Amateur Electronic Supply (AES) will close its doors at the end of July after 59 years in business. No reason has been given for the decision to close the business. AES has been a premier player among Amateur Radio equipment retailers for decades, as well as a major presence at Dayton Hamvention® and other events. Various media outlets were informed of the closing in a brief e-mail message on July 6, but word of the closing has not yet appeared on the retailer’s website or Facebook page.
“It’s with great sadness that I have to tell you that Amateur Electronic Supply (AES) will cease operations at the end of this month,” AES National Sales Manager Tom Pachner, W9TJP, said in an e-mail. An employee at the Milwaukee headquarters store, who did not wish to be identified, confirmed that the message was legitimate. It’s believed that the AES staff was notified before the July 4th holiday weekend. In addition to the Milwaukee store, AES operates outlets in Cleveland (Wickliffe), Las Vegas, and Orlando.
Fond-du-Lac, Wisconsin, native Terry Sterman, W9DIA (SK), founded AES in 1957 when he was just 18, after getting into the radio-TV business by working in his father’s TV and electronics parts store. On January 1, 1998, ownership of AES shifted to Amateur Electronic Supply LLC, headed by Phil Majerus, a prominent Wisconsin businessman. Sterman died the following year at the age of 60, after a period of ill health.
For many years, the public face of AES was its Executive Vice President Ray Grenier, K9KHW, who oversaw marketing and advertising for the retailer from 1964 until his retirement in 2013. Grenier nearly singlehandedly produced the famous AES catalog, as well as magazine ads. For about 20 years, he also organized the well-received AES Superfest, a promotional effort begun in 1995 that grew into a hamfest. In April, the AES Superfest hosted the 2016 ARRL Wisconsin Section Convention.
Many radio amateurs reacted to the news on various online forums, expressing surprise, sadness, and dismay, and saying they would miss AES. A few reminisced about having bought their first radios from AES.