Pines Engineering

Adapted from The Beacon News, October, 1952

Pines Engineering was founded in 1940 by Byron Bower. Byron was born on a farm in Ohio, fought in World War I as a fighter pilot, graduated from Ohio State University in engineering, and went to work at Western Electric in Chicago as a designer of special machinery. He then went to Howell Company of St. Charles, a leading manufacturer of tubular furniture. There as Chief Engineer, he became convinced that the productivity of tube fabricating equipment could be greatly improved. His efforts greatly automated the processes at Howell from cut-off machines, all the way to plating and spray painting equipment. Rather than keep the plant running, Byron decided it would be more fun to design and build equipment, and he and Glen Hamlin left Howell to start his own business.

The first machine was sold to Schwinn in Chicago, the manufacturer of bicycles. In 1941, they rented a building in Batavia and had grown to twenty employees. With the onset of World War II, many different specialized machines were designed for the defense industry to manufacture shells, rockets, tank parts, and other defense applications. To handle this growth, the company moved to Aurora where space was obtained by the Aurora Equipment Company. John Dunham and his sister, Martha Dunham, became Directors of the company.

Most of the machines were end-finishing machines for the ends of tubing or pipe. Also, there was a line of equipment for bending tubes primarily for the aircraft industry and the bending of brass wave guides for the emerging television and radar industry. Further growth resulted in the building on Highland. At the end of the War, product development centered on the steel furniture industry. Pines bending equipment permitted 800-900 bends an hour where previous technology needed several set-ups to produce 60-100 bends per hour. This technology filled a need in various industries, including plumbing, heating and air conditioning, automotive, farm implements, aircraft, and it led to a large export base.

Pines prospered into the 1960's, when the decision was made to sell the company to Teledyne, a large conglomerate with numerous manufacturing operations around the world.