A Family Legacy
Whether you grew up playing baseball, hockey, softball, or seemingly any other sport, chances are you had an Easton product in your closet. Jim Easton, BS '59, is the reason why.
The story of Easton began in the garage of Jim Easton's childhood home, where his father developed a cutting-edge process to become the first manufacturer of aluminum arrows, which had previously been made only of wood. Aluminum arrows spawned a revolution in archery, and over the years the business became successful enough that, upon finishing an engineering degree at UCLA and working a few years at the Douglas Aircraft Company, Easton went back to work for his father fletching arrows and building the family business.
It was then that Jim Easton decided to apply the manufacturing concepts the company had perfected to new markets, like ski poles, baseball bats, and hockey sticks. Easton's innovations—guided by the principle of enhancing athletic performance and brought to fruition through a smart mix of science, technology, and sound business practice—reshaped the sports equipment market forever.
It's no surprise, then, that Easton is passionate about the intersection of science, technology, and business at UCLA Anderson, where Easton has been a member of the Board of Visitors since 1988. He created the Jim Easton Global Connection Classroom, a cutting-edge learning environment connecting students and faculty around the world, and the Easton Technology Leadership Program, which helps address the managerial and leadership needs of MBA students with engineering or technical backgrounds, to nurture the spirit of innovation and foster the blend of business and science.
"In my years at Easton I saw a disconnect between the needs of running a business and the application of science and technology," Easton says. "UCLA has been a big part of my life since my time as an undergraduate, and John Anderson was a personal mentor of mine, so I saw UCLA Anderson as the perfect place to help tackle the problem of raising leaders who are as savvy about science and technology as they are about business and management."
Easton's son, Greg, who now runs Easton Technical Products, the spinoff company that continues the family legacy of making arrows and other high-performance sports equipment, graduated from UCLA Anderson in 2000. "It was incredibly rewarding to see Greg graduate from UCLA Anderson," Easton says. "It's a tremendous school with an outstanding faculty and administration, and it has afforded him countless opportunities and connections."
Since handing over the reins of the company, Easton has committed himself to, among other things, philanthropy and the Olympics. Easton has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1994 and has attended every summer Olympic games since the 1976 Games in Montreal.
In addition to Easton's generous support of UCLA Anderson, he also established the Mary S. Easton Center and the James L. Easton Consortium for Alzheimer's Disease Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the Easton Institute for Technological Advancement at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Easton Stadium on the UCLA campus.
For a couple enjoying their retirement years, Jim Easton and his wife, Phyllis, certainly keep busy. "Our life is very full," he says. Indeed it is.