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Created in the Corridor: Crystal Group, Inc.
HIAWATHA, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - What started from a kitchen table more than 25 years ago ended up reaching the depths of the ocean, the sands of the desert and the edge of outer space. And all of the products produced by Crystal Group, Inc. are as durable as the company Created in the Corridor.
“We started out as a telecom, computer telephony company,” explains Crystal Group President, Scott Kongable. Company founder Craig Jensen designed industrial computers for the telecommunications industry in the late 1980s. Then, in 2003, his firm started building them for the military and government sectors. Today, you can find Crystal's rugged computers all over the world; “On submarines, ships, Humvees, other military wheeled vehicles, and some wide bodied aircraft,” says Kongable.
The B-2 Stealth Bomber is one of Crystal's proudest deployments which also include the Navy's new submarine hunter, the PA-8 Poseidon aircraft. It's computers can even be found on the ISS. “We are processing any of the video that is taken in the International Space Station. It’s processed on a Crystal computer.”
And because all those computers are designed and built from scratch in Hiawatha, Crystal Group can put commercial electronics in environments where they otherwise wouldn't work. Just weeks ago, the Army was preparing a field demonstration for top brass when a storm cam in. Jim Shaw, Crystal Group's Executive Vice President of Engineering explains, "(It) blew the tent away, blew the unit over and the case it was in into the mud. It filled up with water, they pulled it out of the mud the next morning, shook it out, turned it on and it worked.”
Crystal computers also are used in oil and gas exploration, power generation and mobile broadcast.
The company has grown quickly, from 36 employees to 115 in just six years. And its current 15,000 square foot expansion will allow the company to more than double its production capacity. It's more than just hardware, though, as Shaw's team is migrating to higher level systems engineering work. “We’re really about creating solutions for our customers, not just products,” says Shaw.
Kongable says it all boils down to a laser focus on the customer and their exact needs. And because the company provides equipment to the U.S. Military, Kongable says it has a moral obligation to provide the most
reliable computers possible. “When they push the button to make something happen, it has to happen at that point. Lives depend on it.”
Crystal Group has more than a dozen patents, three patents pending and is 100% employee owned. You can find a lot more information in the News Links section of this website.