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J.A. Moss building warehouse, office space in Pearl for Barbour International

Company grows from backyard to big time

BRANDON — Even Martha Stewart has talked about frying turkeys on her show, so it should come as no surprise that Bayou Classic Outdoor Cooking Products, which “perfected” the turkey fryer, is doing quite well these days.

In fact, Barbour International, the parent company of Bayou Classic Outdoor Cooking Products, is doing so well that it is opening a new distribution center in Pearl.

“It’s going to be pretty spectacular,” said T.J. Busin, general manager of Barbour International, of the new distribution center. The center will also be the new home to the company’s headquarters.

Busin called turkey fryers the “latest craze” in outdoor cooking products.

“It’s been done in the Deep South and has spread all over the country,” he said. “We’ve touched about 10% of the market. It’s a niche market to the barbecue grill market. People are discovering they can do more outside than just throw hamburgers on a grill.”

Barbour International started in 1985 in Jackson. Its products include crawfish pots, deep fryers, boilers, steamers, patio stoves, high-pressure propane cookers and turkey fryers. Rodney Barbour and his wife Donna founded and own the company.

“We’re on a core vendor status with Home Depot,” Busin said. “We’re hopefully going to be in that same situation with Lowe’s Home Improvement and Wal-Mart next year whereas now we’re just one of the vendors.”

Currently, Barbour International is renting space from Colorbox in Pelahatchie and from Mississippi Warehousing Services in Flowood for distribution; company headquarters are in Brandon. The new facility, located on a 9.6-acre site, is just down from the GM plant in Pearl. J.A. Moss constructed and designed the new offices and distribution center.

“We have a lot of plans for this center,” Busin said. “We’re adding a graphics department (and a call center for our products and other products).”

Barbour International is a 100% family-owned business. There are no private investors and the company is not on the stock market. There is one other office in Charlotte, N.C.

According to Busin, Barbour International is the industry leader in turkey fryers.

“We always come out with the new products,” he said. “We lead by far. Our packaging is 10 times more superior to anything else out there in our market as far as package design. We try to put a lot of thought into our end buyer and answer questions before they have to ask.”

Busin said the main reason Barbour International is leading in its market is because of company president Rodney Barbour and vice president Donna Barbour.

“Rodney and Donna Barbour are two of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met in my life,” he said. “They seem to care more about the customers and more about their employees than they do their bottom line. And in this day and age that’s something I just thought I had to say.”

Barbour International’s sales region includes the continental U.S., plus Alaska and Hawaii, and the company has already begun shipping to Puerto Rico. Canada is not far behind.

“We’re working on French, Spanish and English packaging,” Busin said.

Barbour International has about 36% market share of the turkey fryer business, according to Busin. After inventing the turkey fryer six and a half years ago, the company patented and licensed it to all of Barbour’s competitors.

Barbour International has grown by leaps and bounds since it was founded 16 years ago. Busin was only the third employee to join the company.

“My personal goal is to build a $100-million company, and I have no doubt we’ll reach that and this new facility will make this a reachable goal,” Rodney Barbour said.

Everything is subcontracted for Barbour International. Most of the packaging is done inside the metro Jackson facilities.

The Brandon facility that Barbour International’s headquarters will be moved out of is on 2.5 acres and around 36,000 square feet; 25,000 square feet of which is warehouse space and the rest is office space. Busin said a buyer could add an additional 36,000 square foot warehouse to the existing warehousing and office space. He hopes the easy access to Interstate 20 will draw Nissan subcontractors.

Barbour International plans to relocate in March 2002 to its new Pearl distribution center.

Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at ekirkland@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1042.

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