Former Marines Kevin Cox, Chris Behling, and Stephen Osegueda, all University of South Carolina graduates, have forged a unique path as the driving force behind The General’s Hot Sauce. This Columbia-based, veteran-owned business, with products reaching global markets, is not just about heat; it’s a mission-driven endeavor to support fellow veterans.
The Team Behind the Heat:
At 32 years old, Cox (head of business development) and Osegueda (head of operations), alongside 24-year-old Behling (head of finance), share more than just a military background. Their friendship, forged in the Marines, evolved into a business partnership with a shared vision.
Origin of The General’s Hot Sauce:
The company’s inception traces back to a tailgate party for the 2012 Army-Navy game, where Cox, originally from Buffalo, New York, observed a fellow Marine working diligently on a batch of wings. The identity of “the general” remains a guarded secret, adding an air of intrigue to the sauce’s origin.
Deep Roots and Local Connections:
The peppers used in every jar of The General’s Hot Sauce are sourced locally from Lexington County, South Carolina. Cox’s affiliation with Edisto Electric Cooperative further emphasizes the company’s commitment to community and local partnerships.
Transition from Marines to Entrepreneurs:
As Marine Reserve Staff Sgt. Dillon Cox completed his business degree in 2014, little did he and his comrades anticipate their shift from military service to creating a global hot sauce brand. The pivotal moment came when a founder of the company sought assistance from the Darla Moore School of Business, leading to Cox becoming the first full-time employee, Osegueda heading operations, and Behling assuming the finance helm in 2020.
The Unique Hot Sauce Experience:
The General’s Hot Sauce stands out not just for its explosive flavors but also its distinctive grenade-shaped containers. Varieties like Grunt Green, Hooah Jalapeno, and Shock and Awe grace the shelves of major retailers like Harris Teeters, Publix, Buc-ee’s, and Ace Hardware.
Beyond the heat, there’s a heartwarming aspect to The General’s Hot Sauce. Since bottling their first sauce in March 2016, the company has donated over $750,000 to various veteran-support organizations. This includes contributions to the Warrior PATHH project at the Big Red Barn Retreat Center in Blythewood. Behling emphasizes the rewarding feeling of assisting those who have sacrificed so much.
Marine Brotherhood and Can-Do Attitude:
For Cox, Osegueda, and Behling, the Marine Corps spirit remains an integral part of their success. The sense of brotherhood and the can-do attitude acquired during their military service now fuel their entrepreneurial journey. As Osegueda aptly puts it, the transition from military uniform to business attire doesn’t alter the bond forged in service.
The General’s Hot Sauce isn’t just about bringing the heat; it’s a testament to the camaraderie of former Marines turned entrepreneurs. Their journey from military service to global hot sauce success is a true embodiment of the can-do spirit, demonstrating that the mission continues, regardless of the uniform worn or the hours on the clock.