Celebrating 100 Years of Manufacturing Excellence

Stearns first century of innovation has been a success, thanks to the ongoing support received from our partners, customers and dedicated workforce. Since 1916, we have prided ourselves on staying committed to our people's and customers' success. This dedication has been the driving force behind our longevity!

stearns historical timeline

Our Memorable Milestones

Where it is common knowledge that the function of a brake is to stop motion -- the how, the when and the where a brake goes is not so simple. It takes years of study and experience to manufacture excellence.

In 1916, R. H.Stearns patented his first magnetic separator, spurring the start of Stearns Magnetic Company.

In 1928, the company recognized the need to diversify and expanded their products to include DC Brakes and clutches. In 1935, the company pioneered the AC Motor Brake., These additional new product offerings led to the establishment of Stearns Electric Company. These products would go on to aid the industrial drive industry, allowing customers to become more versatile in their end user applications.

Continuing on the path of innovation, in 1953, Stearns introduced the first UL approved Brake for hazardous locations that insured safety by being explosion proof. As it became more apparent that the company could best service its customers and itself by concentrating on the manufacturing of electro-magnetic clutches and brakes, Stearns Electric Company sold its extensive line of magnetic equipment to devote full effort to manufacturing and further improving Stearns and brakes.

In 1973, Stearns introduced the first effective self adjusting brake, still in operation in 2016.

Seeing an opportunity to offer a reliable long life solution to replace mechanical switches, Stearns introduced the SINPAC line of Solid State motor start switches in 1986. While the new millennium did not produce new products, Stearns worked hard to continue to set industry standards, and maintained focus on quality by establishing their ISO certification.

In 2007 Stearns, always thinking of the customer and safety, introduced the first MSHA approved brake for the mining industry.

At Stearns we know that high quality and reliability is standard in this industry. But what sets us apart is our dedicated work force. This company’s growth and progress has been built on the loyalty, dedication and ability of our people. We’ve stayed true to our roots, remaining at home in Milwaukee, WI. Stearns is dedicated to continuously improving our processes to ensure that we will continue to set the standard for excellence – for another 100 years and beyond!

Logo Evolution

logo history timeline

Historical Publications

1920s stearns catalog


the story of stearns high duty magnetic equipment


stearns high duty magnetic clutches catalog 1940s


stearns 1950s postwar catalog


noitulos RN stearns the presidents desk


1970s stearns christmas tree catalog


the inside line 1980s magazine


braketime news magazine


how to ruin an electric brake


Our Winning Team

Celebrating 10 Decades of Innovation

"I have since retired from Stearns in May of 1988. I will always remember the kindness of my bosses and fellow employees as well as the many friends I have been blessed with."

Alice Domrois