The Story of Backwoods Smoker
The story of Backwoods Smoker is truly an American small business sucess story! Mike McGowan (pictured here to the right) has spent his whole life in Dixie, Louisiana. He cut his teeth in the metal industry welding for his father in the family shop. He worked there until 1987 when Backwoods Smoker became his full time job.
Mike has lived in the world of BBQ his whole life, he created the first Backwoods model, a patio, after years of listening to people talk about BBQ and the various different cookers that they were using. He paid close attention to the things that they liked and also the things that they DIDN’T like about their cookers, and set out to make a unit that would take all of the experience that he had picked up on and perfect it.
The result was the first patio model. He made one for one of his friends who had nothing but great things to say about it. Eventually more and more people started wanting one, and even came up and started asking Mike if he could do special orders. Mike would listen to a person’s needs, then create a unit that would do everything that the person would need. Backwoods Smoker quickly became a household name in Louisiana, and Mike was now splitting his time between his Dad’s shop and creating Backwoods units.
If you were to ask Mike what it was that turned the tide for Backwoods from a part time job into a full time lifelong occupation, he tells a story about a show that a local news station did on him and his cookers.
“It was probably back in 1986 or so, the local television channel had a guy who would do 30 minute shows on local business people, and how they gave back to thier communities. The guy had seen one of my cookers and had eaten some BBQ off of it, and was really impressed by the job that it did. He called me up and asked if he could do a show on my business. I said sure, and spent an afternoon with him. Well, a truck driver from Missouri was passing through the area, and caught the show when it aired. Along with being a truck driver he also owned a BBQ restaraunt in Missouri, and was very interested in getting a new cooker for his business. He contacted me, and asked me for a cooker which today would be the equivalent of the Professional. I made it for him, and he brought it back to his business and got great results. Well, the people he got his sauce from saw it, liked it, and wanted one for themselves, so I made them one too. They also competed pretty seriously, and took it with them to Memphis in May, well, they ended up winning grand champion on that cooker, and really that is what got the ball rolling, after that Memphis in May competition, everyone wanted one of my cookers.”
Mike switched over to full time in 1987, and since then has been working on nothing but making the different Backwoods Cookers. Over the years he has expanded his model offerings, and is constantly looking to improve the line to make the Backwoods Cookers simply the best water smokers on the market.
He has grown from a single man operation to a shop of 4 workers, some full time, some part time. If you have ever called Backwoods, chances are good you have spoken with his assistant, Kathy.
She helps Mike keep everything working smoothly, and loves to talk with people who are interested in getting a Backwoods Smoker.
The great thing about Backwoods is the willingness that Mike shows to talk with his customers one on one in phone conversations. He will talk with you as long as you need, answer any of your questions, and make recomendations based on your needs and wants. He is very concerned with giving people the best value for their money.
Give Mike a call if you need help or just want to talk about Backwoods Smokers.
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Q. What size cooker do I need?
A. It really depends on what you are doing. In our experience, when people are starting out with our cookers, they are getting the smaller models. Once they start to see the awesome results they get with their food, they usually start looking for a higher capacity cooker since all their friends and family cannot get enough of their awesome food! The best way to know is to really do your homework, be honest with yourself on what you are going to use it for, then try it out. Asking in our forumsas well can help you choose what you need.
Q. Your cookers seem to be much higher in price than the smokers I can get at my local superstore, how come?
A. Well, you are right about that. Our cookers are certainly higher. The reason being is that we are not an assembly line operation. Each cooker is hand made to your specifications. We don’t simply turn on a switch in the morning and churn out cooker after cooker. We put hours into each and every cooker, using our tried and true methods. So when you get your cooker, you are getting a genuine made in America Backwoods Smoker that was made just for you! You are part of the process from start to finish, our crew looks at your specs, creates the unit from our raw material stock, then gets it ready for pickup or delivery to you. Try going on down to your local superstore and telling those guys what things you want to make your cooker unique and see what happens. We pride ourselves on high quality crafted cookers that our customers will have for years to come.
Q. I called to order my unit, and was told that it may be a month or more, why is this?
A. Simply put, during our busy seasons, which are around Christmas and the competition season, we are producing cookers flat out. Now that being said, we are committed to getting these cookers built right, each cooker takes time, which sometimes builds a backlog. We will be open and honest with you on the wait time for your cooker.
Q. Can these cookers be used indoors?
A. To use a Backwoods Cooker inside, you will need to have some sort of hood vent system that can blow the smoke and heat exhaust from the stack outdoors. We do not recommend doing ANY kind of cooking inside without proper equipment to do so.
Q. Can these cookers be mounted on a trailer?
A. YES!! If you visit our forums, you can see people who have done exactly that, and quite well. There are many different ways to mount these units on trailers. Our forums are the best resource to see examples of how people have done it.
Q. Can you mount it on a trailer for me, or better yet, build me a custom trailer?
A. At this time, we are not providing this service. Building custom trailers is a time consuming and expensive task. We simply are not outfitted for this. We recommend going to a trailer company close to where you where you can talk to someone face to face to give them your vision for your trailer.
Q. What are the dimensions of these cookers?
A. If you look underneath each cooker’s description you will find their dimensions and weight laid out for you.