We had the good fortune of connecting with Murdok Lambert and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Murdok, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
It’s tiresome and difficult to run a small business. With Howling Mad being a seed-to-bottle company, we put more work into our products than a lot of people realize. Even though the growing season is only 5 months long, our work is year-long, it’s just more intense from March until August/September. During those months, I’m doing 10-14 hour days, harvesting, pruning, making compost teas and addressing any pathogenic issues. My wife calls the pepper plants my babies because I spend so much time on them, but I really do love growing them. All of that work is before I even rent the kitchen to make the sauce, the packaging, labeling, etc. Then we have markets as well, but I really enjoy the events we do and talking to people about the process. A really good example of some issue we face that people are unaware of is the seedlings I started in January and February to have plants in the ground at the beginning of March. With the freeze this year, we lost everything we had started (over 200 plants). Just before that we had a freezer malfunction and lost over 350 lbs of peppers. It was basically everything we had grown over the summer, and at $7-12/lb wholesale, it was pretty devastating. But we’ve got another 140+ plants started again and I’ve been able to procure some organically grown pepper starts, so we keep pushing ahead.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
That I know of, we are the only hot sauce company in the greater Houston area that doesn’t have a co-packer, meaning I make all of our sauces myself, instead of outsourcing the production process. Part of that is because I want to have control over every step of the process so I can ensure that my customers are getting the highest quality hot sauce that I can provide. Because of that, and the fact that we are seed-to-bottle, I KNOW that my customers are getting high quality, organic produce that has been grown by me. It’s often a struggle to keep up with production, especially when we have a bad winter. But anything worth doing will have setbacks, you can’t let that slow you down or stop you. Struggling through the difficulties of life and business are what makes it so much sweeter when you do succeed. But hard work and sacrifice will only get you so far, you need the support of good friends and community to really build something special. I want folks to know that no matter how dark and troubled your past is, you can always create your own light to guide you into the future. I’m a former drug addict, and one of the biggest things that helped me overcome the addiction is having a community that supports me, a family that loves me, and a business that I’m passionate about. It’s long hours of hard and often dirty work, but it gives me purpose and drives me to be a better person, father, friend, and, hopefully, someone that others can look up to as an example of what you can achieve.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We’d definitely have to hit up Goose’s Acre in The Woodlands, they’ve got some of the best fish and chips around, not to mention a great import selection on tap. We’d also have to spend an afternoon at the Mercer Arboretum in Spring, they’ve added onto it over the years and the tea gardens and turtle pond are my faves. Of course we’d also have to go to Richmond Arms for a proper pint of bitter and to watch EPL (English Premier League soccer). Then we’d go all the way out to Montgomery to hit up Yo Mamma’s Pit Bar-B-Que for some amazing brisket and some of the best small-batch BBQ sauce I’ve ever had. I couldn’t let anyone leave without going to The Game Preserve on Sawdust Rd, it’s so fun to play the pinball machines and cabinet games from the 1950s-today. Of course Galveston Beach and hitting Benno’s on the seawall is a must as well. Besides that, it would really be spending time in the parks around the area, there are so many biking and hiking trails on which to enjoy the local flora and fauna. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Steve Baird at Wunderlich Farm Interactive History Park has been a huge part of our success. When I started this over 4 years ago, I was doing guerrilla style pop-ups in bars and pool-halls. We were still working as a cottage business and none of the markets we approached would accept us as a vendor. We had heard of the monthly farmer’s market there and went to visit. We felt like a part of a whole new community right away! Many of the vendors there have become close friends and more like family than “fellow vendors”. Steve works as hard for the market and vendors as he does to make the farm an exciting and entertaining place for the family to learn about local history. When we go to Wunderlich Farm on the last Saturday of every month it’s more like a tiny festival than a market. Mr. Baird does lots of interactive stuff with the kids including period correct cooking demos. There’s also volunteers dressed in period appropriate clothing, games, animals, gardens and even a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse. It really is a blast and it’s what I consider my home market. Without Steve Baird, Wunderlich Farm and the vendors I’ve met there, I really don’t think my business would have ever gotten off of the ground.

Website: www.howlingmadhotsaucecollc.com

Instagram: howlingmadhotsauceco

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HowlingMadHotSauceCo

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