GLENN WALSER (Owner, Automated Food Systems): This is the way a good corn dog starts.
: There is your first real good one. GLENN
: Well, we're looking at a corn dog fryer.And this is the beginning of the process.
HATTIE: (Voiceover) Automated Food Systems
has fully mechanized corn dog production, and since its first machine was built, the corn dog market has grown 25 percent annually. GLENN
: It picks up 26 sticks and 26 sausages and indexes them across in approximately two seconds.
invented the first automated corn dog machine in 1976.Today, the company he
wife Wanda own, Automated Food Systems
, builds the machines that produce 95 percent of the some 2.5 billion corn dogs consumed in the US.
: A friend of mine that I had done business with before found out that I'd been fired and asked me what I was going to do.And I said, `I don't know.' He
says, `Have you ever thought about starting your own business?' And I said, `Well, yes, but I don't have any money.' He
says, `Well, that's all right.You have engineering expertise, and I'm willing to trust you and back you.'
HATTIE: Wow.So you had a friend that put the capital up at the beginning. GLENN
: Just a small amount.Just enough to get started.My previous employment was with the Hacienda Mexican Foods in Lubbock making taco shell fryers, which was a revolutionary machine in the early '70s.A fellow in the corn dog business from Abernathy, Texas, had visited the plant and saw what we'd done with the taco shell machine and he said, `We really need something like that in the corn dog business.' I prayed to the Lord.
I said, `Lord, you know my situation.You just give me something to do to make money for my family, and I'll glorify you forever.' And I guess he
was listening, because I went to Abernathy and saw how they were making corn dogs manually and journeyed from Abernathy back to Lubbock.While I was driving, this vision came through my head of how mechanically I could do this at a much faster rate using less employees.And I said, `Thank you, Lord.Give me some money,' and he
did through this friend of mine.And we started.
: If you just think of 26 every five seconds.
: Well, I have a philosophy about my business. `If you do not know your cost, you're going broke.' So it's inherently--that's one of the first things I do.
: Something that's inherent about our design of machinery is, you notice it's fried vertically.OK.
: If you create a product that other people just absolutely cannot do without, that's the secret to success.And I've always looked at what we have done, and what we really did is, we did something that no one else could do or had done before and we did it better than anybody else could do it.And we still are doing that today.
The Lightbulb in the Studio
HATTIE: The corn dog machine is a niche, and Wanda and Glenn
have stayed in it without veering off course for over 20 years.
Total commitment to this one thing is the reason Wanda and Glenn
are prosperous today.
: (Voiceover) You have to build a business upon principles.
: We respect our employees as human beings.
Sometimes I'm right and sometimes Glenn
: The future holds shish kebabs, it holds stick inserters into all kinds of food articles that are going to really change the way Americans eat, because food on a stick is so clean and so good and so quick.
HATTIE: (Voiceover) Want to ship your products around the world, as Wanda and Glenn
Here are some places to go for help: Office of International Trade, sba.gov/oit; the Export Opportunity Hotline at 800.243.7232; you can always reach our friend Abby at exporthotline.com. read about others like Wanda and Glenn
who see the world as their marketplace.