Louisville Magazine

JUL 2012

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/70972

Contents of this Issue


Page 36 of 100

[ People ] Unwrapping his meager lunch, he adds, "I need to stick to my diet. I follow Weight Watchers." Tat he diets at all is ironic, given the body of his work as founder, chairman and lead engineer at Winston Industries, which makes fryers and holding cabinets for fast-food chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken. Te chicken giant's food was any- thing but fast before Shelton created the pressurized Collectramatic fryer in 1969, an invention that radically altered not only his life and income but the speed at which food has since been served in the restaurant industry. Employed then as an engineer at Gener- al Electric earning $280 a month, Shelton developed the fryer for his side business, Engineering Prototype Services (EPS). Ac- cording to his eldest daughter, Valerie, now president and CEO of Winston Industries, already lean living for the married father of three got even leaner when he left GE in 1968 to devote his energies to EPS. Te fa- natical frugality of her mother, Dolly, dur- ing that time helped the family get by. "She saved every dollar. We had a $10 couch un- til I was 10 or 12," says Valerie. Forty-four years later and at the helm of a $25 million company, money is the last of Winston Shelton's worries. But he re- mains driven as ever to produce machines born of "solid, smart engineering." Tat goal had led him to GE, where he authored 50 patents, but it also led him away to, "as we engineers like to say, 'bend the tin' the way I saw fit," Shelton says. By inventing the Collectramatic fryer, which helped store sales and unit growth surge at KFC, "I was doing quality engineering on my own terms, and that was very gratifying." Forty-three years ago, GI-turned-GE engineer Winston Shelton designed the machines that continue to fry KFC's chicken. Today, at 90, he's still innovating for the food-service industry. [34] LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 7.12 The Colonel's Corporal B I Photo by Nicholas Karem orn in 1922, Shelton was the young- est of five children reared by Naa- man and Opal Shelton, who owned By Steve Coomes t's likely the order-taker at the Dairy Queen on Bluegrass Parkway doesn't know that the gentlemanly senior chat- ting her up is the inventor of some of the most influential cooking machines ever built. She just knows he's friendly, greeting him with a cordial, "Good to see you back again." When he orders his usual chicken wrap and chocolate milk, she repeats it back to him, which elicits a "Beg pardon?" from him, prompting a second repeat. "I like coming here; they're always so nice," says 90-year-old Winston Shelton. a service station and small restaurant and three-room home in Clay, W. Va. Shelton recalls Clay idyllically as a place where he and brother Naaman Jr. — who also would become a GE engineer and help found EPS — fished, "stole a rowboat when we didn't have one," and mobilized ordinary wagons with abandoned engines they disassembled and rebuilt. "Tere weren't the distractions of TV. We made our own entertainment," he says. "Your teacher was yourself, burned fingers and skinned knuckles." Shelton enrolled at Glenville College in 1941 to become a lawyer, but after two years he enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve in World War II. Upon taking the Army's General Classification Test, which matched

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