Idea for a movie: Two brothers, born a year apart to the same parents, are each given up for adoption. They grow up, marry, make families and start businesses of their own, only to find each other 40 years later, forging a loving relationship and creating a brand new business in the process.
Get Rob Reiner or Ron Howard to direct, cast Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon as the brothers, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a feel-good movie guaranteed to make you both laugh and cry. Golden Globe nominee for sure.
Except this isn’t a movie script; this is the real-life story behind Two Brothers Jerky.
Paul Brock, 50, grew up in western North Carolina knowing he was adopted but never thinking much about it. He had great parents and brothers to keep him company. He built a life for himself that grew to include a family of his own.
Meanwhile in Salisbury, and then later Spartanburg, S.C., Eddie Wales, 51, grew up also knowing he was adopted. Wales worked in several bars and restaurants while at the University of South Carolina during college and after graduating went into the restaurant business.
It was Brock’s daughter, Alexandra, who eventually brought the two together, finding their shared birth mother about six years ago. When the two finally met, the connection was instant. They shared similar interests and were in similar lines of work; Brock owned the now-closed Broad Street Cafe in Durham and Wales owns and operates Motor Supply Co. Bistro in Columbia, S.C. They had children of their own, and both men love to grow tomatoes. But even beyond those connections there was a bond between them that they hadn’t felt before.
“Well I certainly wasn’t expecting that phone call,” Wales wrote in an e-mail, “but the way Paul explained it to me I never doubted him and it was an incredible, exciting discovery.”
Two Brothers Jerky grew out of that bond. Brock had been making homemade beef jerky since his early 20s, and as the brothers grew to know each other they would often spend family weekends at Brock’s cabin near Asheville. Jerky was always present.
“We’ve been so fortunate to be able to spend time with each other, our birth mom, our half brothers and families in the last seven years,” Wales said, “and the idea developed over those late night weekend hangouts eating Paul’s jerky, drinking beer and saying ‘Man, I would buy this jerky over anything else out there.’ ”
Two Brothers Jerky was born out of that sentiment, and out of a desire to work together.
“It was as much about making jerky as it was to do something together,” Brock said. “In a nutshell, it’s a family business.”
“We play off each other very well. I’m the worrier and he’s the optimist. We both enjoy being at direct sales events, especially together,” Wales wrote.
The jerky still holds true to Brock’s original recipe with the addition of now being hickory smoked. That jerky, The Bull City Original, has been joined by two new flavors, Sweet Ginger Teriyaki and Famously Hot. They source all of the beef for their jerky from Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Asheville.
As a growing business, the brothers are always looking for new markets, but they plan to stay small and manageable for now, with an emphasis on being sold in local shops throughout North and South Carolina.
The siblings remain optimistic about the future of Two Brothers Jerky, but in the end it’s all about working together.
“We talk nearly every day and the fact that we live in different states would make that less likely if we didn’t have the business together,” Wales noted.
Reach Lardie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two Brothers Jerky can be found in independent retailers, breweries and restaurants across North and South Carolina. For a full list of retailers or to order online, go to twobrothersjerky.com.