L.A.M. PHELAN – BROASTER COMPANY FOUNDER
L.A.M. Phelan was a man who refused to accept the adage “It can’t be done.” From boyhood on, successfully applied inventions were his vocation and avocation. When his search for a fast and simple method to prepare chicken led him to the conclusion there was no such method in existence, it was only natural for him to invent one. So with inspiration and perspiration he succeeded in creating Genuine Broaster Chicken and the Broaster Pressure Fryer.
The first Broaster Pressure Fryers were manufactured in 1954 by Flavor Fast Foods, Inc., a company formed under the leadership of Phelan and staffed by people associated with another of his businesses, Tekni-Craft. Two years later, in 1956, Broaster Company was officially formed as a partnership and began selling its line of specialty foodservice equipment, accessories, and food product ingredients through a nationwide distributor organization.
Prior to that venture, as a very young man Phelan worked with inventors of carton-making machinery, oil burners, steam traps, and other items. From 1901 to 1920 he was associated with such concerns and projects as American Car and Foundry Company, Monsanto Chemical Company, Panama Canal project, Allis Chalmers Company, and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in the fields of invention and development.
Independently, from 1912 to 1920, Phelan was busy inventing and developing the original, non-deteriorating mercury switch on which he eventually obtained 52 patents and the likes of which enjoyed worldwide use.
In 1920 he created the Absolute Con-tac-Tor Corporation for the production and sale of the mercury switch. This company grew from its original location in Chicago, to Beloit, Wisconsin and finally to Elkhart, Indiana. Also to his credit is the fact that he conceived and built the first automatic gasoline pump, the first automatic toilet, the first automatic commercial refrigerator, and first and only automatic continuous ice cream freezer.
In 1928, after an extended period of world travel, Phelan returned to lead the Taylor Freezer Corporation in Beloit, in which he had previously invested. Under his direction Taylor became a recognized leader in the ice cream freezer industry. At that time, there were more Taylor freezers in use around the world than all other freezers combined.
In 1936 Phelan started another enterprise, X-Ray Quality Equipment, devoted to the manufacture and sale of quality x-ray tubes – this at a time when the manufacture of x-ray tubes was mostly confined to the General Electric Company and a few German firms. This organization operated profitably until 1949 when fire completely destroyed the plant.
Meanwhile, in 1945, after many years of legal research, Phelan embarked on a completely unique program of combining the basic principles of profit-sharing, ownership-responsibility, and business management by organizing a group of over forty of his employees into a company known as Tekni-Craft. Tekni-Craft was organized as a partnership of employees using Taylor Freezer Corporation’s plant and facilities to produce the Taylor Freezer line – a plan which is said to have been a tremendous success in every respect.
Still another successful Phelan business venture was a chain of frozen custard stores called Zesto – a nationally operating franchise organization using Zest-O-Mat freezers, which were invented, designed, and developed by Phelan.
As an inventor, designer, manufacturer, financier, and business manager, Phelan was associated with successful inventions and their development all of his life. The crowning achievement of his career came when he invented the “Broasted” chicken process in 1954, a revolutionary method of preparing chicken, and other foods, by combining pressure cooking and deep frying concepts. This process was immediately successful and exists today under Phelan’s creation of Broaster Company, a provider of Branded Food Concepts, Pressure Fryers and other foodservice equipment, manufacturer not far from where Mr. Phelan got his start in Beloit, Wisconsin.
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