Traeger started as a small pellet grill company that enjoyed a surge attributable to its new leadership and strategic marketing. At first, the story of the Traeger grill might seem a tale of instant, meteoric success.
The reality is that Traeger was established back in 1987, and through a combination of hard work, smart choices, marketing, and leadership, the result was indeed success, but not as
“instant” as some might think.
What is a Traeger Grill?
A Traeger grill is heated by wood pellets, but powered by electricity, which feeds them into the fire. What makes the Traeger so special is the ease at which the temperature may be controlled.
The grill has gauges that control and regulate the heat. In fact, technology has come so far that it also gives you the capability to control heat levels from your phone, which makes grilling a breeze.
The original Traeger resembles a pit barrel smoker that is well known at Texas BBQs. Another key feature is the fact that you can buy special wood pellets that enhance the particular flavor of whatever you are cooking, such as hickory, mesquite, and maple.
The History of Traeger
Although Traeger was established in 1987, the firm didn’t actually sell its first grill until the following year. The company was originally founded by the Traeger family, which ran a heating company in Oregon. The Traegers patented the pellet grill technology, which would last for the next 20 years.
Around the same time that Traeger’s patent expired in 2006, and the company was sold to someone else for $12.4 million, Jeremy Androus was leading a different company to success. Androus’s story is key because his leadership and marketing strategy would put Traeger more firmly on the map.
Androus was the CEO of Skullcandy. He had taken that company from doing business of barely a $1 million per year, to a $300 million operation. When the firm started losing value around 2013, however, Androus left to pursue other opportunities.
It was in 2013 that Androus took over Traeger, because he saw both its worth and potential. The company developed a sharp marketing capability, after it had previously contained no marketing department.
Traeger began to purchase 30-minute infomercial slots to demonstrate the potential of its product. This helped customers see the value of the grill, which resulted in a dramatic jump in sales.
An additional marketing strategy that Traeger used was partnering with Nextdoor. The partnership included a contest, to which more than 900 participants submitted applications, and shared their love of Traeger with friends and family in the hope of winning a Traeger grill.
People who owned a Traeger were becoming a community. This created a dramatic increase in traffic to Traeger’s website, as well as greater name recognition and a rush of people marketing to neighbors.
The combination of these two techniques turned what was once a small pellet grill company into the current powerhouse. A Traeger grill became no longer just a grill but represented a lifestyle, with greater name recognition than any other grill on the market.
Now, 10 years after Androus purchased Traeger and revitalized the company, moved its headquarters to Utah, and released essentially all its employees, it is thriving. The estimated value of Traeger today is over $400 million.
Traeger’s history and success are surprising to some. Many thought the grill market was already over-saturated.
By developing a product line not previously seen, and choosing to educate their potential customers actively about the product, Traeger was able to establish an almost cult-like following that has significantly disrupted the entire grill market.
Traeger’s success has demonstrated the importance of a good product, in spite of apparent product saturation, and a marketing campaign that focuses on education and community connection. These various components show that success, despite the outward appearance, may not be immediate, and also that astute marketing is critical.