Electronics business sees many changes

January 10, 2019

SCOTTSBLUFF — Most locals will be familiar with the red D&H Electronics sign, featuring its classic General Electric logo. That’s because the sign has been at the same location on Broadway in Scottsbluff for the past 50-plus years.

Specializing in electronic parts and equipment, the business goes back even farther to Joachim Radio, opened by Byron Joachim at the Broadway location in 1936.

For the next 30 years, the business specialized in radio repair and selling radio parts. They also sold and installed public address systems.

Television repair was added to the lineup by the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The name change to D&H Electronics came in 1966 when the business was purchased by Bernard Dougherty and Henry Henkel. Three ownership changes were to follow over the years.

David Wimmer had been working at D&H since 2002. When the opportunity to become the owner surfaced in 2017, he went for it.

“Just since I’ve been here, the business has changed 180 degrees,” Wimmer said. “I got started in the electronics business in 1981 and we were still selling a bunch of radio tubes. Transistors were fairly new.”

Wimmer started out with Scott Electronics in Lincoln at a time when the area still had lots of manufacturing, so electronic parts were in demand.

Heading west to the valley in 1992, Wimmer first purchased TNC Electronics in Gering.

“We knew how to sell stuff but had no idea about the business,” he said. “We lasted until about our first anniversary.”

Although he left the area for a while, Wimmer ended up back in the area working for D&H Electronics in 2002.

“The biggest change for this business is network products,” he said. “I hadn’t even heard the term when I started here. Now we’re connecting home and business computer systems to work together. That’s our main thrust today.”

The business also changed as miniaturization of electronic parts changed the clientele.

“We used to have a lot of hobbyists that would build their own equipment and there were electronic classes at the college,” Wimmer said. “Those folks have all pretty much disappeared.”

He added there’s no longer a need to build circuit boards as they’re all machine stamped and mass produced, usually in China. If a single part of a device goes bad, it’s usually easier and less expensive to replace the entire device.

Wimmer said that when he started working at D&H, an entire wall was devoted to vacuum receiver tubes of all shapes and sizes. They later expanded to include video cassette recorders and all the parts to keep them operating. Those items are now long gone.

“This year’s Consumer Electronics Show just got started in Las Vegas and some of the stuff they’re showing just blows me away,” he said. “I won’t even try to guess where all the trends are headed.”

For today, D&H still installs networking connections, along with selling lots of batteries and copper wire. They still carry many of the traditional electronic parts, although most of them, like individual resistors and capacitors, have faded away.

Wimmer said it was a fun time and a challenge to keep up with new developments in electronic parts. But he doesn’t see that end of the business ever coming back.

“Tragically, we’ve become a throwaway society and electronics are a part of it,” he said.

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