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All Big Businesses Start Small: Fat Boy BBQ

Microsoft and Apple started in garages, and Facebook started in a dorm room.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Lynch started selling her famous salad dressing at a Legion Hall in St. Paul, Nebraska. Todd Booth began his successful automotive business by working in the wash bay at a local car dealership after he graduated from high school.

While GROW Nebraska businesses haven’t reached the magnitude of Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, many have grown from small businesses to successful enterprises that are continually increasing sales, creating jobs and bringing Nebraska to the world.

GROW Nebraska members Dorothy Lynch, Jayhawk Boxes, Baker’s Candies, Platte Valley Auto and Fat Boy BBQ are all successful businesses that started small and have grown tremendously in the past few decades.

Success didn’t happen overnight for these small-town Nebraska businesses. From creating quality products to treating customers well and keeping up with technology, each business has created its own unique path to prosperity. And, for many, GROW Nebraska has played a part in their success.

Fat Boy BBQ -Hickman, NE

JB’s Fat Boy was a Grafton staple – started by John Burt in 2002. He traveled throughout the country doing BBQ competitions and started marketing his rubs he used to the public. Over time, he added sauces to the mix.

Wanting to retire to the Ozarks, JB sold the business to Erin and Kirk Malzer in 2013. In the time since then, they have grown the business to include 16 rubs, several of which have won national awards. Each rub has a distinctive taste and texture, and the rubs seal the meat to create a juicy and flavorful meat dish. They also expanded products to include 11 sauces – including a honey mustard, a finishing glaze and a marinade.

Wanting to freshen the brand, the Malzers dropped the JB’s and changed the company name to Fat Boy BBQ five years ago. Nearly all of their products are natural, and most are gluten free. Their sauces have a lower water content than most sauces on the market and do not contain any high fructose corn syrup.

“Since purchasing the business, we have more than doubled the sales,” Erin Malzer said. “Our products can be found in eight divisions of Kroger, all Hy-Vee stores, all Fareway stores, all Westlake Hardware stores and many other chains and independents throughout the country.”

The company has grown from a staff of two to six, their product currently sells in 36 states, and they are working on expanding product sales into the western part of the country. In 2022, Fat Boy BBQ will sell its products in Canada as well.

Fat Boy BBQ’s most popular products are its Premium All Purpose rub, Sweet rub, and Steak rub and the top sauces are Haugwaush, Sticky Stuff and Chipotle.

Erin said she attributes the company’s growth to a quality product.

“Our repeat business from stores and individuals purchasing online proves the product is at a standard that keeps people coming back,” she said.

The original owner had joined GROW Nebraska to help launch his business, and the Malzers have been GROW members since they become the owners.

For more information or to order Fat Boy BBQ products, click here.

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Story by Kristine Jacobson, GROW Nebraska member and owner of KRJ Public Relations, a business that helps non-profits and businesses tell their stories and gain momentum through blogs, newsletters, annual reports, social media and other publications.

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