Crystal Manufacturer Keeps Up with Electronics Industry

Article excerpt

When Beth Freeland graduated from college a few years ago, she disdained going into her father's crystal manufacturing business in Oklahoma City.

"I felt that I had nothing to contribute and I didn't want to go to work there just because my father owned it," she said.

Instead, she pursued a degree in mass communications, went to work as a reporter for Channel 9 in Oklahoma City and moved on to other markets.

Finally, in 1993, she was summoned again. "This time I felt that I had learned a lot and had acquired some experience in marketing, public relations and sales," Freeland said. "So I decided to come back and help my brother."

The family-owned International Crystal Manufacturing Co. has pretty much flowed with the electronics industry in America since World War II.

In fact, it was during the war that the business was begun.

Founder Lt. Royden Freeland Sr. was assigned to Fort Monmouth, N.J., where he disassembled captured German radios that were using the newest crystal technology. He reverse-engineered these radios and learned how it was done.

Even though crystals had been in use for several years, the German technology was far superior to anything that had been in use up to that time.

"When he came back to Oklahoma City after the war, he worked around some but decided that the crystal industry was where he should be," Beth said of her father.

So he borrowed $1,000 from his father-in-law and bought some equipment, then traveled to Dallas to Collins Radio. There, he managed to make a $100,000 sale, contingent upon his new crystals being what he said they were.

"His crystals were what he promised and the company has been growing ever since," Beth said.

The company was founded in the late 1940s and incorporated in 1953, Beth said.

Today, her brother Royden Freeland Jr. and sister Susan Freeland own the business. Beth and Royden share operating responsibilities. Susan is an attorney living in Carmel, Calif.

"Royden is the engineer, the one who understands everything and makes it go," Beth said.

Although she handles the administration, sales and marketing, she has no title. "We don't like titles around here," she said.

The Freeland children inherited the company in 1978 when Royden Sr. and wife Virginia were killed in a plane crash.

Royden Jr. had been working at the plant since graduating from college.

"In about 1993, Royden called us (Beth and Susan) and said that the rest of the family needed to participate more and he needed some help that the company was growing faster than we had thought," Beth said. "So I felt by then that I had something to contribute and joined him."

Although the art of making crystals is more precise and sophisticated than it was right after World War II, the process is still the same. …

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