(WJBF) – The year was 2008. The recession was in full swing and paychecks were tough to come by. Selling cars at the time, Raymond Carnes was struggling like so many others.
“It was just very difficult to give away a car. I mean to sell a car. Much less, I can’t give away a car actually,” said Raymond Carnes, Co-founder of RecTec Grills.
Carnes said he wanted more and was ready to try something new using his passion of BBQ.
“I was sitting on the couch, kind of depressed. For years and years I had this idea of making this ultimate grill. And at that point I’m like, ‘this isn’t working’ so it gave me the opportunity to take a risk and so I decided to make the ‘ultimate bbq grill,” said Carnes.
And he did. He found an investor and in 2011, the first RecTec wood pellet grill was sold.
“If I’m being honest, I really did envision it being a household name. Now I had no idea what that involved. So now it’s surreal somtimes when you look around and see that you have 70 employees and a marketing team,” said Carnes.
From selling a few a year to a few hundred a day, Carnes credits much of their quick success to the power of the internet. Posting videos on social media of how to cook great meals and interact with customers in a way that’s more unconventional than most might expect from a grill company.
“I get recognized occassionally from around the country and they’ll come running across the airport and say, ‘Hey I love my RecTec’, which that’s really weird to me. Because they just notice me from YouTube and stuff but it’s pretty neat. We have the greatest fans in the world,” said Carnes.
While known internationally, RecTec’s general manager says their local presence in Augusta is just as important.
“We used to be in a small 32-hundred square foot Butler building. And it was tucked away. If you weren’t looking for us, you couldn’t find us. And you know that’s really turned into, now we’re in multiple facilities, we’re about to move in to a massive facility in Evans, and our local sales have been a big driving force behind that. It used to be that less than 1% of our revenue was local,” said Ben Lesshafft, General Manager of RecTec.
They flipped the script to gain more local business, using sponsorship opportunities as a way to give back.
“At the end of the day, we’re in the grill business but we’re in the people business and meeting good people goes a long way,” said Lesshafft.
Every year RecTec continues to grow. Whether through their innovative new grills, seasonings, or their Dirty Gurl mixer line that can now be found in stores like Kroger or Sams.
And every year, Carnes says he remains amazed to know a leap of faith and his love for grilling could turn a hard time, into the best time of his life.
“It’s exciting you know? I get excited and I feel blessed. And like I said, it’s surreal to go into Walmart and see a big display of some of your products and things like that,” said Carnes.
Fun fact, REC TEC got its name using the first letter of each of the founders kid’s names.
The grill company will move into it’s new building off Old Evans Road in January.