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Lockport, Illinois

b. 1936

KineticSystems – beginning and end

By Jim Stephenson
April 18th, 2013

Recently, while delivering Meals on Wheels, I drove by KineticSystems and noticed that the sign had changed from “KineticSystems” to “Dynamic Signals.” For me, that represented the end of the KineticSystems that between 1971 and 1999 employed, at one time or another, nearly 800 people who lived in or near Lockport---a sad day, to say the least. But I rejoice in this success story that turned dreams, investment and risk into useful products, employment, community involvement and lives changed for the better.

In 1971 my friend Bob Cleary and I started KineticSystems Corporation and located it within the city limits of Lockport. The company’s product line was high-performance data acquisition equipment. I became the company’s first employee when I resigned from my engineering position at Fermi National Laboratory and reported to work in my basement on May 3rd, 1971. By 1981 the company had 150 employees, annual sales of $8 million, and customers around the world. The Lockport Texaco refinery closed in in 1981, and KineticSystems overnight became Lockport’s largest private employer. Most of the company's employees lived in Lockport. Bob and I managed and guided the company for 28 years before selling it in 1999 to two investors who wanted to run a high-tech company with a global marketplace. I retired from the company; Bob continued on and died suddenly from a heart attack while at work on August 23, 2001.

The workforce at KineticSystems has declined over the past decade to about a dozen employees. Prior to 1999, the company motto was: “We are the data acquisition experts.” In September, 1999, the new owners changed the motto to: “A new direction in data acquisition.” Hmmm...

YouTube links to compositions by James M. Stephenson, III.

"So one day in February, 2010 you write a trumpet etude, reflecting about your father's (James Stephenson's) melodic piano playing. And then later you add a piano accompaniment. Then, 5 years later, your good friend Scott Moore plays it with organ, and it sounds lovely!
Thanks, Scott!! Beautiful playing." Jim Stephenson, III, Sept. 30, 2015 - Scott Moore, trumpet; Kristin Lensch, organ; Calvary Episcopal Church, Memphis      Reflections

A composition in tribute to Adolph 'Bud' Herseth, longtime principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony. Performance at ITG 2013 features Chris Martin, current principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony; Sally Stephenson, violin; Racheal Kerr, piano; and Barbara Butler, off-stage trumpet.      The Storyteller

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