How this Navy Corpsman BBQ'd His Way to Successful Entrepreneur

Noah Glanville, Navy Corpsman veteran and President of Pit Barrel Cooker.

It took only 29 prototypes before former Navy Corpsman Noah Glanville struck gold with his barbecue pit barrel cooker. Working in a neighbor's garage in 2010, he finally found a "set it and forget it" design to produce and sell at a lower price than the competition.

Now, his company, Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC), located in Prospect, Kentucky, created a pit barrel barbeque that is unlike anything on the market.

While barrel cooking is not new, Glanville said his Pit Barrel Cooker is unique because "it combines the best qualities of smokers, slow cookers and grills into a single product." The method has never before been brought to the mass market in a form that is both affordable and easy to use, he said.

After getting out of the service in 2006, Glanville got a job as a security contractor and turned to cooking barbecue as a way to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He soon found that both his combat experience and lessons learned from dealing with PTSD could help him become a successful entrepreneur.

"PTSD is something a lot of guys don't want to talk about," he said. "I got frustrated and angry easily. I was in a hole. My family and my business helped me focus my energy into something positive, and that made all the difference."

And dealing with the stress of running a business is not all that different from navigating the stress of combat, he said.

"In battle, you've got to rush to the aid of a Marine while bullets are flying all around you. It's chaos," Glanville said. "The stakes can't get higher, being able to handle high-stress situations like combat makes one ideally suited to handle the stresses of running a business."

Team Building 'Crucial to Success'

Glanville said that building the right team is also crucial to his success. Veterans, he said, have incredible leadership and logistics skills, which is why he hired Marine Corps F-18 fighter pilot Scott McLeod as his CEO.

Related: Access resources to hire and support veteran employees.

"My approach to business, and life in general, [was] learned to a very large degree at the U.S. Naval Academy and in the Marine Corps. For me, the principles of integrity, servant leadership, accountability and responsibility are fundamental in the military experience, and highly transferable to the civilian sector," McLeod said.

He added that key principles of military leadership translate directly to business and that the concepts of accountability and mission are "all concepts that have been ingrained in anyone who served, and they heavily influence the culture here."

Vets Helping Vets (and Law Enforcement)

As a veteran-founded business with numerous veterans on its team, PBC supports active-duty and retired military, as well as fire and police veterans.

PBC makes cookers with special plaques mounted on the barrel for each branch of the service, as well as fire and police plaques. From each of these sales, a portion of the proceeds is donated to foundations that support veterans and first responders. PBC currently works with Operation BBQ Relief, Concerns for Police Survivors (COPS) and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Ultimately, Glanville would like to start his own organization to encourage veterans to become entrepreneurs. He's participated with small groups of disabled veterans in various activities, including hunting and fishing. "I'd like to use my knowledge and experience to help these guys on a much larger scale," he noted.

He's convinced that veterans are equipped to succeed at entrepreneurial endeavors because they've already faced enormous challenges associated with war.

"I'm proud of the hard work we have put in to grow this business and excited for where the future will take us," Glanville said. "We're honored to offer a product that can help people create great meals and great memories."

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-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at sean.brown@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.

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