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Penninger Radio – Company Summary

Penninger Radio is an American manufacturer of portable masts and permanent pole towers for erecting antennas, lighting, solar panels, wind turbines and surveillance cameras. We’ve been in business since 2003 and are located in West Chicago, Illinois in the proud United States of America. Our portable products are designed for quick deployment of elevated emergency equipment in the field and emergency preparedness. We manufacture precision machined and fabricated 6061 grade aircraft aluminum products with stainless steel fittings. Our customers include ham radio operators around the globe, local municipalities and the United States Federal Government including Homeland Security (DHS), Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and Federal Air Marshall Service (FMAS), among other governmental entities —see Customers section below.

In 2003 our original product offering catered to ham radio operator enthusiasts consisting of three products: The Tipper™, Mast Clamp, and Mast Sections. Due to our commitment to customer service we learned about other customer challenges over time and by 2012 our offering has grown to over one hundred products, packages, and complete mast systems.

We currently manufacture and sell the following product families:

  • Tipper™ mast base: Makes managing large masts easy. Tipper™ masts can support an antenna, camera, or emergency lighting at a height of over 48 feet and can be erected by a single person. This is possible by assembling the mast horizontally on the ground and then "tipping" it into the vertical position. All heavy-duty aluminum and stainless-steel construction insures rugged performance and long-life. Tipper™ setup video.  Penninger Radio Tipper™ products are available for either permanent or portable installations.
  • Snap Tubes™: Precision machined push-button connectors to join tube sections for rigid connections resulting in a mast pole that is stiff and does not wobble. Quickly deploy tall masts with no tools required. Available options for spacers and slip-ring flanges.
  • Tripods: Rugged base for portable masts and permanent pole tower installations.
  • Split Bushings: Split sleeve bushings join mast poles of different diameters and our precise machining ensures the fit is snug. Available in lengths from 1.5” to over 12”.
  • Portable Mast Bases: Hitch or Tire drive on mast base for masts up to 47 feet tall.
  • Guy slip rings, pulleys blocks, stakes, and tension blocks
  • Aluminum Mast Poles: A wide variety of lengths, outer diameters (OD), and wall thicknesses, constructed from aircraft grade aluminum 6061-T6.
  • Mast Clamps: Connect mast poles resulting longer mast that’s stronger than a single pole of the same length. Available for 1.75”, 2”, and 2.5” diameter masts (MC-175, MC-200, MC-250)
  • Custom machining of holes and fittings on our products is a value-added service not offered by any of our foreign competitors.

All our products are proudly manufactured in the USA. Creating more jobs for skilled Americans is one of our core corporate goals. We are a big supporter of American manufacturers and American workers. We are actively seeking opportunities to collaborate with other American manufacturers, suppliers and retailers. We invite you to contact us so we may work together to determine how we may collaborate. Let us work together to make our country stronger with innovative high quality American-made products. Charles@penningerradio.com

History of Penninger Radio

Penninger Radio: An American manufacturer with proven history of innovation and quality customer service

2003

The need to quickly erect a tall antenna mast came into Charles Penninger’s mind in June 2003 when he attended “Field Day” sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, (ARRL). Field Day is an Annual Emergency Preparedness exercise designed to test amateur radio operator’s skills in quickly deploying communications equipment in a simulated emergency scenario, at a remote field location. Charles noticed that the deployed electronics and auxiliary power was top notch, but the antenna masts had much to be desired. He was shocked to see the jury-rigged antenna setups consisting of 2x4s duct tapped to a tree or fully-extended extension ladders strapped to the back of pickup trucks. These antenna masts were very time-consuming to setup and with the antenna wobbling at the top the results were downright dangerous! The goal of this emergency preparedness exercise was to quickly deploy radio communications equipment and antenna --and there was nothing quick about the current practice. Charles thought there must be a better way!

During the next few months Charles Penninger pondered various product designs for a stable, safe and quick way to deploy an antenna in an emergency scenario. With Charles’ extensive experience in machining, fabrication, and mass production he focused on machined aluminum designs for durability and portability. One day he remembered his grandfather Max raising and lowering the family birdhouse on a pole and the product concept for the Penninger Radio Tipper™ antenna base was born!

In order for the Tipper™ to be effective in emergency scenarios, the mast that it held had to be portable. A 42-foot tall mast had to be transported in up to 8-foot tube sections and joined together with mast clamps. This new mast clamp had to be: Sturdy --for safety and long life. Lightweight --for ease of use and transport. Make a joint stronger than the original tube --for maximum stability in high winds. The Penninger Radio Mast Clamp (MC-200) was born!

Charles Penninger founded Penninger Radio in December of 2003.

Now with the aluminum Penninger Radio Tipper™, Mast Clamp (MC-200), and Mast Tubes ready for production he fabricated prototypes in his garage and got on the road. Charles purchased vendor space at the Annual Amateur Radio Trade Show at Dayton Ohio and the adventure began. The vendors were outside and it rained during the entire three-day event. With umbrella in hand Charles displayed his new products. His new system was well received and the orders started pouring in! Charles is charming and easily conversed with customers as he proceeded to learn of other challenges/problems they experienced. Again, in the spirit of American ingenuity, Charles forged ahead and devised solutions to address their needs. 

Ongoing product development continued to solve the problems experienced in setting up an emergency field transmitting radio station.

2004-2005

Some of our first customers were the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and Federal Air Marshall Service, and many ham radio operators from around the globe.

New business product ideas continued to present themselves through Charles’ attention to customer service and his innate ability to learn about customer needs. Radio operators needed to deploy safe antenna systems in the field or semi-permanent residential installations. Penninger Radio continued to grow with the addition of several new mast clamp and bracket products.

2006

Our customers expressed the need to have a rugged tripod that could be staked down and safely support a 21-foot telescoping mast pole. We created a collapsible Tripod to securely support a 21-foot aluminum pushup/telescoping pole, the TB-1500 Tripod. The TB-1500 was so successful that we soon added several other tripod models that safely support 48-foot tall masts. Customer applications of Penninger Radio technology had grown from ham radio antenna masts and our masts were being used for emergency lighting and elevated remote control cameras.

Customer requests for permanent or semi-permanent residential antenna mast installations resulted in a new line of products. The Concrete-Mounted Tipper™ was created to bolt to a deck or a concrete pier. The addition of guy slip rings to allow the mast to rotate and pulley blocks nicely rounded out the product line.

2007

Some customers reported to us problems with their wives. Although this sounds quite odd, the reason is that the guy wires that held their antenna masts upright were spread out all over their yards causing problems for their wives: guy wires anchored in the middle of the wife’s flowerbeds, guy wires were hazardous at dawn or dusk when walking in the yard –since wires were close to invisible, difficult to mow around, and tripping on anchor points. Led by Charles Penninger the team at Penninger Radio devised a backstay system to keep the guy wires close to the antenna base and the Penninger Radio Backstay System BSS-20 was born. The wives of the hams got their flowerbeds back and there was peace!

2009

Our customers expressed a desire to mount their Tipper™ mast mount to the wall of their home or office. Again the Penninger Radio team went to work and the result was the Tipper™ Junior TJ-200 and related sizes to handle tipping masts from 1.5” diameter to 2.5” diameter. Keeping with the company focus on customer service, customized Tipper™ Junior products to accommodate larger diameters were available with special orders.

2010

We expanded our tripod product line to include a new 2.5” diameter heavy-duty model TB-2500 designed especially for the Max Gains Systems fiberglass telescoping poles. Also introduced were the TB-1500-200 – 2” OD (outer diameter) masts on a 1.5” tripod frame. The TB-1500-200FT soon followed, which comes with a 2” OD snap-tube installed in the tripod. The TB-1500-175 for 1.75” OD masts filled in the middle of the tripod line.

2011

We added the 1.5” OD snap tube mast to the product line. The four-foot by 1.5” OD snap tube mast ST-150-4 was our top selling mast, followed by our three-foot snap tube mast ST-150-3. The 1.5” snap tube mast combined with the TB-1500 tripod was received well by customers and is a popular solution for folks who wanted more height and strength than a 21’ pushup pole allowed.

2012

Development of a new line of products focused on emergency preparedness and off-grid power generation is ongoing. This product line leverages our technology and products to securely mount arrays solar panels, along with modified versions of our existing products for several new applications. We hope to launch this new product line in 2013.

Penninger Radio Customers

As an American manufacturer of high quality products with customer-focused service, we are sought by federal and local governments and help keep American tax dollars right here in the USA.

  • Fortune 500 companies 
  • State emergency agencies
  • Federal government agencies'
  • Homeland Security
  • Red Cross
  • Ham radio operators
  • Individuals preparing for emergencies (aka: “Preppers”)
  • City and county agencies
  • International governmental customers
  • International residential customers