A Smoking Success Story

Texas is known for a variety of foods and their large, flavorful portions. Barbecue is a classic choice for many who reside in the great state and for some, it is a source of pride. So, just any barbecue is not enough. The barbecue must be cooked to perfection by an indirect smoking method and be equipped with the perfect rub and sauce. A team of BBQ specialists in Lubbock, Texas, are working to deliver the best BBQ around.

“We took a cost neutral hobby and made it a successful business,” said John Reeves, owner of Smokin X Barbeque.

How does one become successful smoking barbecue? If you ask Reeves, the owner of Smokin X Barbecue, he will tell you it takes passion and time. Reeves grew up in a small town outside of Plainview, Texas, called Edmonson. His family ran a farm that grew many different crops, including cotton and wheat pasture cattle. When he was 17 years old, he knew of no other future for himself rather than graduating from school and running the farm. He grew up outdoors and in his spare time, he loved to hunt and fish. When it came to cooking in general, Reeves was mostly self-taught.

“My family lived in a small town while I was growing up,” he said. “The nearest grocery store was about half an hour away, so if I wanted to create something I had to improvise.”

He was at a cooking disadvantage growing up, not having much access to stores for the necessary ingredients, but instead finding substitutions. So, how did Reeves become successful cooking barbecue? He was judging a barbeque competition in 2009, in the Lubbock area, and thought the barbecue individuals had made was lacking in many areas. He learned from those various mistakes and over the years experimented with what aspects worked for his barbecue and what did not.

“We took a cost neutral hobby and made it a successful business,” said John Reeves

“People were wasting their time doing certain things and not spending enough time doing others,” said Reeves.

Life was not always good and easy for Reeves. He ended up going off to college but had to abandon his ambition of graduating to take care of his family and farm. His father had fallen ill and Reeves knew what was important to him and what to put first so that is just what he did. His father ended up passing away and Reeves accepted that life throws curveballs.

“Life is what happens when you are making plans,” Reeves said.

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John Reeves prepping potatoes, in his trailer, for an upcoming catering event.

Smokin X Team

This barbecue team consists of owner Reeves and his friends, Chad Townley and Jamar Jordan.

“Push the boundaries and reach for the stars because it can happen,” Reeves said.

Smokin X Barbecue would not be what it is today without the help of his two friends and partners Townley and Jordan. His right-hand-man, Townley, went to high school with Reeves’ wife, which is how they became close friends. In 2007, Townley and Reeves moved to Lubbock, Texas. At the time, Smokin X was more of a fun hobby and every Sunday evening the group would host podcasts. These podcasts discussed smoking barbecue, college football, and competitions that were approaching. Their team would advertise different rubs and grills. “Famous people would call into the podcast that barbecue,” said Townley. “I jumped into a side hobby that pays for itself.”

Smokin X was officially founded in 2011 and is now more successful than it has ever been, according to Reeves.

“It is always important to have people in your corner in life,” Reeves said.

The Smokin X team participates in teaching barbeque classes on the Texas Tech University campus, competitions and even caters events. To make this dream happen, the team worked hard networking with companies, such as Raider Red Meats and Green Mountain Grills. Raider Red Meats liked Reeves because he knew the competition and was an outsider, which is what they were looking for. Reeves was proud to talk about his achievements. He is a consultant for The Texas Café, also known as The Spoon, a brand ambassador for Green Mountain Grills and even sits on the board of directors for the Raider Red Meats Competition. In March, the team gets to go to the National Barbecue Association meeting.

“We became friends with the maker of Sweet Baby Rays sauce,” Townley said, which is a very popular sauce brand sold in just about any grocery store.

Smokin X has won many awards and perhaps their biggest accomplishment was being featured on a show on the Travel Channel. The show was called Grill of Victory, which has one season on Amazon Video. On their specific episode, there were three competitors grilling but they ended up winning.

“For the show, we had to build a slow cooker on the back of a dually,” Townley said.

The team is proud of their accomplishments but when asked if they would want to create their own restaurant, Reeves had to decline.

“Work when we want to, take jobs when we want to and we would not want to get burnt out,” Reeves said.

For Reeves, when he is not grilling or working his sales job he loves spending time with his wife and kids. He has an 18-year-old and a 6-year-old who loves playing baseball and soccer. His family is extremely supportive of him, and he even promised his wife he would never spend too much time at work. Other than that, he loves doing what he did as a child: hunting and fishing.

“I grew up average,” Reeves said. “Average grades, average life and now I’m successful. I would never have thought I would be the person I am now.”