Kansas.com's Profile of Carlson Products CEO Austin Peterson '08
As he tries to grow Carlson Products’ business, new president and CEO Austin Peterson can look to the company’s history for inspiration.
Founded in the 1950s as a door manufacturer, the company started making bakeware for a little startup called Pizza Hut.
“The original Pizza Hut pizza pan was the circular window cutout of an aluminum door, a stockroom door,” Peterson said. “It’s a great story.”
That launched Carlson into commercial bakeware in a big way. The company still makes doors, as well as components for lawnmowers, skeet shooting machines, pumps, nozzles and numerous other products.
Peterson is part of a group that bought Carlson this summer. Born and raised in Wichita, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Kansas and then a law degree from the University of Chicago before going to work for a large law firm, where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions.
“I was working on a lot of business deals and I kind of realized that while I didn’t mind the stuff I was doing, I really got the itch to jump over to the business side of things, get in there, roll up my sleeves and run a company,” he said.
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