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Building the American Dream One Pit at a Time

Dave Quinn

The Griesenbeck family’s roots run deep in Bastrop.  B. J. Griesenbeck represents the fifth generation of the clan to live here.  His forefathers include a county judge, a furniture store owner, and a rancher to name a few.

He first began welding when he was 15.  Growing up on a ranch, there were always things to fix.  His dad’s tools were usually just a hammer to hammer in nails and a screwdriver which doubled as a crowbar.  So, B. J. learned early on to be creative and to make things from what he had on hand.

School and life took him and his wife, Tonya, out of Bastrop for a number of years.  After graduating from Texas A&M with degrees in manufacturing and engineering, a series of jobs led the young family to live in Tyler, La Vernia, and Seguin, TX.  But they were far from their families, and their desire to return home never left.

It was while they lived in La Vernia that B.J. began building custom barbeque pits on trailers in his small shop.  In 2005, he built a very special pit for his dad’s Jackass Hill Ranch in Red Rock, TX.  It included the iconic Texas Longhorn logo along with his parents’ brands.  B. J. calls this his “Generation 1” pit because he has slightly modified and improved the design in subsequent years.

When his dad’s pit made its way to Hebbronville, TX for his grandmother’s 88th birthday celebration, family members fell in love with it.  He started to work on his cousin’s pit in November 2012 and delivered it on January 2, 2013.  Orders began to flow in from word of mouth.  A professor at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX saw the pit B. J. made for his cousin and ordered one for the Meat Science Department.

The reverse-flow pits are made of condemned 30” by seven feet long propane tanks.  The end cap is removed, and sixteen inches are cut out of the middle after which it is welded together, sandblasted, and painted.  Depending upon how the customer likes to cook, the smokestack is positioned up or down so it will best move the convection heat through the pit.  The trailer also houses two propane burners.  Each creation takes from 100 to 120 hours to complete.

B. J., Tonya, and their two daughters, Emma 7 and Ella 4, now own and live on the property where he grew up and where B Branded Iron Works, LLC is located.   Tonya is a nurse, and B. J. treasures the time he is able to spend with his girls since his shop is adjacent to their residence.

He says, “I just keep my head down, keep working and doing the right thing.  It’s hard to take what you like and make a living.  It takes a lot of internal reflection to find what you’re good at.”  B. J. Griesenbeck is VERY good at making one-of-a-kind barbeque pits.

Call B. J. today and let him build your very own unique reverse flow BBQ pit.