Carl W. Renstrom

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Carl W. Renstrom (1902–1981) was an Omaha, Nebraska businessman and multi-millionaire who made his fortune selling hair curlers and other hair accessories through his company, Tip-Top Products. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_0

Early life Carl W. Renstrom_section_0

Carl Willard Renstrom was born in Omaha, Nebraska on September 27, 1902. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_1

His parents were Swedish immigrant Nils August Renstrom and his Iowa-born wife, Vera Pearl Bartlett. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_2

Renstrom's father was a general laborer who had a knack for mechanics. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_3

He filed several patents, including one for an electro-magnetic blanket in 1896. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_4

Renstrom attended the public schools in Omaha, graduating from the now closed Commerce High School. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_5

Business career Carl W. Renstrom_section_1

Following his graduation from high school, Renstrom embarked on a variety of sales positions, including selling Fuller Brushes. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_6

When the Depression quickly reduced his sales of church bulletin boards, Renstrom founded Tip-Top Products Company and went looking for a product to sell. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_7

While selling door-to-door, Renstrom had crossed paths with a gentleman selling heatless liquid solder in a can. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_8

After efforts to form a company with the man failed, Renstrom worked on replicating the unpatented solder in a squeezable tube. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_9

He initially manufactured the product in his basement and then went from store to store selling it. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_10

The solder was an immediate success and gave Renstrom financial security. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_11

Within a year he had purchased a building, and hired production and sales staffs. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_12

The building Renstrom purchased was at 1508 Burt Street in Omaha. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_13

After his success with his solder product, Renstrom was looking for his next opportunity. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_14

His sister, Grace, had returned from Europe with a poorly made metal hair curler, purchased in Germany, that she showed to Renstrom. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_15

The curler was called the "Ruck Zuck". Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_16

Similar curlers were selling in the U.S. for about 5 cents each. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_17

Renstrom improved the curler's design and obtained his first patent for a simple metal hair curler on July 14, 1936. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_18

He christened the curler the Tip Top Easy Curler – four aluminum curlers on a card priced at 10 cents a card. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_19

The consumer response to the curler was overwhelming. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_20

When World War II intervened and aluminum was at a premium, Renstrom retooled the machines that had once produced curlers to fabricate military wire reels, barbed wire throws and land mine crates. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_21

His production building had to expand to accommodate the volume. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_22

Renstrom's experience working with the War Department on his military contracts led him to run for office as a Douglas County Commissioner. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_23

He was elected in 1944 and served through 1948. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_24

When the war ended, he converted his curler production to plastic and expanded his hair product line. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_25

By 1964, Renstrom's company had. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_26

Retrieved 24 patents and was manufacturing over 600 products. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_27

In 1964, Renstrom sold his Tip-Top Products Company to Rayette Co., (later named Faberge), of Minneapolis, Minnesota for $25 million. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_28

Retirement Carl W. Renstrom_section_2

The sale of Tip-Top Products made Renstrom a very wealthy man. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_29

In retirement he continued to pursue business ventures that interested him: the development of the Granada Royale Hometel and the building of The Omaha Tower, both in Omaha. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_30

He donated to charities he cared about, including The Boys Club of Omaha. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_31

He entertained at homes in Omaha, Acapulco, Miami, Ontario, Canada, and Minnesota. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_32

In 1969, he dined twice with President Richard M. Nixon. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_33

But mainly, Renstrom traveled. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_34

He skied in Switzerland, fished in Mexico, scuba dived in The Bahamas, hunted in Europe and Canada, and photographed big game in Africa. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_35

Renstrom used his private Learjet to fly to whatever destination interested him. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_36

A friend of Renstrom's once told a reporter that he had agreed to accompany Renstrom on what he thought was a ten-day trip to Glasgow and Paris. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_37

By week five, the friend was pleading with Renstrom to start thinking about returning home. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_38

Acapulco Carl W. Renstrom_section_3

In the 1950s, Renstrom built a family vacation home in what was then the emerging resort town of Acapulco, Mexico. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_39

Renstrom christened the property Villa Vera, after his oldest daughter. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_40

Renstrom eventually added five smaller villas to the property to entertain clients and friends. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_41

His next door neighbor was Teddy Stauffer, or "Mr. Acapulco" as he came to dubbed. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_42

Renstrom convinced Stauffer to manage his property whenever he was away. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_43

Together the two of them entertained the "jet set" of the time. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_44

Elizabeth Taylor married Mike Todd in what was originally the Renstrom family home (Villa No. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_45

6), with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher as attendants. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_46

Lana Turner lived at Villa Vera for three years, and Brigitte Bardot honeymooned there. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_47

As the popularity of the area grew, Renstrom continued to expand the property, which today is called the Villa Vera Hotel & Racquet Club. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_48

Personal life Carl W. Renstrom_section_4

Renstrom married four times. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_49

He divorced his first wife, Catherine A. Gannon, in 1953. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_50

She was the mother of one daughter, Vera Pearl Renstrom. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_51

His second wife, Genevieve L. Taylor, died of leukemia in 1956. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_52

He divorced his third wife, Elizabeth or "Betty", in 1976. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_53

She was the mother of Renstrom's youngest daughter, Lisa. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_54

Then in 1978, he married his fourth wife, Carmen Patricia De Alba of Mexico City. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_55

Carmen Patricia was the mother of his only son, Carlos Rene Renstrom, who was four at the time of his father's death. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_56

Carl W. Renstrom died November 13, 1981 in Omaha, Nebraska and was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery there. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_57

After his death, Renstrom's heirs sub-divided his 84-acre horse farm at 10001 Pacific Street in Omaha for redevelopment. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_58

Renstrom's mansion and 8-acres remained a private home, while the remaining land became apartments, office towers and the One Pacific Place shopping center. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_59

Elizabeth Ann "Lisa" Renstrom, Renstrom's youngest daughter, is a past president of The Sierra Club. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_60

Two of Renstrom's grandsons, Cris and Curt Kirkwood, are founding members of the alternative punk rock band, Meat Puppets. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_61

They are the sons of Renstrom's oldest daughter, Vera Pearl Renstrom. Carl W. Renstrom_sentence_62

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: W. Renstrom.