Fred Moss — Carrying on America Tradition at Moss Grills
Sometimes it takes a friend to spark an idea for a business, and so it was for Fred Moss.
Recently retired from serving in the U.S. Navy after 24 years as a rescue swimmer and anti-submarine warfare systems operator. Fred was sitting in his backyard in San Diego reflecting on his childhood. He recalled that while growing up in St. Louis how his grandparents cooked barbecue ribs, beef and chicken on a barrel grill. The memories of the fragrance of grilled and smoked meats and enjoyment of neighbourhood cookouts were fresh in his mind despite the years and miles of separation. With time on his hands, Fred thought he could make a charcoal grill for himself and rekindle some flavours.
He bought several new 50-gallon barrels. Instead of cutting the barrel in half, which causes the heat to escape when the lid is lifted to turn the meat, he cut an opening that is slightly less than one quarter of the circumference of the barrel and attached a lift door – a design that helps to contain the heat in the grill. He figured out how to attach the grilling platform, charcoal pan, hinges, handles, countertops and legs.
His friend, U.S. Navy Chief Ken Garner, saw Fred’s grill and asked Fred to build one for him.
“I said, ‘You want me to build you this piece of junk?’ It was wobbly and could barely stand,” Moss recalled.
Fred did. Soon, other people in his neighbourhood and friends of friends were asking him to make barrel grills for them for several hundred dollars each.
The demand for his grill design got Fred thinking that other people may want to buy his barrel grill. He advertised his grill-making services on San Diego’s Craigslist in 2010 and the orders started rolling in.
He formed his company Moss Grills and Fred and several family members and former veterans made the grills in his garage and on his driveway. As the frequency of delivery trucks increased through his neighborhood , neighbours took notice, and Fred moved production out of the house and into a warehouse in 2011.