“PTSD is something a lot of guys don’t want to talk about,” Glanville says. He decided to cope with the aftereffects of his military experiences by starting his own company and putting his time and energy toward something he enjoyed. That was the genesis for the Pit Barrel Cooker Company.
Today, barbecue and smoked cooking are Glanville’s livelihood. In 2010, he and his wife, Amber, started the Pit Barrel Cooker Company, and the company has gone on to become a huge success. “We’re extremely passionate about this business, and our customers are just as passionate,” he says.
“The Pit Barrel Cooker is unique because it combines the best qualities of smokers, slow cookers and grills into a single product,” Glanville says. He adds that while barrel cooking is nothing new, the method has never before been brought to the mass market in a form that is both affordable and easy to use. “There is really nothing else like it on the market,” he says.
Road to Success
The road from Glanville’s departure from the military to the launch of his company was a long one. He knew he wanted to follow his entrepreneurial spirit but understood that there would be obstacles to starting a company.
For example, Glanville was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to fund the startup. He and his wife spent all of their savings and exhausted their credit to bankroll the company. “There are a lot of startup costs and a ton of risk, but we knew we had something here and simply wanted to follow our hearts,” he says. Product development was another challenge. Glanville created 30 prototypes of the grill over a one-year period before developing a cooker he believed was ready for market.
Glanville continually adjusted the airflow and charcoal basket until he was satisfied. “We worked with different types and sizes of drums,” he recalls. “We wanted to get this thing right.”
There’s little question that Glanville did just that. Not only is he satisfied with the cooker’s performance, but he is pleased with its ease of use. “You take it out of the box and can start cooking within 20 minutes,” he explains. The cooker costs $299 and is shipped fully assembled.
A ‘Versatile’ Cooker
The cooker is a porcelain coated 30-gallon steel drum with a charcoal basket located at the bottom. Meat is attached to hooks that are placed on hanging rods that extend across the top of the drum. Hanging meat such as ribs, tri-tip, or even a whole turkey, allows the heat to evenly cook the meat from all sides as the warm air circulates around the food like a convection oven. The drum is covered, and the meat is smoked until cooked. The grill grate can be used for meat that cannot be hung, such as hamburgers or fish.
“Larger outdoor cooker companies said hanging meat would not work,” Glanville says. But he was convinced that the appropriate heat coupled with the right design would lead to a successful and popular product. “Our quality is second to none,” he says. “It’s the most versatile grill on the market, and has proven to be very popular with our customers.”
The cooker is manufactured in California, and the company sells approximately 2,000 units a month, Glanville says. “There’s a good demand for it,” he says. “We sell units across the country and around the world.” The company partners with Kingsford, Wal-Mart.com, and Amazon – relationships that have only helped its success.
The cooker is delivered with the eight stainless steel meat hooks, two steel hanging rods, a charcoal basket, a cooking grate, a hook remover, a three-point stand and two packages of meat rub. “We are also about to release several new accessories on our website including a turkey hanger. It will make cooking a turkey easier than ever,” Glanville says. “Our test turkeys were incredibly tender and juicy.”
The costs associated with starting the Pit Barrel Cooker Company didn’t leave much money for marketing, but Glanville caught a break when the cooker was recognized by food bloggers and websites, including amazingribs.com, which heavily promoted the product, he says. “Their reviews were a big help,” he says. In fact, 92 percent of the Pit Barrel reviews on Amazon are five stars. The cooker also was featured on Project Smoke, the PBS television series hosted by food smoking and barbecue expert Steven Raichlen. “We’re humbled to be able to work with someone as successful as Steven, and we don’t take that lightly.”
Glanville hasn’t forgotten his military experiences, and is working to help other veterans lead successful lives. In fact, his company makes donations to fundraisers that benefit veterans and works with Folds of Honor, an organization that provides scholarships to the families of those killed or disabled in war. A percentage of the sale of each cooker is contributed to the organization. “There’s no cap to it,” Glanville says.
Ultimately, Glanville would like to start his own organization to encourage veterans to become entrepreneurs. He’s participated with small groups of disabled veterans in various activities including hunting and fishing. “I’d like to use my knowledge and experience to help these guys on a much larger scale,” he notes. He’s convinced that veterans are equipped to succeed at entrepreneurial endeavors because they’ve already faced enormous challenges associated with war.
It’s clear that the Pit Barrel Cooker Company’s success with its innovative smoker is due to both its quality cooker as well as the people behind the product, Glanville says. His passion for the his cooker and the lifestyle it promotes means that in their free time, Glanville and his wife are likely to be hanging out around the grill with family and friends testing new recipes or on the phone with customers promoting the latest accessories.
“I’m proud of the hard work we have put in to grow this business and excited for where the future will take us,” the company’s president says. “We’re honored to offer an American-made product that can help people create great meals and great memories.”