From Employees' Handbook, Circa 1950
By Robert Johnson, HR Manager




    The content of this page was scanned from the Bliley Electric Employee's Handbook used in the 1950s, pages 1 through 10. It provides information on the history of the company, the general management structure, and a description of the company's products for lay personnel. I believe this material was written by Robert Johnson as it contains many of his personal expressions and patterns of speech. Bob was Industrial Relations Manager (HR) for most of his 37 years with the company .

    A more comprehensive history can be found on this site covering the period between Bliley Electric's founding in 1930, until shortly after Frank Dawson Bliley's death.

    Charles A. Bliley, K3NAU

    Click here for the detailed and illustrated company history.

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    Employee Handbook, Circa 1950


    Almost all companies look back to a small beginning of some sort in years gone by. Sometimes these first years are connected with the development of a new activity or a new way of doing things. Such is the case with the Bliley Electric Company.

    In the late twenties amateur radio was developing rapidly and the greater number of amateur and other broadcasting stations on the air was forcing the operators to use better methods of controlling transmitting frequencies. It was soon recognized that quartz crystals were the answer.

    Our company, which actually got its start in February of 1930, was formed originally to supply crystals for the radio amateur trade. The "plant" was located in the basement of the old Bliley residence on West 9th Street.

    Starting as a one-man outfit it began to grow after about a year's struggle. Late in 1931 the first three employees of the company were added. These men, hired in the order named, were W. S. Riblet, R. T. Schlaudecker and G. E. Wright, all three still being with the company. The first "office help" hired was J. F. Haller, who is now serving the company as Production Manager. Dr. Richard Collman became Mr. Bliley's first partner in the business, followed several years later by his brother Charles, who became an active partner in the work.

    As crystal control was demanded more and more by the radio amateurs, the company expanded and outgrew its basement home. In the spring of 1932 with six employees the plant was moved to the mezzanine floor of the C. H. Collman Optical Company in the Masonic Temple Building.

    Expansion continued at a most encouraging rate. In addition to making crystals for the use of amateurs, the company started to expand its efforts to include such fields as commercial, broadcasting, Lighthouse and Coast Guard Services and other applications of the quartz crystal to radio communication. In July of 1933 the company again outgrew its housing facilities and with about eleven employees, moved to the second floor of the Union Station Building.

    The next five or six years was a period of steady growth during which the company made its name known and its products respected throughout the radio industry. Bliley built up a reputation for putting out a quality product and for being willing to tackle anything in the quartz crystal line. By the beginning of World War II the company was employing approximately 70 employees, and had expanded over most of the second floor space in the Union Station.

    When the war broke out the government found itself in urgent need of millions of quartz oscillating crystals for military communication. Our plant was put on a three shift basis and we also operated a second, government owned plant. Our peak employment was 1300 to 1400 in the two plants. During the first year of the war, Blileys largely "carried the ball" for the U. S. Signal Corps as far as crystal production was concerned. We also released our "know how" and our patented processes, such as acid etching, to other plants making crystals so that Bliley engineering skill could be used wherever crystals were being made. Because of our production record we had the honor of being a 4 star winner of the Army-Navy E award.

    With the end of hostilities the government's need for huge quantities of crystals ended and about 95% of the Company's orders were immediately canceled. In the months immediately following VJ Day production was at a low ebb while our engineers and our sales department worked to develop our post-war activities in such advanced fields as A. M. and F. M. broadcasting, juke box crystals, vacuum plated crystals for amateur and other applications, and our new crystal controlled oscillator units. The government, in recognition of our research and engineering ability, assigned to us the project of developing new methods of lapping very thin crystals for ultra high frequencies, and made it possible for us to carry on this research.

    In December of 1945 the Collman interests in the Company were bought out by Mr. Bliley and the Company was reorganized on a one plant basis.

    By the middle of 1946 the Company's peace time business had again begun to develop in the face of very active competition from other crystal manufacturers, severe material shortages and other problems.

    We have now greatly increased our pre-war employment and are looking forward confidently to further expansion in the future as quartz crystals become recognized as a must in more and more applications.

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    We are mainly interested in the manufacture of quartz oscillating crystals for use in controlling frequency in radio communication of various kinds. It is our business to cut the crystals from natural raw quartz, finish them to very exacting specifications, and mount them in the holders which we also manufacture.

    A finished radio crystal has the appearance of a small square or round disc, or piece of ground glass. The natural quartz from which it has been cut is a hard glass-like mineral substance found in practically all parts of the world. However, only a special grade and size of crystalline quartz is commercially usable for radio crystals. It is mined in the interior of Brazil, and has to be imported to us in its natural crystal shape, just as it grew in the ground. These natural crystals which we use vary from the size of a small egg to pieces bigger than your two fists.

    This natural quartz is used in controlling radio frequencies because it has an electrical property found in only a few substances. Because of this peculiar property, the quartz particles in a crystal may be made to oscillate at a certain speed or frequency depending upon how the individual crystal is cut from the raw quartz, and how it is finished after cutting. Commercial radio stations use these crystals to control the frequency at which they broadcast their programs. Amateur radio operators, airplane pilots, and many others who send radio messages likewise use crystals to control the frequency of the radio impulses sent out by their equipment. In some radio applications the receiving sets have crystals in them so that they can receive radio messages only at certain frequencies. Recent developments in the use of two-way radio communication opens up a widely expanded field for quartz crystals.

    In addition to their use as frequency control devices, quartz oscillating crystals have many other uses. One application is their use in pressure gauges for recording high pressures of short duration, such as that encountered in guns or combustion engines. These gauges work on the principle that the crystal develops an electrical charge when distorted by a physical force, and that the amount of charge developed is a measure of the magnitude of the force or pressure. Another application is in the generation of sound waves at frequencies beyond the limits of human hearing. These sound waves, called ultrasonics, show great promise of beneficial use in medicine, smoke dissipation, chemical processes, bacteriology, and paint manufacture.

    The manufacture of a quartz radio crystal is a highly technical process. It involves the use of special machinery for cutting, lapping, and finishing the crystals. It also involves the use of a wide variety of testing techniques, visual, mechanical, and electrical, at different stages in the production. These techniques are constantly changing and specifications for the manufactured product are constantly being tightened.

    Thus, we are of necessity always faced with a challenge, a challenge to make a better and finer product, so that we can keep our place in a highly competitive field and continue to exist as a progressive manufacturing team.

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    The, head of our company is F. Dawson Bliley, who is President and General Manager. Under him our plant is divided into the following five general departments-Sales, Engineering, Accounting, Production and Personnel. The Directors of our Company are F. Dawson Bliley, George Wright, John Wolfskill, Donald Stout, and Joseph Haller.

    SALES DEPARTMENT-The head of the Sales Department is George Wright, who is Vice-President and General Sales Manager. The Sales Department has the job of making work for the rest of us by selling our products. We have thirteen sales representatives 'located at strategic points to cover the United States and Canada. These men in turn keep us in contact with our direct sales outlets, 430 authorized radio parts distributors. Our foreign trade is handled through two exporting houses, Ad. Aureima, who takes care of sales in Mexico, Central America, all the islands in the Atlantic and the European Continent, and Frazer & Hansen, who handle our sales in the Pacific area and Asia.

    Our home sales office includes a Distributor Sales Manager and a Sales Engineer as well as the usual office staff. Our Sales Manager also has the responsibility of planning our company advertising and handling it through a commercial advertising agency.

    A small department within the Sales Department is the Purchasing Department. It is the Purchasing Agent's function, of course, to provide us with all the materials needed to run our business. This job is extremely critical when many materials are almost impossible to procure and the Purchasing Agent must continually work with the Engineering Department to find substitutes in parts and materials which he can get to take the place of those .specified. The Purchasing Agent is a part of the Sales Department 'because it is absolutely essential that the Sales Manager know whether we can procure needed materials before we agree to take a new order from, anyone.

    ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT--The head of the Engineering Department is John Wolfskill, who is Vice President and Chief Engineer of our Company. He has, as his responsibility, the co-ordination of several different sub-departments. The Engineering Department is responsible for Research, Electrical and Mechanical Maintenance, inspection and the setting up of production standards by Time Study.

    The Engineering Department has a vital part in every stage of our work. The Engineers must work with the Sales Department in deciding whether we can make new types of crystals which someone wants. They draw up the specifications for proposed orders as well as for all work that goes through the shop. This part of the Engineering Department is the responsibility of Bob Schlaudecker who is Specifications Engineer and Supervisor. He must work closely with the Cost Office in estimating the probable cost of units on which we are trying to work up bids.

    The Research work often takes place months before an order is placed with the Company and in some cases is responsible for our finding new uses for crystals and our being able to show other companies how these applications will benefit them. The Engineering section of the department has, to take out the "bugs" in new units and find out how to get them started in production. They have the assistance of the Production Department foremen in this work.

    Production standards are set by the Time Study men who also hunt for improvements in methods of doing our work. They have the important job of standardizing our labor costs so that our cost estimating on new orders can be done in an intelligent way and our work effort be equalized as much as possible on the various jobs. The Drafting Department is also a part of the Engineering Department and works out our new units on paper long before we make them in the shop.

    The Maintenance Departments keep the machinery and equipment in running order and do some mechanical and electrical construction of new equipment and test equipment.

    Another section within the Engineering Department is Inspection. Our inspectors have the double duty of checking all incoming material and of checking our own work as it goes through the various production departments. Our reputation for putting out good work depends partly on the efforts of our inspectors to see that no poor work is allowed to slip through.

    ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT--The head of the Accounting Department is Don Stout, who is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Company. His department is divided into two sections, General Accounting and Cost and Payroll Accounting. It is the responsibility of the Accounting Department to keep accurate records of all financial transactions of the Company and to clearly interpret all State and Federal legislation which governs the money side of a business. They also tell the Sales Department what prices must be charged for our products in order that we may not operate at a loss.

    The Accounting Department reaches directly into the shop through its Time-keepers. The Time-keepers have the responsibility of keeping detailed accurate records of the time spent on each operation so that accurate cost figures can be worked out.

    PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT--The head of the Production Department is Joe Haller, who is Production Manager. It is the Production Department which actually turns out the work and gives us something to deliver after the Sales Department has sold it and the Engineering Department has figured out how to make it. Everyone who has a part in producing our crystals and other products has the responsibility of doing their part to make Bliley products good enough so that other companies and individuals will continue to buy them.

    The Production Department is divided into the following smaller departments, Slicing, Lapping, Calibrating, Machine, Holder, Pre-Calibrating, and Stockroom. Each of these departments has its particular function in turning out a finished Bliley unit.

    PERSONNEL DEPARTMENT--The head of the Personnel Department is Bob Johnson, who is Personnel Manager. This department handles the "human" problems of our plant. It is most interested in working with you and your foreman to help keep Blileys a good place in which to work, and to make it easy for you to clear up any problems that may arise as you work here.

    Some of the activities of the Personnel Department are employment. wage administration, job evaluation, job transfers, first aid, personnel records, company-wide drives for charitable organizations, and administration of the company rules and regulations.

    In almost all of its activities the Personnel Department works closely with the department foremen, in many cases acting in only an advisory capacity. At all times the Personnel Department is anxious to help you in any way possible.

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    Copyright ©2001, Charles A. Bliley