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Craig McEwen, Published July 02 2009

Love of grilling leads to ManCave business

Nick Beste wants to sell products to men in the same manner that companies like Pampered Chef and Mary Kay have catered primarily to women.

The 23-year-old East Grand Forks, Minn., native has launched ManCave, a direct sales company that sells select meats, grilling accessories, in-home bar and poker supplies at gatherings called “MEATings.”

“It’s an enterprise dedicated to letting men be men, no questions asked,” states the company Web site www.mancaveworldwide.com.

Here’s how it works:

ManCave advisers are independent male or female business owners, said Beste.

“They go into somebody’s home and teach different grilling techniques to showcase our products,” he said, cooking beer-can chicken, brats, steaks and other munchies for participants to consume.

ManCave also has a small line of gifts for women: rose petals, body butter and soy candles.

“We figured, you know, if you’re going to spend the night with the guys drinking beer and eating meat, you might as well bring the wife home something nice to get yourself back in the house,” Beste said.

Beste and business partner, Kevin Carlow, both University of Minnesota students, started discussing the idea in October. They launched ManCave in April.

The company has eight advisers selling products in Minnesota, North Dakota and Illinois.

Beste graduated from East Grand Forks High School in 2005, always wanting to pursue a career in business.

In third grade he drew a stick figure. “Below it I wrote, ‘I want to buy and sell companies,’ ” he recalled.

During high school he worked for Grand Forks, N.D., commercial real estate developer Kevin Ritterman, who owns Dakota Commercial and Development.

“That really got me pumped up. Kevin taught me a lot about everything. I owe a lot to him,” said Beste.

“For as young as he is, he’s a pretty driven kid. You could see that when he started working for us at 16-17,” said Ritterman.

“He is aggressive. He will learn and make some mistakes just like everybody else, along the way,” Ritterman said.

Beste and Carlow also operate U-Guide, a community guidebook for students at seven Midwestern universities, including North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota.

Beste is also Midwest distributer of Village Hot Sauce, which was started 28 years ago by Tom Zimmer in Grand Forks.

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502