"It all started with getting a taste of smoked tri-tip," said Garth Richards, Garth's Custom Barrels.
Garth Richards has transformed his Madera Ranchos garage into his newest side business and hobby, custom smokers. After the Fresno State grad's youngest son Brayden was born, a friend brought the Richards family the meal that got the barrel rolling.
"People a lot of times are not used to smoke meats. It's so tender, it's so juicy. They're used to something coming off the grill it's a lot drier," said Richards.
Instead of buying his own smoker, the entrepreneur decided to make one. "It was definitely a process. It didn't just come easy the first time. It was a lot of trial and error -- figuring out what was going to work."
The process takes anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on the weather. After acquiring and polishing the barrels, it's on to drilling for the rods and air intake. Then comes the fun.
"You can customize it for a sports team for instance, or we've got a Star Wars barrel in the garage right now. It's just a unique thing to be able to actually create something for the person that is to their interest," said Richards.
Depending on where your imagination takes you, barrels can cost anywhere from $150 to $300.
"These barrels can either hang meat in bulk, or you can cook one piece of meet for your family. There's a charcoal basket that sits down in the bottom of the barrel," said Richards.
There is no need to be a pit master to get your BBQ smoked to perfection. "The temperature is only staying at 225, so it's a slow and low process."
Within the first year, Garth made 100 barrels and this year he's on par to double production. On top of that, 10 percent of his inventory gets donated to local charities.
"It's a great silent auction item. It can raise anywhere from $200 to $500 for a non profit. And it's just a great way that I feel I can give back," said Richards.
By day Richards is the business development representative at Spirit 88.9. He says the two jobs go hand in hand when it comes to marketing and creativity.
He adds the labor of love isn't just to get his hands dirty. "I get to create something beautiful and special and the person gets excited, but when you hear the stories of when they start cooking for their families at home, they become the hero."
For more information, visit www.smokerbarrels.com