As Andrew Jenike approached his mid- to late-30’s he began getting restless. He wanted to do something unique, something that would set himself apart, something that would be worthwhile. He started by reading and collecting articles on every conceivable subject, going to the library every night and every weekend. He put the information he collected into a series of folders arranged by topic. Eventually he had identified about 40 different topics. He constantly poured over these folders, trying to decide which topic would be the right one for him. Where could he make a significant contribution?
Finally, on April 16, 1953 at 3:15 in the afternoon — his 39th birthday — he made his decision. The topic he chose was the design of bins and hoppers for storage and flow of bulk solids. Up to that time, as most of us know, design of this equipment was mostly a black art. Most hoppers were either 45° or 60°, because those were the common triangles that all engineers carried around with them. No one gave much thought to the material being stored. After all, it’s “just a bin.”
Once Andy made his decision, he promptly went out to the garbage container at the apartment building in Salt Lake City where he and his wife were living and threw away box after box he had collected on every other topic that he considered. He wanted nothing to interfere with his decision, no looking back.
Jenike made that momentous decision 60 years ago — one that influenced and affected his life, the life of all of us who work at J&J, and indeed thousands of people around the world. It’s hard to imagine where each of us would be if he had decided to pursue a different subject that day!