Big Change(s) at Weber - From sizzle to fizzle


 

Lew Newby

TVWBB Gold Member
I don't know how to fix Weber's issues. I'm an academic not a marketing exec. Legacy companies, with very few exceptions, face an uphill battle as their products become so ubiquitous to the industry as a whole that they are almost considered generic. Like many legacy companies, they have been extremely slow to respond to market trends; front-to-back burners, pellet grills, kamado style grills, portables, grill tech. In some cases their tardy response was done with exceptional incompetence (Smokefire).
If you're referring to their disastrous release of the Smokefire I will agree with you. If you're referring to the grill itself I will respectfully disagree. Weber seems to have recovered from the bad publicity of the release and indications are that sales are on the upswing. The Stealth version is out and I am really interested in what comes next. My Gen1 EX6 and EX4 are rock solid.
 

Bruno

TVWBB Platinum Member
If you're referring to their disastrous release of the Smokefire I will agree with you. If you're referring to the grill itself I will respectfully disagree. Weber seems to have recovered from the bad publicity of the release and indications are that sales are on the upswing. The Stealth version is out and I am really interested in what comes next. My Gen1 EX6 and EX4 are rock solid.
Just did the latest update on my SF, taking the family to Hawaii soon, when we get back I have a couple butts and lamb shanks I want to smoke. Looking forward to a big cook on the EX6!
 

T Lucas

New member
I miss the simplicity of the older Genesis Silver series. Easy to assemble and replace parts. Even cooking. Last forever. Nothing fancy. Just hope Weber doesn’t view their grills as short-lived, expendable items like kitchen and laundry appliances.
 

TonyUK

TVWBB Guru
Has the market hit peak-Weber? (Not for us nut-jobs, but the hoi-polloi).
For those of you who have been grilling for decades, when would you say backyard grilling/barbecue as a hobby really took off in the US? Here in the UK I would say about 15-20 years ago. I'm thinking around the time the internet went bonkers.

I don't agree that bbq is aimed at a certain demographic. As an outside observer, backyard bbq it's a classic piece of Americana.

Edit: I'm sure Covid and the current stratospheric cost of living these days will have a big impact on the market.
 
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John_NJ

TVWBB Pro
If you're referring to their disastrous release of the Smokefire I will agree with you. If you're referring to the grill itself I will respectfully disagree. Weber seems to have recovered from the bad publicity of the release and indications are that sales are on the upswing. The Stealth version is out and I am really interested in what comes next. My Gen1 EX6 and EX4 are rock solid.
Interesting

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Pinny

TVWBB Super Fan
I've been following several of their last couple conference calls, and they have spoken a lot about where they see future growth coming from.

Emerging markets keep growing quickly - at double the rate of established markets.

They are expanding into new retail channels like REI and Best Buy.

Lots of cost savings (especially in-bound freight) from the new Poland plant that is in the process of coming on line.

Direct to Customer has been growing steadily. Places like weber.com and their own Weber stores.

New products like Weber Traveler, Weber Crafted, Smokefire Stealth, 70th anniversary, new Genesis line with larger cooking area and built in lights

1952 Ventures which is looking for bolt-on acquisition opportunities.

Personally, I think their biggest hopes are being pegged on Weber Connect, and their June Life acquisition. They have mentioned that there are 40 million millennials who will soon be turning 35, settling down, and getting ready to buy grills. Weber is going all in on the technology stack, trying to appeal to these millennials. If you look at the June Oven, it is pretty impressive with things like internal HD camera that monitor your food and stream it to your phone. Perhaps the holy grail of profitability is June's $10/mo subscription service that lets you order new June Oven recipes to your oven. My guess (*suspicion*) is that the long game for Weber is to develop a compelling enough Weber Connect product to eventually justify a $10/mo subscription service. To be clear - they haven't mentioned this on any of the calls - but I feel certain that it has got to be the end game from their June Life purchase.

I can't really give much of an opinion about these plans because I am a charcoal/wood guy through and through, and have zero interest in any grill that requires an outlet or LP tank (I wish they made a solar powered Signals and Billows). Execution will be really critical for these long term ventures to be successful. We already saw how difficult a time they had with the Gen 1 Smokefire (although to be fair, everyone seems to really like the Smokefire now that they worked out the kinks).
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB All-Star
COOK is off like 90% from its post-IPO high about a year ago. WEBR is off like 66%.

I thought both IPOs were aggressively priced, COOK even more so than WEBR. I think the IPOs were pumped up a bit by the Covid nesting idea -- everyone being stuck at home and buying grills and other home stuff. Seems like Covid was a much bigger downside than upside in the short term -- inflation, supply chain, etc. etc.

Both are probably pretty good speculative buys at the current market prices. I'd probably put my $2 on WEBR more than COOK. More brand, footprint and resources as compared to COOK's one trick pony -- the pellet grill.

I do think the play is tech-ed up grills to appeal to aging home-buying millenials. Without the amped up tech and cool factor, hard for me to see a future competing with $300 gas grills from the big boxes. Once WEBR gets fully over the Smokefire bumpy launch, I really expect WEBR to do some kind of smart charcoal grill. Maybe a gravity feed like Masterbilt, but more likely a slick smart grill like the Spark.

And clearly the folks on these boards are not the target demographic. Analog/manual kettles, WSMs and rehabbed side-winders are not what WEBR is primarily about going forward.
 

Grant Cunningham

TVWBB Super Fan
For those of you who have been grilling for decades, when would you say backyard grilling/barbecue as a hobby really took off in the US? Here in the UK I would say about 15-20 years ago. I'm thinking around the time the internet went bonkers.
The 1960s. While there have definitely been peaks and valleys since then, interest really took off in that decade. Every family I knew had a grill of some sort in their backyard; it's an activity just about everyone in this country (well, those who didn't live in an urban apartment anyhow) has some memory of.

That being said, the interest in what I'll call "modern" BBQ (roughly defined as anything other than hamburgers and hotdogs) probably dates from the late '90s/early 'oughts. That was when the earliest millennials, who had grown up with the experience of their parents grilling, got interested in doing it themselves — and also in increasing the quality and variety of the food they were cooking. It roughly coincided with the boom in microbrewing, which is probably understandable!
 
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Kevin L (NKY)

TVWBB Emerald Member
I can not say that the greedy direction of build in China was a great move, and I will not. My older performer steel is much better than my new unit.
But I have a BIL in Seoul Korea that owns 2 webers we exchanges photos of cooks all the time, he has Q, and a 22. And loves them has caused a few sales of them in his neighborhood.
 

Darren Lebner

TVWBB All-Star
Here in the UK I would say about 15-20 years ago.

I know someone from the US who about 35-40 years ago visited his children and grandchildren outside of London. Come Sunday afternoon, he wanted to grill but his British son in law didn't have one and wouldn't have known what to do with one anyway. So they went to the local John Lewis and found a primitive grill, similar to the kind we used to all have in our backyards in the 60s. Family and friends were invited, and everyone contributed what meat and chicken they had at home.

Everyone had such a good time that by next summer most of those same friends had bought their own BBQs and were doing the same - weather permitting.
 

TonyUK

TVWBB Guru
The 1960s. While there have definitely been peaks and valleys since then, interest really took off in that decade. Every family I knew had a grill of some sort in their backyard; it's an activity just about everyone in this country (well, those who didn't live in an urban apartment anyhow) has some memory of.

That being said, the interest in what I'll call "modern" BBQ (roughly defined as anything other than hamburgers and hotdogs) probably dates from the late '90s/early 'oughts. That was when the earliest millennials, who had grown up with the experience of their parents grilling, got interested in doing it themselves — and also in increasing the quality and variety of the food they were cooking. It roughly coincided with the boom in microbrewing, which is probably understandable!
I've been in and around bbq since about '72 when we lived in Cyprus. Mainly on those primitive grills that Darren L. mentions above.
We started to get the bug in the late 70s when we lived in the Middle East where there was a large expat community, and we upgraded to a 45 gallon drum cut in half. Everyone had a grill. And then it was still burgers, chicken, steaks and dogs. It was an excuse for all the Dads to gather and drink beer.

Roll on the 90s and the discovery of two-zone cooking with cheapo kettles! Then we discovered Weber kettles, and "modern" bbq. The rest is history. A bit of a thread drift there.

Back on track. My first 22 was definitely of better build. I added an 18 about 2yrs ago, and it's more tinny in comparison. A legacy of out-sourcing to overseas production and labour costs. As is everything these days. China has got a stranglehold on cheap manufacturing which is shown by the product they produce. At least the share-holders are happy. :rolleyes:
 
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Wil A

TVWBB Fan
Just a small, personal observation as a 30 year Weber owner and 24 year REI member...

Weber isn’t expanding to REI because they are trying to be culturally inclusive. Also, with the exception of one, all of the Latino people I know from the restaurant industry own some type of grill made from various grill parts or some Walmart/Home Depot/Lowe’s special. I just came back from vacationing at a place owned by a South African that has zero Weber grills, yet many gassers made not by Weber. I’m also very reluctant to believe that many millennials and younger are doing any grilling on anything, let alone on a Weber.

I’m not saying the OP was totally correct with their post, but I am saying that there probably is a LOT of conjecture taking place in this thread in relation to who is actually a Weber customer. To wit, photos from sales catalogues are the last place to get actual Weber demographics.
 
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Brian B Atlanta

TVWBB Guru
“The management team is well positioned to guide Weber through this transitional period and execute a transformation of the company’s cost base.”
This statement is absurd you just dumped the CEO was he not leading the management team? So the management team was great but the CEO was to blame and the management team despite the CEO who was to blame are more than qualified for this task?

The company also said it was suspending its quarterly dividend "and is committed to working with lending partners to remain in compliance with the covenants in its credit facilities." This is kind of the scary part not the dividend suspension the fact they ever paid a dividend never made sense to me, they have a ton of debt decisions will need to be made every product line reviewed whats making money you keep what is not you dump IMO.

This also confuses me: Chris Scherzinger, the CEO of four years, has been replaced by Chief Technology Officer Alan Matula. Clearly this is just temporary how would the CTO be qualified to address supply chain and how to reduce costs or marketing for that matter.
 
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Bob Swaskoski

TVWBB Fan
This statement is absurd you just dumped the CEO was he not leading the management team? So the management team was great but the CEO was to blame and the management team despite the CEO who was to blame are more than qualified for this task?

The company also said it was suspending its quarterly dividend "and is committed to working with lending partners to remain in compliance with the covenants in its credit facilities." This is kind of the scary part not the dividend suspension the fact they ever paid a dividend never made sense to me, they have a ton of debt decisions will need to be made every product line reviewed whats making money you keep what is not you dump IMO.

This also confuses me: Chris Scherzinger, the CEO of four years, has been replaced by Chief Technology Officer Alan Matula. Clearly this is just temporary how would the CTO be qualified to address supply chain and how to reduce costs or marketing for that matter.
Actually, the CTO is probably best positioned to address both supply chain and marketing as both are highly dependent upon software and digital integration. The bean counters and sales execs are technology ignorant
 

Joe Anshien

TVWBB Emerald Member
They can't do a gravity feed I posted on this before the company that owns Masterbilt and the Chargriller have a patent for the forseable future. https://tvwbb.com/threads/weber-needs-to-make-one-of-these.91715/post-1046987
I think these are the patents:

Patents Assigned to Masterbuilt Manufacturing, LLC
  • Portable Charcoal Grill and Smoker

    Publication number: 20220087475
    Abstract: The disclosed embodiments provide a portable charcoal grill and smoker that includes a lower body panel and a lid. A unitary body liner may be positioned within the lower body panel and configured to support a grill rack. The body liner may include a grease pan and a support well for a fuel basket. The fuel basket supports a fuel-grate assembly with a fuel grate which together form a hopper above the fuel grate. A variable-speed fan may be used to control an amount of combustion air that flows into the fuel basket and fuel-grate assembly and, thus, the amount of heat and smoke that is generated and distributed to a food product being cooked or smoked on the grill rack. A removable battery pack may be used to provide power to the fan.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 17, 2021
    Publication date: March 24, 2022
    Applicant: Masterbuilt Manufacturing, LLC
    Inventors: Robert V. Terrell, Daniel Mercer
  • Temperature Controlled Charcoal Grill and Smoker

    Publication number: 20220079383
    Abstract: The disclosed embodiments provide a temperature controlled charcoal grill and smoker that enables users to better control the cooking and smoking temperature relative to previous solutions. In some embodiments, for example, a user may place a divider in the interior of a fuel basket to coarsely adjust the amount and type of solid fuel used to heat a food-cooking enclosure of the temperature controlled charcoal grill and smoker. In addition, the user can also position a heat deflector tent above one or more heat transfer openings in a grease tray to further adjust the cooking and smoking temperature. Further still, the user can provide even finer control (including closed-loop control) over the cooking and smoking temperature using a controller that controls the speed of a fan that directs combustion air into the fuel basket.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 15, 2021
    Publication date: March 17, 2022
    Applicant: Masterbuilt Manufacturing, LLC
    Inventors: Daniel Mercer, Caitlin McNulty, William A. Hardy, John Darin McLemore
  • Gravity fed smoker

    Patent number: 11172688
    Abstract: A gravity fed smoker includes a smoking enclosure and an external stack. The stack is double walled with an inner wall, and an outer wall. A vented cooling space exists between the inner wall and the outer wall. An inner chamber of the external stack includes a fire box with a fire grate and a feed hopper positioned above the fire box. A smoke tunnel with a series of openings for releasing smoke into the smoking enclosure extends along the bottom of the food smoking enclosure and is connected to the external fire box at one end. Fuel, including charcoal, lump coal, or wood pellets, is loaded into the feed hopper. As the fuel burns on the fire grate and turns to ashes, the fuel is fed from the hopper onto the fire grate by gravity. A fan and dampers controls air flow through the fire grate and into the smoke tunnel.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 5, 2021
    Date of Patent: November 16, 2021
    Assignee: Masterbuilt Manufacturing, LLC
    Inventors: Olin Powell, Adam Carter, Robert V. Terrell, Daniel Mercer
  • Gravity Fed Smoker

    Publication number: 20210251248
    Abstract: A gravity fed smoker includes a smoking enclosure and an external stack. The stack is double walled with an inner wall, and an outer wall. A vented cooling space exists between the inner wall and the outer wall. An inner chamber of the external stack includes a fire box with a fire grate and a feed hopper positioned above the fire box. A smoke tunnel with a series of openings for releasing smoke into the smoking enclosure extends along the bottom of the food smoking enclosure and is connected to the external fire box at one end. Fuel, including charcoal, lump coal, or wood pellets, is loaded into the feed hopper. As the fuel burns on the fire grate and turns to ashes, the fuel is fed from the hopper onto the fire grate by gravity. A fan and dampers controls air flow through the fire grate and into the smoke tunnel.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 5, 2021
    Publication date: August 19, 2021
    Applicant: Masterbuilt Manufacturing, LLC
    Inventors: Olin Powell, Adam Carter, Robert V. Terrell, Daniel Mercer
 

JKalchik

TVWBB Gold Member
I'd be surprised if those patents wouldn't fall under a concerted challenge like a house of cards due to prior art. I built my gravity fed a couple of years prior to those patents being filed, and commercial GF smokers had been available for years earlier.
 

Joe Anshien

TVWBB Emerald Member
I'd be surprised if those patents wouldn't fall under a concerted challenge like a house of cards due to prior art. I built my gravity fed a couple of years prior to those patents being filed, and commercial GF smokers had been available for years earlier.
I would like to think so, if a company were to challenge it / them. I did not know about gravity fed smokers until Masterbuilt, but then found the others through research. Some have fan addon's but most just a ball valve to control temps.
 

 

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