About this project
My name is Dave - Thanks for stopping by and checking out my project.
NOTE: Check out our very 1st unfinished prototype in my video to see just how far we've come. I love those before and after pictures.
For more pictures of the Hot Box Grill and all the different foods we've grilled and smoked during the 2+ years of testing, go to our Hot Box Portable Grill Facebook page and check out all of our photos, thanks.
Hot Box Portable Charcoal Grills and Smokers
How the STORY began:
It all started in November of 2009 while I was watching a Food Network program on tailgating. They were highlighting these crazy custom built tailgating rigs with built in refrigerators, flat top cook tops, bars, grills, smokers and even running water for the kitchen sink. Very cool rigs, just not practical for your everyday parking lot tailgating fan. After watching the program it reminded me of our past family tailgating experiences. We never could find a quality built, portable charcoal grill with size, that was easy to set up and take down yet compact enough to slide into our family van. When our family tailgated together there were eight of us not including friends, so at times the number of hungry mouths we were feeding easily doubled and the so called "portable grills" we were using just weren't doing the job for us. So, being the kind of guy I am who loves to design and build things I decided to throw a few ideas down on paper to see what improvements I could come up with for a better portable charcoal grill and this is where my story began.
I worked on the design for 3 months and finally arrived at a design that appeared to satisfy all of my requirements for the type of portable charcoal grill I would like to take on our next tailgating (or camping) adventure. After the design phase was completed I decided to take the next step of having a prototype made so I could bring my design to life.
Using a local fabrication shop, they assembled my prototype and I have to admit, it was a "very exciting time." The finished prototype turned out better then I expected and it was at that point in time, that this "project just for fun" turned into a "passion" that continues to grow to this day. All of my free time was and still is devoted to the development and perfection of the Hot Box Portable Grill and Smoker. Golfing, fishing and just hanging out doing nothing took a back seat to focusing on my product, the Hot Box Portable Charcoal Grill and I've loved every minute of it. With major support from my wife, our children, our families and our friends, their support has helped me stay focused on producing an amazing American made portable charcoal grill and smoker and I hope to add all of my Kickstarter supporters to that list as well.
Our first prototype was not powder coated, so I connected with another local fabrication shop and had a "finished" prototype grill assembled and powder coated. For the next couple of years we tested the grill under all types of weather conditions, grilled and smoked all types of foods, sold some bench made units and made a few refinements. I received some very good responses from our small customer base and received plenty words of encouragement from family, close friends and Facebook friends. We also started to spread the word (via social networking) throughout the BBQ community that the "Hot Box Portable Grill & Smoker" is a new brand of portable charcoal grill with features unlike any other portable grill on the market today. The feedback from the BBQ community was very encouraging, however, we needed shop forms, materials and financing to move forward with our plans and this is where our fabricator stepped in to help us out.
They (Our fabricator) believed in our product and decided to go ahead and manufacture our shop forms for us and delay our billing until we got our product off the ground, amazing! We desperately needed these shop forms in order to reduce manufacturing costs, control the quality and to be able fill orders more quickly.
This move on their part was phenomenal. It was by far one of the biggest steps we've taken in the past 3 years because when you're working on a project and are always taking small steps, that occasional LARGE step forward is so exciting that it naturally infuses you with additional energy and drive, which it did.
There are always going to be ups and downs along with your everyday list of things that need to be accomplished, but I live for those HIGHS, I know they are coming and I do everything I can to make those HIGHS happen.
SO A BIG THANK YOU to our local fabricators and friends (Challenger Fabrication, South Beloit, IL.) One BIG reason why Hot Box Grills are continuing to move forward.
DILEMMA & SOLUTION:
In this massive business industry of barbequing, grilling and grilling products, it feels at times like a David against Goliath battle to keep the ball rolling, but we keep moving forward one small step at a time and with your support, we can finally take some larger steps towards success.
All galvanneal heavy duty steel body and hood powder coated with a high temperature black powder coating. All stainless steel hinges and legs and high temperature plastic handles and attachment knobs, built to last and all American made.
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-galvanneal.htm This link will explain galvanneal steel and all of its positive properties.
These are features that are incorporated into the Hot Box Portable Grills that I feel are missing in all other portable charcoal grills:
#1-Size. The Hot Box Grill has 370 square inches of cooking surface which is 16-1/2" x 22-1/2."
#2-Two charcoal heights with multiple charcoal trays which allows you to sear and slow roast at the same time.
#3-A NO TOOLS needed assembly and take down design. The Hot Box Grill can be taken down and set up in under 5 minutes. Check out our website for a demonstration on just how easy the Hot Box Portable Grill assembles. Plus we have developed carrying cases for the grill and all of its parts to make it easy to pack up, carry and transport in your family van or car trunk. See below for more details on our carrying cases.
#4-It also needed to be air tight, which, with the hood in place and the 4-vents closed, the Hot Box Grill will cool down your coals fast to save your remaining coals. This air tight feature not only saves money on purchasing additional charcoal, but reduces the amount of ash that is thrown away in the environment.
#5-It also needed a venting system that allows you to smoke food as well as just grill. There are two adjustable vents on the hood and two adjustable vents on the fire box, one on either side.
#6-I wanted my grill to be built strong enough to be used year round in the backyard and not just for those seasonal tailgating and camping trips. That's me on all fours and my brother in law waving. 400+ pounds of 2 crazy guys showing just how strong the Hot Box Portable grill is.
#7-The final and very important feature is the grill had to be compact and easy to carry and transport in any size vehicle. With the simple way the Hot Box Portable Grill folds up, we needed to develop carrying cases that were strong and easy to use. These "Log Style" cases are not only extremely tough, but are extremely easy to use. The best way to show off these cases are to show you a few pictures on how these cases work. The large case holds the hood, the folded up fire box and ash pan.
The small case holds the 3-charcoal grates, the 3-food grates and the 4-three inch stainless steel screw on legs which has its own tubular style case to keep the legs looking new for a long time.
Don't forget, they come in red and black.
A LOOK AT THE REWARDS:
The Hot Box Apron.
Our can and bottle Koozies.
So, any help you can afford to throw our way would be very much appreciated. I'm not quite ready to compete against the BIG grill companies, but even those companies started off just like me. In today's market there are too many smaller businesses being closed by BIG business and overseas manufactured products. My goal: Build American, Buy American and Support American.
SIDE NOTE: My step daughter went on business to China last year and wanted to know what we, (myself and her mother) wanted as a gift, because she wanted to bring us back something from China. My wife told her, "why bother, everything we have is already from China, bring us back something made in the USA." Very funny, sad but true.
I am passionate about developing products and businesses in AMERICA. If I can move forward with some success while helping my community grow and keeping my products here at "HOME" then other companies may follow suite. We all need to back our local businesses and support American made products. So, regardless of my outcome with Kickstart, I will always support local businesses, American made products and will continue to move forward with Hot Box Portable Grills.
Thank You for your time,
Risks and challenges
One of the main challenges of moving this project forward successfully is to coordinate with our local fabricator to insure that orders, large and small, are processed in a timely fashion. My 35+ years of experience in project management and sales along with our great working relationship with our local fabricator will continue to keep this project on course.
Another challenge will be to link up with a core of experienced people that have a proven successful track record in this type of business. To connect, share and learn from those people who have already, "been there, done that," is by far, the best way to apply proven and successful business practices to your own business. Since I have been linking and communicating with these types of people and businesses for the past 3 years, I feel that I already have a great "CORE" of successful and knowledgeable people through out the United States that have already given me great direction. Keeping connected to these types of people and businesses will be one of my top priorities.
My final risk / challenge: Becoming complacent with my business:
If you're not passionate about what you're doing, find something else to do! When I get up in the morning I can't wait to dive into my project. How can I tell that I'm passionate about what I do? Well I'll tell you. I come from a HUGE golfing family, I love the game, have been golfing my whole life and I live with in a wedge shot of one of our local golf courses. Hadn't even played one round of golf this past season and quite frankly, working even on the weekends on this project is what I've chosen to do, because I REALLY am passionate about this project and love what I'm doing. That type of dedication and excitement is paramount in assuring that success will be around the corner no matter what you're doing.
CURRENT PRODUCTION STATUS:
Over the past two years we have "bench made" around 30 grills. As I mentioned above, this past summer our fabricator went ahead and made our "shop forms" which we so desperately needed. These shop forms will insure that all grills will be made exactly the same way every time, (quality control) and will reduce our costs by eliminating the amount of shop time spent fabricating each individual grill. This is one of the final steps that we needed in order to put ourselves in a position to move forward. So, everything is in place for our first production run. We have gone through the design phase, the prototyping phase, the testing phase, we have our shop forms, have received some great feedback from our small, but growing, customer base and have a very good understanding of competitive pricing based upon the feedback we've received from the businesses we've linked up with over the past 3 years.
WITH THE KICKSTARTER SUPPORT:
Your support will help with the following:
1- Pay off our shop forms from our fabricator so that profits from our first
production run can go back into materials for our 2nd production run.
2- Moving forward with the 2nd production run for quick product delivery.
3- Begin to establish an inventory.
ADDITIONAL FUNDING OVER AND ABOVE WILL HELP WITH:
4- Expanding our marketing plan.
5-Optimizing our website.
6-Hiring additional people for production, sales and shipping.
With your support, we will be able to help our community grow while we grow. THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR INTEREST.
Dave Benjamin: Inventor & Owner of Hot Box Grills
Support this project
- (34 days)