When Texan Randi Thraves settled in NSW with her Aussie husband Robert, she was no stranger to running her own business. However, none have been as close to her heart as Smokin Hot ‘N Saucy Barbecue, a Texas style Barbecue eatery, which now boasts three locations.

“I’m originally from Texas, and my husband and I lived there together for a while. Back in Australia, he was a manager in the coal mines and had a very secure job. I was having babies and was homesick for food that reminded me of home. Robert had learned how to barbecue in Texas, so he built a smoker in our backyard, and we started selling at the markets. Our business was created just from the fact that we love feeding people.”

The duo was competing in the barbecue circuit and purchased a food truck back in 2016. Unfortunately, while the old Mercedes bus looked the part, it was a mechanical nightmare and became a stationary kitchen instead.

Fast forward to 2019 and the Thraves had found some success doing large scale barbecue events and catering. They’d built and owned several smokers and Jolene – one of the biggest smokers in the southern hemisphere, was feeding thousands of people at large scale events.

Natural disasters and a global pandemic

Many have started to forget the bushfires that ravaged NSW at the end of 2019. To combat the impact, Randi says they took a gamble and took a retail lease as all their events and catering were getting cancelled. This was when they first discovered Prospa.

“I was Googling small business funding because I had talked to our bank who said they couldn’t help us. We’ve been with a major bank for 12 years, and even though we had our partnership account through them it was just impossible.

“Then I saw Prospa offered funding within 24 hours. When I called, it was so easy – within minutes they said they could help us. When you go to the bank, it takes weeks, or months. And because we changed our business from a partnership to a company in July 2019, no banks would give us a loan. They were also telling us we hadn’t been in business long enough and our sales had fallen.”

With Prospa’s small business loan, Randi says they were given a lifeline in the form of access to funds that enabled them to open their retail shop and helped continue to grow the business. But then Covid hit.

“We have a major event called Smoke and Broke which was cancelled completely in 2020 – and that’s a big chunk of our revenue for the year. It wasn’t until 2021 where we started getting a few events back. But then in July 2021, everything locked down again and it got very stressful.”

However, while they were more afraid the second time around, they had already signed a lease to open up with a brewery in Penrith, so they again needed money to make that happen.

“That’s when I called back again and told our Prospa Customer Success Account Manager Meg that this was the opportunity to keep our business afloat and survive. Prospa helped us again when banks said no, and we were able to continue on.”

Smokin Hot n Saucy Blog 3Dedicated customer service

Randi says Prospa’s customer service is great – particularly being able to call and have a dedicated customer manager who understands your story and is compassionate about it.

“Being in the food services industry, your projections are all over the place. We were struggling business owners and they gave us the opportunity to stay alive. I did talk to several other little finance companies, but Prospa was the only one that gave me the confidence that the relationship was there and that they believed in our business.”

I did talk to several other little finance companies, but Prospa was the only one that gave me the confidence that the relationship was there and that they believed in our business.

Since receiving their small business loan, Randi says they’re now on track to open what will likely become one of their flagship stores in Penrith.

Smokin Hot n Saucy Blog 4New business moves

Moving forward, the Thraves want to grow their retail line. “We have a line of rubs and sauces, and we’re going to grow our online store and just try to find consistency in the market. If we can grow, that would be great.”

When we asked how they’ve kept on keeping on during such tricky times, Randi says it comes back to doing what you know and love.

“Like anything in life, if you’re going to be good at it, you’ve got to love it. My husband and I run the business together. Having that support system and being able to consistently love what we do – we love feeding people and being able to see families and friends come together over food and at the heart of barbecue, I think that’s what it’s about.”

In fact, Randi credits a shared love of good food in the great outdoors with Aussie’s enthusiastic reception to their Texan inspired grub.

“Texas barbecue fits so well in Australia. Australians love the outdoors. They love to enjoy life. They love standing over the BBQ with some beers. And the produce in Australia – we’ve taken Australian beef over to Texas and won competitions with it – it’s some of the best in the world!”

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