A Very BAR-U-EAT Birthday
Bobby Kuepper Posted on:
In honor of our very special day, we wanted to review a few important dates in the history of BAR-U-EAT, beginning with, of course, the very beginning! Here goes…
BAR-U-EAT co-founder Sam Nelson worked as a multi sport guide in the WestFjords of Iceland leading sea kayaking and Trekking trips. The company he worked for had a cafe on site, and offered delectable homemade granola bars designed specifically for their trips. Not only did they taste good, but they contained the proper nutrients to fuel the company's diverse range of adventures.
During this time, a lifelong friend of Sam’s (Jason Friday) came out to visit, and of course sampled the tasty granola bars.
Sam moved to Steamboat Springs to be a ski bum while working full time in the restaurant industry to support his habit. To further support his crunchy granola lifestyle, he started making homemade granola bars inspired by the ones in Iceland that he loved so much. Ski bums can't just live off pizza and beer forever, can they?
Meanwhile, Jason was working full time in corporate America as a marketing consultant, and part time developing a software application, with the goal of starting his own business. He was living just outside of Washington DC and would visit Sam in the winters here in Steamboat Springs — stealing a lot of granola bars from his refrigerator in the process.
With coaxing from friends and family, Sam began selling BAR-U-EAT products out of a PaddleSports retailer (Hala Gearspace / Colorado Kayak Supply) in Steamboat Springs. The bars were sold in mason jars on the front desk. Similar to breweries selling beer refills in growlers, BAR-U-EAT bars were available for purchase in your Tupperware, reusable zip lock bag, or even your own mason jar.
Since Jason was already aware of Sam's granola bars from visiting, the pair swung ideas around about going big time with his bars. "Sustainable packaging", "intrinsically good company", "changing the way packaged goods are done", were all concepts that they spoke about. Eventually, Sam asked one too many favors from Jason so he convinced Sam to go all in with building their dream, game-changing company. Together, they made BAR-U-EAT an official business on October 28, 2019.
The original BAR-U-EAT salesman otherwise known as Jack Brown.
BAR-U-EAT's momentum was strong. It was not without a herculean volunteer effort from close friends (you know who you are!) that the brand could grow. Late nights in commercial kitchens both making and cutting bars were not uncommon…
2020 was a BIG year for BAR-U-EAT. Some of the highlights (in no particular order) were:
Jason bought and modified a Sprinter Van 2 weeks prior to moving to Steamboat Springs full time — full send! This would be his official moving truck, part time residence, and eventually the BAR-U-EAT delivery vehicle.
He worked as a marketing consultant by day, and dedicated the remainder of his working hours (and a lot of late nights) to BAR-U-EAT. Since his background is in marketing and graphic design, what you see on BAR-U-EAT packaging today was the result of countless hours between Sam and Jason refining the brand. Later that year (December) Jason quit his job, and went all in on BAR-U-EAT with Sam. Robert Hunter may have said it best, Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Till Your Night Job Pays! (Well actually, he may not have ben getting paid yet, but close enough!)
Jason's van is packed and he's headed out West
The BAR-U-EAT Van showing off it's new paint job.
- BAR-U-EAT Four Packs in new packaging became available at Hala Gear / CKS. This was a major step for the brand, as they were finally available in standalone compostable packaging. We refer to this era as the white packaging days.
BAR-U-EAT landed their first wholesale accounts. Steamboat springs is known for its welcoming business community that acts as an entrepreneurial incubator of sorts — the perfect place to launch a granola snack food company
- Natural Grocers signed on as BUE’s first grocery store chain account. The first account was here in Steamboat. With time, BAR-U-EAT has procured a great relationship with Natural Grocers, and is available in many locations regionally.
- Did someone say Bites! In addition to creating 3 more flavors (Coffee Pecan, Oatmeal Raisin, Peanuts ‘N Cherries), BAR-U-EAT also launched bite sized pieces sold in bags (approx. 3 bars worth in a bag). BUE also announced individually packaged bars at this time as well.
- BAR-U-EAT moved into their new production facility, and began manufacturing bars in house. This was a major step forward for the company both in terms of current growth capabilities, as well as the future. All production, receiving and shipping takes place at the new facility in Hayden, CO.
We are thankful for our loyal group of volunteers, customers, retailers, early adopters, friends, family members, and all who supported us along the way. Without you, we would not be singing Happy Birthday to ourselves in the back of Jason’s van, on the way to the distribution and manufacturing facility to make tasty granola bars. We appreciate all of you!