Friendship and technology proving to be a winning combination

Myron Mixon Smokers invited the National Barbecue News for an in-depth tour of their facilities in Connecticut to show and tell their different approach to this thriving industry.

Most of us understand how valuable true friendships can be. The best friendships I have are truly priceless, and I am very thankful for them. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with a couple of guys and witnessed what happens when true friends complement each other. Myron Mixon Smokers is a business partnership like no other that I know. One side is made up of the winningest person in competition barbecue history and the most famous pitmaster known simply as Myron. The other side of this partnership is made up of Rob Marelli, who is a very successful businessman who embraces precision, technology, and metal fabrication on a level I have never seen before. Both fellows are super individuals who actually had to think long and hard before jumping into this venture together, as neither one wanted to risk their friendship on a business deal that was not guaranteed. This fact alone sets these guys far apart from just about any other business partnership in the world, as most business people would put business before friendship on any given day. Both of these guys were also already excelling in their own businesses, so they really didn't have to partner up to continue their previous success. The whole idea behind this business is they are building smokers because they want to and not because they have to.

Rob Marelli owns and operates Seconn Fabrication in Waterford, CT. He is a very hands-on type of boss and knows all 70 of his employees on a first name basis. He started out with a small shop of only five employees and some used equipment, but since those humble beginnings, he has always invested in technology and his workers to ensure a bright future ahead. While visiting the Seconn facility, I witnessed this ideal business plan in action, which consisted of mixed aged employees, new age fabrication machines, and some really functional robotic applications that left me speechless.  Rob told me, "We use the robotics as a way to help production consistency in both time and duplication. We do not use them to replace workers, which is a huge myth." Once I witnessed how cross-trained the staff is, I better understood how useful the robotics really are.

Myron Mixon surely needs no introduction to anyone who is a barbecue fan. His resumé would read like a BBQ history book that is still being written every day. Let's face it…there is no doubt that Myron is the single best known barbecue guy in the universe. Not only has he done practically every job in the barbecue world, but he has done them very well. World Champion competition cook, sauce and rub maker, TV personality, barbecue cook school teacher, BBQ restaurant owner, and cookbook author are just a few jobs of which this original barbecue pitmaster has been a part. Myron has done all of these things while always doing it his way, which  is a little different than most. Examples of these differences would be his cupcake chicken, peach wood, and using steam while cooking. Also the fact that he has used all three of these different techniques have produced multiple championships and tons of cash for this barbecue superstar. Myron told me, "I work hard to make sure the things that I do work, and great barbecue really is not that difficult.  These things have worked really well not only for me, but also for those that I have shared with as well." I don't think anyone could argue with the successes this fellow has accomplished.

The combination of this business venture is truly an all-American affair. The two vested partners are both American all-stars in their respective fields, and every single process from the designing, building, and testing stays here in the USA. Both partners are super proud of the fact that they only use American-made steel and American-made supplies to build each pit. I admire this attitude and the principle it stands for because cheaper products could be found and used, but then it would not be an all-American product. The truth is every single process in the manufacturing of these pits happens in one of two facilities in Waterford, CT. They also happen to be located just across the street from each other. The American steel sheets are cut, bent, welded, powder coated, and assembled right there. Even the decals, logos, and literature that accompany each unit are made and produced inside these facilities.

Because they control every single process in manufacturing, this gives them the ability to dictate timelines and keep a stock of all pit models they make. I asked them both about special or custom-made pits, and Myron told me, "We love to do different and custom jobs, but we will never produce anything that we don't think will work. In short, if any of our four design engineers say it won't work, then we will stop work on that project." Several of their trailered units are examples of the one-of-a-kind builds which showcase their ability to do custom units. They have a total of 13 different units that are UL and NSF certified. These certified units use either pellets, gas assist, or wood/charcoal as heat sources, so you have a choice.

Rob told us during our facility tour, "We are building these pits because we want to build them and that keeps us from having to cut corners at anytime." That statement really caught my attention and shows how dedicated this company is to putting out a quality product for each and every customer.

Myron summed it up pretty well when said, "I can cook on a trash can and have done it on national TV before, but that doesn't mean I like it! I want to offer people an opportunity to cook on the same high quality and American-made pit that just helped me win another World Championship in Memphis."

Both Myron and Rob invite anyone to come by their facility and take the same all-inclusive tour that I was given. If you are interested in one of their smokers, they will even set it up for you in their test kitchen and let you give it test run before you buy it! I can honestly say I learned a ton from touring this facility. There were several things that I had the opportunity to see that I cannot tell you about because they were still in the testing phase, but I will testify that these "secret projects" could make barbecue history once again.

You can take a video tour of these facilities at their website

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
This robotic arm prepares a panel box with welds and inserts 35 pieces of hardware, while also checking for precision in all areas of the box being assembled.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
Two robotic arms work together in the second facility to bend, stack, and check the precision of the finished product for panels.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
The view from the front door of the Myron Mixon Smokers facility located across the street from Seconn Fabrication in Waterford, CT. Here steel plates are laser cut, robotically bent and welded, hand powder coat painted, and assembled. The nearly finished product then makes the journey across the street for final inspection and finishing touches.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
A digital key pad on one of the commercial units from Myron Mixon Smokers. Just another example of the technology being used in these barbecue pits.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
A giant roll of the 1 inch thick, military grade insulation used inside each Myron Mixon Smoker.

Photo by Kell Phelps/NBN
Katelyn, who usually works in the office, is proof of Rob's cross-trained staff. She is also trained to final assemble projects as needed.

Website design by Wyoming Network, Inc.