Entrepreneurial Luminar

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Lamar Jones is among the Rio Grande Valley’s (RGV) shining stars of entrepreneurship. He is a father, an artist, and a masterful creator of savory flavors. His creation, the Jank Gourmet BBQ Sauce, has won various awards and has been in partnership with H-E-B, featuring a variety of flavors.

Originally from Camden, New Jersey, Lamar was raised in South Florida. Later in life, he moved to the RGV, bringing his musical touch and a distinct taste of flavors to the region. His first endeavors were in music, a passion he keeps cultivating today.

“When I was 9 years old, I started singing in the choir at Mt. Olive Primitive Baptist Church. That is where my love for singing began. At 16 years old I performed in my first talent show. That was my first time performing outside of the church choir. The reaction from the crowd was validating. I had not ever felt that type of excitement. After that experience, I was hooked! I was 17 when I made my mind up that music was going to be my career,” said Jones.

Eventually, Jones moved to the RGV, where he planned only to stay for a short time while working on a social skills program at Weslaco ISD. This short while has become 16 years of being an RGV resident.

Jone was inspired to create his sauce brand when he could not find flavors like those he had once known and loved elsewhere.

“Not many people think of South Florida when they talk about good BBQ. What most people don’t know is that in the Miami, Hollywood area you cannot have a BBQ without a good sauce in the mix.”

“The Jank only started because I needed something that reminded me of home after relocating to the Rio Grande Valley. I would go into a store, buy something to try, not like it, and have to put my own touch on it.”

Jones would perfect his flavor, which he began sharing with friends and family, who found it delightful. This inspired his venture into commercialization.

“My friends and family were really impressed with the flavor profile. They began to ask me what I was doing with this sauce. Prior to that question, I hadn’t even thought about it beyond showing up at a cookout and bringing the smiles and positive vibrations with me in a bottle. I began to think, ‘What if? Could I really start selling this stuff?’,” said Jones.

Jones sees his sauce as more than just a delivery of flavor; it is akin to the effects of music, through which he shares feelings of glee and felicity.

“The reward of positively affecting someone’s life through music is fulfilling. It has always given me purpose. However, I also enjoy great food. BBQ to be more specific. So, when I fell into the BBQ industry and started to see that I could have the same effect on people, I bought into the mindset of bringing those same positive vibrations from music into BBQ sauce world.”

Another aim of the Jank Gourmet BBQ Sauce is to provide an amazing, unparalleled taste without compromising health.

“What sets the Jank apart from everything else on the market is the health-forward promise at the core of the business. Customers are drawn to the Jank because it allows you to enjoy a variety of really good sauces without worrying about added preservatives and ingredients you can’t pronounce,” said Jones.

One of Jones’s latest product developments is a smoked serrano flavor sauce made in partnership with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. As Jones puts it:

“In a Historic Collaboration the #1 University in Texas Teams up with The #1 Gourmet BBQ Sauce in Texas. The Jank & UTRGV Presents: The “Vaqueros” Smoked Serrano Gourmet BBQ Sauce.”

When looking ahead to the future of his company, Jones envisions the ultimate aspiration of leaving behind a legacy with his work and the products he has created.

Rafael Mendoza-Farias Jr.