The founders of Code 3 barbecue spice rub company have expanded their operations to 700 stores in 22 states and continues to donate a portion of their sales to first responders, Backstoppers, military organizations that assist veterans, Operation Homefront and Safe Call Now, a 24-hour suicide and crisis prevention hotline for first responders and military.
Maryville residents Mike Radosevich and Chris Bohnemeier have grown Code 3 Spices Inc. since rolling out their first bottles of spice rub in November 2012. They sell five different rubs and each are MSG- and gluten-free. They recently talked with business writer Will Buss about being in the barbecue business:
How much has your business donated?
Chris: “Every bottle that goes out the door, we automatically donate 50 cents to one of three charities that are actually spaced across the country. So if we sell a pallet to a grocery chain, we have given away $1,200 in donations.”
Mike: “So every time we sell a bottle, we keep (Safe Call Now’s) phone lines open for three minutes. With out donations, we almost keep them running all year long.”
How did it all start?
Chris: “We had a couple of guys who would come to us, and they really liked it and they started using it in competitions.”
Mike: “We’re just barbecue freaks. That’s really why we started the company. We grill six days a week. When we got together, we started talking about putting the products together. They’re (Chris’) recipes. We wanted the business, inside the business itself of giving back. I have lost friends in the line of duty. My brother is a 21-year police veteran. I’m going on 14 years. So I’ve seen what a lot of guys and gals have gone throughout a career, and we just thought it was just right to give back.”
Why have you been successful?
Mike: “The product itself is top-notch, but obviously, the cause that we have behind it is even greater. I don’t know if we can verify this or not, but we think we are the only food product in the country that donates that much product to charity or to the military.”
Chris: “We try to make a high-end product that anybody could enjoy. So we actually have started to get into the fitness world. A lot of the supplement stores now carry our product, because we use sea salt instead of regular table salt. We use turbinado sugar, which is essentially pure sugar cane. So we use very high-end ingredients.”
Chris: “I think it gives you a better quality product. I think when you load it down with salt, especially table salt, and regular sugars, you’re just throwing a product out there that people can use, but it just doesn’t have that excellent flavor like we have in ours.”
Mike: “These other big-name name brands are not using high-end products. With ours, you’re truly getting a specialty spice blend, 6 ounces of it, as opposed to these 3-and-a-half-ounce bottles that others have just thrown together for flavor purposes. These are professional seasonings. There are a lot of guys on the pro circuit that are in competitions, and we see a lot of pro teams use our stuff.”
Chris: “The key behind the product is to get people to try it. It’s such a high-quality product that if you can get it into somebody’s hands, they will continue to buy it over and over again.”
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2526.
Mike Radosevich and Chris Bohnemeier
Job: Founders, Code 3 Spices Inc.
Outlook: “The product itself is top-notch, but obviously, the cause that we have behind it is even greater.” (Mike Radosevich)
“The key behind the product is to get people to try it. It’s such a high-quality product that if you can get it into somebody’s hands, they will continue to buy it over and over again.” (Chris Bohnemeier)