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Company History

Reinventing Play for 100 Years from BCI Burke Company

1920s - J.E. Burke Steel Radiator Furniture Catalog and Custom Built Steel Radiator

John Edward was a farmer in Fond du Lac, WI and farmed the land the Burke company headquarters stands on today. In 1920, he incorporated a weather-stripping company that quickly expanded to include the design and production of designer radiator furniture. After receiving a request to fabricate a slide for a family friend, Burke entered the playground industry! Soon playground products were the company’s main focus.

1930s - J.E. Burke's Swing King

The 1930s marked years of perfecting the engineering of the J.E. Burke product. In 1935, the company introduced a residential line of play equipment called the Swing King, designed for home backyards and even indoor use.

1940s - Burke Aids in War Effort

When World War II began in December of 1941, the J.E. Burke Company turned its production efforts to assisting the U.S. government in winning the war. J.E. Burke, always an inventor, devised a self-contained munitions cart that housed a 75-MM Howitzer machine gun that could be parachuted to the army personnel. The Paracrate, as it was suitably named, was also used to deliver food, medical supplies, and other needed supplies. The company’s dedication earned special recognition, and in 1943, the J.E. Burke Company was awarded an Excellence in War Production citation.

1950s - J.E. Burke Company Trade Shows in New Jersey

J.E. and Ethlyn’s children grew up surrounded by playground equipment, so it was natural when they became involved with running the family business. During this time, Burke began focusing additional resources on company growth.

1960s - J.E. Burke Company adds more colorful equipment and a rocket

Colors, colors and more COLORS! Slides and climbers transformed from silver galvanized steel to bright colors with roofs in a kaleidoscope of colors. With the first moon landing July 20, 1969, space ships and rockets became enormously popular. Burke launched a variety of space-themed play events that allowed children to pretend they were astronauts.

1970s - Burke 1979 Catalog cover and Burke Funnel Ball

Burke invented Funnel Ball® – an industry standout for its ingenuity. Other playground manufacturers quickly replicated the concept and the Funnel Ball became a playground staple across America.

1980s - Burke Introduces Modular Play

After purchasing Burke, Greg Burke, J.E.’s grandson, saw a new trend in playground design was taking shape. He noticed that the market was moving from individual play equipment to combining components into one unit and making use of decks and stairs as connectors. This realization brought Burke into a new era of modular play with its signature Series 2000 in 1989. The unique design employed a high-quality clamp and post system. In continuing with his grandfather’s commitment to create only the best-engineered playground equipment on the market, Greg designs the clamps to be ultra-secure.

1990s - Burke Introduces Early Childhood Play

Greg Burke, grandson of founder J.E. Burke, determined it was time to find a successor to lead the business into the 21st Century. Tim Ahern became the president/CEO of Burke in 1997.

2000 To Present

Product innovations, certifications and new partnerships characterize this decade. With the introduction of Intensity® and Nucleus®, earning ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:2004 for quality and sustainability respectively, a partnership with the National Program for Playground Safety and an active role in IPEMA, Burke increased its presence and took product innovation to the next level!