Now the hard part…convincing my wife that this was something I needed to do. I really felt deep down that this could be my calling. You know, like it was the right time to leave a stable job in a great environment, while having 2 kids under the age of 7 and her teaching part-time at Bethlehem Christian Academy.
This is probably the best time to mention to y’all that my track record hasn’t been super solid either. In the years since we graduated from West Georgia, I had already had 6 jobs in 4 completely different industries. I had done everything from selling windows and cabinets door to door to mortgages. I had a great 4-year run as a service consultant at an Audi dealership back in my hometown of Roswell, GA, and even managed to get my real estate license along the way. I’m sure Stacey was thrilled to hear me say that it was time to make another change. She always says I just love to throw darts and she picks up the ones that haven’t missed the mark too bad. This one took some time, but I truly felt like BBQ was something I was supposed to be doing. Although I wasn’t 100% sure just how to explain what I would be doing with BBQ, I knew it was time to take the first step.
My lucky break came about a year later, in October of 2013, when a dart finally hit the board. I caught her at the right time and she said to go for it. Now, I had to figure out the best way to start it up. So, the next day I dropped by our local produce stand called Three Peas in a Pod in Loganville, GA, to see if they would be open to the idea of me selling BBQ there. It was an awesome spot that we used to stop by every Sunday after church to load up on fresh veggies for the week and maybe a cup or two of some killer boiled peanuts. Luckily, the owner, David Dempsey was at the stand and had an open ear to hear my request. He was quick to say he would give us a shot…but he had a few rules that we needed to follow.
First, we better have some killer BBQ for his customers to enjoy and we needed to make sure we didn’t sell out too fast. He said several people had set up before but never made enough to last more than a couple of hours. I knew that our smoker could set us up for a great showing! Oh yeah and then there was the part where he was ready for us to come out that weekend. The best lesson I learned in the beginning...(Pro Tip) Don’t ask for the business if you aren’t ready to figure out how to make it work. I had a lot to figure out over the next couple of days but was up for the challenge. I knew there wasn’t enough time to get licensed and get set up with a commercial kitchen, but I still had to source all the food, containers, a way to collect money, and I needed to draw a crowd. Either way, I had to play it cool and confident, so Stacey wouldn’t be stressed about the fact that I was young, dumb, and completely clueless about how to pull it all together. My hope was that we could draw a good group of friends and family that would support us, even if the whole event bombed. Thank goodness for the power of Facebook! I absolutely love our community!
The stage was finally set for this new experience. Although I wasn’t new to cooking, this was going to be something I had never done before. So many fears running through my head... What if nobody shows up? Am I good enough to pull this off? What if they hate the BBQ? What happens if we don’t make any money? Is this something I can do and still support my family? What if we get in trouble for not being “legit” yet? Luckily, the excitement of standing by the smoker that was loaded down with beef brisket and pork butts, along with all the encouragement from Stacey and the rest of my family & friends, was all I needed to drown out those fears. It was time to put the fear of failing aside and give it everything I had. Failure was no longer an option. So, with the smoke rolling, I said a few prayers and set out on a new adventure. Super excited to share the rest of the story with you.
James Neal Ferry
Ryan, your passion to go beyond the ordinary is God’s work. He knew from the moment you were created that what you are doing is what he had planned for you. Regardless your products are wonderful. We proudly serve them at our home here in Nebraska and our friends love it when I tell them you can’t buy them here and whenever we get a shipment there is an enclosed card that’s signed with “Blessings”. Once our friends find out you’re a Christian via our conversation here, they ask how they can buy them too. My sense is you have a group of believers at your company, and God rewards you with success because of your obedience to Him. Now my turn, Blessings Neal Ferry