On Saturday, May 18, 78 teams faced off in the steak cooking championship but only five teams walked away with cash awards. Of those five teams from across the nation, four were grilling atop a product invented and headquartered in Cartersville.
Barrett invented GrillGrate five years ago and continues to see growth and demand for his product. GrillGrate is a system of interlocking panels that lay on top of any grill. The GrillGrate's raised rail design eliminates flare ups and retains moisture when grilling meat. These qualities helped propel the first-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers onto the winner's podium at last month's competition.
"It was nice to go to Magnolia, Ark., and have almost a clean sweep -- it was a near perfect day for GrillGrate," Barrett said. "It's a huge validating point for us. We've been winning a lot of product awards, but it's nice to help people win championships, too.
"The only reason I went is because one of the teams I've been winning a lot with. They've been using our product for a couple of years -- The United Steaks of America -- and I drove 1,100 miles to meet those guys."
The United Steaks of America came in third place, Shorty Dunn & the Cook 'Em Up Gang placed fourth, Lake Erling Sizzlers came in fifth and Walker Tree Farm of Star City took home the grand prize -- all using Barrett's GrillGrate.
In addition to recent competition success, GrillGrate has seen continued growth in past years necessitating the move into its own building for warehousing and distribution. For almost two years, Barrett has utilized resources at The Good Shepherd Foundation for those needs before moving into their current 2,500-square-foot warehouse and office space in January.
"The Good Shepherd was fabulous, it was like an incubator for us. It was a fabulous way for us to take a big step and they really helped us grow to this level," Barrett said. "A lot of good things are happening for GrillGrate and it's just a matter of keeping with it."
Barrett looks to the future with optimism; after creating the GrillGrate for better, easier grilling, he has since found ancillary benefits, including health advantages over traditional grilling. With these things in mind, Barrett is excited to move forward and has even seen benefits come from the economic challenges of recent years.
"It's a little nerve-wracking out there still; we've had four years of head winds but now we're lean and mean and that's the upside. A difficult economy forces you to be sharp and on the mark and very careful with everything you do," Barrett said. "It's taken three or four years to truly understand how our product works better and it's nice to let it evolve that way. We're learning more about the healthier aspects of grilling and it looks like our design is turning into an industry standard."
GrillGrate is now entering their busiest time of the year recently setting a one-day sales record. The two weeks leading up to Father's Day is busier for Barrett than Christmas and he hopes for more record setting sales between now and June 17.
For more information or to order online, visit www.grillgrate.com. To purchase GrillGrates locally, visit Ace Hardware or Arco Ideas & Designs.