In the beginning, Justin O. Zimmer was angry when he came home that night in 1926. He had been national sales manager for a Warsaw, Indiana, splint company for about five years and had sold the firm’s splints for 20 years. He knew the market and could recognize a good idea, even if his employer could not.
When he suggested the company add aluminum splints to the line, and asked again if he could buy an interest in the company, the widow of the company’s founder had given him a reply that he could not forget. “I have had it,” Mr. Zimmer told his wife and daughter that evening. “She said to me: ‘You know, Justin, you are just small potatoes!’” With a challenge like that, Mr. Zimmer knew there was no other way except to start a splint manufacturing business of his own.