EVANS, Ga (WJBF) Ray Carnes and Ron Cundy have taken grilling to new heights. On this edition of The Means Report, Carnes talks about the road to success at recteq. A passion for cooking out and a commitment to customer service are key to the recteq experience. Watch our interview and you’ll come away inspired to chase your dreams. Thank you for joining us for The Means Report every Monday afternoon at 12:30 on NewsChannel 6.

Welcome back to “The Means Report”. We appreciate you staying with us as we continue to talk to local business leaders. I love this edition of “The Means Report,” I hope you do as well. I’m learning a ton about people I thought I already knew. Like Ray Carnes, he’s the co-founder of recteq, they started way back in 2009 and it’s just been gangbusters ever since. Ray, thanks for what you do for our community and thanks for joining me today.

Thanks for having me.

All right, so your story, and you know, some people watching may have heard this, is you used to be a vacuum cleaner salesman. I mean an honorable profession for sure, why didn’t you like it? Why did you quit? What, were you not good at it? Why’d you walk away?

No, I was the best at it.

All right, I love it.

No, I loved that, I did it for a while. When all my friends went to college, being 18 and knowing everything when you’re 18, I decided to sell vacuum cleaners door to door instead. But for me, that was the greatest decision I ever made for my personality. It taught me how to deal with different personalities from all walks of life, and that’s really the education I got in life. And I just wanted to do something that didn’t have a little bit of a negative connotation with it. So I became a used car salesman next and then on direct, and then on recteq to invent the grill.

All right, yeah, so you did, so you and Ron Cundy co-founded this company that’s become a juggernaut in the industry. Would you say that the main thing I should think of when I think of recteq grill is wood pellets.

Wood pellets and the fact that it’s more versatile and you get more flavor, it’s more versatile than even gas and more convenient than gas. But it actually gives you the wood flavor that some are seeking when they cook with charcoal. So it’s more flavor, more versatility, more convenient.

You know what, I thought about a quote from Ron talking about how I think his mother was a little bit apprehensive about going outside back in the day and starting their gas grill, didn’t wanna kind of mess with the gas, wasn’t sure what’s gonna happen. Is it sort of a stress-free approach when you fire up a recteq?

It is, it makes the whole thing easier, and my wife was the same way. She would never press that button, she was scared of the poof that it would make, and you know, when I first started recteq. I came home one evening and she cooked prime rib and it was world class and I’m telling you, it hurt my feelings ’cause I was like, wait a minute, I’m the griller of the house, you know? But it was so good and so easy that she uses it, actually at home, uses it more than I do now.

Why grills? Is there something, when you were a little boy, did you watch your dad grill? Why was a grill on your heart?

I just was always a passionate griller, had a passion for it. I always, my friends used to joke even when I was young, I always had the nicest grill. My first job when I was 16 ever, 16 years old, my first job ever was grilling where Outback back is now, it’s called Pompanos back those days. So I went full circle and invented my own grill, but I just always had a passion for it.

You’re big on customer service, you referred to it as old school customer service. I think I know exactly what that means, what’s it mean to you?

So our customers are the greatest customers on Earth because we want to make them feel like family and part of this lifestyle and really grilling when you think about it is some of your best memories as kids, I guarantee there’s always a grill around. So we just try to make it a family, every customer has my personal cell phone number. It’s the real cell phone I carry, I talk to customers every day, 365. And so they get a feel that they’re part of something special and they get a better product and more bang for their butt.

What’s that look like or sound like on a phone call? If I buy a recteq grill and I call and say, look, I can’t figure out how this part of it works. How do you make it more personable and memorable? So when they hang up they go, man, this company’s first class.

Yeah, you know, I tell people all the time, there’s not been a Christmas or Thanksgiving that’s went by that I don’t get a call. And my wife, the first time I ever took the call on Christmas Eve, she rolled her eyes at me and I said, you know, it’s a small price to pay, this person got help, I knew that if they called me on Christmas Eve there was a little situation, so I was able to fix it up. Pellets had gotten wet in that case and you know they went on to make a big post about it on social media, which is big for us, being that we’re almost all direct to consumer so they would go and you can’t buy publicity like that is my point. So I always say it’s a small price to pay.

What about this direct to consumer as the people in the industry call it, DTC. Why didn’t you just try to, you know, go to Lowe’s, Home Depot, those folks, and get ’em to stock your grills? Why the approach that you have?

Well, I would love to say I was a forward thinker and genius on that, the truth is we ran outta money and so we said let’s try to sell a few of these on the internet. And it started working and then it just evolved. We realized it was a better way to do things and easier for us where we could control always that customer service experience versus them talking to somebody maybe in a store which we had no control of and them potentially having a bad experience. And so that gave us full control of the customer’s experience.

Your first building where you and Ron were operating was 4,000 square feet.

It was 3000.

3000 square feet. Then you built this beautiful campus in Evans. How many square feet out there?


What? 300.


You have academies still out there?

We sure do, and it’s a neat thing for our customers to come and share a big weekend experience with us and learn pro-level barbecue tips and it’s full, we have entertainment for ’em in the evening and they learn a lot of things and it sells out within a few weeks every year that we put the dates up.

Your partner also said he wants to continue to work to make recteq a household name. I’m sure you share that goal, how do y’all do it? It already feels like everybody knows what a recteq grill is. What do you do going forward?

The the best thing we could do is to continue doing the right thing and some of the previous guests said, you know, do the right thing even when no one’s looking and just, if you’re always doing the right thing, they’ll tell folks about it. We’ve learned that our customer is our biggest asset and making sure that they enjoy the product and they tell folks about it.

I know you’re gonna be my last question probably, I know you’re gonna be on stage for the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce is all about the local economy. Do you feel like recteq has done its share to boost the local economy? My thought is when you have a bunch of folks coming in for an academy or just if it’s someone purchasing your grill, don’t you feel like you’re kind of lifting this area up?

For sure, I know we do. I’ve got a lot of compliments from Columbia County. I know we collected nearly a million dollars in local sales tax last year alone. And like you said, when we bring people into the area for the hotels and the restaurants that they might use, it really boosts the economy, which makes me really proud.

Well, we are all proud of you. You sold your first grill about a dozen years ago and have just taken off since. We’re all rooting for you Ray, and please tell Ron that, and I just congratulate you and I thank you for joining me.

I appreciate you having me.