Pacific Bearing Corp

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Pacific Bearing Corporation
Privately held company
Industry manufacturing
Predecessor Premac, Inc
Founded Rockford, Illinois, U.S. (December 14, 1962 (1962-12-14))
Headquarters Roscoe, Illinois, U.S.
Number of locations
1 principle manufacturing plant (2010)
4 warehouses (2010)
Area served
Worldwide, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa
Key people
Robert Schroeder (Owner and CEO)
Thomas Schroeder (Owner and General Manager)
Products Plain bearing, Rolling-element bearings, 3D Printers
Services engineering
cost reduction
contract manufacturing
Revenue private
Owner The Schroeder Family
Subsidiaries PBC Linear
PBC Lineartechnik GmbH
3DP Unlimited

Pacific Bearing Corporation (PBC) is a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of plain bearings, linear guides and custom machined parts. PBC is currently doing business as PBC Linear and PBC Lineartechnik GmbH

Early History[edit]

Unknown to most, Pacific Bearing Corporation started off as a company called "Prodo Mach Corporation, Inc", which was incorporated December 1962 in the city of Rockford, county of Winnebago, state of Illinois, USA. Prodo Mach Corporation bought the assets of the Precision Machine Shop of the Globe Imperial Division of the Harsco Corporation which had been in the Rockford, IL area since the 1940s and then changed its name to "Premac, Inc" in January 1963. Premac was originally a manufacturer of ball valves for "The Ball Valve Company" and "International Ball Valve Company". Through the 1960s and 1970s, the Premac business grew from ball valves to skid plates and other contract machined parts for many of the large companies in the Midwest United States, such as Caterpiller, John Deere, International Harvester Corporation, Kendon Exeter and JI Case (a division of IHC).

The late 1970s brought financial hardships for many companies and when coupled with the oil crises of 1979, financial hardships were also seen by many families. In the early 1980s, things actually got worse for many people and companies as the misery index (the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate) had reached an all-time high of 21.98%. The Mid-West United States even saw record unemployment rates (exceeding 20%) during this time. Premac was no exception to seeing the hardships. Some of Premac's customers closed their doors, others went on strike which left Premac with a fraction of the customers it once had.

Origin of "Pacific" Bearing[edit]

In September 1983, Pacific Bearing Corp was officially incorporated.[1] The Mid-West United States was seeing the worst economic times since The Great Depression; this recession was called the The Early 1980s Recession. Unemployment in Rockford, Illinois area rose to be the highest in the nation at 25%. By 1983, the Mid-West was still deep into the recession; however, California and the west coast (also known as the "Pacific Coast") had already pulled out of the recession fueled by technology boom of the 1980s. The managing team of PBC decided to call the company "Pacific" Bearing to give the impression that it was located in the Pacific Coast region of the United States.

Pacific Bearing was originally created as the sales company for Premac, Inc. In September 1985, Pacific Bearing and Premac officially merged into one company under the name "Pacific Bearing Corporation". Also merged was a third company and PBC acquired its assets.

During the early-to-mid 1980's, Pacific Bearing continued to be a job shop and a bearing manufacturer. Over this decade, PBC's production focus shifted from a metalworking manufacturing company to primarily a bearing manufacturer. While PBC focused on Plain Bearings, it did manufacture other types of bearings; including: Bushings, Thrust Bearings, skid plates (note: not vehicle skid plates), and custom parts.[2]

In the mid-1990s, PBC accelerated its growth by establishing a series of reciprocal trade agreements with leading European automation companies.[3]

Origin of PBC Linear[edit]

By the mid-2000s (decade), the product offering of PBC had vastly expanded from just the "little red bearing" for which it had originally become known and the management team decided to change the name of the company to "PBC Linear" to more appropriately reflect the company's vast linear motion product offering. In addition, "Pacific" had a different connotation. In the early 1980s, the "Pacific" coast of the USA was a booming economy, one of the strongest in the USA and being located on or near the Pacific Coast was a very positive thing. With the more global economy of the 2000s (decade), "Pacific" carries the connotation of Asia Pacific, where many companies copy premium bearing brands such as PBC, INA/FAG, Timken, THK, etc. and then import these (often sub-par) products into the USA and Europe. Due to the typically sub-par quality levels, the word "Pacific" carried a negative connotation.

Citing these two reasons, PBC changed the name of their company from Pacific Bearing to PBC Linear in 2007.[4]

Origin of the "Simplicity" Bearing[edit]

In the 1960s Premac was manufacturing many contract parts for the heavy industries located in the Midwest United States. One of the parts being manufactured was a skid plate with Premac's "Prelon" material bonded to it. This eventually morphed into a round bushing (as a bronze bearing replacement) and sadle bearings for hydraulic pumps. In the very early 1980s, a salesman for PBC visited companies in the Detroit, MI area to explain PBC's products and capabilities. At this time, the primary use for PBC bearings was as a saddle bearing in hydraulic pumps (typical Inner Diameter ranged from 6.000 inches to 14.000 inches) for large trucks and equipment. A manufacturing engineer was in the meeting and asked if the technology could be adapted into a much smaller package as he had linear ball bearings which were constantly failing. A quick conference call with the factory and the concept for the Simplicity Bearing was born.

Initially, the Simplicity Bearing was only offered in closed, imperial sizes. PBC quickly developed an open version of the bearing to be used with supported shafts. Open and closed Pillow Blocks, Flanged bearings, die set bearings and bushings followed. The company then developed ISO Metric and finally JIS Metric bearings.

"Stress Reliever" Bearing sample[edit]

"Little Red Bearing" product sample.
Famous Stress Reliever

One of the most well-known samples distributed within the bearing industry is the "little red bearing" or "Simplicity stress reliever" sample. PBC claims that their sample is so popular that they have sent out more than [5] 250,000 stress relievers sent in the almost 30 years they have been in business.

The sample has evolved over time. It initially started as a 1/2" Simplicity plain bearing (p/n FL08) with 1/2" steel shaft and an approximate length of 4 inches. Two (color-matching) red caps were added to the end secure the bearing on the shaft, reduce the noise of impact on the end and protect consumers from a possible sharp/burr on the edge of the shaft. In order to increase the quantity of samples distributed without increasing the cost, Pacific Bearing switched to samples based upon the 1/4" Simplicity plain bearing (p/n FL04). Consumer feedback let the company know that engineers and technicians preferred the larger bearing size. PBC quickly switched to the 3/8" Simplicity plain bearing (p/n FL08), which is the current standard size.

In addition to the imperial (inch) "little red bearing" samples, PBC also provides "little blue bearings" (ISO Metric) and "little green bearings" (JIS Metric) for customers located outside of North America.

Contributions to Technical Community[edit]

Pacific Bearing has more than 20 patents (awarded and pending).[6] The patents are related to bearings, linear guides, linear slides, linear motors and nuts for lead screws. In 2009, PBC won Design World Magazine's "Leadership in Engineering" Award in the area of Motion Control[7] because of their contributions in this area. Additionally, Pacific Bearing sponsors schools at various engineering competitions.[8]

Pacific Bearing Company is the creator and holder of the following patents:

4,995,734:[9] Pillow block housing for a shaft-supporting bearing

5,229,198:[10] Bearing material having a matrix impregnated with polymeric resin

6,149,308:[11] Linear rail system having preload adjustment apparatus

6,450,687:[12] Linear rail system having preload adjustment apparatus

7,091,679:[13] Magnetic thrust motor

7,478,597:[14] Multi-axis gantry system

7,752,978:[15] Multifaceted guide rail, guide assembly and method of forming guide assemblies


Throughout the years, PBC has moved several times to grow and allow for more manufacturing space. The locations below is where the company resided through the years.

PBC Manufacturing/Warehouse Locations
1940 – April 1965 April 1965 – January 1973 January 1973 – July 1983 December 1983 – May 1987
Prodo Machine Corp & Premac Premac Premac & Pacific Bearing Premac & Pacific Bearing
909 23rd Street
Rockford, IL 61108
5601 Industrial Avenue
Rockford, IL 61111
1500 11th Avenue
Rockford, IL 61104
2221 North Central Avenue
Rockford, IL 61132-2545
May 1987 – November 1997 November 1997 – present April 2006 – present
Pacific Bearing Pacific Bearing & PBC Linear PBC Lineartechnik GmbH
200 Quaker Rd
Rockford, IL 61104
6402 E Rockton Rd
Roscoe, IL 61073[16]
Niermannsweg 11–15
D-40699 Erkrath


External links[edit]