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WEB EXCLUSIVE This Veterans Day, we’re saluting Raleigh veteran Mike Otis’ Battle Tested Craft Barbecue Sauce and his mission to support local veterans.
Everyone anticipates their 21st birthday, but for Mike Otis, it wasn’t finally being able to crack open a cold one that interested him, it was getting his dad’s (a WWII veteran) family barbecue recipe, which was passed down to his dad by his grandmother—and it was only when he turned 21 that he was “old enough to handle the recipe.”
In fact, Otis still has the recipe card that his dad tucked into his 21st birthday card, and it now serves as the backbone for his popular Battle Tested Craft Barbecue Sauce.
And as a couple who cares deeply about veteran lives and bringing awareness to veteran suicide, now Otis and his wife, Deardria, have partnered with Durham’s Stop Soldier Suicide—an organization helping PTSD veterans in the Triangle.
“It’s been about more than just making sauce, it’s about giving back to veteran, not-for-profit organizations,” says Otis. So, for every bottle of Battle Tested Craft Barbecue Sauce sold in NC, the company donates 5% of its profit to Stop Soldier Suicide.
A Desert Storm Air Force veteran himself, Otis added spices and his own signature flavor to the family barbecue sauce recipe—which, before bottling it, he dished out to friends and family who constantly encouraged him to market it. One friend even told him it was so good he could drink it… that’s when you know.
After some convincing—now about three years ago—the couple took a chance and dove head-first into the competitive billion-dollar barbecue sauce industry, set up a corporation, filed for trademarks, opened a state-of-the-art sauce production plant in Henderson… and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now with several awards and competition wins under their belt (first place at the Oxford Hot Sauce Festival and Pinehurst Barbecue Festival, to name just a couple), Otis and his wife are on a mission to support veterans.
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