We had the good fortune of connecting with Harold Bentley Green and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Harold Bentley, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My Dad started making his Worcestershire based barbecue sauce in 1954. He taught me how to make it when Gale and I graduated from college and got married 46 years ago. Our kids have been after us to sell his sauce for years but we had always managed to find a good reason why we were too busy. In the summer of 2013 our son Robert was over with his wife Elizabeth and our daughter Allison, with her then boyfriend, now husband Kevin were over eating smoked ribs in our backyard. Kevin started pushing us to bottle and sell our sauces and the others joined in. Gale had retired as a school teacher and I was moving toward retiring from my Public Affairs consulting firm. So to get them to stop bugging us I said we would look into it and if it looked promising we would start the process of making it for sale. At the time I actually thought selling my Dad’s secret barbecue sauce was a bad idea and would not work. I was wrong, and in 2014 we began selling Bentley’s Batch 5 commercially.
After we started selling our barbecue sauces people kept telling us they would be great in a Bloody Mary. Gale came up with the Bloody Mary recipe for our webpage that became so popular we decided to come out with our own mix. Our Reserve and our Hot Bloody Mary mixes are made from our Hot and Reserve Barbecue Sauces. The first week we had our mixes, our Hot Bloody Mary Mix won a Gourmet Gold Award for the Best Beverage at the Gourmet Market at the World Trade Center in Dallas. And since then it’s won several national awards as the Best Bloody Mary Mix.
So now we have an award winning Bloody Mary Mix to go with our amazing barbecue sauces. And to our great surprise, our products are now sold in 36 states and in around 250 stores across the US and Canada.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Bentley’s Batch 5 is a Worcestershire based Barbecue Sauce. In fact it is one of the only Worcestershire based barbecue sauces sold in the US. Our biggest challenge was coming up with a written recipe. My Dad and I had always made it by taste. But to commercially make a product we had to have a written recipe. It took Gale and I five batches to get a barbecue sauce that everyone in our family agreed was my Dad’s barbecue sauce. That’s why our barbecue sauce is called Batch 5. After that we had to come up with a company name, design a label and find a co-packer. All of those were hard when you have absolutely no experience developing a commercial food product. Luckily a lot of other people were willing to help us get started and pointed us in the right direction. Now people come to us asking for advice about how to get started, which still seems strange, but we are always willing to help. What I’m most proud of is how well our sauces and now our Bloody Mary mixes have done. My Dad would be shocked to know that we are selling his sauce and that people in 36 states and Canada are buying it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well I’m from Dallas and really love our city. If the State Fair of Texas was on I’d take them to the Fair. It really is amazing. I’m 69 years old and I’ve never missed a State Fair of Texas. And I’d take them to eat at Pecan Lodge where I’d order “The Trough” which is a beef rib, pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork and sausage. To that I’d add burnt ends and some sides. I’d also go over to the Perot and then to the Kyle Warren Park where we would try out the food trucks. I would also take them to the Fort Worth Stockyards and stay at the Stockyard Hotel. It’s a great place to watch people, especially on the weekend. It’s fun to walk around the stockyards, visit the various shops and watch the cattle herd go down the street. And I’d probably head on over to the White Elephant Saloon. If the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo was on we’d go there. It’s a really great rodeo and it’s fun to check out all the different animals, exhibits and shops.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We would like to give a big shout out and thank you to our Son Michael and his wife Margot, our son Robert and his wife Lizzie and our daughter Allison and her husband Kevin. Without their support and encouragement we would have never moved forward with Bentley’s Batch 5. We would also like to give a big shout out and thank you to our neighbors. They became our barbecue sauce and Bloody Mary tasters. My Dad never wrote down his secret recipe. It was always made by taste. So as Gale and I developed a written recipe, our neighbors tried our final batches and filled out questionnaires so we would know if our sauce was commercially viable. Without their help and support we could not have moved forward. And they still support our products today. We also need to thank our co-packer Howard Montgomery and all the people at Gourmet Recipe Experts in Rusk Texas. Without their help, support and encouragement, none of this would have been possible. And finally we’d like to give a big shout out and thank you to Mike and Paul DiCarlo, the owners of Jimmy’s Food store in East Dallas. Jimmy’s was the first retailer to bring in our barbecue sauces. And they are still one of our top retailers.
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