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Executive Diversion

Construction CEO's hobby smoking meats becomes company asset

Cooking, grilling and smoking meats is more than dinner for Russell Budd. It has also become a part of the company culture.

Christina Hatch of PBS Contractors and Russell Budd, who says he loves the socializing and camaraderie side of grilling meats.
Christina Hatch of PBS Contractors and Russell Budd, who says he loves the socializing and camaraderie side of grilling meats.
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Russell Budd, 65, founder of PBS Contractors in Naples. After receiving a degree in building construction from the University of Florida, Budd founded the general contracting firm in 1986, which builds and remodels luxury homes and commercial construction projects throughout Southwest Florida.


Barbecuing. Budd’s passion for grilling and smoking meats started off simply but then took on a life of its own. “Like almost everybody I started with a Weber kettle grill,” he says. Bigger and better grills soon followed, until he worked his way up to a trailer-mounted grill. “And then I got a bigger trailer-mounted grill,” he says. “But now I can cook for 200 or 300 people.”

Fired up: Why does Budd love barbecuing? He references a quote he saw online from a fellow BBQ aficionado mentioning how from a very young age, boys like to play with fire. “And I guess I never outgrew it,” he laughs.

He also likes the fact that it’s a hobby he can share with friends. “I wouldn’t be nearly as interested in it if I just did it by myself,” he says. “There’s lots of solitary endeavors that are well worth the effort because you really get challenged. But for this particular activity, I like it as a team sport and getting people involved and then a lot of people enjoy it…So there’s the socializing and camaraderie.”

Jeff Storrat, Russell Budd and Tom Storrar at a recent barbecue event.
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Master class: Budd has taken formal barbecue courses in places like Texas that are known for their ’cue. Most recently Budd, his son and his son-in-law took a class in Georgia put on by five-time world barbecue champion Myron Mixon. 

Hands on: While classes are helpful, Budd believes the best lessons come from putting food to fire. “It’s kind of like, I don’t know, learning to drive,” he says. “You can read a book about it and somebody tells you about it, but until you get in a good fender bender, you really don’t appreciate what’s involved. And most of my self-taught experience has been the food that I ruined.”

Memorable mistakes: One time the fire in his smoker went out after he set his alarm for p.m. instead of a.m. Another time he accidentally fell asleep and woke up to flames coming out of the top of his box smoker. “You learn from the things you can’t eat or don’t want to eat,” he says.

Challenging himself: Budd likes making brisket, because it requires some skill. “In barbecuing that’s considered one of the more difficult meats, because you can do exactly the same thing five times in a row and you’ll get five different results,” he says. “So you’ve really got to adapt to the meat and the temperature and all the variable conditions and how many beers you drank and whether you fell asleep when you weren’t supposed to.”

Russell Budd has been grilling meat for years.
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Road trip: Budd subscribes to Texas Monthly, which publishes a list of the top 50 barbecue spots in Texas every four years. “I’ve printed the list and I go to Texas three times a year on business,” he says. “I always go to at least one, and, if it’s a good trip, two or three different barbecue places every time I travel.”

Serve others: PBS Contractors has hosted its Russell’s Barbecue event twice a year since 2011. Budd smokes the meat and the whole PBS Contractors team plus sister company Wall Systems Contractors help prepare and run the event. Community members are invited to attend free of charge, with the option to make a donation to support the charity chosen for each event. The spring 2023 event supported The Holocaust Museum of SWFL in Naples, and the fall barbecue raised $38,000 for Avow, a hospice organization in Collier County.

“We’ve got kind of a cult following,” he says. “We have limited space, so it’s an invitation-only event.” Past attendees are always anxious to know when the next barbecue is taking place, and Budd carries business card–sized announcements he can hand out to folks as invites that feature the next event date and charity plus the clever slogan “so we meat again,” created by the company’s marketing and events manager Aome Keough.

Stoke relationships: PBS Contractors’ client development and contracting process can take a while, and sometimes potential clients just starting out on that process attend Russell’s Barbecue and walk away impressed with the company’s culture. “I think it helps just solidify that we’re community focused, we’re real people, and we pull together as a team,” says Budd. “Pretty consistently when people come to our barbecue, they not only enjoy the food, but I hear a lot of praise and comments about how the team just pulls together and puts this thing on.”

Light the fire: Budd’s biggest piece of advice for barbecue newbies? “Use YouTube,” he says. “Anything you want to do, from climbing mountains to sailing a boat and most assuredly barbecuing, there are thousands of YouTube videos. And you can really avoid a lot of burned and ruined meat with some good YouTube time on figuring out what you’re supposed to do and how it’s supposed to work.”



Beth Luberecki

Nokomis-based freelance writer Beth Luberecki, a Business Observer contributor, writes about business, travel and lifestyle topics for a variety of Florida and national publications. Her work has appeared in publications and on websites including Washington Post’s Express, USA Today, Florida Trend, and Learn more about her at

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