Bernard Downey, Coating Pioneer, Passes Away at 88

Founder and president of B.L. Downey Co., a 325,000sf2 facility that specialized in e-coat and powder coating.


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Bernard Downey, a legend in the coatings industry with his Broadview, IL-based company, passed away Jan. 26 at the age of 88. Downey was the founder and president of B.L. Downey Co., a 325,000sf2 facility that specialized in e-coat and powder coating.
Downey was a pioneer in finishing. In the 1950s, Downey sold plastisol coatings to the finishing industry, but in 1956 he opened his own shop to apply plastisols and powder coatings. In 1962, Downey installed electrostatic spray equipment for powder coating, some of the first in the United States.
In March 1975, Products Finishing magazine published an article on the two-coat powder coating of light poles at B.L. Downey, a process that continues today. However, in 1975 the light poles were 26 ft long and weighed 260 lbs. Today the company is able to coat poles that are 50 ft long and weigh up to 1,400 lbs.
Several stamping companies in the area asked B.L. Downey about electrocoating, since automotive manufacturers were specifying it for parts previously plated. The company accepted the challenge.
"Electrocoating is seeing a resurgence, particularly in the automotive and appliance industries," Bernard Downey said at the time. "We wanted to be a part of it. That is why we are dedicated to this new line."
Downey was a devoted religious and family man, who supported many of his church initiatives and often took his large family of 11 children on many vacations together. A 1973 story in the Palm Beach Daily News in Florida told how Barnard and his wife, Jean Ann, would take nine of their 11 children out to play golf at the Breakers course, much to the bewilderment of club members.
Bernard Downey leaves his beloved wife, Jean Ann Downey, and his children: Patrick, Calland, Dennis, Deborah, Daniel, Joseph, James, Timothy, Thomas, Mary Ellen, Gerard and Bridget. He also leaves 41 grandchildren.