Barbecue buds from Oswego debut ‘the ultimate’ drum smoker

By Tim Alexander For Chronicle Media

Double-O Drum Company founders Sean Young and Jon Fenske, both of Oswego. (Photo courtesy of Double-O Drum Co.)

A pair of old friends — one a metal fabricator, the other a longtime competition cook and technological service provider — have entered the market with what they call the ultimate barbecue drum smoker.

Double-O Drum Company may not be debuting an initial public stock offering anytime soon, but the charcoal-fired smoker Oswego entrepreneurs Sean Young and Jon Fenske created may soon be the talk of the competition barbecue circuit and retail competitors, at the very least.

Young said the differences between smokers made by Double-O Drum Company (don’t ask — the origin of the company name is a closely-held secret) and other smokers used on the competition circuit and by consumers are glaring.

“Ours is designed to move a lot of air, smoke a lot of barbecue, and do it very quickly,” Young said. “Our design features three intakes and two exhausts so it can move a tremendous amount of air and reduce cooking times. Because it creates even rack temperatures, there are no ‘hot spots’ on the top rack.”

Double-O smokers, which are available in several primary colors and can be customized, have a center-intake Venturi tube that creates forced air compression. There are three rack positions, and a hexagon-shaped fire basket holds 12 pounds of charcoal.

They can cook hot or fast, low or slow, and finish a 12-pound beef brisket in four hours, ribs in two hours and pork in three hours, according to a sales flier for the smokers.

Small engine repairman, welder and fabricator are all listed on Fenske’s resume. In addition, he designed and maintains the race car his daughter competes with on the local circuit. He has been friends with Young, who has been involved for more than a decade in competition barbecue on the Kansas City BBQ Society circuit, for several years.

The basic black Double-O Drum Company. It does come in other primary colors and can be customized. (Chronicle Media photo)

“I’d been all over the country cooking barbecue. I drove to Ohio where I picked up a 300-gallon propane tank and utility trailer, and I spent the next year welding and fabricating my first smoker,” he said. “From there on I competed with it. After a couple of years of cooking with it, I sold it to a former teammate. At the end of that season, I started doing some research on drum-style smokers, and last August I found a couple of drums laying out at Jon’s house; it turned out he had access to them. Together, we began playing around with some design concepts for drum smokers.”

Another friend with a background in thermodynamic engineering was enlisted for input, and by September 2017, armed with newfound, expert knowledge of exhaust and intake airflow dynamics, Young and Fenske began work on the prototype for a Double-O drum smoker.

Double-O smokers have a center-intake Venturi tube that creates forced air compression. “Ours is designed to move a lot of air, smoke a lot of barbecue, and do it very quickly,” said Sean Young. (Chronicle Media photo)

“Our design goal was to move as much air as possible,” Young explained. “Convection reduces cooking times, and this smoker moves some air. Every commercial drum smoker we found on the market has only one exhaust and one or two intakes. Our convection system is proprietary to us.”

Double-O smokers are coated in 400-degree powder coat paint and are welded and assembled in northern Illinois. They have features Young refers to as “cooker comforts,” which include an angled temperature gauge for easy reading while standing.

“There were some things about standard smokers that I didn’t like,” he said. “Temperature gauges were flat, meaning I’d have to bend over to read them. I’m getting old and my back hurts.

“We also added a collapsible side shelf because I got tired of dragging a card table over to the driveway or the deck every time I wanted to smoke something. We have added a lot of comforts to the design that I think sets us apart,” Young said.

Double-O smokers use hexagon-shaped fire baskets that hold 12 pounds of charcoal.
The system can either cook hot or fast, low or slow. (Chronicle Media photo)

“Everything we do is hand-assembled, hand-welded and hand-painted. We’re a veteran-owned company and these smokers are made locally. This is a big part of our concept,” he added.

Fenske and Young began taking public orders for their smokers in mid-July. The entrepreneurs are currently busy increasing their production capability and inventory, while working on marketing.

They are still in the “build-to order” phase of their fledgling business, and the pair plan to offer customized paint and graphics options to their customers for the foreseeable future.

The partners aren’t ruling out the eventual possibility of selling their fledgling design to a large competitor, but for now, the two buds are content with the excitement and possibilities associated with building a business and a product from the ground up.

“Moinkballs” cooked on the Double-O Drum smoker. The dish uses pork instead of beef for meatballs. (Photo courtesy of Double-O Drum Co.)

Double-O Drum Company has a go-to-market strategy involving going out and demonstrating their product to the public, be it through county fairs, farm shows, craft markets, cooking demos or other showcases, according to Young.

“We have a lot of fun and we want to share our product with people. I also offer barbecue classes where we will cook briskets, ribs and prime rib in our drum smoker, giving us an opportunity to show people how easy it is and how quick it is to use this smoker, and how to make competition-level barbecue at home,” he said.

In addition, to a website,, the Double-O Drum Company can be found on Twitter at, on Instagram at,  and on Facebook at








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