7/19/2017 – Local twins growing high-tech crystals for Granite Falls company

Posted on: July 19th, 2017 by admin


July 19, 2017


In a quiet building in Granite Falls, a pair of twins spend their days together growing high-tech crystals.


Isaac and Zachary Brown have been inseparable their entire lives. They attended the same schools and took the same classes from middle school through years of graduate school to earn their doctorate degrees. They both got married in 2012, just a few months apart; Isaac married a woman who is a triplet, and Zachary married a twin. And then each couple had their first child four months apart – in both cases it was a daughter.


From birth until Zachary was married, Zachary and Isaac shared a room their entire lives. Now they live in nearby apartments in Hickory and are in search of land to build two houses next to each other.


They even have the same job, putting their material science degrees to use at Hoffman Materials LLC in Granite Falls, a short drive from their hometown in Maiden, just south of Hickory.


Throughout their lives people have encouraged the twins to be more independent of each other, Isaac said, but they “just always enjoyed being around each other.”


“I know a lot of people that hang out with their best friends more than their siblings,” he said. “It just so happens (Zachary’s) my best friend.”


Their upbringing is not what most might expect of research scientists using advanced technology to grow crystals that are used in such things as cellphones and defense technology. No one in their family previously had a college degree, and no one encouraged higher education. But their father taught them how to fix cars, lawn mowers, and “anything with an engine in it” from a young age, Isaac said, which got them interested in material science and electronics.


“Our dad did all sorts of things. He was sort of the master of all trades,” Isaac said. “He was conservative with his money, so we had to learn how to do a lot of things.”


The idea of going to college was never something that crossed their minds, Isaac said, until their high school teachers encouraged them, Zachary said.


“No one in our family went to university, so the whole idea of going to a four-year university wasn’t something our parents told us not to do, but it just wasn’t anything anyone in our family ever did,” Zachary said. “Everybody we grew up around, all the people we lived around weren’t really interested in going to college.”


The twins both dual-enrolled at Catawba Valley Community College while in high school, then went to Lenoir-Rhyne University for a year. Both played the trumpet in high school and earned music and academic scholarships for college. Without the scholarships, Isaac said they never would have gone to school.


From Lenoir-Rhyne the twins transferred to Appalachian State University together, majoring in both math and physics with a minor in music. After graduating in 2011, the idea of further education in graduate school was not a thought until an academic adviser encouraged them to apply.


Once an offer came for both of them to attend N.C. State University, they stopped applying anywhere else, Zachary said. Staying close to home and together has always been a priority.


After graduating in 2015 with their master’s and doctorates in material science, they began fielding job offers from as far as Germany and the U.S. West Coast but never expected to be hired together, let alone so close to home and in their area of research, Isaac said.


Hoffman Materials, formerly known as Krystal Engineering, announced in February 2016 it would move its crystal-growing operations to Granite Falls from Florida and eventually also bring processing operations there. The Bryans immediately called the phone number on the press release – the cellphone of CEO Mark Rauchfuss, who hired them right away.


“We thought coming home we were taking a step back in our careers … But this job is not a step back,” Isaac said.


Zachary agreed.


“That’s why we’re building houses next to each other, even though there’s potential of not working together, we can still spend time together,” Zachary said.


By Virginia Annable, (Lenoir) News-Topic



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