Today: How a failed business led Louis Stumberg to enormous success.
In 1946 Louis and his brother Ed and their dad Henry decided to start their own business in their hometown of San Antonio, Texas. They called it Patio Foods.
They had little business experience. Louis had worked in the West Texas mines; his dad was an engineer and his brother, a World War ll fighter pilot. But they had a great idea. It was to package and sell frozen vegetables to local supermarkets, a novel idea at the time.
If that hit big, they planned to sell to supermarkets across Texas .But it was such a great concept, giant national food companies soon did it, distributing frozen vegetables nationwide.
Patio Foods was finished, a failure and father and sons were going broke. But they refused to quit and tried something else, something hard for a national food company to knock off.
They introduced Tex-Mex frozen dinners.
The U.S. military then had and still has a huge presence in San Antonio and many soldiers are stationed there briefly. In the 1940’s, during their time there, many soldiers were introduced to and enjoyed Tex-Mex but when they went home, there was no way to get it.
But eventually, thanks to the Stumbergs, they could. In the early days, national food companies didn’t recognize this potentially huge market, leaving Patio Foods to grow and prosper.
From a San Antonio plant, the Stumbergs shipped frozen chili and tamales across Texas and as that caught on, they went nationwide. Eventually, they offered burritos, enchiladas, refried beans, rice and tacos as well and Patio Foods grew into a substantial company, rewarding the founders handsomely.
In 1967, the founders sold Patio Foods to R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and as part of the sale; Louis became an RJR Foods vice chairman. Later, ConAgra Foods would buy Patio and today it is being sold to J&J Snack Foods Corporation.
Having become rich, Louis retired in 1986 and became a San Antonio civic leader, free to enjoy life on his own terms which he did for the next 25 years.
But recently, Louis became ill and on May 4th, 2011 he passed away at the age of 87. His wife of 57 years, the former Mary Patricia Zachry survives him, as do their children Herb, Eric and Diana, three grandchildren and one great-grandson.
But Louis is also survived by Tex-Mex fans everywhere. Thanks to the Stumberg’s foolishness of refusing to quit when they were beaten, a massive market was born.
Success Tip of the Week:
If you are afraid to start a business because it might fail, consider the Stumbergs and give your business idea a chance. It may succeed, or it may lead you to a better idea as happened to the Stumbergs. Or it may fail and you will be far wiser for the experience and later launch another business with a greater likelihood for success.
To learn more, please see “Louis Stumberg, who brought Tex-Mex to TV Dinners, Dies at 87.” New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/business/08stumberg.html
In the next KazanToday:
How a man at a car wash thought of an idea for a product that would change gardening worldwide and make him a fortune.