RGV, hold on for a sweet ride. You need to get those barbeque pits out because The Jank is here. The Jank is a sweet and tangy flavored barbeque sauce that you can put on pretty much anything! Best of all, it’s made in the RGV!
This magical sauce was created by Lamar Jones in his Weslaco apartment. When Lamar moved to the Rio Grande Valley, he lived in a small one bedroom apartment that didn’t even have a refrigerator or a stove. He lived with his friend and now business partner, Shawn Elliot. Eventually they were able to move into a somewhat bigger apartment but it was essential to live on a very tight budget. The roommates cut costs wherever possible including getting creative with their meals. They got tired of eating the same thing over and over again and that’s when Lamar started experimenting with barbecue sauce to spice things up.
Lamar Jones is a New Jersey-born entrepreneur, who moved to South Florida for a period of time and then in 2008 chose to live in the Rio Grande Valley after performing at a local concert. He has been living here ever since. Lamar works for the Weslaco Independent School District as a teacher’s aide for special education students. He still dabbles in music from time to time and, in fact, sang the tune for his commercial promoting The Jank.
Like many inventors and innovators, after much trial and error Lamar Jones came up with a barbeque sauce that tasted like nothing before. He decided to find a way to move the product forward. In 2014, Lamar was awarded a $10,000 McAllen Innovation Grant that funded packaging and product development investments. Lamar worked diligently at the idea lab with the City of McAllen. It was an eight week process that helped develop the product and make it market ready. At this eight week training Lamar was taught how to make out who his target audience was and how to compete with large companies. He learned how to make his product stand out and how to get it out on the market. Lamar entered his barbeque sauce in the H-E-B Primo Picks annual competition, in which finalists must compete for an opportunity to distribute their product across 300 stores in Texas. Lamar entered in 2014, and in 2015 he was named one of the finalists. He traveled to Houston for the competition and although The Jank may have not won, he gained enough exposure to land the Jank on H-E-B shelves.
It was about a week after the competition that Lamar got the call from H-E-B. After three months of additional exposure, and more media coverage, the Jank’s sales increased and other wholesalers took notice. On January 18, The Jank was placed in over 169 shelves in HEB’s across Texas and has continued to be distributed to more HEB’s. The product is moving faster than Lamar Jones ever expected.
Lamar exemplifies RGV.com’s “Best of” philosophy. He’s an entrepreneur who seized the opportunity to turn tough times into sweet, tangy success. Lamar Jones was a struggling artist when he moved to the Rio Grande Valley. He was, and still is, passionate about his music, but he’s also found a new form of art. The Jank. What is The Jank? It’s “too awesome to describe”. You’ve got to try it for yourself.