Master and Commander
When I first meet Estes, he's sitting in his olive-drab corner office surrounded by knickknacks that include a World War II steel infantry helmet and artillery shells, each the size of a small child. Clad in his work clothes--black parachute pants, T-shirt, and combat boots--this mild-mannered entrepreneur readily admits he's living out his boyhood dreams.
"When I was young, I used to sneak into the local National Guard armory and let myself into the unit's M60 tanks," he recalls. "I'd spend hours playing inside and imagining what it would really be like to take the controls in the heat of battle."
As luck would have it, a high Viet Nam-era draft number kept him from ever finding out. After a short stint at the local junior college and a number of blue-collar jobs, Estes went on to start his own electrical contracting firm.
Having reached a level of success that afforded him the opportunity to drive any vehicle he chose, Estes bought a 1975 British Fox armored reconnaissance vehicle from a well-known dealer of vintage military vehicles in Houston. Little did he know that this new toy would mark the beginning of an entirely new career.
Built Like a Tank
After selling his company in August 2001 and seeing how endlessly fascinated others were with his four-wheeled Fox, Estes came to believe he wasn't the only one who'd enjoy taking the helm of such big, powerful machines. Sensing a business opportunity, he began adding to his collection in earnest.