Names With Stories
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Names With Stories

Names with stories: The story behind

We had the pleasure to talk with Ryan Maltbie, Founder & CEO at, about his brand, the role of a domain name in branding today and why is family support important to business success.

What is the story behind BBQ Grills?

BBQGrills is an online retailer (e-commerce) of high-quality outdoor kitchen equipment, BBQ grills, patio heaters, and outdoor patio-related products! We carry many top-tier brands such as Bull BBQ, Summerset Grills, and Primo Ceramic Grills.

For me, is a lot more than just an internet retailer of BBQ products, it’s a lifelong dream that I’ve had my heart set on since the age of 16. Like many entrepreneurs and business owners, I watched my Father own his own business my entire life. Man, to say that I’ve garnered everything I know about respecting customers, following through and how o run a business through him successfully, would be an incredible understatement, that man single-handedly made me the business owner that I am today.

For the past 30 years of my life, my Father has owned and operated one of the largest and most respected pools and landscape companies in the East Bay, Bay Area. When I was roughly 13–14 years old I started working for his company (yes, I had a workers permit from my middle school), I don’t know what it was, but this idea of being able to make $200 a week and purchase a PSP over Summer break just seemed to be so ‘easy’ for me…boy was I wrong! I still remember his workers picking me up at 4 am that morning and me being half dead with a lunch box in hand walking out.

Just like a Father would he ensured he was awake that early to witness and I’ll never forget his words: “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life”, man he wasn’t kidding. While that Summer sun was hot and those paychecks were nice for a 14 year-old kid, I came obsessed with watching him run his business with my own eyes.

When he’d happened to show up to a job site that I was at, I’d watch the way he’d talk with his clients, how they would listen, and it was almost like you could see the respect being distributed, I loved that; It was right then that I knew, “That’s what I want”.

Fast forward to my Sophomore year of High School and the only thing on my mind was “what in the heck am I going to do after this place”. I had that vision still, maybe it was a bit washed from my girlfriend at the time (who happens to now be my Wife with four children) and Friday night football games, but the hunger was there.

One weekend while visiting my Dad in the Bay Area, he mentioned to me that his pool business wasn’t doing so well, truth be told in this time frame (2007–2008) many businesses were being affected by the looming recession and putting $250,000 backyard remodels into homes wasn’t really at the top of homeowners lists. I asked him: “…what’re you going to do? You’ve owned this business my entire life, what else is there?” He simply told me “I’m going to open an eCommerce business and we’re going to sell BBQ grills online”. Truth be told, I laughed at him, I thought he was absolutely insane!

This man could barely even plug in a USB cord. and he’s telling me that he’s going to run an e-commerce based business We both didn’t even know how to spell e commerce. I simply told him, “Well, you’re crazy and I like crazy; you tell me what you need and want and I’ll make sure it gets done”.

Roughly 6-months before graduating high school, his company went live,, and man, did it look ugly! I seriously don’t know why anyone purchased anything from this site because it would crash almost daily, and putting it blankly was a mess, lol! To make matters even crazier, he told me after it
launched: “Okay, now to go tell these brands we have a site to sell their products…” Oh, my goodness my face. I told him: “Wait a minute, you haven’t even locked in brands yet? Do they know anything about this? You’re just simply going to hope and pray that it works”.

He’s a man of simple words and told me, “sometimes that’s all you need”. Mind you, this was the first e-commerce website to sell BBQ Grills and Outdoor Kitchen products, this had never been done before or even presents. Well, it turns out they thought he was crazy too and decided to take a chance, and in our first 6-month period, we managed to bring in $500,000 in overall sales with no advertising or marketing. While most of my friends went off to college to get degrees I took a chance on this crazy project my Dad created and decided to see where it took me.

Over the course of 10 years, that company did great. We opened three retail locations across the US, did roughly $80M+ in sales revenue, and at one point had over 20 employees. Unfortunately, in the Summer of 2018, the decision was made to close the doors of that business, while my heart and soul was in that company, and I had spent the past ten years building it, it was truly hard to simply walk away, but I walked away knowing that something better was on the horizon.

After taking a one year break and spending all of my time with my Wife and kids I quickly learned that your ‘emergency fund’ can go a lot quicker when you’re really not paying attention to it, I knew there was something that needed to be done in the next 6–12 months.

What was the reason to get the domain name for your brand? How did you manage to secure it? What other domain names do you own?

In 2016, nearly two years earlier, I purchased with a domain broker. At the time, my Wife wasn’t too thrilled about it, lol.

The purchase was for two domains and I kept them in my back pocket, knowing that one day they would be my next stepping stone… and boy, were they! It took two phone calls and one steak dinner, and the team was assembled. Over the course of 12 months, we would work tirelessly, day in and day out to produce what our customers know and love as

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, I knew there would be bumpy roads and financial struggles, but I never imagined they’d be as challenging as they ended up being. The goal was always to be self-funded, no outside money, no inventors, and simply no advertising.

With $600 left in my bank account on launch day, I knew that it would only take a few cancellations or a damaged grill to completely take us out. Looking back it’s crazy to even think about it. Long story short, we made it through the first few months of profit and built up a nice nest-egg of capital. Sometimes in life, there’s a
mountain in front of you and you just gotta climb it.

I’ve always been obsessed with domain names; even as a child, I’d find domains like eBay fascinating and be drawn to them. For me, a domain name is a fuel that powers any business machine; it has to be easy, understanding, representing your core values and states very clearly what it is you sell. We sell outdoor grills and outdoor kitchen cooking equipment; was perfect. I do own several other domains —,, and a few more in the pipeline that I’m very excited to grow into a 7-figure business.

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What’s in a name? We at MarkUpgrade believe that everything starts with a name. Names are introductions, names embody feelings and purpose, names give ideas and create vision. With Names With Stories we collect the unique stories behind brand names.

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