As our company’s 60th anniversary year draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on what it really means to celebrate major milestones. During that time, I’ve considered the unique set of circumstances that have allowed our company to be fortunate enough to achieve this distinction.
It all started back in 1954, when my father, Jack Birns, decided to take a detour from his successful career as a photographer for LIFE Magazine, and start a small business in Hollywood, selling photographic equipment to the Navy and other customers. That enterprise soon took off, and the company grew. It expanded to include underwater lights and other equipment, including specialty lights for the US Man-In-The-Sea program and Sea Lab, supplying what was then considered deep submergence lighting—hard to believe that those early incarnations only went down to about 92 meters. We also began serving the Navy, the early oil and gas industry and the commercial diving market. Not long after, we started making subsea connector systems, for our own lights like the BIRNS Snooper and our lines of helmet lights, and then began supplying the industry with complex connector systems as demand rapidly increased.
In 1980, the BIRNS Nuclear Lighting Division was founded to serve our company’s rapid expansion into that highly competitive and demanding field, and we’ve had enormous success in that industry ever since. Of course, we’ve had our share of successes and setbacks along the way—just like any other company. We’ve had good years and lean years—and sometimes, the ideas that we thought were home-runs turned out to be the opposite, with the reverse being true at times as well. But no matter what, I know my father would be proud of the company BIRNS has become, just as I am. I’m proud of our incredible team members, and I’m proud to work along with them in innovating new ways of exploring the ocean depths, and developing solutions to illuminate harsh nuclear environments. I am humbled and grateful that BIRNS has had the honor of serving these industries for the last six decades—and look forward to what the next 60 years will bring!