Boulder City - The Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City - The Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Spotlight on Business
by Ev Chase

Barth Electronics
Scientist, Inventor, Engineer

Measuring electrostatic discharge. What!

"We have skills from what we've learned working for the test site that are far and above anyone in the electrostatic discharge manufacturing and testing business knows. We're telling these people all the time, this is how you should make this measurement.

'Well that's not how we do it,' they say."

"Well that's the way you should do it and one of these days you're going to have to change."

That's Jon Barth and he knows from what he speaks.

Barth and his electronics business has been operating from Boulder City since 1976 and he doesn't plan to move.

It too little more than 15 minutes for Jon to lose me in his scientific world of changing technologies yet to come. Coincidence of age and location of employment did put this writer in the position of building the equipment that was blown up at the Nevada Test Site giving Jon something to measure. That little bit of knowledge I remembered about rise time and attenuators at least gave me a start with the interview.

"We started doing this kind of stuff for the government and Sandia, Livermore Radiation Laboratory (LRL), and Los Alamos (companies which were involved in above and underground nuclear testing during the 50's and 60's) and at the time we did not know it was for underground testing. Some of it wasn't, but it slowly graduated into it," Jon says.

Like most people, Jon didn't start at the top and he didn't start in Boulder City.

"I started out in a technical school (where he met his wife, Norma), ValparaisoTechnical Institute in Indiana," Jon says, "then I went to Ohio State, then back to Valparaiso to get more engineering skills."

Jon was working with Goodyear aircraft before he made his move to a company where something happened to set his career in motion.

"I made a move to an electric company that made radio frequency equipment," Jon says. "A request came in from Livermore (aforementioned company at the Test Site) for a high voltage attenuator. Nobody else wanted to do the job, so I took it."

Jon took it, and eventually built his research and knowledge into a new career and a new business.

"I always wanted to start my own business. I went to my local surplus store and bought everything I could to make a tester."

Testers and attenuators and Livermore added up to a move closer to the Nevada Test Site. Jon, his family, and a successful business hit the road for Las Vegas.

They camped at Vegas Wash while he made trips into Vegas searching for a place to live, but it was when he decided to take a different route (through BC) they realized they had found the place they wanted to live.

"This was it, this is the place we wanted to be!.

"I had a friend who was a truck driver, so we loaded up this big 18 wheeler and hauled all this stuff downtown Boulder City to the old laundry building.

"We found out that the City Attorney at the time owned the place so we called him and started renting from him right away."

Over the years the building was sold twice and each time the rent was raised. The owners offered the property to Barth, but it was more than he could afford. He started thinking about something else.

Jon and his wife ended up buying a piece of property from Paul Fisher when Fisher was developing in the area. They constructed the building which they have occupied for the past three years. If the rent goes up now, it's his own fault.

Other than finding a suitable place to locate, which is often tough for businesses in Boulder City, it was never necessary that Jon's business be located in downtown area. For Jon, it was there need to find a building big enough to handle his equipment.

"I have the best of both worlds - I have a machine shop that we paid for with the work we did for the test site and some nice computer controlled (C&C) machines that allow us to make just about anything we want."

What Jon wants and what he has done, is transfer his technology from weapons testing to electrostatic discharge testing of semiconductors.

"It has just been fantastic. It is so much nicer."

Jon is not selfish though, he wants it to be nicer for the people of Boulder City as well.

"You've heard me tell Bob Ferraro (Mayor) that we need an industrial park. This is the Fisher Pen Industrial Park, it's not Boulder City's Industrial Park and there are a lot of people in town who need jobs. They would like to be working here in Boulder City rather than driving that Pass everyday."

When the government was still weapons testing, Barth employed as many as 22 people. He feels with other industrial park type businesses many more people would be able to stay and work here at home.

"We haven't had a city survey in many years so City Hall doesn't really know what the people want. That's what my concern is, getting the City Manager and the Council to really look at what the people want rather than what they think they want."

Jon says he is a problem for his wife because when she asks him a question he will give her three or four solutions. "It drives her nuts."

"That's because an inventor's mind is always looking for a better way to do things," Jon says.

I say, tell us what you really think, don't hold back Jon.

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