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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Frank, would you like to go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself?

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer (Sam) introduces interviewee (Frank) and topic of interview. Frank recounts what led him to working for Omega and his experience there in the 80's. He talks about the positions all the founders of Chroma had at Omega before they started the. Frank describes their relationship with their previous boss and the beginning of their own, new company

00:03:44 - On leaving Omega, waiting for the beginning of Chroma

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Partial Transcript: So when certain members, uh, I guess, when certain founders of Chroma had left Omega at the time, you're not working with Omega?

Segment Synopsis: Frank left Omega for several years before the other founders left themselves. He was ready and waiting for the beginning of Chroma and was in there right at the beginning.

00:04:36 - Division of Labor

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Partial Transcript: Were you part of, you know, the telegraphing conversations with Paul Millman and a few of the other founders before that all kind of came to fruition?

Segment Synopsis: Frank remembers what it was like for the founders to develop to idea of Chroma and who pushed for making their future company employee owned. The founders and their skills are discussed about how they contributed to the beginning of the company.

00:07:08 - Clarifying the Champions of Employee Onwership

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Partial Transcript: So up until now in my interviews, I've, I have not heard that Dick Stewart was also one of the champions for employee-ownership. For the most part I've heard that it was, you know, essentially Rusty wanting, you know, some--some unbeknownst people who wanted some part in equity, an equity stake in ownership, in owning the company. Contrasted with Paul, who wanted it to fully employee-owned.

Segment Synopsis: Frank clarifies how Dick Stewart and Paul Millman were adamant about employee ownership and from where the original funding came to start the company.

00:10:01 - Com[ing] to Fruition

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Partial Transcript: So what was, you know, after you got into production, what were the couple first couple of years of producing like for the company, for the founders?

Segment Synopsis: On the beginning of Chroma: its growth; how they made decisions; how crises were encounters; what governance looked like; how hiring practices reflected its small, close-knit beginning.

00:12:40 - Friendship of the Founders

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Partial Transcript: How long had you and the other founders known each other?

Segment Synopsis: Frank knew Dick prior to even working at Omega. Dick, Jay, and Wendy would come to Omega after Frank, with Paul getting hired on as a salesman in the late 80's.

00:16:28 - The Location and Founder-Owner of Omega Optical

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Partial Transcript: So, was the church operating at the time you were producing in its basement?

Segment Synopsis: Around the time Frank was working with Omega, it was operating out of the basement of a defunct church. Bob Johnson, its founder, learned his craft in Boston, started his own company Omega Optical--where the founders of Chroma would later meet each other.

00:18:09 - A company needs a salesman; a salesman needs a product

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Partial Transcript: So, I think, because if Paul had got hired in the late eighties, was it about eight to ten years that you were working with Omega before Paul got hired?

Segment Synopsis: Pinning down when Paul got hired and how he impacted Omega's sales in his brief years there. Frank describes how he saw Johnson and how Millman filled the company's need of a good salesman.

00:21:11 - Transfer of Skills: Greater Rewards

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Partial Transcript: So, moving into the nineties with the development of Chroma, how, integral was Paul's ability to sell the filters to the growth, you know, the lightning fast growth that you said that Chroma had?

Subjects: Millman met many people in the industry while at Omega and utilized his networking to elevate Chroma throughout its beginning (and until today). Millman was able to sell whatever Reichman and Auer were able to put together; even being attacked in a lawsuit that what they were doing couldn't be done--automated manufacturing of optical lenses (now industry standard).

00:24:00 - Revolutionary Software

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Partial Transcript: In thinking about [the founders'] skills and the ability to work competitively with
other companies, how do you think their skills helped Chroma kind of compete in
the high-end filters and work with, you know, very high-level scientists and
other companies producing very advanced technology?

Segment Synopsis: Wim's software greatly impacted production capacity and precision, pushing ahead competitors' abilities at the time; designing was also improved by some of Wim's software.

00:28:25 - Frank's Departure

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Partial Transcript: So what year, you know, move forward, a little bit away from, I guess, the
technicalities of Wim's work: what year was it that, you, I guess, left Chroma?

Subjects: Frank left about 10 years ago, around 2006, 2007. Chroma was getting too big, feeling that his skill sets no longer applied, and those needed, he didn't quite have. Operations became much more technical, less artistic and hands on. Frank felt it was time to move.

00:33:13 - Moving to Bellows Falls

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Partial Transcript: we've kind of we've talked a lot about the beginning of Chroma. Kind of
jump to the end of your tenure there so, you know, what was the, you know, the
end of the nineties like for the company, and going up to the 2003, when the
company left the Cotton Mill and came up to Bellows Falls?

Segment Synopsis: Frank discusses shortly the two lawsuits of the 1990s; hiring local people that fit the culture of Chroma; finding people that "didn't get" what it meant to work at Chroma as an employee-owned company; the success of a growing company in a booming industry.

00:39:11 - What it Means to be an Employee-Owner

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Partial Transcript: So when Chroma was expanding through the late 90s and the early 2000s, when
you guys were looking at new employees or how people fit the culture, what were
you looking for? I understand that the founders, for the most part, because you
guys are such a tight-knit group, you, you already had an idea of what, who you
were and what you were doing and why--But when finding new people to put into
that team, what were you looking for?

Segment Synopsis: Coaching new employee (owners), adjusting them to the company culture;working without managers; what it means to be an employee-owner;organizational structure and change over time.

00:43:58 - Speculation on the Historical Development of Structure

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Partial Transcript: (Traditional) Management has been weak in the past, but not for a lack of trying or different systems providing similar effects. Chroma's third-way between ESOPs and cooperatives is "also a want for something that..those models didn't offer."

Segment Synopsis: The evolution of Chroma and environmental pressure; Chroma's greatest strength; the Magic of Chroma; employee ownership and employee governance; competence and responsibility;

00:48:59 - Democracy and Autocracy

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Partial Transcript: What's the immediate alternative [to full, direct democracy]? An autocratic hierarchical structure?

Segment Synopsis: Frank doesn't think full direct democracy nor strong autocracy is the way it should go: a benign authority, a small group, may best meet the needs of autonomy, democracy, and structure. Chroma's rising structure somewhat fits into the dynamics Frank and Sam discuss; how Chroma is changing in it's structure, and how it might be staying the same.

Subjects: Frank doesn't think full direct democracy nor strong autocracy is the way it should go: a benign authority, a small group, may best meet the needs of autonomy, democracy, and structure.

00:54:35 - Closing Comments

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Partial Transcript: Are there any final comments, Frank, that we haven't talked about so far?

Segment Synopsis: Frank doesn't worry too much about Chroma: that it has a life of its own, that it will it go on; Speculation about importance of founders in furthering the company; Is Chroma sustainable with or without certain personalities.