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Flying High – With Help from SBA Boots to Business Program

Business Description: Greg Lyles, a retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant, started a barbeque company with his son, Chandler, who also served in the USAF. Greg and Chandler both transitioned out of the military in 2013. That same year, Greg and his wife, Jennifer, attended a Boots to Business and Boots to Business Reboot Entrepreneurial Program offered by SBA at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, where they were stationed. Greg and Jennifer Lyles used the entrepreneurial knowledge gained by participating in the SBA program to form Lyles BBQ Company, LLC in 2014.

Lyles BBQ is the result of a hobby gone full-time. The family had always enjoyed barbequing, and when a fundraising opportunity arose, they decided to sell BBQ, based on Jennifer’s family recipes, as a way to support a good cause. This small fundraiser turned into several catering jobs, which evolved into a Lyles BBQ food truck and eventually to restaurants in Nicholasville and Lexington, KY. They recently established a new, larger location in Lexington. The company currently has 30 employees, including five veterans, and company revenue continues to grow.

SBA Assistance: SBA Boots to Business / Boots to Business Reboot Entrepreneurial Program

Number of employees: 30

Response to adversity or problems: The Lyles overcame many obstacles that all new entrepreneurs experience. In their case, they had to develop recipes and a menu, develop marketing, operations and financial plans, hire and train staff to handle the different customer demands of both catered events and brick and mortar restaurants.

The food service industry is particularly challenging, as customers expect good food for a reasonable price, great customer service and a pleasant environment. The Lyles family realizes that their reputation is only as good as the impressions made by that last meal. The company tag line is “Where Your Family Eats with Ours,” and the Lyles are proud of their family atmosphere and family recipes.

Add to those challenges a rapidly growing business, the need to hire and train more employees and the constant pressure of managing cash flow with no business loan or line of credit, and the result is a leadership team that is juggling many challenges. As a military family, the Lyles are used to making sacrifices, developing a strong plan and being disciplined to stick to the plan and accentuating the strengths of the team members. The management team has a philosophy to “stay in our lane” and not try too much too quickly.

Staying power: Perseverance, passion, and sheer determination powered the family to ultimately turn their business dreams into reality. The lessons learned along the way, included those presented through the SBA Boots to Business program, will continue to drive the business forward.

All of the Lyles plays an integral role in the operations of the business. Greg, who founded and owns the company, takes on a more supervisory role. He oversees operations and is involved in the hiring and training of new employees. The long-term vision of the company comes from Chandler. As the company CEO, Chandler takes a hands-on role, overseeing the company’s marketing and strategic planning, in addition to the daily operations of both locations. Jennifer, Greg’s wife, acts as the CFO and has developed most of the recipes for the company. Julia, Chandler’s wife, played an integral role during the launch of the business. However, she is now focused on her own career as a school teacher and being a new mom.

Community Involvement: Lyles BBQ was founded as a fundraising opportunity to help a friend, and management believes in giving back to the community.

Company Name: 
Lyles BBQ Company, LLC
Lexington, KY