Faith, family and friends drove Polydeck’s Freissle

By |  April 10, 2019
Manfred son, Peter, right, and Manfred’s wife, Christina were among those in attendance at the Pit & Quarry ceremony in support of the Polydeck co-founder. Photo by PamElla Lee Photography.

Manfred son, Peter, right, and Manfred’s wife, Christina were among those in attendance at the Pit & Quarry ceremony in support of the Polydeck co-founder. Photo by PamElla Lee Photography.

During his Pit & Quarry Hall of Fame induction speech, Manfred Freissle, the co-founder of Polydeck who developed an industry-changing innovation in synthetic modular screen media, described how many people supported him over the course of his adult life. Here are a few thoughts Freissle imparted at this year’s induction ceremony.

On his first days as a German in South Africa: The first time I arrived in South Africa from Switzerland, I could hardly speak English. But my faith and my trust in the Lord has always been the strongest in my life. … I arrived in South Africa [in] 1957. I wasn’t 21 yet. With a trust in God, I knew I couldn’t go wrong. Somewhere along the line, I thought, if I have to pray I will do it now. The very next day, the 19th of March, a young man (Helmut Rosenbusch) comes walking onto me and said, ‘You have a tie on.’ (In South Africa, they don’t wear ties.) He said, ‘Are you a German?’ I said ‘yes.’ … He said ‘I am also a German, and I have been here for four years.’ … The moment he told me that he was a wire weaver – the first I heard this in my life – here was God opening the door for me.

On how Rosenbusch explained wire weaving to Freissle the first time: I said to him, ‘What is this wire weaving?’ So I picked up a cigarette box on the floor, and he drew a wire screen on the cigarette box. I asked, ‘Is it possible to start your own business in this country?’ And with great enthusiasm he said, ‘I think we could do that.’

Manfred Freissle touched on his signature development, synthetic modular screen media, during his Hall of Fame induction speech. Says Freissle: “We proved it over many years.” Photo by PamElla Lee Photography.

Manfred Freissle touched on his signature development, synthetic modular screen media, during his Hall of Fame induction speech. Says Freissle: “We proved it over many years.” Photo by PamElla Lee Photography.

On developing his very first wire screen: Twenty months later we made our first wire screen. We sold it, took it to the customer and installed it. This is when I realized what a difficulty wire screens [are]. … You have to carry these heavy wire screens around in the middle of the night while it’s raining, and cut the old screen out because it’s a little old, and carry a new screen and put it in. [When] the night is over, what have you done? You have stopped production for all the time you were busy taking the screens out.

On his early success in the United States with Polydeck’s Dieter Egler: In 1978 [we] went to Chicago to see some quarries. We got a call that somebody wanted to talk to him (Egler). When he came back, he was smiling. He said the man we visited yesterday wants to order his first screen from South Africa. We manufactured this, transported it out, had it installed and it was our first success.


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