Veteran-owned BBQ sauce business donates half of profits to veteran organizations

Huntley-based Veterans Q can be found in stores nationwide

Veteran Steve Lulofs, the president of Veterans Q Barbecue Sauces & Dry Rubs and Veterans Barbecue & Catering, inside his home in Algonquin on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, 50% of Veterans Q's profits are donated to veteran organizations.

Steve Lulofs wasn’t always into barbecuing. But after he bought a smoker about seven years ago, it snowballed into him bottling his own barbecue sauces and selling them to about 900 grocery stores nationwide.

Based in Huntley, Army veteran Lulofs is the founder and owner of Veterans Q Barbecue Sauces & Rubs, which has flavors such as classic, sweet heat, habañero and mustard.

Once Lulofs bought his own smoker, he started competing in barbecue competitions and would make his own sauces. After winning competitions, he started to cater, which led to him selling bottles out of his kitchen. From there, he was able to produce his sauces with a manufacturer and started selling the bottles online and in grocery stores.

“One thing led to another, and so I ended up getting about 700 or so bottles for the first order,” Lulofs said. “I sold out in a couple of months, thinking that would take me a couple of years.”

Now Veterans Q is sold at grocery stores nationwide, including Jewel-Osco and Hy-Vee.

Veterans Q donates 50% of its profits to “credible veteran organizations,” and the other half goes back into the business, Lulofs said. He has strict standards for where he donates since many nonprofits don’t help as much as they could, he said.

Some organizations that Veterans Q supports are Veterans Path to Hope, Operation Warrior Wishes and Lake County Responds for Veterans. Lulofs donates to organizations that give at least 80% of their proceeds directly to veterans.

“In my eyes, those are the good ones,” he said.

As an Army veteran who returned home from Iraq in 2005, Lulofs relied on veterans organizations to find purpose and support.

“When I first came back, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have any guidance,” he said. “I just wanted to be part of a team.”

Veterans Q will be having a release party for its annual “barbecue boys toys” calendar that features boudoir-style photographs of men celebrating their “dad bods.” The party will be Nov. 18 at Parkside Pub in Huntley.

All money raised at the event will go to Lake County Responds for Veterans.

The calendar has become a fun way for Lulofs to advertise the business while still being able to raise money for veteran nonprofits.

“I just go on social media and ask for volunteers,” he said. “Whoever wants to volunteer, they’re game.”

Have a Question about this article?