You’ll meet some very interesting people in the articles that follow.
First up is Jay Collins, who has just joined the Operation BBQ Relief folks. By now you know Stan Hays, one of the founders of the organization, and the guy who has been up on the stage at the Vesta Awards Ceremony for the past five or six years.
Collins heads up the Always Serving Project, a new arm of OBR, and the one that is charged with bringing barbecue and warmth to the hungry, to the first responders, to members of the military, and other service people. His is the effort that will change OBR from an organization that responds only when there is a major catastrophe, to a year-round major charitable operation. (See Mission Expansion.)
Next is Christian Stevenson, also known as DJ BBQ, the wild man of live-fire cooking whose antics have provided him with 180,000 subscribers on YouTube, and thousands more on other channels.
When he dons his skin-tight jumpsuit and goggles, his inner kid comes out and anything can happen. But make no mistake, Stevenson is a seasoned and highly-professional barbecuer, having started at an early age under the tutelage of his dad. (See Live-ly Fire.)
Rizwan Ansari, CEO of Rizzy Home, Larry Hedrick, vice president of Development, and Steve Roan, managing director, are all people you should know if you’re in the outdoor, or indoor, fields of furniture sales. Rizzy Home was founded in India in 1971 by the father of Rizwan Ansari.
Ansari took over leadership of the company in 1992 and became the largest importer of New Zealand wool and India’s largest exporter of handmade rugs. Not bad, eh?
There’s more. India produces mountains of empty plastic water bottles, more than any other nation. Ansari developed a method of converting those discarded bottles, made of polyethylene terephthalate, into polyester fiber that can be processed and then spun into yarn to become fabric. Ansari added hand washing to the process, and the result is a softness so similar to wool that experts can’t tell the difference. (See Rugs from Plastic.)
You’ll find a special section – sponsored by Napoleon – titled A Family Affair. It’s an in-depth look at married couples who also work together, a common occurrence in the hearth, patio, and barbecue industries, and throughout many other industries as well.
We limited our interviews to the retail segment because that’s where we found the greatest number of stores that met our qualifications. It seems there are but a few manufacturers (or importers) where Mom and Pop work together.
One of the best examples is Wolfgang and Ingrid Schroeter, who founded Napoleon and grew it to approximately 1,600 employees with sales in 62 or so countries.
Remember, it’s Barbecue Month! Eat up.