In 1952 George A. Stephen simply wanted to grill a better steak. He had grown frustrated with the unreliable open-lid braziers available at the time and decided he could build something better.
A welder and engineer by trade, he took one of the metal buoys made by his employer, Weber Brothers Metal Works, cut it in half, added three legs, a grate and, perhaps, most importantly, a vented lid, and in the process started a backyard revolution.
More than 50 years later this story is legendary among employees at Weber-Stephen Products LLC, but especially so in R&D where George’s legacy of innovation, creativity, and bold ideas continue to inspire the next generation of Weber grills and accessories.
George had an unparalleled passion for grilling and at Weber we like to say our grills are made by grillers for grillers. Nowhere is that more evident than in R&D where we hold department-wide barbecue competitions on our test kitchen patio.
Chefs from the Weber Grill Restaurant come by for rib competitions and Thanksgiving turkey throwdowns. Engineers and product designers hang pictures of their weekend grilling adventures on the department wall of fame.
Our Vice-President was making his own charcoal at home before coming to work at Weber. It’s easy to see why he got the job! George’s passion for grilling and barbecue continues to permeate everything we do in R&D because we’re a team of passionate grillers.
In R&D it’s important not to let fear of failure stifle good ideas, creative problem-solving, and new ways of thinking. George Stephen had a few products that tanked, which was probably disappointing at the time, but ultimately it created a work environment where people aren’t afraid to take chances.
Does anyone remember the kettle-shaped gas grill? How about the Weber electronic insect killers or the lime green charcoal grill attached to a cart with wheels? Those flops made it possible for our team today to fearlessly ask, “What if?” and “Have you ever thought about?” and “Why don’t we?”
The R&D department at Weber-Stephen Products is laser-focused on the future, and continually trying to improve the outdoor cooking experience for our loyal customers. We think George would be proud.