LeNoir E. Zaiser (Len)
LeNoir E. Zaiser (Len)
If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.
I am in blood/Stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more,/Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
Shakespeare-basically, when things are really bad, it's easier to carry on than to turn back.
Len Zaiser didn’t find his way into manufacturing; it found him. He has said that as a boy growing up in Indianapolis, he had gears in his head. He could turn objects around in his mind and “see” how they might have been made.
In his teens, Len’s father introduced him to manually operated Kearney & Trecker, Bridgeport mills, and Hardinge lathes, which they used to manufacture military hardware. By the time Len was a student at Indiana University, he was running machines and developing the innovative, creative manufacturing processes for which he became widely known in the industry. Notably, Len never studied engineering or design; he was entirely self-taught.
Shortly after graduating from IU, Len took over as president of that first company, Engineering Research, and began to manufacture wings, warheads and guidance systems for the Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on fighter jets, as well as the warhead for the Sparrow missile. Even in the nascent years of his career, Len’s manufacturing focus was on precision and quality and on the use of the finest, most state-of-the-art CNC machine tools available. While many in his industry shied away from the most difficult projects, Len chased after them, and with great success.
Len started his second company, Defense Research, in 1982, as the ink was drying on his sale of Engineering Research. He continued making parts that other companies couldn’t and outperformed the industry by designing and building fixtures that allowed him to mill ten or twelve parts at a time, where others might do one or two.
Len continued to found, grow and sell seven manufacturing companies within defense, aerospace and the medical device industries over a career that has spanned almost seven decades. He’s most proud to have employed thousands of people throughout his career.
Indiana University, B.A. Economics
Self-taught Manufacturing Engineer
Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida Business Hall of Fame 2010 – honoring influential, visionary leaders from the business community)