I Miss Al
Al Hundere was the founder, owner, and President of Alcor, Inc. (symbolically, AL CORporation). He was a mechanical engineer and an eccentric inventor who, until his death in 1996, inspired me through his warmth, intellectual strength, and honesty. I sure do miss him.
It was my joy to work for Al for a single year back in 1989-90. Among many accomplishments, Al developed the primary test rig used in the Jet Fuel Thermal Oxidation Stability Test, ASTM D3241. This test rig and Standard Test Method are the objects for which our heater tube and filter kit are designed. And, we share more in common with Al than that, and more than our brief time shared working together.
We are each former employees of Southwest Research Institute. Each of us were laid off from that Institute, and we each subsequently formed a corporation. That common history causes me to occasionally opine that neither of us were very good candidates to be institutionalized in the first place. Although it is never fun to be laid off from employment, the time for me to be laid off from Alcor came during the recession of that era, and coincidentally came right at my birthday. Thus, I vowed to make that my best birthday present ever.
That vow has become my reality.
Al used to explain that everybody should be happy in their work; that if someone wasn’t happy where they are, they should leave and go do something else. That was a bond we shared. Like Al, I’ve believed in capitalism; that the independent decisions of millions of people can correctly guide an entire economy and even provide direction for and drive the world at large. Al and I each lived that reality, and we each carried the banner of personal freedom; that people know plenty enough to freely direct their own lives through their own choices as opposed to the false and phony notion that someone else or some authoritative hierarchy somehow knows, from high above, what is right and good for everyone else below. Each of us implemented those solid principles of capitalism in separate but related businesses because of our shared belief that they work wonderfully.
Following the blessing of my separation from Alcor and after Al’s death, more years passed prior to initiation of my work to develop (and to later patent) a new technology for finishing heater tubes. This was, in part, to fulfill Al’s teaching that each person ought to follow their own internal guidance toward happiness in their work. I wanted to find out what I could accomplish, where my efforts to self-actualize might lead, and whether they might generate the desired happiness in my work life. As a direct consequence, I’ve spent the following nineteen years making and selling the best heater tube on the planet; one especially created for ASTM D3241.
Although I’ve had down days like everyone else, and an unhappy lawsuit or two from a competitor even after years away and long after expiration of a one-year non-compete agreement, I keep doing this work for very simple reasons: The result of my own inventiveness is derived from me and belongs to me. I’m well-suited for the work. It pleases me and gives me joy. All of which, I believe, was also true for Al Hundere.
I am very happy to have and to build upon the legacy provided by Al Hundere.