It's the time of year when the days are longer and the grill heats up. And nothing says summer like a good backyard barbecue.
Thanks to one the Kingsford Charcoal plant in Belle, Missouri, barbeque enthusiasts can grill with one of the best charcoals available.
Kingsford uses a multi-step process that starts out, believe it or not, with a giant mound of wood shavings.
The wood is ground and fed into this rotary wood dryer, where it's converted into high consistency char.
And the result is soft briquettes.
Plant manager Steve Miller says the new briquettes coming off the presses are only soft, for now, "It's cooked to make it like glue, so next we're going to dry them."
The Kingsford Charcoal Plant in Belle is one of only five in the United States. At the Belle location, millions of bags of Kingsford charcoal are produced every year. With a demand like that, it takes a lot of dedicated employees to keep up.
Rich Moritz and Jason Mehrhoff are two of 115 employees at the plant. They've worked for a combined twenty-six years at Kingsford, and they say not every employer values their staff like Kingsford does.
"I think you're more part of the team here. Your input matters to the company," Rich Moritz explains.
And of course there are some great benefits asJason Mehrhoff says, "I like it a lot, free charcoal!"
The plant operates 24 hours a dayâ?| seven days a week, which creates a lot of energy. Since Kingsford takes great pride in the environment, they recycle the heat to run their steam plant. Even the water this employee is using for cleaning is recycled.
After the briquettes are formed, they are temporarily stored in these large silos until they are bagged, weighed, and sent out the door.
"We have scores of trucks going out everyday," Steve Miller says, "Sometimes over hundreds of trucks. Going to happy customers."
And those happy customers can create their own specialties.
While the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association say gas grills may be more commonly used, Kingsford says food grilled with charcoal has a much better taste.