ENTREPRENEURS: Backyard Bonanza

George Stephen, a boisterous man with a hearty appetite for just about anything cooked over a charcoal fire, could not find a smokeless barbecue grill that delivered the slow, even heat he wanted. So one day in 1951 he selected a steel spinning from the Chicago sheet-metal factory, Weber Bros. Metal, of which he was part owner. He had a foreman shape it into a bowl, fashioned a spherical cover, and installed the contraption in the backyard of his home in Mount Prospect, Ill.

Stephen had no intention of founding a new business,...

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