Born in the 1950s, they are the recipe, the smell, the taste of American summers -- Weber Grills.
George Stephen came up with the idea when he was looking for a way to cook a better slab of ribs. That's when inspiration struck. Stephen cut a buoy in half and invented the Weber Grill. He traveled around the country with his new invention cooking for anyone who was willing to taste test.
Filling America's backyards for nearly 60 years, the business has boomed to more than 1,000 employees. And while every one of its competitors has shipped manufacturing overseas, Weber found a way to stay in America. Ninety-eight percent of Weber's workforce is in the U.S. and the company did not lay off a single employee during the recession. In fact, during that time Weber grew 30 percent.
The company's secret to success: sell grills and American culture overseas.
"It's fact we're all interconnected in this world with Internet and all that. So many people travel to the US from all around the world. They do really embrace the American culture, and they bring that back home--and part of the American scene is grilling," said Jim Stephen, president of Weber-Stephen Products. "We're proud to say that Weber figures very, very high on that. So they go back home with a knowledge and understanding of grilling."
Surprisingly, the biggest overseas purchaser of Weber grills is Denmark.
"The Danes were just at Memphis in May, a big barbecue competition, and they won for best sauce," said Stephen. "Weber-trained Danes! We gave them an inside track on this."
Weber's strategy has been a recipe for success that many American companies are starved for.