Over 50 Years of Local, Family-Owned Expertise
Martin and Maria Plass came to America from Kleinmallowa in Western Bohemia with their first two sons, Andreas and Wenzel in 1885. They settled near Boyd, Wisconsin where they farmed. Their son John moved to Oregon and began farming near the community of Roy. Roy and his wife Lela welcomed twin boys, Francis and Frederick, on December 28th, 1925. Francis and Frederick graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1943, where they were both Eagle Scouts and three-year varsity football lettermen. They knew how to pull their own weight, especially during tough times. Francis made the University of Oregon football team as a seventeen year old but had to forgo a college football career when The West Coast League closed down for the war.
While knowing very little about electricity or electronics, Francis passed a military screening test for electronics training. He selected No Preference for choice of Army or Navy and later enrolled in the US Navy as a Selective Volunteer before turning 18. Upon turning 18, he was put on a train and sent directly to Great Lakes training center at Chicago. There he passed a physical fitness pre-screening test by swimming underwater across an Olympic-sized swimming pool and was sent directly to Wright Junior College in Chicago for one month of Pre-Radio School.
Pre-radio school included general electronics and a great deal of fast-paced math and was a screening before the next step.
The next step was three months of Primary Radio School at Gulf Port, Mississippi. Conditions at Gulf Port were pretty tough; from the high humidity to the high pressure of the school to the crude conditions on the base. Put plainly, the Mess Hall was a real mess. From there he went to Ward Island at Corpus Christi, Texas for six months of Aviation Electronics Training. This school included additional class room learning plus lab-type environment for learning to use test equipment and radio trouble-shooting.
Francis graduated as Aviation Electronics Technician Mate in the top of the class as a Second Class Petty Officer.
He then volunteered for a needed position of Aviation Electronics Technician in a Land-Based Patrol Squadron. Francis was one of three electronics technicians per squadron. The Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bomber plane had the most advanced electronics of any US military plane at the time. Frederick joined the US Army Air Corp where he was trained and served as a B-29 Flight Engineer.
In 1964, Francis founded Frank's Radio Service in the small town of Tulelake, California. Francis saw a need for reliable, efficient communication in the area and built the business on the skills he developed as an Aviation Electronics Technician in the United States Navy. During the first few years, Francis worked hard to develop a strong business built on honesty, diligence and family support. After many years of hard work and dedication, coupled with the support and appreciation of the community, Frank's Radio Service became the go-to place for reliable radio communication solutions.
In 1978, a radio repeater site was constructed on Sheepy Ridge, serving the communities of Tulelake, Merrill and Malin. The site's construction was an enormous undertaking as hard-earned savings were invested in the project. The support of a local land owner as well as the community usage of the repeater helped make the investment a success. A second site was constructed in 1979 on Chase Mountain to provide greater coverage for the residents of the Klamath Basin. Also in 1979, the opportunity arose for the construction of the first commercial radio repeater site and tower on Stukel Mountain. The increased coverage was greatly appreciated and supported by local farmers, ranchers and businesses.
In 1986, Francis' son Stephen graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He joined Francis in the family business, putting his shoulder to the wheel to help continue on with progress. Francis and Stephen continued to add radio repeater sites and systems as the business and demand for service grew. Together they built a very practical and extensive multi-site radio phone system for the local area and designed and put into operation radio telemetry systems for local irrigation districts.
In 1997, when the FCC first allowed trunking on UHF frequencies, Francis and Stephen put into operation a UHF Trunked Repeater System. This new system was a huge advancement for customers as it offered much more efficiency, cost-effectiveness, greater access and increased privacy than traditional shared or private repeaters. The UHF systems put in place by Francis and Stephen provided the framework for the current trunked system provided today with their great rural coverage, low cost and excellent local area land-mobile radio communications.
Northwest Communication Equipment became Plass Communication in when Stephen purchased the business from Francis. Stephen and Francis continued to work together, serving the communication needs of the Klamath Basin. Today, Plass Communications offers high-quality radio equipment and reliable communication solutions to the farmers, ranchers and business owners of the Greater Klamath Basin.
The Francis Plass Family at Home in Tulelake
Francis' Navy Squadron
Francis and Frederick Plass as Boys
Frederick (left) and Francis (right) Plass