Published October 18, 2013
Where can you expect to see Paul Newman and John Wayne hanging out in 2013? The local grocery store, no kidding.
The face of the Duke -- John Wayne -- is hitting the shelves in supermarkets across the country. Ethan Wayne, son of the silver-screen hero, says he is taking the Wayne family business in a new direction with the product launch. The Newport Beach, Ca.-native and president of John Wayne Enterprises, Inc., has been licensing his father’s name for years on everything from plates to lottery tickets. But, the company never made or marketed its own products. Until now.
“I wanted to develop products that honored my Dad,” said Ethan Wayne, which was the catalyst for starting the John Wayne Stock and Supply Company. Launching with a line of all-natural and organic beef jerky, Ethan Wayne says he is committed to making authentic, high-quality products that embody the grit and integrity his Dad was known for.
Given his Dad’s American legend status, Ethan Wayne says the company is focusing on American-made products.
“We can’t manufacture everything in the U.S.,” said Wayne. “However, we are focusing on expanding our licensee portfolio with American-made products that were part of the fabric of my Dad’s life.” Out of the Wayne families’ current 50 licensee agreements, 10 are with licensors that make American-made products.
In 2012, Ethan Wayne struck a deal for the brand’s first food license, partnering with Athens, Georgia-based Fire & Flavor – a family of brands committed to healthy and flavorful products for everyday cooking and grilling. Launched in Spring 2013, the partnership includes a unique line of BBQ items under the John Wayne Stock and Supply Brand.
The grilling items, including briquette charcoal and seasonings, are graced with the face of John Wayne and “allow consumers to cook with ‘the Duke,’” said Ethan Wayne. “My Dad loved a good steak and bourbon when he came home from the set, so these Fire & Flavor grilling items really represent the simple and straightforward character of my Dad.”
Fire & Flavor John Wayne grilling items are currently sold in 1,600 Kroger grocery stores and numerous specialty retailers. The plan for 2014 is nation-wide distribution in supermarkets across the U.S., with a direct-to-consumer marketing push.
Husband-and-wife team Davis and Gena Knox, owners of Fire & Flavor, say it’s an honor to be connected to the John Wayne name.
“His authenticity resonates with our brand,” said Davis Knox. Davis and Gena started Fire & Flavor in 2003 in their garage, focusing on making cedar planks for grilling. In just eighteen months, the entrepreneurial duo turned a profit, with their products being sold in over 10,000 retail locations nationwide. Today, Fire & Flavor has 15 employees, a 40,000-square-foot distribution center in Athens, Georgia, and products sold in all 50 states, plus Canada.
As for Ethan Wayne, the goal of the new line is to reflect the life of America’s most famous cowboy.
“My dad was an ordinary man who led an extraordinary life,” said Wayne.