The story of the Elkhart Band Instrument Company is an interesting one. It was a company that existed for only three years, but would have major ramifications for years to follow. From everything I can find, it was a sham company set up as a means for C.G. Conn LTD to gain control of the Buescher Band Instrument Company. It went down like this...........you be the judge:
The Elkhart Band Instrument Company was founded by Andrew Hubble Beardsley in 1924 (but the story is much more interesting, read on). The Beardsley family came to much prominence in Elkhart in the mid 19th century. His uncle, A.R. Beardsley, was a wealthy political man who purchased the Dr. Miles Medical Company in 1889 hiring his nephew on as an assistant. A man of many interests, Andrew Hubble went on to become the company president and changed the name to Miles Laboratories in 1934 (anyone heard of Alka-Seltzer). Needless to say, a fortune was made.
In 1915 C.G. Conn sold all of his holding to a group of investors led by Carl D. Greenleaf. One of these investors included Andrew Hubble Beardsley who also gained partial control (along with Greenleaf) of the Elkhart newspaper, "The Truth" from Conn.
About this same time, Mr. Buescher found himself plagued with the problems of financing a fast growing company on limited finances. In 1916 as a side endeavor, Andrew Hubble Beardsley involved himself in the reorganization of the Buescher Band Instrument Company by investing a large sum of money. What may have seemed like a blessing at the time would go on to be Buescher's undoing. In this manner, Hub (as his friends called him) went on to take over the Buescher Company as president in about 1920-22, retaining Gus Buescher on as vice president and general manager. A few years later, in 1924 Hub founded the Elkhart Band Instrument Company with none other than Carl Greenleaf as the company's secretary and treasurer.
Then in 1927 the two companies merged. While Buescher was the parent company, control was in the hands of 5 owners who were C.D. Greenleaf (president of Conn), Hub Beardsley (president of Miles), Jim Bell (printer associated with "The Truth"), Harry Foster, and the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. In short order, Greenleaf went on to purchase enough holdings from the other shareholders to gain working control of the Buescher Company. Steps were taken to weaken Buescher and policies were implemented to prevent Buescher from impeding the progress of the Conn Company. Gus Buescher resigned as general manager on January 21, 1929 but was retained on as a consultant engineer. He was replaced by Ot Beers, who for several years was actually on Conn's payroll as production chief and Buescher's payroll as General Manager. Buescher sales people were restricted and carefully monitored when soliciting business from Conn dealers. Conn, however, went after Buescher's best dealers with without hesitation. The Elkhart Band Instrument Company name was brought back in the mid 1930's as a cheaper line. However, at this point, it would be considered a model not a stencil. During WWII, Beers was both president of Buescher and Superintendent of Conn. Tools and machinery became intermingled and production became interlocked.
This was the general working situation until 1956 when Charles Greenleaf, son of the late C.D. Greenleaf, sold his interest in C.G. Conn and purchased the Buescher stock owned by members of his family. Ot Beers was replaced by Lynn Sams as president which finally broke the strangle hold of Conn over Buescher. Sams set to work repairing equipment and making overdue design changes. He brought on Dave Fair as plant superintendent. Things were going well for about 5 years until Charles Greenleaf decided he was unwilling to put in more money for much needed capital. On February 1, 1963 Buescher was bought out by Selmer and from that time on existed in name only. Joe Grolimund, president of Selmer, would later go on to recall the nightmare involved in unscrambling the tools, dies, machines and parts from Conn and Buescher after the purchase.
So, more info than you wanted. But after reading this, its no wonder people get confused about different instruments that came out of Elkhart in the 20th century. The Buescher/Conn/Selmer saga was only one of many stories to come out of Elkhart regarding the band instrument industry. Mergers, acquisitions, buyouts, takeovers, etc.....that was the game of the day. There was a great article written by Joe Grolimund in 1975 called "Elkhart Band Instrument History" where some of the above info came from. I'll try to post that up in the guest articles section of this web site soon.