No. 447 - A TRUE AMERICAN SUCCESS STORY
Jim DavidsonÉNEWSPAPER COLUMN
A TRUE AMERICAN SUCCESS STORY
There is a man and his wife who live in Columbia, Missouri, who have become a true American success story. Harry and Lina Berrier have been producing a fantastic Bar-B-Q sauce in their basement for over 25 years and selling it in large quantity all over the country. However, that's only half the story. Several months ago I was on a flight into Baltimore, Maryland and had a very pleasant young lady as a seatmate who was also from Columbia, Missouri. As we talked, I told her about our Project: Give Back campaign to improve literacy across the country and she then told me about the Berriers, who are also in the mode of giving back. From 1948 until his retirement in 1983, Dr. Harry Berrier was a veterinary pathologist at the University of Missouri. He also founded the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology, which today has more than 400 members in the United States and 15 foreign countries.
That's the professional side of this fantastic gentleman, but his real passion is his basement business of making Bar-B-Q sauce, which began almost by chance. As he says, "I couldn't find a Bar-B-Q sauce fit to eat and so I started making my own." More than 30 years ago, Harry, who has a knack for unusual kitchen concoctions, started making a bowl of sauce for every meal. He would share it with friends who came over for dinner and soon everyone he knew was raving about the sauce. In 1975, the recipe was patented and a small business was born. In the beginning, Harry made the sauce in his kitchen in a small mixer. He quickly had to move the operation downstairs, and now it is one of only a few basement-approved operations by the Missouri Department of Health.
Since Missouri is known as "The Show-Me State," he was fortunate enough to secure the patent as the "Show-Me" Bar-B-Q sauce. His sauce is made in a 40-gallon mixer and pumped into four 55-gallon tanks for bottling. Because he was a veterinarian by profession, it was easy to take his knowledge of science and apply it to the fine art of making Bar-B-Q sauce. While Harry is the one who gets all the glory for the creation of the sauce, it is his wife Lina, who really controls the business. Not only does she do all the weekly ordering, she keeps the books straight, trains new employees and spends nearly all of her free time bottling sauce. She is also a professional in her own right. For many years she served as a piano and voice instructor at Stephens College.
The business has grown steadily over the years. It has now reached the point where each year it earns over twice what Harry ever made teaching. Several years ago they made the decision to remain small and only produce the amount of sauce they could personally handle. This means they have turned down orders for as many as 500 cases from large chain stores. What's so ironic is they have never spent a dime for advertising. They sell about 480 gallons a week in the summer and about half that in the winter months. The sauce is that good. Dr.Berrier sent me a free bottle of his sauce and I have since reordered and sent him a check. I have also made the decision to never be without it again.
ÊThe bookkeeping is simple. You send them an order and they send the sauce along with a statement. When you receive your order, you send them a check. When I began I said that the Bar-B-Q sauce business is only half the story. The other half is the main reason I made the decision to feature this wonderful couple in a column. When some people retire you never hear of them again. Not so with the Berriers. They have worked very hard to benefit their community and they have also made a commitment to a cause they believe in. The sauce business has a philanthropic purpose, growing from Harry's roots as a farm boy and veterinarian.
Much of the profits from their business are going into a trust fund held by the Missouri Department of Conservation, to create a wildlife sanctuary or a park. To further their commitment to animals and the outdoors, the Berriers are going to change their will to leave a large percentage of the business to the trust fund. To me, this is what "Giving Back" is all about. If we wish to really succeed, we should strive to make a difference in the lives of others while we are here, then give back so that future Americans can enjoy the same blessings we have had.
I have no motivation here other than bringing good people and good products together, and if you would like to order some "Show-Me" Bar-B-Q sauce, the address is Harry Berrier, 1250 Cedar Grove Blvd.S, Columbia, Missouri 65201 or call 573-442-5309. They will be happy to send you an order form that lists the various prices.Ê Ê(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)