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Employee Spotlight: Brett Bennett

Brett Bennett could write Camp Chef’s history book.

Brett started welding at Camp Chef in his college days to help pay his way through engineering school at Utah State University. By the time he was handed his degree, Brett was engineering and designing for the company, using a lamp next to the welder to hand draw designs.

Like a true farm boy, Brett initially wanted to design farm equipment. But when that exact opportunity presented itself to the then recent graduate, he passed it up to stay with Camp Chef. Now Director of Engineering at Camp Chef, Bennett says he’s fortunate to have been in the right places at the right times for his start with the company more than 25 years ago. To this day, Bennett has lost track of how many products he has designed and taken to market, stating he only knows it’s measured in thousands.

Brett takes new ideas from concept to production. Aside from the design process, he works with marketing, sales and the graphics team. He then coordinates with factories to get samples, tooling and eventually (tada!) the final product.

“It leaves my hands as a design and everyone else makes the idea a success. I can design the best product in the world but if we don’t have the right people to make it look good and sell it, the design won’t matter,” he said.

And, it’s never the same recipe. Brett explained design for Camp Chef has included plastic toothpicks, material handling equipment, horse and equipment trailers, bubble gum machines, cookware, stoves and accessories, pellet grills, ATV/UTV accessories, bows and bow fishing accessories, knife sharpeners, tents, and more!

And, according to Brett, it’s best this way.

“If it wasn’t interesting and challenging I wouldn’t have stuck around so long,” he said, explaining that he spent his early years learning a lot from his more experienced team members.

“I learned quickly I didn’t know everything, but if I accepted help from others and learned from them, I was more successful. It takes teamwork to get new products to market. I have built team strength in gaining the trust of others and letting them know I was a team player. We win and lose as a team. Surround yourself with good people who want to help each other succeed,” he said.

This team mindset has been key to Brett’s greatest life accomplishments. Listing family as a big one, he listed Camp Chef as the other.

“I have seen this company grow from a very small company. I like to think I am a part of what makes Camp Chef what it is today. I looked through the Cabela’s catalog as a young boy. I never thought someday it would feature a product I designed. Over the years it has had hundreds.”

But if you pull teamwork aside and dig a little deeper, you’ll might be surprised to hear Brett has done some great things by his lonesome, too. He set a goal as an eighth grader to be valedictorian of his high school. Then he achieved it. But that might be about all the bragging he’d do. He’ll outright admit where he is faulty.

An avid outdoorsmen, Brett admits he’s a jack of all trades, a master of none:

“There are many outdoor activities I love: snow skiing, water skiing, fishing, hunting, shooting, camping, hiking and driving the side by side. I try to do it all, so I have never excelled at any of them.”

But Brett has many other things to hang his hat on… and by the sounds of it, his hat is likely a wide-brim one of a two-stepping country boy. A favorite pastime – and secret talent – is country dancing. An added benefit – he met his late wife and mother of their five children out on the dance floor. “Whenever the right song came on, we were two-stepping,” Brett said. Now happily remarried, the loss of his first wife was a life lesson. “Life is too short to take any day for granted. We never know what tomorrow will bring. Live every day like it might be your last.”

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Most likely to buy in bulk?
Chap Stick – I would lick my face off if it wasn’t for the stuff.

What would a day off, by yourself, with no obligations include?
Hopefully it’s mid to late September during the archery elk hunt and the elk are in the rut. I’d wake up early to a warm stove in a wall tent and pull on my boots long before the sun rises. Then I’d head to my favorite spot to call in a big bull. Whether I put an arrow in one doesn’t matter. The real thrill is being outdoors enjoying the world and not worrying about anything else for a day. But since were telling stories, I’d call in a mature bull and make a perfect shot. Have him run about 40 yards and fall. Hopefully at that point I can take another liberty and call my buddies in to help me take care of things from there. The day ends back in the tent with buddies retelling the events of the day.

What a person needs to be happy?
A great companion to share life with. Someone to love, to talk to, to go through hard times with, to encourage you along the way. Someone to take care of and have them take care of you. Relationships with others especially our companions are what make us happy and make life worth living.

Advice taken from your parents?
Some words of wisdom my dad used to share was “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just take a good idea and improve it.” I wish I could say I had designed some never-before-thought-of gadget, but the reality is I have made a career out of consistently improving products. I guess Dad was right.