Nothing stops people in their tracks quite like the tantalizing smell of smoked BBQ, a trick the McLemore father-son duo has down pat. The McLemore Boys were one of hundreds of vendors who attended the World’s Fishing Fair, a celebration of Bass Pro Shops 50 years in the outdoor industry. Though the McLemore’s may be notorious for their smoked meats, they are better known for their family’s legacy; Masterbuilt.
According to John McLemore Sr., Masterbuilt started in 1973 in his own back yard at the hands of his father, Dawson McLemore. When his father retired in 1984, John took the reigns of the company straight out of high school and carried the title of CEO for 36 years. During that time, the business exploded, quickly becoming a household name.
Though the family is completely out of the business financially, John Sr. and his son continue to be the spokesmen of the brand and regularly attend events. With generations of cooking in their blood, the Masterbuilt booth was a popular food stop for visitors at the World’s Fishing Fair. The pair dished out over 4,000 plates and served up 28 mouthwatering Tomahawk steak demonstrations during the event.
“Cooking is in our blood. We claim to be really good innovators in the industry and it’s just been a blast celebrating in Springfield,” said former CEO John McLemore Sr. “We’ve sold all of our products here for 40 years, we love the Bass Pro customer. That’s exactly who loves to cook in their back yard.”
The company is coincidently celebrating its own 50 year anniversary, staying true to its core values: faith and family. Previously coined “M&M Welding” for McLemore & McLemore, the now household name “Masterbuilt” actually originated from the founding family’s strong faith. When searching for a name for the company, Dawson turned to God for answers.
“Pawpaw (Dawson) said a prayer to God and said ‘Your’e the Master, I’m the builder. If I name it after you, will you help me run the business?’,” explained John Jr. “Built by the Master is kind of the backstory to the name.”
Masterbuilt was born from the idea that the family needed the Master (our Lord) for guidance, though they “built” the products themselves. In the beginning, the company offered three products: a baker rack, a plant stand and a fish fryer. What started as a father twisting and forging products that his family could use ultimately became one of the most well-known outdoor cooking brands of our time.
“We’ll always be proud to have built something this notable as a three-generation family business. My dad founded it and my mom was matriarch of our family. Since she passed, my wife Tanya took that role,” John Sr. said. “We love what we do and we want people to have fun cooking… To all sit around the dinner table, to have a great experience and know that they made that meal themselves.”
The McLemore’s faith never wavered, traveling from their home in Harris County, Georgia, all across the world to showcase their innovative smokers, grills and fryers. The smoking experts have even prepared foods at NASCAR races, most recently making a pit stop at Talladega.
“Our goal is to continue cooking for Masterbuilt under the name The McLemore Boys–a play off of The Turkey Fryer Boys, which was a name given to my dad and uncle back in the day,” said John Jr.
“What I love about the Mclemore Boys is that people think that we’re brothers,” smiled Sr.
“Or a boy band,” added Jr .
“That either makes me really young or you really old,” Sr. chuckled.
Aside from cooking, the family also shares a passion or conservation. In their free time, they enjoy working on their property in Harris County.
“We have all of our land in conservation and we believe in protecting property and environments. I think it’s really important for my grandkids’ future that there are these kinds of conservation efforts being made now,” John Sr. said.
“For us, that’s something that means a lot to us too. We hunt, we fish, we play in the dirt… and we cook.”
Follow the duo on Facebook and Instagram by searching “The McLemore Boys.” To view recipes and products, including the tomahawk recipe and smoker used at the World’s Fishing Fair, visit Masterbuilt.com.
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