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is a proud sponsor
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MADISON, Ind. (August 2004) In the dead of
winter, long before most folks ever begin to think about firing up their
grills, things are busy at the Austin National Smoker Co. in Noblesville,
Ind. The family-owned manufacturer of custom barbecue pits has orders
to fill for individuals and businesses across the country.
Austin has built a successful
business in Noblesville, Ind., selling
grills and smokers.
Owners Troy and Beth Austin, both 33, employ seven people
year-round in their shop to keep up with the growing demand. "Sales
are strong," said Troy Austin, a native of Madison, Ind., and 1989
graduate of Madison Consolidated High School.
Austin had been in commercial printing sales for 14 years when, two
years ago, he decided to start building smokers for a living. "I
asked myself, 'What do you enjoy?' " The answer was related to
what had become his favorite hobby: barbecue. Not only did Austin enjoy
barbecue cooking, he also was a certified judge who traveled around
the country judging competitions for organizations, including the big
ones at Memphis in May and the Kansas City Barbecue Society.
"Indiana is under-served as far as true barbecue cookers go,"
said Austin, who figured he could remedy the situation. In February
2002 he formed the company, which now produces as many as 100 custom-built
smokers a year.
Austin Smokers, or "pits," as Austin referred to them, are
not the kind of grills found on typical American patios. Rather, these
heavy-duty portable cookers are the kind preferred by true barbecue
connoisseurs for slow-roasting meat over seasoned wood not
gas. The smokers feature electric rotisseries and a firebox that runs
the entire length. They come in sizes ranging from the standard four-foot
model to the deluxe 22-foot concession trailer model, complete with
a six-foot pit on a covered deck and a fully enclosed kitchen with sinks,
hot and cold wells, two serving windows and room for a full size refrigerator
and freezer. The price tag: $33,000 for the concession model. The four-foot
models sells for $3,750 with a trailer ($3,250 without).
by Don Ward
Austin (far right) poses
with 2004 Madison Ribberfest
pro division cooking winner
Bobbie McWright of Nashville,
Tenn. With him are (from left)
Jeff Garrett and Shawn Auxier
of the festival committee.
About 25 percent of Austin's customer base is comprised
of barbecue circuit competitors. Among them are Mike and Chris Cammack,
a father-and-son team from Madison. The Cammacks, who compete in KCBS
competitions under the team name "Wildcat BBQ," purchased
a four-foot Austin National Smoker in February 2003. "We built
our first one and then looked around and tried to find a premium cooker
that we could afford," said Chris Cammack, who was impressed with
the Austin Smoker's rotisserie and full-length firebox. "It cooks
very evenly," he said.
Cammack was using his Austin Smoker last year in Crestwood, Ky., when
he met Greg Laramore of Greensburg, Ky. Laramore, who was then using
a homemade cooker, was so impressed with the Austin Smoker that he purchased
his own four-foot model last December. "I really liked the rotisserie
and the compactness of it," said Laramore. He has since purchased
two additional smokers, which he uses both for his barbecue catering
company and KCBS competitions. He and wife, Charlotte, operate Bluegrass
Bar-be-que. "The cookers are in use about six days a week. I haven't
had any trouble with them," Laramore said.
"Troy (Austin) is a great guy to work with. He's very attentive
to the needs of his customers. I'd never hesitate to buy another (Austin
Smoker) if I needed it," said Cammack, who will use his Austin
Smoker in this year's Ribberfest competition.
Laramore also will use his smoker in the Madison event.
Because Austin National Smokers are built to order, customers can expect
eight to 10 weeks for delivery. For this reason, and because it takes
several uses to become familiar with a smoker, Austin recommends placing
orders well in advance of scheduled competitions or events.
Although he had planned to bridge the gap of Indiana barbecue smokers,
Austin admitted he still sells very few of his cookers within the state,
just four or five a year. "We're still fighting the misconception
that barbecue is a dried-out piece of chicken breast thrown on a gas
grill with some sauce," he lamented.
For more information about the Austin National Smoker Co.,
call (317) 714-1679 or 1-800-979-9935. Or visit: www.austinnationalsmokers.com.
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