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How One Entrepreneur Turned Restaurant Waste into a Business Chris Anderson, founder of Golden Fuel Systems, makes straight vegetable oil (SVO) conversion kits for diesel vehicles.

By John Patrick Pullen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Danger is not Charles Anderson's middle name. That became clear one night behind a catfish-fry house in Mount Home, Ark., when the eatery's owner pulled a gun on him. "He was going to get me for stealing his oil," says Anderson, founder of Golden Fuel Systems, which makes straight vegetable oil (SVO) conversion kits for diesel vehicles.

Anderson had spotted a bin full of used oil as he drove past the restaurant in his '94 Ford truck. Rather than ask for permission to pump the waste into his gas tank, he just pulled over and started fueling up. A few minutes later, while staring down the barrel of a gun, he had some explaining to do. Apologies convinced the owner to hold his fire. And after describing his truck's grease-powered fuel system, Anderson not only got permission to haul away vegetable oil whenever he was in town--he also scored a free dinner.

Born to a family of fishermen, ranchers and land surveyors in Homer, Alaska, where he still lives, Anderson was mostly home-schooled and never went to college. His family's frontier lifestyle taught him self-reliance. When a tractor or boat broke, he repaired it with whatever materials were on hand. Those experiences, along with some diesel-engine tinkering with his grandfather, molded Anderson into an innovator. After learning about biodiesel, or chemically modified vegetable oil, he engineered his own way to bypass the additives to pour cooking waste right into his fuel tank.