Early Employees of Collins Radio Company
by: Rod Blocksome

We can trace the beginnings of the Collins Radio Company back to 1931 when a young Arthur Collins began building and selling amateur radio transmitters in the basement of his home at 1720 6th Ave., Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This small home business gradually expanded until Arthur decided to incorporate the Collins Radio Company which formally took place on September 9, 1933.

The early Collins products have been documented with several articles written about them. But who were the early employees who helped make it happen? This paper attempts to identify these early employees, the dates they joined, and the references used to piece this record together. I have included the call signs of the licensed amateur radio operators after their names because the products that launched the company were first for the amateur radio market and later for the broadcast market.

A time-line of recorded employment events follows:

• November 17, 1931 – Arthur has two part-time employees: Leo Hruska, 9BBH and Roy Harrington, (call sign unknown) both fellow amateur radio operators. He called his enterprise “Radio Laboratories, Inc.” – though no evidence of incorporation has been found. [i]

• January – October 1932 – Another, apparently part-time, employee was Ralph T. Ackerman, draftsman, who created most of the design drawings in this time period. [ii]

• June 1932 – Clair Miller, W9KFA, was hired as the first full-time employee (see photo 1). Arthur now calls his enterprise “Collins Radio Transmitters”. [iii]


Photo 1 - Clair Miller with a Collins 12X Audio Amplifier and a
Studio Microphone from WMT (Cedar Rapids Broadcast Station).

• January 1, 1933 – The following chart probably lists only the full-time employees: [iv]

NamePositionAddress
Arthur A. Collins  
Merle H. Collins  
Clair R. MillerEmployee52G C Ave. NE
Irene SnyderStenographer1015 3rd Ave. SE
Sanford ToogoodProduction Engineer1528 Washington Ave. SE
Summary: Five total employees.
President and Design Engineer: Arthur Collins (See Photo 2)
Vice-President: Merle H. Collins (See Photo 3)
Production: Clair Miller and Sanford Toogood

Photo 2 - Arthur A. Collins; photo taken about 1932.

Photo 3 - Merle H. Collins; Arthur’s father.

• “On a Saturday in 1933” President Arthur Collins phoned Arlo Goodyear and offered him two weeks work if he was willing to work on Sundays. Out of work for months and with a wife and baby, Goodyear jumped at the chance. Today [May 1953] (and he has never left) he heads… “When Arlo reported for work, he found that he comprised the factory of the business, the other three employees being President, Vice-president and Superintendent.” [v]

• “Early 1933 - perhaps on April 7, 1933” – John ‘Slim’ Dayhoff (Sheet Metal), and Ted Saxon (Machinist) were hired (see photo 4). Then Gerald ‘Jiggs’ Ozburn, W9ARW. Charles Boegel, WØCVU came when there were only six employees. [vi]


Photo 4 - The early Collins fabrication shop. Note the upper walls decorated with transmitter schematics.
From Left to Right: Ted Saxon, John ‘Slim’ Dayhoff, and unknown – probably Gerald ‘Jiggs’ Ozburn.

• September 9, 1933 – Arthur Collins incorporates the Collins Radio Company with eight employees at the time. The wording indicates that perhaps the company consisted of Arthur Collins and 8 additional. Thus the employees listed in order of joining the company becomes:

OrderNameCall Sign
1Arthur A. CollinsW9CXX
2Merle H. Collins 
3Clair R. MillerW9KFA
4Irene Snyder 
5Sanford Toogood 
6Gerald ‘Jiggs’ Ozburn [vii]W9ARW
7Charles BoegelW9CVU
8John ‘Slim’ Dayhoff [viii] 
9Ted Saxon 

• October 3, 1933 – Kathryn Horsfall joins the company and later becomes the first employee to achieve 40 years with the company on October 3, 1973. [ix]

• January 1, 1934 – Collins Radio Company has grown considerably in one year. [x]

NamePositionAddress
Donald M. AndersonTechnician1612 Grande Ave. SE
Leo L. BeranekTechnician526 5th SE
E. Marjorie BlackInformation1015 3rd Ave. SE
A. A. CollinsPresident1720 6th Ave. SE
Merle H. CollinsVice-president514 Fairview Dr.
J. Wesley DayhoffMachinist1732 Blake Blvd SE
Kathryn M. HorsfallStenographer1308 4th NW
Faye M. JonesBookkeeper1015 3rd Ave. SE
Neil B. LarimerShipping Clerk216 4th NW
Park RinardAccountant1263 1st Ave SE
Robert E. SamuelsonRadio Engineer224 22nd NE
Irene SnyderSecretary and Office Manager1015 3rd Ave. SE
James G. TelferSales224 22nd NE
Loren Sanford ToogoodProduction Manager1924 1st Ave. NE
Summary: 14 total employees (plus Morton Kahn in New York who joined before November 27, 1934)
Two Design Engineers: Arthur Collins & Robert Samuelson
Production: Probably Anderson, Beranek, and Toogood

• April 1, 1934 – Roy Olson, Electrical Engineer, is hired.

• May 1934 – Emma Haas, Rose Kucera (Emma’s Sister) and Lloyd Haas (Emma’s Husband) were employed as Janitorial staff (bargaining unit). [xi]

• July 1934 – Mike ‘Milo’ Soukup was hired after High School Graduation as a “Mechanical Assembly Helper”

• 1934 – A publicity photo (photo 5) was taken of the production assembly area of 2920 First Ave. People who normally did not work on the assembly line were included to make the company look larger than it really was. A Collins 20B transmitter is the large black cabinet at the far left. On the workbenches are small transmitters which were used on the Goodyear Blimp “Enterprise”.


Photo 5 - Early Collins Factory at 2920 First Ave., Cedar Rapids – from left to right are:
Elmer Koehn, Don Anderson, Don Holmes, Don Wheaton, Roy Olson, John Dayhoff, Arlo Goodyear,
Don Cole, Don Atherton, R. E. Samuelson, Walter Wirkler, Leonard Braun, and Gerald Ozburn.

• January 1, 1935 – The following employment roster for Collins Radio Company shows: [xii]

NamePositionAddressNotes
Don C. AthertonAssemblymanAllison Hotel 
Stanley D. AthertonAssemblyman1325 A Ave. NE 
Roy (or Ralph?) G. AustinEngineer128 27th Dr. SE 
John BabilusPurchasing Agent336 17th SE 
Bruce BolandMachinist1615 2nd Ave SE 
Leonard BraunMachinistMarion 
Robert L. CampbellAssemblyman1646 3rd Ave. SE 
Arthur A. CollinsPresident  
Merle H. CollinsVice-president  
Roger S. ConradAssemblyman1749 B Ave. NE 
Frank M. DavisEngineer224 22nd NE 
Floyd J. ErnestAssemblyman54 20th Ave. SW 
Earl FredineEngineer1646 3rd Ave. SE 
Arlo C. GoodyearAssemblyman1413 4th Ave. SEJoined in 1933
Rose HansenTreasurer1400 2nd Ave SE 
D. W. HolmesEngineer718 4th SE 
Kathryn M. HorsfallStenographer1308 4th NW 
Marjorie HoylandOffice1424 2nd Ave SE 
Genevieve C. HunterStenographer411 24th NE 
Elmer H. KoehnAssemblyman211 31st Dr. SEJoined Jan. 2, 1934
Lawrence R. LangfeldtAssemblyman117 11th NE 
Robert H. LaphamAssemblyman1010 2nd Ave. SW 
Clifford P. LawrenceWorks1424 A Ave. NE 
Donald A. LawrenceAssemblyman1401 Wildwood Dr. NE 
Albert C. LeeWorks848 Oakland Ave. NE 
Frank D. MadisonAssemblymanMarion 
Isaac F. McAllisterAssemblyman1635 3rd Ave SE 
Clair R. MillerSales Engineer1523 6th Ave. SE 
Robert F. MillerAssemblerYMCA 
Roy H. OlsonEngineer1438 4th Ave. SE 
Gerald D. OzburnMachinistMarion 
Wilford G. PappenfusClerk1210 3rd Ave SE 
Roger PieracciEngineer1438 4th Ave. SE 
Frances W. PowersStenographer226 Ellis Blvd NW 
Garnet L. RamseyTranslator546 Knollwood Dr. SE 
Mary RowanStenographer1015 3rd Ave SE 
Robert E. SamuelsonEngineer224 22nd NE 
Merril SmithEngineer1438 4th Ave. SEJoined ~ June 1934
Myron R. SmithAssemblyman1646 3d Ave. SE 
Owen SmithWorks2616 1st Ave. NE 
Leo G. SoukupMachinistRR 4 
Milo SoukupAssemblerRR 4Joined in July 1934
Edward ThompsonAssembler1319 B Ave. NW 
Robert L. ThompsonTest Engineer3106 E Ave. NE 
Vinetta M. TiffanyStenographer1700 Bever Ave. SE 
Loren S. ToogoodProduction Manager1924 1st Ave. NE 
Harold E. Vander LindenMachinist515 Cobban Ct. SE 
Donovan R. WallaceAssemblyman1738 C Ave. NE 
Ray O. WallerAssemblyman1232 5th Ave. SE 
Robert H. WilhelmAssembler1721 8th Ave. SE 
Delwin E. ZarubAssembler1047 Daniels NE 
Summary: 49 total employees plus the New York Office: W. J. Barkley joined in 1935
Design Engineers: 9 total; Austin, Davis, Fredine, Holmes, Olson, Pieracci, Samuelson, Smith, and probably Arthur Collins
Production: 20 Assemblers
Machinists: 5 Total; Bolans, Braun, Ozburn, Soukup, and Vander Linden

• June 20, 1936 – The Collins Radio Company Roster showed 78 employees: [xiii]

NamePosition
Stanley AthertonMachinist
R. G. AustinEngineer
Gretchen BallFiling Clerk
R. B. BeethanEngineer
L. E. BessemerAssemblyman
Marjorie BlackFiling Clerk
Bruce BolandMachinist
Leonard BraunMachinist
Robert CampbellEngineer
Betty CocayneStenographer
A. A. CollinsPresident
M. H. CollinsVice-President
Roger ConradAssemblyman
L. M. CraftEngineer
Frank M. DavisEngineer
Robert DavisMachinist
J. W. DayhoffMachinist
Faye DunnBookkeeper
Lucille EllerStenographer
Floyd ErnstAssemblyman
Earl FredineTest Engineer
R. S. GatesSecretary
John GiacolettoAssemblyman
W. D. GintertAssemblyman
A. C. GoodyearAssemblyman
Rose HansenTreasurer
D. W. HolmesEngineer
Claud HoppeMachinist
Katherine HorsfallStenographer
D. E. HorsfallAssemblyman
Merle HubbardAssemblyman
Fredric HubiasAssemblyman
Genevieve HunterStenographer
Elmer KoehnAssemblyman
L. R. LangfeldtAssemblyman
Robert LaphamAssemblyman
Neil LarimerShipping Clerk
C. P. LawrencePhotographer
D. E. LawrenceAssemblyman
A. C. LeePurchasing Agent
Charles LowderAssemblyman
F. D. MadisonAssemblyman
Naville ManewillerAssemblyman
R. J. MartinAssemblyman
C. R. MillerAssemblyman Sales Engineer
R. F. MillerAssemblyman
Anita MillsStenographer
Theodore MungerAssemblyman
Robert NelsonAssemblyman
George NemecAssemblyman
Roy OlsonEngineer
G. D. OzburnMachinist
W. PappenfusTime Clerk
Roger J. PieracciEngineer
Frances PowersStenographer

• Referances:

 i. Arthur Collins – Radio Wizard, by Ben Stearns
 ii. Early Collins Drawings made between January & October 1932 record this name as draftsman
 iii. The Collins Story by Arlo C. Goodyear, October 14, 1954
 iv. Cedar Rapids City Directory, January 1, 1933
 v. Collins Column, May 1953 back cover
 vi. Cedar Rapids City Directory November 18, 1956
 vii. Ozburn joined June 1, 1933 per page 5, June 1953 Collins Column
 viii. Dayhoff joined after June 1933 per page 24, June 1953 Collins Column
 ix. Article in company news October 1973
 x. Cedar Rapids City Directory January 1, 1934
 xi. Collins Column, July 1953 back cover
 xii. Cedar Rapids City Directory January 1, 1935
 xiii. McCoy Directories Listing June 20, 1936

Click on photos for larger image.