Bret Morey and son, Elijah, with their new Elijah's X-Treme hot sauce vending machine.
Asked to describe their most recent move and expansion for their ever-growing hot sauce business at the ribbon cutting on Friday, Aug. 20, former Cherryville resident and one-half of a custom-made hot sauce entrepreneurship, Bret Morey, said simply, "We are blessed beyond measure!"
And he is not kidding, as he described how their small, seven-person business started out with him, son, Elijah, and one or two sauce cooking pans out of their own home kitchen and burgeoned into what it is now: a large N.C.-based company that markets its own Elijah's Extreme Ghost Pepper sauce, as well as a whole family of other flavorful sauces, across the nation and the world.
Their growth has caused them to move twice in the last year, Bret said.
"Elijah began taking over all the marketing while still in college. We agreed on a budget that began as a daily spend for ads and he began to craft content, pictures, headlines, create and edit his own videos, adding music and even voice overs. Then would test each to see what was working best. This took hours and hours of time; the net result was more folks seeing our brand, more folks buying from our website, grocery and other stores and of course Amazon. As sales began to increase so did the need to invest more to continue that reach."
Bret noted after Elijah graduated college, he began digging into understanding social media platforms, creating more content, learning what was working and what was not.
He built on the successes, learning from the mistakes, to know what not to do later.
Said Bret, "Finding out what doesn't work is just as important as what does."
By May 2020 they saw sales like it was Christmas time, and knew they needed more space to manage their accelerated growth.
"We found a 2,500-square foot warehouse space in an old mill, cleaned it up, painted it and made it our home," he said. Business increased and they moved in Aug. 1, 2020, quickly got set up with their packing table and adding two more. By November, they saw sales trend up quickly.
By December, the Morey's and one employee were packing 500-600 orders a day.
By 2021 they increased to four packing tables and realized the 2,500- sq. ft. space was not big enough. By March due to the need to have more inventory on-hand to pack and ship quickly, they needed more space and found a bigger, 6,000-sq. ft. warehouse with a small office area that was a perfect fit for them, he said.
"Just like before, we cleaned and painted and up-fit the whole space to be our own, and moved in June 1," Bret said. Thanks to Elijah, they now have hundreds of recipes using their sauces on their own Pintrest page and website, with step-by-step videos as well. Elijah also created a weekly recipe newsletter, 'Cookin' it up with Elijah's Xtreme', in its fifth week and already reaching 5,000 who signed up to get it.
The N.C.-based company is growing by leaps and bounds, adding in another 1,000 to 2,000 grocery stores by 2023, and increasing on-line sales to surpass their 2021 Amazon sales which is over $1.2 million. Morey noted their on-line sales will exceed $1.8 million for 2021 and their total gross sales is $2.5-2.9 million.
"Just think, our sales for 2019 was $298,000. God is good!" he said.
For Shelby and Cleveland County locations selling their signature sauces, try Ingles in Kings Mountain (in the local products area - any Ingles that carries local products will have it.
"We have over 1,000 stores with our hot sauces. Not all carry all our sauces," he said, adding, "Don't forget, Amazon has all of our products. We manage and pack and ship into to Amazon for Prime."
Coming soon - Elijah's Xtreme Vending.
"It will be fully loaded with all our hot sauces and gift boxes! To land somewhere in either Concord Mills, or the outlet mall off Steel Creek Road. If that goes as planned, we'll be creating a business model to franchise the vending machine as a stand-alone business!"
"Business is growing," said Bret, "and as Elijah put it the other day, he said, 'Dad, I'm so thankful I get to do what I want every day. I love it and love growing our business!'"
To learn more about Elijah's Xtreme, visit www.elijahsXtreme.com., or email Bret at bm3Xtreme@gmail.com.