Mark Nureddine’s career in the great outdoors got its start in his garage. There he says he built the first grill and outdoor kitchen island that would be the basis for his Bull Outdoor Products Inc.
The company he started 19 years ago has become a recognized brand within the industry and in specialty stores that cater to those interested in investing in a backyard makeover. His products include barbecues, outdoor kitchens, fountains and tables with fire pits in the middle and the grilling accessories to go with it all.
In a 38,000-square-foot factory and warehouse in north Rialto near the Alder Avenue exit off Highway 210, boxes of barbecues are stacked high to be shipped to stores, and workers build the kitchen islands that will eventually house the grill in a backyard. The company opened a 45,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Athens, Tenn., this year.
Bull Outdoor also recently inked an exclusive deal to manufacture and sell Coleman brand grills in the $299 and up range, a rare opportunity for Bull-made products to appear in mass-retailer store aisles rather than specialty stores.
The company’s Bullet brand is already sold at Lowe’s. The Ui, or Urban Islands line, is sold on Costco.com.
But don’t expect to see a “Bull” logo in the outdoors aisle at familiar corner merchants. Nureddine has no plans to sell his high-end Bull branded products anywhere but specialty stores, including the company’s own Cardinne Home Resort Products stores in Temecula, San Diego and San Marcos.
Q: The recession was a game-changer for quite a few people — how have you reacted to it?
A: When that happened, there were two ways to go … I could have bunkered down, cut all my overhead as much as possible. Tidied up as much as possible. Shut down as much as possible and rode it out. Yes, did I cut back on the frivolous spending and all that, that’s the easy part. What I didn’t cut back on was sales. I went aggressive after sales, put all my resources toward sales, so that eventually when it turned around, we’d be positioned right instead of hiding in a corner somewhere. Then you’re just like everybody else trying to jump on the wagon when the wagon is moving.
Q: Are things getting better?
A: Yeah, things are getting better. I don’t think they’ll ever be where they were. But things are getting better. I can feel it. We can feel it as a company. I think the area we’re in is still struggling. (But) we’ve got a big country, so there’s lots of opportunity.
Q: How did you go from Bull Outdoor’s small start to what it is today?
A: Over a long time. It was very slow growth. That was important at the time … on one hand, it’s not real lucrative. But that’s how I learned, by experience. … Hopefully the mistakes you make are little and not catastrophic, where in fast growth, you can make catastrophic mistakes and go out of business very quickly.
Q: Have you ever entertained the thought of moving the company elsewhere?
A: I don’t want to move, but the state of California is a tough place to do business. Comparing it to Tennessee, it’s a lot different … the costs are different, obviously. The real estate is cheaper. Everything is cheaper in Tennessee. For me, this is home. I have a lot of attachments here and my lifestyle, what I like to do for fun is here. So I don’t know if I would want to move and I have no plans of moving.
Q: Where do you see the industry headed?
A: I don’t see it going anywhere except improving. I see the backyard changing and people using their backyard for more than a place to sit outside. They’re using it for entertainment, they’re actually building what the industry is considering another room. They’re adding another room to their house where they’re adding TVs and couches. … Instead of having the party inside, now the party is outside.