All the World is Smoking on a Lang

The Wold is Smoking on a Lang Story by John Riddle

Photography Scott Beahan, Shutterfly Perfect

Published with Okefenokee Living Magazine on Issue

Between Hoboken and Nahunta on Highway 82 is a 16,000 square foot fabrication shop building BBQ smokers. While it may seam like an odd place – on this sleepy portion of the South Georgia Parkway – for someone trying to attract business, don't be fooled. Their website averages 44,000 views weekly. The smokers thy build are shipped all over the world. Their customers range from celerities to chefs at five-star resorts.

Ben C. Lang, II, owner, and operator of Lang BBQ Smokers®, started a revolution in the barbecue industry with his unique design almost 30 years ago. But, Ben Lang isn't the first member of his family to make a living smoking meat.

In the early 1900's, Ben's grandfather sold smoked meats out of the back of his horse-drawn wagon Camden, Brantley, and Pierce counties. Ben's father managed restaurants and clubs for the military and the business community. in fact, Ben's father and brothers can be credited with the original concept of the current day Lang BBQ Smokers®. They built the original prototype of the smoker that Ben is producing today.

"They build a smoker for personal use at family gatherings, cousin's weddings and to cook for friends. Everybody always wanted to borrow Daddy's smoker. I decide that I could build a product line to produce smokers based on Daddy's original design that produced better results more consistently," Ben explained.

So, in 1988 he started producing Lang BBQ Smokers®. The business, which has seen constant growth for 28 years, has grown to over 20 employees with a diverse customer base including country music star Zac Brown, professional golfer, Davis Love, III, and even political leasers, such as Georgia's Agriculture Secretary, Gary Black.

"We have enthusiasts who cook as a hobby, chefs at five-star resorts, business men who want to promote their business and families who just want to cook at home," Ben said of their diverse customer base. "What they all have in common is a need to ffed themselves and others."

So, what's all the hype about? Why do people rave about the meat that is cooked in a Lang BBQ Smoker?

Lang's unique design features reverse flow that allows heat to draw under and back over the meat. Most smokers are "draw through" which means heat passes through and then it's gone.

The offset firebox provides indirect heat. They use split wood to build the fire and let the heat and the smoke slowly flavor the meat. Regular smokers allow the smoke and heat to get "straight at the meat." The third unique quality is the flameproof griddle that captures the fat and juices and allows them to sizzle and sear on the griddle to create a flavor and moisture the is unsurpassed. This design gives consistently perfect barbecue which is exactly what Lang's customers want and need.

"One of the most important things about our cookers is that you can wash it out in 20 minutes after cooking. My Daddy called it, 'snappy, fresh results' that comes from a fresh, clean grill," Ben explained. "You keep it cleaned out naturally by spraying it while it's hot. It creates steam that cuts the grease and cleans the grill and leaves the oils for a perfectly seasoned cooker. (check out their cleaning and seasoning tips on their website).

At the heart of it all is Ben's commitment to customer service and meeting their needs. "One of the things that excite me the most is that I get to use our product to help others meet their goal," Ben emphasized. "I found years ago that people cook for one of three reasons: profit, pleasure or promotion. We help families, restaurants, and businesses produce consistent results and meet their needs. We get to be 'in the mix' while memories are being made."

While Ben build this business on a "shoestring" in the early days and his experience in sales and marketing from his previous career help build the Lang brand into the industry leader, he is quick to recognize his family's help and support. His wife, Clarice, and her staff, handle bookkeeping and administrative duties and assist with sales. While his son, Benjamin, along with his staff, are involved with sales, production, shipping and customer service. Ben is still responsible for all day-to-day operations as President and CEO. However, he looks forward to assuming a "founder's position and retiring at some point".

"The success of our business is due in large part to our employees," Ben emphasize. Their employee retention is high with some workers having been employed for over 14 years. "And, we are quick to remember that our customers are what makes all this possible."

For all of the changes Ben has brought to the way the Lang family smokes meat, today's Lang BBQ Smokers® still uses the same "stick cooking" method used by his grandfather and the original "reverse-flow" design built by his father and brothers. However, Ben shared what he says has been the real basis of the family's success: "We found a long time ago that one of the main common denominators among mankind is eating."