11:28 AM PDT on Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Contributing Writer

Brithinee Electric Inc., the Colton family-owned business known for the manufacturing and repair of generators and control panel systems, has been named Small Business of the Year by Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter, D-Rialto, for businesses within the 62nd District.

The privately held company, which was founded in 1963 by Wallace and Zora Brithinee and their identical twin sons, Donald and Wallace, is one of the largest sellers of NEMA Premium Efficiency industrial electric motors. The motors are the highest electrical efficiency motors available on the market today, the company said.

“We are the only company in the local area that services motors and controls for industrial electric equipment, along with manufacturing controls for industrial electric equipment,” said co-owner Donald Brithinee.

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Sal Arrcola of DAP Electric works on Brithinee Electric’s $4 million expansion.

Brithinee said he and his brother were honored by the recognition, especially in being described as a green company that repairs motors that power wind turbines, solar projects and geo-thermal plants. He said being able to repair motors that preserve the energy efficiencies of various energy equipment had become a “key component,” accounting for about a fourth of their business.

The company, which has a workforce of 60, has also improved energy efficiency and greatly lowered emissions at their facility, he said.

Carter credited Brithinee Electric for making an environmental difference and setting the standards for the motor repair industry. Her district includes the cities of Colton and Rialto, unincorporated areas Muscoy and Bloomington and parts of San Bernardino and Fontana.

“Brithinee is a green technology company and the owners are making huge investments in the environment to cut costs, comply with customer demands, and remain competitive,” she said.

That investment includes an additional $3 million spent this year to construct a 20,000-square-foot building to handle repairs of larger motors and generators used by wind turbines. Brithinee said the company has also spent $900,000 to purchase new, larger equipment for the facility, which is expected to be completed in September.

Based on 3.5 acres at 620 S. Rancho Ave., the company’s original 18,500-square-foot repair service building was constructed in 1973. The firm’s third building, which is 14,500 square feet, houses its sales offices, he said.

“Our original building served as a single facility used to manufacture and repair motors,” Brithinee said. “We also had to purchase new, larger equipment needed to handle repairs, because we couldn’t do it with the equipment we had been using.”

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Photo By Dan Elliott / Contributing Photographer
Ruben Blumen works on rewinding an electrical motor, which is a specialty of Brithinee Electric in Colton.

The expansion and purchase of additional equipment was financed using internal funds and a small bank loan, he said. When construction is complete the two buildings would merge into a single manufacturing and repair facility.

“It doubles our capacity and allows us to accommodate larger repair projects in the renewable energy sector, specifically wind turbines,” he said.

While the Brithinee brothers have guided their company through the recession, they have not been immune to its effects.

Brithinee said the company has lost clients because of the recession, but the firm has still managed to grow by providing repair services to alternative energy companies.

Born and raised in Fontana, Donald and Wallace Brithinee graduated Fontana High School and received their doctorates in mathematics in 1971 from UCR by age 22. Their success in both academics and business has led the brothers to establish the Britinee Scholarship for returning UCR Alumni Scholars.

The brothers have donated more than $40,000 to the scholarship fund since it was established in 1987. Brithinee said they provide four scholarships annually to returning sophomores, juniors and seniors equal to what is provided by the Alumni Scholars to students of the college’s Engineering School.

“If we are an example of anything,” Donald Brithinee said. “It’s the opportunities that public education in this country can provide.”

Other small business honored this year by Carter include: Bobby Ray’s BBQ and Bob’s Art and Frame Company, both of San Bernardino; P&G Auto Parts of Rialto; A&R Tech of Fontana; and MAS Auto of Bloomington and Fontana.

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