“Beyond Our Wildest Dreams”: Bourns Celebrates 75 Years of Innovation

Published: 02/03/2022

Graduation ceremony for a 10-week robotics and coding course taught by Dr. Enoch Hwang, La Sierra University Chair of Computer Science, at the Bourns Family Youth Innovation Center. Courtesy of Bourns, Inc.

People are often surprised to learn that Riverside-based Bourns, Inc., with nearly 10,000 employees and 20 locations worldwide, began in a tiny garage in Pasadena in 1947. Gordon Bourns, CEO of the world’s leading manufacturer of electronic components and sensors, spoke proudly of the company’s founders, his parents Marlan and Rosemary.

“They hired the next door neighbor as their first employee and did hot and cold temperature tests on aircraft parts in their kitchen,” Gordon said.

The City of Riverside and the Great Chamber of Commerce caught wind of this small but mighty aerospace sensor company and offered to move. Labor Day weekend 1950, Bourns closed in Pasadena on Friday and opened in Riverside on Tuesday because they didn’t want to be behind on orders.

Bourns’ team with toddler Gordon outside the company’s first headquarters in Riverside on Magnolia Ave. Courtesy of Bourns, Inc.

As March Air Force Base transitioned from wartime to peacetime after World War II, Gordon said his parents moved to Riverside because “they knew it would be a great place to raise a family and excellent technicians would be looking for work”.

What ultimately put Bourns on the map was the invention of a product to accurately determine an aircraft’s pitch attitude – solving a critical problem that helped make aeronautics safer. Then, in 1969, Gordon and his parents watched in amazement as astronauts first landed on the moon using Bourns’ landing controls and walked on the moon using pressure oxygen regulators. of the Bourns combination.

“When I talk to students, I tell them you can go from a garage to the moon in 22 years,” Gordon explained.

STEM in the police event at the Riverside Magnolia Police Station. Courtesy of Bourns, Inc.

Bourns hosts various STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education programs for local schoolchildren. Recently, the Bourns Foundation donated $1 million to get the Riverside Robotics, Coding, Filmmaking and Web Design Youth Center running. Accessibility is key at the Bourns Family Youth Innovation Center, which officially opened in October.

“We are grateful to Bourns for lighting these fires to get young people excited about the future in STEM and introducing them to career paths,” said Mayor Lock Dawson.

Gordon estimates the Bourns Foundation has donated $500,000 in scholarships among local universities, including UC Riverside, Cal Baptist University, La Sierra University and Riverside City College. Gordon also chairs the Science and Technology Education Partnership (STEP), an organization that encourages students across the Inland Empire to pursue STEM studies and careers with activities such as the popular STEP conference.

Bourns manufactures more than 10,000 different products with its fastest growing segments supporting electric vehicles, charging stations and energy storage. The electronics company, now in its third generation, is expanding into solar power, autonomous vehicles, telemedicine and telecommunications as it prepares to celebrate a milestone anniversary. Bourns will be 75 on July 7, 2022 Marlan and Rosemary’s 75and wedding anniversary.

Marlan and Rosemary Bourns on their wedding day, July 7, 1947 (L) and a portrait of the couple hung in all the company’s factories around the world. Courtesy of Bourns, Inc.

“When my parents started working in their garage, they could never have imagined one day finding their products in a vehicle on Mars or X-ray sensors for cancer treatments,” Gordon said. “They would say Bourns is beyond their wildest dreams.”

For more information about Bourns, Inc., visit www.bourns.com.

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