Since I started becoming more involved in the SolidWorks community, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people. Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to meet another.
I’d first heard of Bob Jensen when I sent out an email to our local user group trying to drum up people interested in talking with a SolidWorks employee that was going to be coming through town. Bob responded, and I remember being intrigued by his story. Fast forward a bit, and I was telling my most excellent girlfriend how I was having a bit of trouble coming up with mesmerizing topics for my blog with which to keep my readers coming back. She suggested finding people who were doing unusual things and, voila, Bob came to mind. A few well placed bribes got me his email address and an extremely well-crafted email got Bob to agree to meet with me.
A bit of background on Bob. He owns a local burger chain called Burgermaster. His father started it back in 1952 and they now have five restaurants. They’re like the drive-ins of old: pull up, read the menu, turn on your lights when you’re ready, food served on a tray hanging off your window. All that’s missing is the cute girls on roller skates…
Anyway, Bob had been using DesignCAD for over 20 years when he decided he wanted to be able to do more. He jumped online and found Autodesk Inventor, so he contacted a local Autodesk reseller and headed downtown for a 4 hour seminar. This was his first real exposure to 3D CAD and the parametric world. During the presentation Bob heard the phrase “it’s just like SolidWorks” numerous times, prompting him to write down ‘SolidWorks’. After the presentation, he obtained a demo version of Inventor to try it out at home. He was less than impressed and turned to the internet to find out about SolidWorks. He found a local reseller (CAE NorthWest, now Hawk Ridge) and went to see one of their presentations. Impressed, he asked for a demo and took it home. He was hooked. He bought a seat of SolidWorks Premium.
Bob then turned his sights on a project he had at one of his restaurants. He needed to redesign the kitchen for efficiency as it was one of his busier stores and the kitchen was just too cramped. So, he spent the next year learning SolidWorks, via reseller and private lessons, and designing the new kitchen. He knew a contractor would want to shut the restaurant down, spend exorbitant amounts of money and continually push out the completion date. This would work for Bob.
After designing the kitchen, he designed the plan to renovate it. He rented a storage unit and started prefabbing the components for the kitchen with uni-strut and sheetmetal with his maintenance guy. They’d then go into the kitchen after closing and install the panels. They built out a new wall so that the electricians could come in and begin the re-wiring, all of which Bob had laid out with routing. Then, on a Monday night, Bob and his team rolled into the restaurant and completed the whole renovation in 12 hours. They doubled the kilowatt output, improved the efficiency and and lessened the work needed to complete orders. Bob spent a total of $120,000 on the renovation, including the cost of SolidWorks and a dump trailer. By his estimate, he saved $180,000 by not having a contractor come in and do the work. With that one job, SolidWorks had paid for itself many times over.
Since that time, Bob has continued designing with SolidWorks. Some of the things he’s designed include fixtures and serving stations for his restaurants, a barn and, his house. A bit of a segue here, Bob wanted his house built out of SIPs Panels. After finishing the design, he met with the company that would panelize the house and gave them the plans. They then provided him with three sheets of prints for all the panels. He went home, took their 2D panel drawings and put them into SolidWorks. In doing so, he found numerous errors. When he met with the company again, he pulled out his laptop and showed them the errors, much to their dismay. The owner, upon seeing the power of 3D, went out and bought SolidWorks. Tell me that’s not awesome!
A salad bar & his house:
What struck me most about Bob was his incredible passion; not only for SolidWorks, but for design. Here’s a guy who grew up in the restaurant industry yet is an engineer at heart. He’s extremely detail oriented, conscientious about the environment and always looking for ways to improve things around him. Bob spoke for almost an hour with such passion and, I suspect, had I not had to go he would still be talking.
Thank you, Bob, for sharing your passion.
Do you know anyone like Bob? If so, I’d love to talk to them!