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Taking it up another notch
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What happens when a Mulberry resident decides to tweak a barbeque sauce recipe? Well, if you are talking about John Bennett, you get an up and coming business.

John was a cook in the United States Marine Corps for four years. He has lived in Richmond Hill on and off since 1980. He is married to Cindy and has two boys, Brandon, 17 and Victor, 15. He sings with the local quartet, Ossabaw Sound. He loves to watch his kids play sports. He works hard as a locomotive engineer for CSX. He also has his own brand of barbeque sauce currently being sold in five states.

That’s right. Local sauce, five states. And the business hasn’t even hit its year anniversary yet. That milestone will happen on June 19. I know you are wondering how a dual vocation, small business owner takes a product and produces that kind of coverage in less than a year. I sure did. Turns out that the answer was simple – product, placement and priorities.

"The taste just speaks for itself," says John. "Everyone that I have talked to loves it." That is a deal breaker in the world of business. You have to have a product or a service that people want. Any marketer worth their salt will tell you, "Consumers don’t buy products, they buy solutions."

Now what? John knows that he has a product people will love once they try it. But remember, John has to run a tight budget. He is starting a new company. Any investment he makes is debt to the company that he has to recoup before he ever starts thinking about a profit. How do you get in front of a ton of people at one time? In Richmond Hill, we call that The Seafood Festival. "It is a great time and the boys really enjoy getting involved," explains John. "Bill Haws has been my partner in all of this." John also mentioned that his brother comes in from Tennessee and, this year, his friend from the Marine Corps is coming from Oklahoma

Covered Richmond Hill – check. Now, how do you get in front of even more people? A little outside of the box thinking and John decides to take the sauce on the road, or rather, the rail. It’s only fitting since the name of the sauce, "Notch 8," is a play on the notch eight setting that indicates the locomotive is at full throttle. John said, "I’d give it to coworkers or they will buy it and take it with them. Now I am in five states. We are now working on some other states and grocery stores."

So, he’s got a great product and his placement is on the rise. How does he insure that he keeps moving forward and makes it through, what he projects, will be the make or break first five years? He has his priorities. "The most important things are family, friends and God," says John. "As long as you have that, you are good. It doesn’t matter what happens after that." John says his friends in the local community have been incredibly supportive.

One last note – John doesn’t settle for being a one trick pony. He expands his Seafood Festival menu every year including a new creation called Barbeque Pie. Also at the festival this year, John will feature his new teriyaki glaze. He has added a catering service to his business. Sounds like he not only has a nailed the recipe for great barbeque, but for a successful business as well. I’d love to hear what you think.

April Groves covers all things business for the Bryan County News. You can send thoughts, press releases, tips and questions you’d like answered to


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