Wayne Shive has been building things his entire adult life. He started with apartment buildings and custom homes, before moving on to daycare centers, hospitals, and nursing homes across the country. Later, he started, and ran, an electronics manufacturing company based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Years later, he returned to Indiana and once again, founded and ran a new company; this time, manufacturing aluminum. “I’ve done a lot of things. I’m what you call a serial entrepreneur,” he says. Today he considers himself “kind of” retired, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to build businesses and create new things. His latest effort is named Best Boy Co., and was born out of his love of cooking hot fudge sauce, and his desire to help victims of natural disasters.
“Make Things You Like”
When he isn’t busy manufacturing aluminum, Wayne spends his time in the family garden and kitchen. In addition to cooking weeknight meals together, he and his family enjoy making their own cheese, cured meats, pickles, and ice cream. “I make a mean coconut ice cream. It tastes really good with hot chocolate on it because then it tastes like a Mounds bar,” he says, grinning like a ten year old. And it was with such a hot chocolate sauce, and youthful enthusiasm, that he started Best Boy Co. in 2007.
It wasn’t until 2009 that the sauce hit the shelves. However, three years later he has already expanded Best Boy’s line-up to include ten products. Along with that original hot fudge sauce are chili, mocha, and balsamic flavors. Wayne also makes a trio of barbecue sauces. One is a traditional tomato-based sauce and the other two are Carolina mustard, and a smokey adobo variety. He has also created two spice mixes, savory Tuscan and sultry adobo. His latest creation is a caramel sauce that includes Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout from Indiana brewer Great Crescent.
Wayne starts by making one gallon batches of his sauces in his home kitchen. He is very picky about what goes into his products, so there are never any preservatives or artificial thickeners in his recipes. “My fudge sauce doesn’t need to be any thicker,” he says. The ingredients that do make it in are always of the highest quality, and many are fair trade or organic. He makes everything from scratch and it must pass muster with his panel of taste testers before it can be considered ready for production. Once he has everything just as he wants it, and has cleaned up any messes in the kitchen, the recipe is sent to a cold-packer to be made in fifty- or 100-gallon batches. Wayne prefers small batches so everything is as fresh as possible. “I don’t want it to sit around,” he says.
This level of attention to detail, as well as small batch production, is certainly not the easiest of roads. Then again, for Wayne, it’s not about taking the easy road. “You gotta do things that sound good to you and do things other people aren’t doing,” he says. When cracking the lid of any of Best Boy sauce, the proof of all that hard work is immediately evident. The original hot fudge sauce greets your nose with the intense aroma of butter and chocolate. It’s as thick as mortar and has a deep ebony, brown color. After warming, the texture is velvety smooth. It melts away in your mouth with a heavy cocoa flavor followed by waves of cream and butter. The simple act of stirring the thick warm topping in it’s octagonal jar is itself a pleasure. It makes a satisfying, old-fashioned, clacking sound as the spoon repeatedly strikes the glass. By comparison the national, “Special Recipe”, brand we tested it against, tasted like overly sweet cake frosting. It was the consistency of toothpaste and tasted only faintly of chocolate compared to the Best Boy hot fudge.
On the barbecue side, Best Boy’s traditional barbecue sauce is a thick, spicy blend with an understated sweetness. The heat builds slowly, and is tempered by the honey-laced finish. For something a bit more out of the ordinary, try the Carolina mustard sauce. Its luxurious ochre color is the first clue that its primary flavor is mustard seed and cider vinegar. There is a complex but balanced blend of spices that build to a spicy finish. I had never heard of Carolina mustard barbecue before trying Best Boy’s version, but half a bottle in, it is my new favorite variety.
Giving It All Away
Wayne sells his Best Boy sauces on his website and at a variety of specialty shops in the Midwest and along the East Coast. His website has a complete listing of retailers here. He hopes to someday be picked up by the likes of Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. This would be good news for Best Boy, but great news for the charities to which Wayne donates 100% of the profits from Best Boy. Yes, Wayne takes a salary of zero dollars, and gives every penny of profit to charities like Doctor’s Without Borders, The International Medical Corp., The Enough Project, and The Red Cross.
He says he couldn’t ignore the natural disasters he saw on the evening news and internet, and decided to do something. “The focus of the gifting is to support organizations that help families and children,” he says. “I get to do something I like and be creative, and then I get to help people on the other side,” Wayne says. For that, he is an incredibly luck man. For someone who has been a builder and a creator his entire life, there can be no sweeter reward.