SAVORY SUCCESS: Small business overcomes economic tough times

COLUMBIA CITY ­­— Economic uncertainty has had most businesses on a roller coaster of financial ups and downs. That would lead most entrepreneurs to think twice before making the leap into a new business, but for Steve Beers and his family a small business was the ride they were looking for.Masters Hand BBQ, with operations in Columbia City, is a company that provides barbecue sauces, rubs, mustards and more in a gluten free, high-fructose corn syrup free, all natural product. Beers is the owner and president of Masters Hand BBQ, which began after Beers closed his automatic temperature control contracting business due to a slacking economy.Beers said the idea for the company came after years of making his own barbecue sauce in his kitchen for family picnics and cook-outs. “It all started a little more than twenty years ago when I started making the original flavor or what is now called ‘A Taste of Heaven’. I found myself making meatballs, pulled pork, and other food varieties for weddings, graduations, and get-togethers,” said Beers. “People have long been telling me you should start marketing your barbecue sauce. That really didn’t go anywhere until my daughter Amanda came to me and said ‘Dad we really should start marketing this.’” The company began with a small operation and its sales were primarily through word of mouth and at farmers markets. The products were then picked up by meat markets and small grocery stores. In fact, on Saturday mornings, visitors to the Whitley County Farmers Market can find Masters Hand BBQ selling their products. Amanda Beers, Steve’s daughter, said that being at the market keeps the company rooted in Columbia City and allows them to see their customers face to face.The operation has grown and now products can be found in 50 different retail locations, including Krider’s Meat Market in Columbia City. The premium sauces and rubs might be void of preservatives, but it does not lack in taste.Mark Kinger, manager of Dave Hill’s Meat Market in Fort Wayne, told an area paper that his meat sales have gone up since the company started using Masters Hand BBQ on their ready to eat products. Besides the all natural approach to their products, the Beers family applies a unique philosophy to their company.“Masters Hand BBQ is a Christian business that has a mission to work for Christ in everything we do by helping people to both find and follow Him. We also reach out to people financially with what He blesses us with. Our success in this business comes only from Him and we are finding He really loves barbecue sauce,” said Beers.“Our faith in God is the driving force in our company, and we believe in honesty and in hard work and striving to always offer our best as the Lord Jesus Christ would want us to.”Beers said that the start up capital for the company was personal money. Not going into debt with high interest business loans may very well have been the safety net that has sustained Masters Hand BBQ over the years.“We are always open to investors and are looking for any grant money that might be available. We know we are going to need help somewhere down the road as we continue to grow. We also know that God will provide,” said Beers.In the midst of an economic storm, it would be safe to ask, “Why start a new business?”Beers said, “I would not be afraid to jump in with both feet. All things are possible and I have found that you can’t let difficulties, past failures or a weak economy keep you from moving forward or knock you out of the game completely. There is always a way and always hope.”For more information on Masters Hand BBQ or to shop online, visit