COLUMBIA — The machine sits idly in the lot and entices visitors to run their hands along its glossy red frame. Two chrome exhaust pipes, sporty wheels and a spoiler adorn its exterior.
But this machine doesn’t rev; it cooks.
It is a large, double-axle smoker mounted on a steel trailer.
The smoker is the product of Spicewine Ironworks, a local manufacturer of smokers, spices, sauces and peanuts.
Spicewine is a young company, but it’s already making a name for itself and finding space for its products on local store shelves. Its spice rub, Heffer Dust, recently earned first place in the American Royal World Championship.
Spicewine smokers can be used for cooking a variety of foods including cheese and meat. The company logo, a debonair pig toasting with a cigar and a champagne glass, is etched in painstaking detail on their sides.
Before Spicewine officially opened Jan. 1, 2004, on Business Loop 70 E., the welding of these smokers was already under way. Jay Curry, one of three owners of Columbia Welding, was in the process of building his own personal, insulated smoker at home when friends and acquaintances began placing orders.
“Before I could get it done, I had people wanting it,” Curry said.
Realizing this potential demand for smokers, Curry and fellow Columbia Welding owners, Randy Ham and Steve Curry, split the welding business into two companies, using Columbia Welding’s vacant lot as Spicewine Ironworks’ new location.
“We started this business from scratch,” said Steve Curry, Jay Curry’s brother. “We injected our own money and didn’t take loans from the bank.”
Since the brothers’ last name is that of a spice, and Ham’s last name is a type of swine, the owners decided to combine “spice” and “swine” to come up with the new company’s name, Spicewine.
Spicewine Ironworks is a partnership with three owners and no employees. It sells smokers of different colors and shapes. These smokers are fully insulated with multiple, removable cooking racks, removable ash pans and large water pans.
Spicewine’s smokers come in customer-chosen colors and logos and small sizes for home use. They are fully insulated, which allows the exterior to stay cool during cooking, and they do not require much charcoal. These smokers range from $1,000 to $12,500.
Successful distribution and recognition of professional barbecuers who win in large competitions with Spicewine smokers make these products very popular, Jay Curry said.
“We sold 28 smokers last year; we have sold 60 and counting this year,” he said. “It helps to sell cookers when people are winning with them.”
Shortly after the business started, the partners decided to diversify their product line and add barbecue sauces, spice rubs and peanuts. Adding food was a natural fit: Before becoming welders, both Curry brothers spent 13 years in restaurant management and seven years in the competitive barbecue circuit.
While Jay Curry creates the sauces and recipes, Steve Curry and Ham serve as dependable samplers.
“Jay cooks it at his house and brings it into us,” Steve Curry said. “We are his testers.”
Spicewine has five sauces in its line. The 16-ounce barbecue sauces retail for $4 a bottle and are sold to the backyard barbecuer as well as the competitive cook. Their hot sauce, in a 5-ounce bottle, costs $3.
Consumers can purchase Spicewine products at Buckingham Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, online and from local grocers.
Mark Wray, grocery department manager at Schnucks, said that Spicewine sauces are displayed in the front of the store during the barbecue season, which falls between Memorial Day and Labor Day. He said the sauces attract consumers who want to try something new.
“I think people see it and want to try it,” Wray said. “People want to try something other than the name brands.”
Amy Foulk, manager of Buckingham, said the restaurant sells three of Spicewine’s most popular sauces: Blue Collar, Sweet Heat and Spicewine BBQ.
“We also sell their peanuts, and they’re really popular,” Foulk said.
When not involved in the day-to-day details of running the business, the Curry brothers fire up their cooking skills and sauces in competitive barbecue competitions.
The brothers, along with friends Brian Johnson and John Friedrich, have a team that has won many awards, including being named grand champion at two barbecue competitions last year.
These awards qualified the team to compete in the American Royal World Championship, where earlier this month it placed first in the rub category and third in the ribs category.
In May, the team also entered the Great American BBQ World Championship, placing eighth in the chicken category and fifth in the sauce category with Blue Collar.
The public recognition has raised the company’s profile among professional barbecuers and barbecue-lovers around the world, Jay Curry said.
Aspiring to emulate the success of its smokers, Spicewine wants to focus more of its future attention on sauces and rubs. The company hopes to work with AgriMissouri, a Missouri Department of Agriculture program that promotes locally made products.
Possible sauces on the horizon for Spicewine include an all-seasoning spice, a strawberry barbecue sauce and a raspberry barbecue sauce. Jay Curry hopes that one of these future sauces will finally meet his high expectations.
“I don’t think I’ve found the perfect sauce, but I’m working on it,” he said.
Perfection is nearly impossible to attain, but the owners of Spicewine Ironworks expect nothing less out of themselves and the company.
“We put out the best quality product we can,” Jay Curry said. “It doesn’t leave here unless it’s right.”