now includes the uniView Technologies Product Group and the uniView Technologies Advanced Systems Group, with Network America and CNSS as self contained subsidiaries.
We now know the golden year for Curtis Mathes Company was 1961.
History has shown that the golden era for the Curtis Mathes Company was the early 1960's; back when everything was made at the plants in Texas by folks that had pride in what they were making. All the rest has just been an attempt to recapture that age