Lovington man’s side business has exploded in the past five years

By John Earp

A Lovington, NM man, Tearl Dunlap (TD for short) began making his own barbeque sauce and seasonings just as a hobby in his backyard several years ago. That hobby has really paid off in recent years, as he has been able to market his products throughout the Texas/New Mexico region and beyond.

Presently, TD’s has a lineup of 23 products, including sauces and seasonings, all of which are his own recipes. The company presently is distributing sauce and seasonings to over 600 stores across the United States, with most of those being in New Mexico and Texas. He also does warehouse fulfillment and packaging for another dozen or so clients that are doing “basically the same thing that I am.”

TD says he had no zero culinary training, and had no experience in the food industry at all prior to beginning his business. He says, “My background was always automotive. I always worked in the automotive industry. I did customer service and I did the service department for Toyota. I was always in customer service and sales positions, so basically I was able to understand a lot of people, a lot. I just started cooking in my own backyard, and started enjoying things. I guess maybe Food Network may have gotten me started, because I was like always cooking. I redid my backyard after we moved into our house.” TD says he started making his own sauces after he started doing a lot of grilling in his backyard when he and his wife had just started their family. He began by formulating his original barbeque sauce, which he says is still his personal favorite.

TD grew up in Lovington, living the first 19 years of his life there, before moving to Phoenix to go to automotive school, after which he worked for Toyota for 12 years. His dad used to be the Lea County Commissioner for District 1. When TD moved back to Lovington with his family, he worked in oil field service with his family’s company until 2021.

He sold his first bottle of TD’s Brew and BBQ Sauce in Texarkana, Texas in a parking lot in 2019, initially as a side job to fund an auto restoration project on his 1967 Super Sport Chevelle which had been placed on the backburner for many years. In 2021, he was able to go full-time with his business. He says when the realization hit him that he was not going to work for anyone else again in 2021, “that’s when I really started ramping it up.” He hit the road for about six weeks where he drove around the region selling his barbeque sauce in stores like Ace Hardware, butcher shops, and barbeque stores, going to Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, then back down Dallas and San Antonio, selling his sauce.

Before February of 2021, he had another company that would manufacture his products according to his recipes, but the manufacturing company wasn’t able to keep up with demand, so he then began manufacturing his own products in Lovington. Last year, TD’s Brew and BBQ sold just over 50,000 units across his product line. The company has had a steady increase in the number of products sold over the past three years, especially after his products began selling in all HEB stores. Albertsons, United, and Market Street are other grocery chains where his product line can be found on the shelf.

His warehousing, fulfillment, manufacturing, and consulting for other companies now takes up the majority of his time. During COVID, TD’s manufacturer was having enormous difficulty getting his products made and shipped to him, which was the reason he went into the manufacturing and distribution aspect himself. He says he has thankfully not had supply chain issues since he began manufacturing his own products.

The ”Brew” in the company name refers to teas he has sold in the past, with his “end game” to eventually be where he can have food trucks and drive-through stores selling barbeque, various teas and frozen, ready-to-grill meat. He says the company started as a side job just to fund the restoration of his car, but eventually became his way out of working in the oilfield or having to work for anyone else except his customers.

TD’s Brew and BBQ has won 48 international taste awards in the last five years. He can be seen live on his cooking show on Facebook and YouTube every Wednesday and Sunday at 12:30 p.m.