Brothers Heat Up
The Barbecue Business
By Tolm Long / Fiddlehead Contributing Editor
The boys at Stump Chunks want to light your fire.
Whether it’s a barbecue, a fire pit, a fireplace or a woodstove, a fistful of Stump Chunks will turn on the heat.
“It’s kindling and a fire starter and it is completely natural,” said Dan Roy, who owns and operates Stump Chunks with his brothers Norm, Sylvain and Dave.
Stump Chunks is an offshoot of M-R Wood Recycling in Derry, an excavation business founded by their father, Marshall Roy, in 1973.
The company now grinds stumps to make mulch for landscaping. All the brothers work at the company, except Sylvain, who operates a wholesale golf business.
According to company lore, the product was born one cold night when the brothers discovered it was easy to kindle a fire using dried wood chunks from old tree stumps. The product is 100 percent wood and contains no chemicals or additives.
“It’s another way to move our products,” said Norm.
But it has become much more to the affable quartet. “I’ve been in the golf industry for 30 years and now it’s a job, but Stump Chunks is something else; it’s fun,” said Sylvain.
The instructions for use are on the package:
“Step one, put a large handful of Stump Chunks in your woodstove, fireplace, fire pit, or charcoal grill.
“Step two. Place firewood or charcoal on top and light Stump Chunks directly.
“Step three. Open beverage, put feet up, relax and enjoy.”
“Step three gets you there quicker. It’s always about step three,” said Dan. He also said Stump Chunks can get a barbecue to 400 degrees quicker than a gas grill.
“We proved it. We did a video,” said Sylvain.
And the brothers say there’s something elemental and primitive about the process. “People who use newspaper or gas want to start the grill before the company arrives, but Stump Chunks users want visitors to watch, to show them what they’re doing,” said Sylvain.
The brothers, who are in their 50s, obviously enjoy each other’s company.
“There’s no denying we’re getting older. I used to have a beard down to here,” Sylvain said as he pointed at his chest.
“I used to have hair,” Dan said as he took off his hat.
Stump Chunks is now sold in about 1,500 stores throughout the country, and they have an exclusive deal with Ace Hardware, which sells their product all over the country.
“We’re excited. It’s going in the right direction. We started six years ago, and we have doubled our sales every year,” said Sylvain. “It’s a product that needs to be explained and talked about, so we like to deal with mom-and-pop shops and pass out free samples so they are familiar with the product.”
The company’s retail outlets are listed at stumpchunks.com.
Stump Chunks sponsors a couple of barbecue competition teams. The brothers were so impressed by the food created by a member of one of the teams that they have begun marketing his sauces. The grill master prefers not to release his name.
They offer Step 3 BBQ Sauce in two flavors: Back Roads, a mustard-based concoction advertised to deliver “thick golden goodness,” and Camp Fire, described as “smoky mesquite with a little heat.” Both have won awards at barbecue competitions, including Memphis in May Contest. They retail for $10 and $12.
“We’re four brothers who get along in business together and have fun. We make all our decisions together, and we make all our mistakes together, too,” said Sylvain.
“It’s easy to sum up the business,” said Dan. “We chunk ‘em and we sauce ‘em.”