For Roby Burch, weekdays begin early. Very early. “4:30 am wake up, check my email right away, workout, make a pot of coffee, and go to work.”
Burch graduated from The Haverford School in 2013. He was not a stand out student, but competed on the football, hockey, and lacrosse teams. To most, Burch is just another average Haverford graduate, but that is not the case.
From a young age, Burch always had an entrepreneur-like mindset. “I think I always knew that I would end up working for myself and running my own business.”
As Burch prepared himself to become an entrepreneur, Haverford prepared him for life. “The most important part of my job that I can string along from Haverford is that I was not the biggest leader at Haverford, but I was a big team member,” Burch said. “I learned how to work well with a team. I was not an outstanding student at Haverford, but Haverford taught me to show up, be attentive, and be on time. How to be tough and how to be fair.”
In high school, Burch started Blue Drives, a ride sharing service. Burch would drive friends and classmates around on weekends. “I was ambitious and wanted to make money. I used to drive a suburban around and make $250 on a Friday night,” Burch said. The pricing structure was simple, $5 one way and $10 round trip. No discounts.
“I was uber before uber.”
In 2015, Burch started Blue Truck. From experience on his family’s ranch in Big Timber, Montana, Burch put his hands-on skills to work with his new business idea. “It was a handy-man and odd job service. I did it on afternoons and weekends. I’d get calls from coaches and teachers and they would recommend me to other people. I was an on-call handyman,” Burch said. “Blue truck was very successful, to the point where I would do $40,000 in sales in a month and a half in the summer.”
In Burch’s junior year of college at Gettysburg, an entrepreneur program was offered. The best idea would receive a $10,000 grant for their business. Burch entered with Blue Truck and won, “I was granted $10,000 to go and invest in the company. I bought a truck, uniforms, and got a website built,” Burch said. “I got it to the point where we did $50,000 in sales for two summers in a row. I decided to shut it down, I realized it was going to be too seasonal and more of a summer job. I didn’t want to get too far down the road and have a hard time getting out of the business at a later date. I was also young and didn’t really understand how to scale the business appropriately.”
During most of his summer, Burch spent time with his family and worked at his family’s ranch. Moving cattle, fixing fences, putting up hay… you know, ranch stuff. Summer cookouts and spending time around the fire gave birth to his next big idea – Burch Barrel. Burch wanted to create an all-in-one fire pit, grill, and smoker. His goal is to gather friends around a fire-pit while having the ability to cook and smoke meat. While attending Gettysburg college, Burch created his first prototype. From there, he worked countless hours on getting the most reliable suppliers and creating the best possible product.
“If you decide this is something you want to do, find people that can help you and go do it.”Roby Burch
“Now, 100% of my time is spent working on Burch Barrel,” Burch said.
Burch manages a team of six, and will soon be a team of fifteen by the end of the year. Burch Barrel recently won a Gold Medal in the International Design Award on their design of the barrel. “I did a lot of art at Haverford and gained an eye for art and creativity and this helps me every day. Being creative and artistic is a good thing,” Burch said.
Only a few years in, Barrels and other accessories are shipped out daily from his warehouses in Bozeman, Montana, and Limerick, Pennsylvania.
From Blue Drives, to Blue Truck, to Burch Barrel, Burch gained a great deal of experience. “I would say that it takes grit and a lot of humility. You have to like waking up and getting your ass kicked every day. Be okay with not being the smartest person in the room.” Burch said. “If you decide this is something you want to do, find people that can help you and go do it.”