A local professional who brought global attention to Trail will be recognized for receiving a Top in Technology Award from his professional association this weekend.
Don Freschi, manager of 5N Plus Trail, is traveling to Vancouver to accept the kudos from the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia.
The recognition is suitably coming during technology week.
“Don’s training and imagination have taken him to career heights that few people could achieve,” said John Leech, executive director of the professional association.
The award is given to nominees who among attributes exhibit mentorship, demonstrate leadership, excel in a field of technology and promote technology careers.
Freschi is surprised and honoured to receive this recognition and says Trail can only expect “bigger and better things” from the company that was purchased by Quebec-based 5N Plus in 2009 and has receently relocated to a 40,000-square-foot facility past the Trail airport.
Formerly known as Firebird Technologies, 5N Plus Trail is one of three companies in the world that grows high-quality indium antimonide crystals that are sold as wafers and further refined into components for highly sensitive heat cameras, infrared windows and even infrared missile systems.
“It’s recognizing all of the work that we did taking Firebird from ground zero up through to sale and now developing the new product with 5N Plus,” he said, noting its new product line of germanium.
“It’s been 20 years, starting with essentially taking a ma and pa company to a much bigger company, selling it and evolving further.”
The larger facility allows the company to produce more diverse product and really “corner the market of infrared products” as well nearly triple its staff with now 42 employees.
This is quite the achievement for the homegrown firm that spun off in the early 1990s from Teck’s research division and a man who started young on model airplanes and chemistry sets.
Freschi grew up in Trail, where his dad worked up the hill at Teck for over 35 years, and decided to pursue technology so he could get a well-paying job back home.
Armed with a Diploma of Technology from the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Freschi landed a job in Teck’s semiconductor division and so it all began.
Freschi gives kudos to Kootenay Association for Science and Technology, a non-profit organization that works to foster a culture that values science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, with hopes of maintaining and enhancing the competitiveness of the region.
His advice to young people is to get a trade and stay within the region, where there are and will continue to be opportunities for individuals with an applied technology-related skill.