Looking for a better way to do things
PAMELA GLINSKISEBRING - SEBRING Buttonwood Bay resident Brad Holland earned his nickname, "Grillman," by building a multimillion-dollar business selling the patented slow-cooking barbecue grills and accessories he invented.
Published: January 14, 2013
Published: January 14, 2013
This North Carolina native grew up in his grandparent's farmhouse, with 12 other relatives and a family friend. Knowing the value of hard work, while still in school, Holland took a variety of jobs delivering papers, shining shoes, cleaning pool tables and doing shoe repairs.
He said that he quickly learned that necessity truly is the mother of invention. "I always looked for a better way to do things … an easier way," Holland explained.
After getting out of the Navy, Holland became a welder. He earned extra money barbecuing pigs for parties he catered on Sundays, his day off from his job at General Electric.
But, watching over the meat as it roasted took too much time away from his hectic schedule.
Holland had an idea for a barbecue grill that would slow-cook the meat without causing any fire flare-ups.
He used his welding skills to create several different prototypes, experimenting with a variety of deflector plates, burners and drip pans until he found the proper "configuration for consistent, indirect cooking."
When the GE plant he worked for closed in 1983, Holland took orders for his innovative grills, producing 20 at a time in his backyard welding shop. In 1988, he received the first of his six patents.
"I have always liked to cook, even when I was in the Boy Scouts," said Holland, who developed Brad's Private Stock Carolina sauces, rubs, breading and seasonings.
A complete line of gas, charcoal and electric Holland Grills and accessories are sold online or by licensed distributors of the company based in Holly Springs, N.C.
"They are the only grills made in the United States," said his wife, Dee, proudly.
"Quality and service are the most important things for running a business if you want to be successful," said Brad Holland, who, when his business was at its peak, sold approximately 80,000 grills in one year.
Holland's pride in the product line he developed and sold for decades was evident as he talked about everything from the company motto, "If you're looking, it's not cooking," to the Holland Grill Cooking Team.
He boasted: "They won the North Carolina state championship five times."
His grill can also be used as a steamer, smoker or an outdoor oven.
"It is my complete outdoor kitchen," explained Dee, standing next to the red, oversized commercial grill that sits in their driveway. "You can cook your whole meal at one time … meats, vegetables and pies."
Brad met Dee while playing golf, and they were married 19 years ago.
After years of traveling all over the country to attend state fairs and trade shows, the couple sold the business in 2006 to the Georgia manufacturing firm that produces the Holland Grills.
The current CEO, Barry Byars, has left the business "virtually unchanged," even still employing many of the original people who worked for the Holland family.
"We bought an RV and hit the road. We traveled around until we came here and decided to stay," remarked this unassuming, laid-back man, dressed comfortably in shorts held up by American flag suspenders.
The Hollands exchanged their life on the road in their motorcoach for a winter residence in Sebring three years ago. Now, their days consist of enjoying a game of golf, fishing or playing pool or cards at the Buttonwood Bay community center.
"Most of the things you want to do are right here. You can always find something," said Dee.
Brad added, "Sebring is a good town … they just need a Dick's Sporting Goods."
Brad is on the board of directors of the Buttonwood Bay Homeowners Association and is a member of American Legion Post 25 in Lake Placid, the Sebring VFW and the Moose Lodge. He is also an active member of the tea party.
"This is a good county, a good place to live. The fact that someone from humble beginnings can excel, people don't understand what that's worth," said Holland.
Still a spokesman for the product he invented, Holland makes appearances at events, attends trade shows and is invited to participate every year in the "Quail Unlimited Celebrity Conservation Quail Hunt."
An avid outdoorsman who enjoys hunting, Holland enjoys the perks and is looking forward to this year's Quail Unlimited event, which begins Jan. 24 in Albany, Ga.
"I stand out there by the grills, shake hands and they take pictures," he added. "I did some TV spots last year."