A quarter-century after starting the company, the owners behind Nixa-based Outdoor Home Inc. are still seeing green.
Revenue has run in the multimillion dollars for years, partially fueled by the company’s decision early on to sell the Big Green Egg, a brand of kamado-style charcoal barbecue cookers.
The company, which also sells a full line of barbecue grills, outdoor furniture and accessories, hit $5.5 million in revenue last year. Husband and wife R.D. and Beverly Schmidt started Outdoor Home in 1995 in Springfield before later moving it to Nixa. He says sales have been at or near the $5 million mark for the past couple of years.
The couple, along with co-owner and General Sales Manager Kenny Minor, fully expected revenue growth for 2020 before COVID-19. Minor says first-quarter sales were tracking around 10% up over the same period in 2019. Late spring and early summer is the company’s busy season.
Those numbers have been tempered, but R.D. says they’re still optimistic, noting revised projections depend on when businesses get to fully reopen.
“We’re pretty close to where we’ve been. We were starting to see some good growth this year until this pandemic hit,” he says.
Outdoor Home is one of 12 Big Green Egg distributors in the country. It has exclusive distribution rights to dealers in Missouri, Arkansas and half of Oklahoma, according to Jerry Stone, Big Green Egg’s business development manager.
“They’ve been a big part in our success at getting the brand out to the local dealer community,” Stone says, noting the Atlanta-based company sells the product in 64 countries. “We only sell to independent dealers; we don’t sell to big boxes.”
Minor says Outdoor Home is a wholesale distributor for several barbecue-related products, with 300 total accounts on the distribution side. Of those, they service over 230 Big Green Egg dealers, such as Brooks Gas Co. Inc. in Marshfield and Hill’s Feed and More LLC in Mount Vernon, he adds. Outdoor Home is a platinum dealer in its territory, the highest level a company can reach with Big Green Egg.
“A platinum dealer is going to have a majority, and in our case, all accessories that Big Green Egg offers. There are seven sizes of Big Green Egg and a platinum dealer is going to have all seven sizes,” he says, adding the ceramic cookers run $400-$2,000.
Big Green Egg is the No. 1 selling product for Outdoor Home, and it has been for more than 20 years, R.D. says. For the past several years, he estimates the company has sold 15-16 truckloads annually – each containing at least 300 eggs on board. However, the owners say they’re uncertain just how much it generates in sales per year.
Its inclusion in the company’s line of products was by mere curiosity, Beverly recalls, as a vendor gave her a brochure about it 24 years ago.
“We decided we ought to give it a shot and figured we could sell a few of them,” she says, adding she’d never seen anything like it. “If nothing else, we could surely sell 12. That’s what we ordered the first time.”
Aside from Big Green Egg, R.D. says Blaze, Weber and Yoder are among Outdoor Home’s most popular grills, while Telescope Casual and Berlin Gardens are customer favorites for outdoor furniture. Although some products are priced for less, he says the higher-end grills cost between $800 and $3,000, while customers fully outfitting a deck or pool area with furniture spend $4,000-$30,000.
“If you look at units, we may sell more grills,” he says, declining to disclose figures. “But if you look at dollars, the dollars in furniture are more than grills.”
A new home
For 20 years until 2016, Outdoor Home had a presence in Springfield and in 2010 added a second store in Nixa. But a desire for more space spurred the decision in 2016 to consolidate operations to 35,000 square feet in Nixa.
The 882 W. Tracker Road building was formerly owned by CBS Cabinets LLC, which had relocated. Purchase and renovation costs were roughly $1.6 million, Beverly says. “We had to totally remodel and repair that whole building,” R.D. says, pointing to a new roof and walls being torn out. “It was still being worked on when we moved in.”
Nearly five years at its new home, the business has a landmark anniversary this year – not that a celebration is planned.
“With the pandemic going on, we hadn’t really even thought about it,” R.D. says.
Similarly, the Schmidts say they didn’t think about Outdoor Home ever hitting 25 years old. They just had a love of the outdoors they hoped customers would share.
“One thing that’s unique about this business, it’s a product you don’t have to buy,” R.D. says. “It’s something that when people decide to buy it, most usually it’s because they want it and want to do something fun in their backyard.”
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