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00:00:02 - Introduction

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Segment Synopsis: Sam opens the interview by covering the major topics of the interview and introducing Jay.

Jay picks up his life story before Chroma when he graduated from college. He went to Brown University on the physics track, had an interest in intentional communities and co-op housing. He started working at Omega Optical in the autumn of 1983 in the shipping department where he learned a lot about their products. He graduated through several departments at Omega, learning more and more about optics, landing him on a project on the Hubble Space Telescope. By the time he was ready to take a break from Omega, Paul and Dick were talking about plans to start their own company, later to become Chroma Technology Corp.

00:06:25 - The Hubble Space Telescope

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Partial Transcript: So I'm actually kind of interested about the work you did with themselves Hubble Space Telescope because I've been hearing about for months and now we're finally here-- just briefly if you don't mind.

Segment Synopsis: Omega landed a contract with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, working on the series of filters that when their separate images are combined they create a full color picture of space. These filters went on the second camera, installed on the second servicing mission.

00:09:03 - Day in the Life of Omega

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Partial Transcript: SE: So getting back on track, I guess maybe talk about even the beginning of Chroma that you were a part of. From what I understand, it took about six months to develop the first project or product anyhow. So do you want to talk about the first six months to a year with Chroma? (Jay talks about his work at Omega.)

Segment Synopsis: Jay worked on some coating technologies while at Omega. Wim worked on designing the interior of the machines, while Jay worked on designing the filters. However everyone at Omega did a lot of different things: Jay did designing, but also applications training with customers, and designing the inside of the machines.

00:11:48 - Employee-Ownership: An Obvious Decision

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Partial Transcript: SE: So in addition of that, how did you feel about choosing to do an employee-owned company with Chroma in the beginning particularly, in line with your previous interests in cooperatives?

Subjects: Employee ownership brings up Jays interest across other types of employee-managed and cooperative work structures. That everyone had their unique contributions to overall operations, employee ownership made logistic sense to Jay. Until about 2000, 2001, Bradford Machines owned some stocks in Chroma, for which Chroma compensated them with in the beginning to do a lot of work on the machinery. Chroma bought back his shares, and still remain a client of Bradford Machines.

00:16:22 - Early Culture at Chroma: the Work and Who Made Decisions.

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Partial Transcript: SE: So going back to the first decade, you talked about the kind of work you did in the beginning of Chroma, what do you remember about the development of Chroma as you guys grew through the nineties? And what that looked like it and felt like as the company expanded throughout the Cotton Mill?

Segment Synopsis: Jay stuck to his specialties, just like the other founders. In working on the filter designs, Jay worked with customers to get them the filters they needed to be able to do their work and get them the data they needed.

Being about to work on and with one's specialties was an important arrangement to build the employee ownership culture in the beginning. While Paul and Dick helped put the company together in the beginning, everyone being able to input on major decisions also forwarded Chroma's culture.

00:22:43 - Lawsuits of the First Decade

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Partial Transcript: SE: Okay; so do you want to talk about how you experienced Chroma expanding through the Cotton Mill and what that was like particularly with adding more people to the kind of work that you did or the kind of work groups that you were in and maybe even difficulties with the kind of town meetings you guys were having at the time?

Segment Synopsis: Before moving to Bellows Falls, the founders' time was consumed by two lawsuits.

Jay acted as secretary for a number of years, keeping track of the share distribution and stock purchases. He was involved in moving the company towards 100% employee owned. Records of the meetings of the lawsuits exist, but their happenings consume Jay's reflection of those years.

Records also exist on the dissenters of Chroma. Jay remarks that the lawsuits weren't about money, but about the "essence of Chroma...the livelihood." The company had restructured their shares, for which the rearrangement spawned the second lawsuit.

00:36:50 - Moving to Bellows Falls

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Partial Transcript: So, moving forward, I kind of want to talk about what it was like moving up here into, now, the Bellows Falls facility, little bit later, I've have said it was about 2003 to 2004, and anything you remember around that...

Segment Synopsis: Chroma decided to do a one-person, one-vote about where Chroma was going to move from the Brattleboro facility at the time. A possibility existed of moving to Keene, New Hampshire, while Bellows Falls was "at the time for most of us was like the boondocks." Staying in Vermont was good for political reasons, in terms of being part of the Vermont business community, which is highly saturated with social responsibility and employee ownership practices. The decision was not an easy one and took more than one vote. Records of the discussions and how the decision was made remain on record somewhere in Chroma.

00:43:51 - Growth, Management, and Chroma's Ownership Model

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Partial Transcript: ...okay, so you know moving on - you clearly chose coming here to Bellows Falls, to stay in Vermont. Looking through the early 2000's and I guess we can even kind of bring us up to now in 2016, what were some of the other developments that you saw in the company that kind of stick out in your memory? In size, difficulty with getting too big and how to make decisions, the kind of the development of structure the governance...

Segment Synopsis: Chroma is currently expanding its management structure to capture the growth of its operations. They aren't hiring people for salaries, but for right fit in the company. The board of directors has considered, for example, opening a seat to an outside member, likely someone in the local or Vermont community. The ownership model--neither a cooperative nor an Employee Stock Ownership Plan--does not make it easy for the founders to leave. Thus, Chroma is considering changing the ownership model, but will continue to stay fully employee owned.

While Jay claims to "never been really good with business and finance stuff", finding a way to value the companies stock as fairly and accurately as possible is necessary. When the ownership model is solved, it will be address issues that affect the founders and everyone else in the company. All the while, Chroma is undertaking a building expansion in 2017.

00:52:51 - Chroma's Future, and Forthcoming Challenges

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Partial Transcript: So we've talked a lot about the technical details of both the lawsuits, and themselves ESOP ownership models look like, do you want to talk a little bit about how you've experienced or seen like the culture of employee ownership developed and function in this company?

Segment Synopsis: Chroma has always been ultra-fair in its compensation to employees. There are a lot of people that do well and contribute a lot to Chroma, that doesn't end just when they're finished working. Chromites are involved in a wide range of volunteering and community development work, sometimes through Chroma's name, sometimes not.

Technology changes very rapidly, and Jay hopes that Chroma, maintaining high wages and benefits, can automate their work in all the right places and keep the same staff simultaneously. Similarly, how decisions are made still remains a challenge: what decisions are made by groups? by individuals? Even then, who and when? Chroma faces a series of economic challenges, but nothing that market doesn't typically dish out. Chroma's branches in China, Japan, and Germany will certainly aide expansion into the future, in time, markets, and products.