Love or hate Traeger, you have to admit that they have changed the outdoor kitchen forever. Certainly, many people scoff at pellet grills for not being real smokers or good grills. I tend to be one of them. I don't hate pellet grills, but since I have a choice between my various backyard kitchens, I rarely light one.

But this article is not about the merits or faults of the modern pellet grill. It's about Traeger and the miracle they've accomplished in recent years. Today's Traeger has successfully popularized complicated, temperamental, and relatively expensive backyard kitchen equipment.

The Old Traeger

To be clear, when I look at Traeger, I see three companies. There's the Traeger that came out of the woods of the Pacific Northwest, which gained a small but fanatical following. This is the Traeger founded and operated by Joe Traeger, and eventually his children. Joe not only had to invent the pellet rack, but he also had to explain how it worked and why someone would want to have one.

This Traeger was successful. They managed to stay in business and have loyal followers. However, they never managed to contest more than two percent of the market share in the outdoor kitchen industry. Okay, but not great.

Then came the dark times. The Middle Child Traeger. In 2006, the Traeger patent expired, and more than a dozen companies entered the pellet grill business. Soon after, in 2007, Joe Traeger sold the company to a private equity firm. Manufacturing went from domestic to imported, quality declined, fans became angry, and the company faced increasing problems.

The New Traeger

Enter Jeremy Andrus, Harvard MBA and well connected Utah businessman (think of the Mitt Romney crowd). In 2014 Jeremy took over. Forbes presented a great story about all of this, and some of it is really true. But to summarize, Traeger's headquarters moved from Oregon to Utah, eliminated approximately 98% of its staff in search of new blood, and outsourced everything it could.

In five years, pellet grills went from being a medium hit to nearly seven percent of the outdoor cooking market, with Traeger controlling more than 70% of that market. They did this through amazing marketing efforts, branding, and extensive leg work to familiarize the public with pellet cookers.

Traeger IronWood 650 Pellet Grill [19659013] The success of Traeger, owned by investors, mostly private equity companies, is not measured in profit, but in growth.In context, Andrus said Traeger earned $ 300 million in 2016 and $ 400 million in 2018. That's growth. That increase means value. One of these days, and probably soon, Traeger will be sold to collect that value. Its current owners (including Jeremy Andrus) will make a lot of money. In the meantime, they can spend every last penny it rolls. at the door because they never have to make a profit.

Will success ruin Traeger?

Fast-growing, with no expectations of making a profit, and the most recognized brand in pellet grills. And I said an amazing program of marketing? Traeger manages to turn its customers into advertisers with little reward, except for a sense of business-induced family feelings. They also have many social media accounts that drive their products every day. But will success ruin Traeger?

Enter Weber

In September 2019, the Weber-Stephen Product Company began teasing one of the barbecue's worst-kept secrets, its own pellet grill. Called SmokeFire, this pair of models is promised to launch in early 2020. Weber is, of course, the most recognized brand in outdoor cooking. They are also one of the most beloved.

So why do all the negative comments on your social media drive SmokeFire? Many of these run in the "too late" line. Personally, I think many of those who criticize Weber for not producing a pellet grill earlier regret their purchases and wish they had known that SmokeFire would come.

But I don't think Weber was late for the market. I think they are just in time. Traeger has done all the work of pushing the idea of ​​owning a pellet rack. Now Weber can jump into a fast growing market and not waste energy. They can just ride the wave.

The Power of Weber

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