Just one whiff of the distinct aroma billowing from within a slow-cook barbeque smoker — a scent that transcends all others — is hard to resist. For Shane Holz, co-owner of Smoke Another One BBQ and Catering, barbeque is and always has been a ritual.
“Smokin’ meat is something I’ve enjoyed for nearly as long as I can remember,” says Holz, who along with his cousin, Aaron Britt, started experimenting with smoking (sausage and brisket that is) at age 20. “We started out with different sausage recipes, jerky and turkey, but really wanted to try some other forms of smoking. Eventually, we tried what was considered Texas barbeque; brisket and a variety of different types of ribs. At that time nobody was really doing anything like it in our area.”
Practice Makes Perfect
After years of refining existing recipes and experimenting with new sauces, rubs and cuts of meat — all the while with a cast of friends willing to serve as taste testers and offer opinions — Smoke Another One BBQ and Catering finally took root. That was 17 years ago. Holz explains the logic behind the company name selection.
“All the time we were practicing, friends and family would stop by to sample our meats and render an opinion,” Holz recalls. “After years of trial and error, we have become very happy with our product, but the origin of the company name was actually derived from the all the times that even we thought we could have done better. We would always say to each other, ‘Oh well, let’s just smoke another one!’ And that’s how the name for our business came about.”
Fabricating the S-Flow Design
In January 2010, Holz came up with a new design concept for a smoker. After an unsuccessful effort to locate a close representation of what he and Aaron had envisioned, the two were motivated to build one themselves. Having learned how to weld as a child while growing up in a farming community in rural Michigan, Holz was confident that he and his cousin, along with his Millermatic® MIG welder, their vision would become reality.
“My dad taught me how to weld, and I later took welding classes in high school,” Holz recalled. “Back then we had a Stick welder, so I learned using that. I don’t have the model now, but remember it was a Miller. When I bought my own welder, I decided on the Millermatic. It’s good for all-around repair jobs and garage use. All I’ve ever really known was blue.”
According to Holz, most smokers used by barbeque enthusiasts are what he refers to as an offset configuration, composed of a side firebox and a horizontal cooking chamber. But a common frustration expressed by experts with this design is the existence of a hot spot near the side where the firebox is located. This creates a temperature variation within the cooking chamber that is inconsistent, resulting in uneven cooking. Holz’s design eliminates the hot spot and promotes even cooking throughout.
“We call our design concept the S-flow,” Holz explains. “This configuration eliminates the hot spot and promotes even heating throughout the cooking chamber. We can hold our main chamber within 3 degrees from end-to-end and the vertical box will be right there, or within 20 degrees, depending on how we want to run it. Actually, the design is working better than we imagined. We have also derived a great deal of gratification and pride having built it ourselves, not to mention saved a lot of money. The Miller welder has performed flawlessly.”
Slow and Low
Holz’s smoker design is completely self-contained, meaning no outside power is required to transform raw cuts of USDA choice into delectable delicacies. The cousins arrive on the scene of catering jobs with everything needed to produce great barbeque. The towable, easy-to-maneuver unit they designed includes a 6-foot stainless steel counter and sink with on-board hot and cold running water, a wastewater holding tank, and a four-speaker stereo system with 12V power supply to entertain guests while they savor the aroma of slow cooking. Also included are two gas burners for preparing side dishes and a supplemental charcoal grill.
“There isn’t much we can’t do with our smoker,” Holz says. “We’re dedicated to providing traditional barbeque with slow smoked food … no speed cooking here. By cooking slow and low, all the moisture stays in the meat where it belongs. Giving the meat time to absorb the smoke and create that wonderful flavor is what we’re looking for. We also use only fresh meat; never frozen, cut just days before we arrive for a catering event and our cooker is fired with wood only … no charcoal and absolutely no gas.”
Fire It Up and Let the Competition Begin
Holz had always been interested in exploring the barbeque competition circuit, but at that time, prior to honing his welding skills and completing his slow cooker smoking sensation, he was using a gas-operated smoker, an approach not allowed in the competitive ranks. Having received repeated accolades about their barbeque and now having a smoker that was not only permissible, but likely the envy of even the most accomplished smokers, Holz embarked on his first competition.
Shane became a member of the Great Lakes Barbeque Association and learned more about contests in the area. Through participation in multiple events annually, they’ve discovered a great group of people who were willing to share a lot about what they had learned and about barbequing in general.
Smoke Another One BBQ and Catering is now red hot. Holz credits word of mouth and encouragement by family and friends — the original food critics — for the success that their venture enjoys today. “Once you get a good name out, people will be calling wanting great food and great service,” Holz says. “We are still building the company, but every year it gets bigger and bigger.”
The word-of-mouth buzz continues to grow. Sponsors including Mad Cow Cutlery and Ferrari and Sons have helped with competition expenses and entry fees. Miller recently caught wind of his unique smoker (built with a Millermatic), tasty rubs and competitive results, and was excited to share this DIY story via this e-newsletter.
“There are all types of do-it-yourselfers out there,” Miller Marketing Manager (Integrated MIG) Jon Ertmer says. “Shane and Aaron represent an entire faction of entrepreneurs and inventors with vision, a dream and a Miller welder. We are proud to be able to support them in their quest to join the competitive barbeque ranks, and delighted Miller equipment was instrumental in helping them realize their dream. The spirit of innovation and creativity is alive and well in our country and we are honored to be a part of it. After all, that’s how Miller was founded; these two are in good company.”
Track competitive results of Smoke Another One. Want to try your hand at creating a grill or smoker? Get inspired via the Miller Idea Gallery.