The month of November has always been a time of reflection. As we prepare for Thanksgiving we can be reminded of good memories and people that we are thankful for in our lives. Friends, family, love, opportunities, a steady job, good health, the comfort of home, children, and... BBQ? Down-home, smokey, flavorful meaty, finger-lickin good BBQ, yep we said it! With all of their new developments and because we can't seem to get BBQ off of our mind, Big Daddy Hill's is our November Small Business of the Month! We recently sat down with owner and secret recipe master, Lee Hill, to get the story of what inspired him to start Big Daddy Hill's, his childhood spent cooking with his family in North Carolina, and more! Read our interview below.
About Big Daddy Hill's:
Now in its fourth year of business, veteran-owned Big Daddy Hill's is our go-to for BBQ sauce and rubs. Born and raised in North Carolina, Lee Hill knows good BBQ. His current lineup includes over 10 tasty different sauces (think honey chipotle, Jamaican BBQ, sweet and tangy, bourbon blues, and more) plus his famous rubs. From his humble beginnings at the Farmer's Market Lee has grow his business into a commercial success and in addition has recently opened a catering company, Smokeworks.
UMLF: What made you start Big Daddy Hills?
Lee: My wife, Monique, and I started our company to provide some assistance in paying for our little girls physical therapy. I am thankful for the encouragement my wife and her sister, Rowena Montoya, gave me in those early days of production and sales. I'm also thankful for our growing number of customers, and business supporters. If it hadn't been for those two, things would have surely happened differently. I would have given up, I wasn't a “tough skinned” individual then, and our daughter may have never learned to walk. Every sale made from our first event in 2014 to now have a greater meaning for us. My little girl, my family as a whole, and a growing number of US military veteran employees are better off because of our customers and our supporters.
UMLF: You are a veteran-owned business, does that make you proud to represent veterans?
Lee: I am very proud of being a veteran-owned business. I hear all the time from customers “thank you for your service” and my immediate response is always, “you are welcome”. Often times I think people in general do not realize that veterans see this statement the other way around. It was an honor for me to be able to serve my country honorably, so getting a thank you from customers puts a smile on my face. What I find most memorable about my military time is not summed up by basic training, going to war, or traveling. The greatest thing I will have forever are the friendships made during my time. These are the friendships that will last a lifetime.
UMLF: What are your favorite ways to use your products?
Lee: I enjoy using our products in a number of ways. Our sauces can be used as a marinade, dipping sauce, finishing glaze, or seasoning. My favorite sauce is our sweet and tangy bbq sauce. It is most easily used as a dipping sauce, but I like it as a cooking sauce when making pulled pork, or pulled beef sandwiches.
UMLF: You recently started Smokeworks, a catering company using all of the Big Daddy Hills products. What gave you the idea?
Lee: Smokeworks somewhat came out of a “Plan B” option for Big Daddy Hill's. We wanted to of course have a way to generate income to provide for our family and as a way to continue to promote Big Daddy Hill's products. We found Smokeworks to accomplish both of those goals. Not only has Smokeworks increased Big Daddy Hill's sales, we have also seen a growing number of new customers interested in our smoked meats for office parties, bulk prepared meals, and holiday foods like smoked turkey and ham for family dinners. What I have found most enjoyable about Smokeworks is being an entirely new company we do not always sell out of product purchased each week. What we have been able to do is donate food to families in need and from time to time we are able to do something to help others with fundraising activities.
UMLF: You’re from North Carolina, how is North Carolina BBQ different than the others? What flavors inspire you?
Lee: I would say North Carolina BBQ is different than the others as it more closely resembles how barbeque originated. The word comes from the Spanish preparation of "barbecoa", which is the way I grew up seeing barbeque prepared, just as it was in the Caribbean with a fire made from piled up sticks. I grew up having “cookouts” which were whole hogs smoked over a bed of coals from chunks of wood that had burned down. Since I grew up on the coast of North Carolina we also prepared fish the same way. I still remember starting fires on the beach just off the Pamlico Sound with my grandfather and smoking fish we had caught earlier in the day. What makes North Carolina different in my opinion has nothing to do with it being better than other regions of BBQ. North Carolina is known for whole hog BBQ, pulled and chopped pork. Texas BBQ is primarily beef brisket and Memphis and Kansas City are known for pork ribs. I would have to say the flavors that most inspire me would be comfort food associated with bbq and I think the side dishes are equally important. I love having pork shoulders smoked over hot coals and then piled on a plate with the eastern Carolina vinegar and peppery bbq sauce. BBQ beans are best kept simple with a bit of chopped onion, spices to season, and molasses to sweeten. My all time favorite food which puts me back home is Brunswick Stew. I have yet to find this on any BBQ menu here in Utah. Trust me when I say this....Brunswick Stew can be a dish added to a menu here in Utah that will set the restaurant apart from the rest.
UMLF: Lastly, can you tell readers how the Utah Microloan Fund helped you with your business?
Lee: Utah Microloan Fund helped our business by providing the necessary money to build our own facility, it gave us some extra capital needed to start buying ingredients in excess of what we had ever purchased, and probably most important outside of funding, the utah microloan employees are a great resource. Utah Microloan Fund does not simply hand over a check after filling out paperwork and meeting with them a few times. I have found referral sources that I did not know existed for small businesses. I have been put to task on completing profit and loss statements in the real world, because that is where we exist, and not asked to do it because of a business class requirement. The "knowing your numbers"part of business is your lifeline to succeed and grow. I continue to hear of new resources available from new members of the team at Utah Microloan Fund, and I would suggest the sooner a small business taps into the people working there the better they will be.
We want to thank Lee for sitting down with us and for his DELICIOUS sauces and rubs. This author personally has three of four bottles of his sauce plus another two bottles of his rubs including my favorite, the Spicy Apple rub.
To order smoked turkey, pork shoulders, briskets, or ham for the holidays: