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Key Idea: Apply A Proven Idea To A New Product

Glenn lost his job and he needed to figure out how to make a living.

Key Question:


Automated Food Systems was a success the day Glenn and Wanda opened for business. Their first big customer was their first banker!

This happened because Glenn took an idea that he understood inside and out and applied it in a fresh way.  He knew how to build machines that would take a flat corn tortilla and turn it into a folded and fried taco shell. 

The next key ingredient was his friend who was in the corn dog business already.  That friend understood the corn dog product and he loaned Glen the start-up capital.   The two men had all the background to make a go of a brand new enterprise. 

Here are Small Business School we also studied the research team that launched the pregnancy test you can buy in drug stores.  They took that insight to start another company called Biosite which provides rapid testing in emergency rooms.  Biosite has over 2,000 employees today and generates over $100 million in annual sales.

Q:   What does the phrase "success breeds success" mean to you?

A:   People who accomplish one goal are likely to accomplish the next goal they set.  Also, success builds confidence and this quality is absolutely essential for a business owner. If you don't have confidence that your idea will succeed, you will not attract employees or customers. Sometimes confidence appears as arrogance to others.

One founder told us that a business owner needs a strong ego, not a big ego. He said that a person with a big ego is arrogant and doesn't see the value of others, whereas a person with a strong ego has deep belief that he can accomplish the task at hand.

A strong ego is attractive to others while a big ego is off-putting.

Think about it

What skill, knowledge or contacts do you have that you are not now using to grow your business?

Clip from: Automated Food Systems

He invented a machine, then created, then captured his market.

Duncanville, Texas: This is the story of a nightmare that turns into  the American dream.  It's a classic story of a small business owner.  Glenn Walser was fired from his job. Not for goofing off,  he was fired for demanding too much.  He is a man of principle.

Getting fired on principle -- I had an argument with the boss -- has a long tradition in the USA. Many of us just have to work for ourselves. Small business owners often say, "I'm unemployable! "   It is not that it is has to be my way, but if it can be a better --  faster and/or cheaper with higher quality -- then, let's do it!  Many of us started our business to vindicate that belief; we needed to prove to ourselves that we were right. 

So, meet Glenn Walser.  He had an idea for a machine to automate labor-intense processes, but most people just  laughed at him.  

In 1976 Glenn started this business on a dream and a prayer, created a new industry, and then became the world's leader within it.  With one investor who believed he could do it, he went about developing the first automated corndog system. Now, the Walsers have moved out of the passing lane to enjoy a little more of life as it is given while their nephew runs the company day-to-day.

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Automated Foods, Incorporated

Glenn Walser, founder

1000 E. Lofland Drive
Waxahachie, TX 75165

Visit our web site:


Business Classification:
Food processing, Manufacturing

Year Founded: 1976

Apply A Proven Idea To A New Product

HATTIE: (Voiceover) When he lost his job, he had to make a living for his family. Glenn Walser invented the first automated corn dog machine in 1976. Today, the company he and his 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. The machines are owned and operated by large food processors such as State Fair and Jimmy Dean.

GLENN: 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.

WANDA: And when he got through and built the proto model, he said, `Praise the Lord, it makes 400 dozen an hour.' And he knew it was a go.

HATTIE: He broke through. He knew he had a breakthrough.

WANDA: Well, he knew it was an answer. It was an answer for the industry.

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