The founder of Stelron, Earl Beezer, graduated from Seattle University in 1950 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was able to attend college after World War II with the help of the GI Bill. Earl had served for four years in the Coast Guard during the war, and was involved in several Allied invasions. He actively participated in the Invasion of Salerno in 1943, and during the Normandy Invasion in 1944, he received the Bronze Star for meritorious performance of duty on June 6, 1944. The following is the official Coast Guard account: while operating a tank lighter landing craft, Earl “observed a casualty sustained by a nearby landing craft and rescued seven crew members from the water. On proceeding to the beach and landing Army troops, the tank lighter came under enemy fire, wounding some of the survivors and a lighter crewman. He retracted the craft and proceeded to intercept a nearby destroyer, placing the wounded personnel on board for medical attention.”
After graduating college, Earl could not find work in Seattle, so he moved his young family back to New Jersey where his wife, Gloria, was from. He worked as a mechanical engineer and machine designer for several different companies during the 1950’s; the last of which was RCA. Here, Earl was involved with designing various types of special machinery; including grid winding and assembly machines for vacuum tubes. At that time, most of the machines were fully synchronous, mechanical machines, utilizing gears, cams, levers and linkages for the movements. Earl recognized a business opportunity if he could develop an efficient way to make high quality cams.
Earl began working nights and weekends in his garage on a special machine to manufacture cams. He designed it, made the parts and assembled the prototype machine himself. There were several challenges to overcome, but eventually he was successful. Stelron still has some of the main frame of that prototype in its facility. Stelron Cam Company began in 1960 with one employee: Earl Beezer. The name “Stelron” was actually coined by a neighbor, and it is a blending of the words “steel” and “iron.” Since the business was based on cam manufacturing, and cams are made almost exclusively from either steel or iron, it was a good choice for a name.
He worked alone for about a year; visiting potential customers, making special cams in the garage, and at night designing some of the first Stelron products using a portable drafting board on the dining room table. Eventually, he was able to hire another employee who was a retired machinist from RCA, named George Grindley. Earl found a space for Stelron to rent in Garfield, NJ in the early 1960’s. During this time, Earl also taught some engineering classes in the evenings at Newark College of Engineering; which is now called New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
During the mid 1960’s, Stelron grew considerably and added about 15 to 20 employees. Earl began designing a line of standard automation components; including anti-friction slides and cam-driven actuators. The Camslide, Oscillating unit, and Reciprocator were the first cam driven Stelron Components. Stelron no longer makes the original Oscillating units, but they have evolved into the production of several other units that achieve the same types of motion. Camslides and Reciprocators are still key products in the Stelron line up today. The growth of the company continued and in 1969, moved to a 20,000 square foot building in Saddle Brook, NJ.
The 1970’s saw the design and development of the Translator, Vari-Pak and Transpart units. Earl obtained patents for all three of these products and they found wide acceptance in the automation marketplace. During this time, Stelron’s main focus began to shift toward the standard product line and away from custom cam manufacturing. By 1975, the growth of the company caused a need for further expansion; Stelron rented a second building in Saddle Brook that had approximately 45,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space. Stelron also began to purchase NC and CNC machine tools. This significant investment in state-of-the-art machinery provided considerable expansion in capacity, as well as new capabilities.
In 1980, Stelron purchased property and built a new 40,000 square foot building in Mahwah, NJ. At that point, most of the component assembly and light duty manufacturing was moved from the Saddle Brook plant to the new Mahwah facility. The larger CNC and manual machine tools remained in the rented Saddle Brook building.
The 1980’s introduced the RWB Pallet Assembly Chassis. This unique assembly platform, along with the extensive parts handling components, allowed Stelron to provide fully mechanical integration of all the movements required for high speed assembly machines. In 1985, Stelron acquired Forthmann Machines; a company that manufactured machines for the textile industry. Their primary machine was designed to cut and fold garment labels and automatically pack them into a box. These synchronous machines typically ran at speeds between 150 and 200 RPM. Prior to acquiring Forthmann, Earl Beezer had helped to design this machine and Stelron had provided the Translators, Vari-Paks and all of the cams used in the machine.
The acquisition of Forthmann allowed the Stelron engineering staff to help design and build the most complete family of textile processing equipment in the world. Many of these machines were synchronous, fully mechanical, cam- based machines. The synergy of Stelron’s cam expertise, along with Forthmann’s knowledge of handling and processing narrow fabrics, was a highly successful venture. By the end of the 1980’s, more floor space was required, and in 1988, the Mahwah facility was expanded to give Stelron 115,000 square feet, allowing all three locations to consolidate. It took a few months to relocate all of the equipment and personnel, but it was worth it to have the entire Stelron-Forthmann operation under one roof.
In the early 1990’s, after assisting with the development of new machinery for Forthmann, Stelron began designing and manufacturing indexers. The M-Series parallel shaft indexer was first; followed almost immediately by the RD-Series Dial Indexers. There were initially three sizes of each, and these products were widely accepted in the automation field. At that point, Stelron had one of the broadest product lines in the industry with many unique products that were not available from any other supplier. Many of these products are still only available from Stelron. The RWB and the RD-Series Indexers were the last products that Stelron’s founder, Earl Beezer, designed. Unfortunately, he passed away in September 1994, but left behind a legacy of brilliant designs, numerous patents, and a strong successful company.
Although component sales remained strong, the RWB Chassis soon became the Stelron flagship product. All of these machines were designed with synchronous parts handling components; such as the Camslide, Vari-Pak, Translator and Transpart. The RWB Chassis is a unique, custom machine that provides high speed synchronous assembly solutions for a variety of products. In 2001, Stelron developed the CWB Chassis. This machine allowed the high speed and high accuracy of the RWB Chassis to be combined with the flexibility of conveyors. The conveyors were used to connect as many CWB chassis as necessary to complete an assembly from start to finish. One of Stelron’s first CWB Chassis connected together six synchronous chassis for the assembly of light bulbs and was over 70 feet long. While typical power and free conveyor systems struggle to consistently run at 25 cycles per minute, the CWB Chassis allows for synchronous assembly to be combined with asynchronous assembly at speeds up to 80 cycles per minute.
In 2003, Stelron unveiled its first Precision Link Chain Chassis or PLC. The addition of this chassis allowed Stelron to offer more standard synchronous assembly platforms than any other mechanical component supplier. The Stelron PLC Chassis addressed many of the weaknesses of competing designs. Stelron is constantly developing new products and new features to better existing products.
Today, Stelron is run by two of Earls sons, Jim and Bill Beezer. With a history like this, it is easy to see why Stelron is widely known for engineering design, product performance, outstanding quality and superior value.