Janis Research Co-founder and President retires after 48+ years of service.

January 2009

Janis Research president, Bill Shields, receives the Golden Cryostat award presented by the Cryomafia during his January 2009 retirement party.
Bill Shields receives the
Golden Cryostat Award
presented by the Cryomafia
during his retirement party.

William “Bill” Shields, president of Janis Research announced his retirement, effective February 2, 2009. Shields co-founded Janis Research, a cryogenic equipment manufacturing company, in 1960. Since then, Shields has been a familiar face in the cryogenic industry. He was a long-time member of the Advisory Committee of the Corporate Associates of the American Institute of Physics. He has also been a member of the “CryoMafia” for over twenty years. Shields said, “I’ll miss the camaraderie of the cryogenic community; however, I intend to stay in touch.”

Shields started Janis Research in 1960, working part-time building liquid helium transfer lines. Today, Janis Research is a leader in manufacturing cryogenic research equipment ranging from simple liquid helium storage dewars to sophisticated superconducting magnet and ultra low temperature systems. In addition, Janis Research’s cryogenic engineering capabilities extend into such diverse areas as UHV systems, micro-manipulated probe stations, dilution refrigerators, and spectroscopy accessories.

Well Wishes

"My very best wishes to Bill upon his retirement from Janis Research.

He has built a great company and leaves it in a strong position for the future.

I wish Bill a long and enjoyable retirement."

Mike Elliot
Managing Director
Elliot Scientific Ltd
United Kingdom 

"Congratulations and Best of luck to you as you enter your latest/next phase of life. I think it's great! You will be missed at many of the AIP and Cryo-mafia meetings. I suspect the consumption of beer will decline significantly at these meetings.

I do hope to see you in the future.


Randolph A. Nanna
Publisher, Physics Today

"Please give Bill my best wishes for a long and worry free retirement!!"

Glenn Driscoll
New Zealand


Bill, I have had the privilege and honor to know you for 27 years and wish you only the very best in the coming years. The respect and confidence you have shown and given to me and PCS will always be remembered and never forgotten. JRC has always been very professional and friendly to work with over the years and I hope that relationship will continue. If you are ever coming through Indianapolis and have a few minutes please call and stop by.


Dick Gummer and everyone at PCS

P.S. Shirley (wife) says please don't stop dancing and congratulations"

Richard Gummer
Precision Cryogenic Systems, Inc.

"Dear Bill Shields,

We all wish you a very happy, peaceful life while you lead the future portion... which we again hope... should be full of sweet memories related with low temp., for which you devoted & dedicated 49 years of valuable period and witnessed the blooming & flourishing of Janis Research, making it a most strongest & most advanced cryogenic company, known world wide as today.

Again, let thee shower on you his grace & provide the peace."

Dr. D. P. Navalkele and staff
Con-Serv Enterprises

"Dear Bill,

Congratulations on your retirement! I've enjoyed seeing you at meetings and trade shows over the years, and working with you most recently on the Physics Today Buyers Guide. I remember the first time we met; Jon Noonan introduced us at an APS March meeting.

Wishing you all the best."

Linda M. Casson, Ph.D.
Senior Applications Scientist
HORIBA Jobin Yvon, Inc.

"Dear Bill,

Your colleagues in the Cryogenic Society of America, as well as your Cryomafia pals, salute you for your many years of service to the cryogenics industry. Janis has a well-earned and respected place among the leading companies in our field, with much of the credit of that due to you and your leadership. Think back on all the products you have placed and all the problems Janis has solved for companies and institutions worldwide! Your contributions are greatly appreciated.

We wish you joy and happiness as you make this change in your life, leaving behind the daily concerns of the workplace and opening your life to new experiences. Always look ahead to what wonderful things tomorrow will bring!

Warm regards,
Laurie Huget
and your colleagues in CSA"

Laurie Huget
Executive Director
Cryogenic Society of America, Inc. USA 

From Bill Shields' Retirement Party:

"I first worked at Janis when I was nineteen, so I’ve known Bill for almost twenty years. I remember when I came back to Janis nine years ago, Tom Pasakarnis told me that I should feel free to ask Bill questions directly, but he warned me not to interrupt Bill if he was sitting at his computer. It turned out that Bill was very approachable, but I learned to avert my eyes from the computer monitor – JUST IN CASE. ;) I enjoy working with Bill on advertising issues and my SHI report. Occasionally the Physics Today publisher (a fellow CryoMafia member) takes us to lunch and I enjoy hearing them reminisce. When there are trade shows in Boston, many people stop by the booth asking for Bill. So I’ve seen first hand how well liked he is in the industry.

Bill has my admiration for starting Janis behind a plumbing wholesale store with one product. He grew this business into a multi-million dollar corporation that is internationally recognized as a leading manufacturer of cryogenic equipment. For this he has earned my respect as the company’s president.

Most mornings, I come into work and Bill is the first person to greet me. He has his own instant coffee, but that doesn’t stop him from brewing a pot for the other employees. He shares his daily newspapers. He pays for our monthly birthday cake out of his own pocket. He does all this because it is something he wants to do for us. He is accessible in a way that most presidents are not. We can tease him when the Red Sox beat his beloved Yankees. And we still love him even if he isn’t a Patriots fan. He’s a good sport – when the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, Bill let me put a celebratory balloon in his office. Around the same time the company’s alarm was being set off every night. After a few days we figured out that as the balloon deflated it would float around and trigger the sensors. The Curse of the Bambino?

On a more personal level, Bill and I have donated blood together many times. Bill became a first-time grandfather one month after I became a first-time mom. We have talked about topics ranging from High Energy Physics to bird watching. I feel that he is more than a company president to me. I consider him the company patriarch – I won’t say a father figure, because I have a father. More like an uncle.

Bill, I’m going to miss you. I am going to picture you relaxing on your boat on the lake. I wish you great happiness with your retirement.

'Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.' ~J. Lubbock

And this one is for Sandy…

'A retired husband is often a wife's full-time job.'
Ella Harris

Good luck Sandy! Best wishes, Bill!"

Ann Carroll 
Marketing Specialist
Janis Research Company, Inc.

From Bill Shields' Retirement Party:

"Sixteen years ago on a cold and snowy morning I first met Bill at Harvard University when he went there with Munir Jirmanus to interview me. I showed him what I was doing at Harvard, and we also talked about Janis over the lunch table. Of course, Bill generously paid for the lunch ------ he insisted!

Bill offered me a job position at Janis after the interview. To me, it was not just a job position, but also a chance, an opportunity, and a platform for my career, where I can use my knowledge and talent to serve my beloved low temperature community, which has become more and more important in today’s frontier science and technologies.

As you may know, during the first 90 years of the last century only seven Physics Nobel prizes were awarded to low temperature physics; but during the past 12 years this community has won four, and all four went to the ultra-low temperature related physics!

Time flies, and more than 15 years have passed since I joined Janis.
Under Bill’s guidance I have made a smooth transition from an academic type of research scientist to a functioning industrial physicist. I am deeply impressed by Bill’s vision of running the business, his passion of learning new science and technologies, his broad knowledge, his support to research and development projects, and also his skills to reach out to the outside world and make a small business like Janis one of the most recognized and respected leading companies in cryogenic industry! I also enjoy his sense of humor, and the way he drinks beer to keep his bones healthy!

We have become good colleagues and good friends, even including our wives, Sandy and Winnie. And I am pretty sure that all of us still remember the delicious pigeon heads at my wedding banquet, although I have never figured out whether Sandy ever tasted it or not.

Today, Bill is going to retire, and I just want to say 'I am so lucky to work with you at Janis. Thank you, Bill'. And Winnie and I wish your retired life happy, healthy, and no more struggling! Please sit back and relax, drink more beer, which is good for the bones!

Thank you."

Zuyu Zhao
Vice President
Janis Research Company, Inc.

From Bill Shields' Retirement Party:

"ALMOST 31 YEARS AGO I came to an interview in Stoneham with Bill and the rest is history. It feels like it was only ---You guessed it - 31 years ago. Time flies when you’re having fun – and fun I have had – SOMETIMES!

Will the women in the audience raise your hand if you have ever heard one of the following:

You get lovelier every day
I bask in your loveliness
All Women are lovely
I shall count the moments until ….

This was once asked of a woman at one of the conferences – Kathy - have you been faithful to me? She had just come back from her honeymoon -

Heard in a restaurant.
To the waitress: Dip your finger in my coffee to sweeten it
To the Owner – Chef or waiter - This meal was a culinary masterpiece and an Epicurean delight

NO MORE beer in the Coke machine
NO MORE Hark the hairy angel sing - Lewie has a little thing
NO MORE Hey Lewie Lewie – He had a Yen for Men
NO MORE Thanksgiving turkey calls
No more Ford Escorts in the parking lot
No more "Cover your mouth"
No more fickle finger of fate awards
No more NRA bumper stickers on the Co. truck
No more Vote for Goldwater posters
No more King of the John trophies
No more “Open the damn back door”
No more I GOT NO MONEY TO INVEST – response to Sales calls to invest – LEW WILL FORWARD ALL SUCH CALLS TO MAINE

No more literature or phone calls addressed to Neville Dorkish or Bruce Welhung (Two out of the many pseudonyms of BS)

There will be many unanswered questions, but no more UNQUESTIONED ANSWERS – “because I said so".

Whether you respected him, feared him or loved him, he will always be remembered by anyone who has worked at Janis Research (Janis as in Janis Joplin)."

Munir Jirmanus
Vice President
Janis Research Company, Inc.


From Bill Shields' Retirement Party:

"With Apologies to Abraham Lincoln

Four score and seven years ago... I mean, two score and nine years ago our father Bill Shields brought forth on this continent a new corporation, conceived to earn profit, and dedicated to the proposition that not all cryostats are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great retirement celebration, commemorating the fact that this corporation, Janis Research Co., so conceived and so dedicated, has long endured. We are met in a great hall of celebration. We have come to honor Bill Shields, who dedicated so much of his life that this corporation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot celebrate—we cannot commemorate—we cannot honor—this man. The brave ESOP employee stockholders, sitting here among us, have honored him, far above our poor power to add or detract. The cryogenic community will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what Bill Shields did here. It is for us the employee stockholders, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work, which he who founded the corporation has thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from this celebration we take increased devotion to that cause for which he gave the fullest measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that Bill Shields shall not have retired in vain—that this corporation, under Tom, shall have a new birth of fervor—and this corporation of the employee stockholders, by the employee stockholders, for the employee stockholders, shall not perish from the earth."

Scott Azer
Vice President
Janis Research Company, Inc.

Excerpt From Bill Shields' Retirement Party: (Click here for entire speech.)

 "Anyways, between all of the colorful and military-like behavior, and all kidding aside, I believe that Bill’s legacy will be shaped heavily by his believing in the ESOP business concept and selling his shares, in the company, back to the employees who will financially benefit from this great retirement plan when they no longer work at Janis. His true legacy can be summarized in his nearly 50 years of untiring work which resulted in the company he started, being able to offer over 60 individuals a full-time employment opportunity in 2009.

I personally greatly appreciate the fact that Bill always operated the company in the most straight-forward financial manner possible – there was never any “fudging of numbers” or one dollar of “cheating on taxes”. A special thanks goes out to Bill for never putting any employees in the position of having to respond to potentially problematic managerial demands - as we have seen occur in many other businesses in the US and around the world.

In any event, I guess it’s now time for Bill to make up for all of those years worked without taking any vacation or sick days and it’s our sincere wish that retirement life will never become unbeerable for you Bill - especially with all of the local package stores in Maine and your enormous thirst!

Bill, I have the highest confidence that you’ll really enjoy the years ahead - being that you are so blessed with such a great wife and family and I join every other past and present Janis employee in thanking you for all that you have done for us over the decades and in wishing you and Sandy the absolute best in your retirement years together!!!!"

Tom Pasakarnis
Chief Operations Officer
Janis Research Company, Inc.


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