Once A Tech Power House, Local Company Set To Close Its Doors
OKLAHOMA CITY - As Oklahoma City continues to change for the better. it means some of its history might have to be lost in the process.
“I can get really emotional about it,” 74-year-old Royden Freeland Jr. said sitting in a production room of his family’s company, International Crystal Manufacturing (ICM). “I think it's one of those things that kind of bitter sweet.”
ICM is tucked inside Oklahoma City's fast growing Film Row. The company is one of the nation's last producers of quartz crystals for electronics. Freeland estimates there only one of five in the U.S.
At one time, ICM made thousands of crystals a week or all shapes and sizes providing the frequencies that operate everything from radios to TVs to airplanes. Each room in the company’s four buildings is festooned with machinery, wiring and spare parts. The feeling of an era gone by is as difficult to ignore as the early 90s country music playing over the company’s speaker system.
But now, says it's time for all of it to come to an end. After 66 years, the company his father started will be closing its doors for good.
“It's gotten to the point where it's just not profitable to do what we do,” Freeland said, his eyes misty behind his large-framed glasses.
Freeland's father, Royden Freeland Sr., started ICM in 1951. An electrical engineer during World War II, Senior brought back some of the crystals the Army stole from German radios, which he then used to start a business, with Royden Jr. at his side every step of way.
“I've been here pretty much the entire time and watched everything change and grow and technology improve,” Freeland Jr, said with a smile.
However, with that change comes larger growth and even larger demand; one that's sent ICM's business overseas.
“A lot of the manufacturing in the last 20 years now has gone off shore. Of course, it went to Japan, then it went to Taiwan, now it's in China,” he said.
Freeland says it's hard to know the end is near. After a lifetime spent making things so small, the big decision to close-up shop has been the hardest thing to make.
“You find out what you spent years buying and using is now worth very little,” Freeland said, adding the most value is for the lot the company occupies.
According to Freeland, it’s worth between $2 to $3 million.
ICM is not currently taking in new orders, but is filling any that were placed prior to announcing the company’s closing. Freeland said some customers asked for a lifetime supply of ICM quartz, which is still hand made in Oklahoma City.
ICM is set to officially close in early June.