HUNTLEY – A local Army veteran is selling his barbecue sauce in stores to raise money for organizations that help veterans.
Steve Lulofs of Huntley is an eight-year Army combat heavy engineer veteran who served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005.
“When I came back from Iraq in ’05, I started volunteering for veteran organizations,” Lulofs said. “ … So I started doing things in Chicago, and I wanted to do things locally and help out in the northwest suburbs.”
Lulofs, who has a knack for barbecuing, founded Veterans Q in 2016. Veterans Q is a barbecue competition team and catering company whose profits go to veterans’ organizations. Lulofs is the only employee of Veterans Q, but his wife, Robin, and brother, Scott, help out as volunteers.
“When the business was doing catering, I would give them the barbecue sauce with their meats and people were asking if we sold our barbecue sauce in stores anywhere,” Lulofs said.
At that time, Lulofs was making the barbecue sauce out of his kitchen. He then decided to start selling it in bottles.
Lulofs said he’s been selling bottles of Veterans Q Barbecue Sauce in stores since Feb. 13, with 100 percent of its profits going to national and local veterans’ organizations. Lulofs said he doesn’t take a salary, and the only thing the company takes back is what it costs to make the sauce itself.
“Everything else is donated,” Lulofs said.
Some nonprofits supported by Veterans Q include A Warrior’s Mind out of Huntley, the Oscar Mike Foundation out of Marengo and Operations Warrior Wishes, a St. Charles-based organization that has taken more than 3,000 wounded veterans to hundreds of live sporting events.
“It’s basically a Make-A-Wish Foundation for military heroes,” said Craig Steichen, founder of Operation Warrior Wishes.
Steichen said he thinks “it’s awesome” that Lulofs has committed Veterans Q’s profits to his organization and others.
“I really appreciate that he spreads the wealth,” Steichen said.
Veterans Q Barbecue Sauce is in select Woodman’s Markets, Hy-Vee grocery stores, Casey’s Foods, Wannemaker’s Home & Garden, Tischler’s Market & Deli and Rock N Grill restaurant, which opened in April in Lake in the Hills, among other locations.
“[Steve] told me proceeds from the sauce were going to veterans, and that was very important to me because I’m a veteran,” said Navy veteran Chad Hufford, owner of Rock N Grill.
When Lulofs came by to have Hufford try the sauce, the restaurant owner said he really liked how it tasted.
“So we started working with him, and it was a great relationship to promote veterans awareness,” Hufford said. “I put it in my restaurant so people can taste it with my burgers or chicken tenders and then can buy a bottle when they leave because we sell it here.”
The barbecue sauce is a tomato-based sauce that is naturally sweet with a little kick at the end to wake up people’s taste buds. Lulofs said the sauce is a mix of Kansas City-style and Texas-style barbecue.
Veterans Q sells only one sauce in stores, but Lulofs said he is working on two more sauces to sell along with two rubs.
“We’re in the final stages of the rubs,” Lulofs said.
The bottled sauce is manufactured through Dorina So-Good Inc. based in Union.
Veterans Q will be competing in several Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned events this year, and Lulofs said he plans to compete in McHenry’s pro-level barbecue competition in August.