What is EYDIOYDI and how can it help me succeed?
By all conventional measures, Lamar Jones is already a successful innovator. The former Weslaco teacher’s aide founded his own barbecue sauce company known as “The Jank” in 2012. Jones made headlines in July 2015 when he became a finalist in a new products competition sponsored by H-E-B Grocery Co. Less than a year later, Jones landed a deal to bottle his sauce and supply it to 169 HEB stores across the state. The Jank hit the market in February 2016. In Nov. 2017, Lamar was named HEB’s Supplier Diversity Supplier of the Year award.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Jones added two new products to his line this year — a habanero flavor sauce and a dry rub. The new additions are what earned Jones his second McAllen Chamber of Commerce Innovation Grant Award, having won the coveted prize once before in 2014.
“The dry rub was kind of a natural progression,” said Jones. “But, at the same time if I wasn’t getting enough requests for it over the span of a year, I wouldn’t really have entertained it. The fact that my customers seemed to want it was why I decided to make that move and add it to the line.”
“Lamar has been a great support,” said McAllen Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Alhenius. “He is one of those guys who just helps everybody else move along and we wanted to recognize all his efforts and all his work. Innovation is not a one-time thing, you gotta keep working it and Lamar keeps working at it and keeps moving the ball.”
As a successful entrepreneur, Jones believes every good innovator shares a few basic traits. First, be teachable, he says, and listen to what your customers and others around you are telling you about your product.
“Don’t feel like you know everything and you can get it all done by yourself,” said Jones. “I have to stress how important networking is on a daily basis. You have to be willing to go out and make those connections, because you never know who’s going to give you that next idea or where that new idea is going to come from.”
Jones also believes that while talent is important, it’s even more important to be driven to succeed. He admits there were times when he felt like giving up, but he refused to give in to the temptation to quit.
“Talent is only a part of it,” said Jones. “There are things called grit, endurance, determination, and tenacity. Those things definitely can drive anything. Whatever it is you want to do, if the least-talented person has more drive than the most-talented person on earth then the person with the drive and the grit is gonna get it done. It does help to have both qualities. I don’t think you can do either one without the other. I have a saying, EYDIOYDI, it’s an acronym for either you do it or you do it, quitting is not an option. There’s no other choice.”
Today, Jones enjoys a wide following, including the Pittsburgh Steelers who have made The Jank the team’s official barbecue sauce. Jones has plans to expand the business, but he wants to grow incrementally so as not to get spread out too thinly.
For more information on Jones’ line of products, visit: www.bbqjank.com. To learn more about The McAllen chamber’s Innovation Grant Awards, visit: www.mcallen.org/business-community/innovation.