Garry started making Ubon’s sauce according to the recipe father and son perfected. He mixed the sauce 1 gallon at a time. Family began to ask for some of Ubon’s sauce from Garry’s batches. Friends found out and requested that their gallon milk jugs be filled with Ubon’s sauce. In 1985 Garry regularly made 25 gallons, one gallon at a time in his home kitchen.
As a teenager Garry worked for a local grocery/deli called Patenotte’s Grocery. Mr. Patenotte was tough to work for but respected Garry’s work ethic. When Garry later approached him about placing the sauce in his deli Mr. Patenotte was very helpful. Garry sterilized BBQ sauce bottles from the deli and refilled them with Ubon’s Sauce, applied a hand written label and sold his first bottles of sauce.
Garry’s decision to market Ubon’s Sauce came in 1986. With the help of a friend he established Roark Packing Company and began producing his sauce for market. Garry and a friend, Steve Guthrie, designed the original label (with the old tired chicken.) Garry’s family, Elaine, Leslie and Jennifer were his first ‘employees.’ Jennifer and Leslie’s job was label application. They were relieved of this duty when several cases were labeled upside down. Years later in 1992 the girls would return to the BBQ sales team by making cold calls to gift shops and florists across the MS Delta area. (Garry continues to insist that this was simply the girl’s BBQ sauce vacation and there is some truth to that assumption.)
In the mid 80’s Garry first introduced Ubon’s to the public in a big way by being a vendor at Jubilee Jam in downtown Jackson, Ms. (Jam Y’all!!) Garry and Elaine decided then—“this event will either give us the funds to produce the sauce on a larger scale or convince us to stay at home.’ The Steak Shoppes in Jackson and Clinton Mississippi (a contact Garry made at Jubliee Jam) were among the first to buy Ubon’s Sauce in bulk. The Steak Shoppe sampled their frozen meatball with Ubon’s Sauce every day. 90% of their customers left with a bottle of sauce and a bag of frozen meatballs. Much of our Jackson, MS customer base today came from the Steak Shoppe.
Garry found out about a BBQ contest in Cleveland, MS in 1988 and entered in the back yard category. He quickly found out he was a small fish in a very large pond. He also found himself bitten with the competition bug. Along with his friend Paul Hood, Garry began competing in local contests regularly. He decided that the best way to market Ubon’s Sauce was to create a name for it on the Memphis in May BBQ circuit. Garry’s first trip to Memphis in May in 1990 was to pass out sauce samples. He hauled sauce on a dolly and talked to as many BBQ teams as is possible in one day.