The Death of the Holland Grill

Somewhere in the mid-1970s, Brad Holland became frustrated with his gas grill. It flared up. It burnt his food. And in general, it angered him that such a simple device could cook so poorly. For 12 years Brad worked to improve the gas grill, and in 1988 he began selling The Holland Grill.

It was unique; in fact, it went against all conventional thinking. The solution to flare-ups was simple, though many would say extreme. The Holland Grill separated the food from the burner with a solid sheet of metal. Flare-ups were impossible because fat drippings never hit the flame. However, neither did the food.

The Holland Grill required an explanation. Marketing gurus will tell you that this is a death sentence. This grill sold well for many years, but what made it so unique? The Holland Grill has a single, small, round cast-iron burn. In many models, it produced around 15,000 BTUs or less than half of comparably sized grills. The burner sits under a heavy sheet of steel that isolates it from the cooking chamber. No access to the flame means those drippings can’t catch on fire. So, no flare-ups.

The cooking grate has a diamond pattern steel surface. While durable and lightweight, but not designed to produce grill marks. Then again the Holland Grill doesn’t produce those sorts of

Holland Liberty Gas Grill
Holland Liberty Gas Grill

temperatures anyway. In fact, with the original design, the control valve is either on or off. There is no adjustment. These grills hold a consistent temperature around 350 to 375 degrees F. The perfect temperature range for baking, but not what most consumers expect from a gas grill.

The real strength of the Holland Grill was its versatility. It cooked like an oven and a grill at the same time, with the ability to make burgers one day and lasagna the next. The Holland cooking chamber let little airflow through. A pair of vents on the top could be opened to let heat out, but food wouldn’t dry out quickly. It seemed this grill was nearly foolproof. Simply turn it on, add the food, and check back now and then.

But wait, there’s more. If you put liquid in the watertight cooking chamber below the cooking grate, it steams. Place wood chips on the metal divider sheet, and it will smolder and produce smoke. Close the top vents to hold the steam or smoke inside. Clambakes, smoked ribs, a holiday turkey, name it and this grill could do it. It was this versatility that drove its loyal fandom for nearly two decades.

Nearly 22 years ago, when I started writing about barbecue and grilling, I was told to be careful about criticizing two products, the Big Green Egg and the Holland Grill. Fans were fanatical. For both products, the loyal would gather in parks and parking lots to show off their cooking skills, swap recipes, and techniques. As you can imagine, the users of the Holland Grill were a force to be reckoned with.

Brad Holland and his family-owned business were more than a company looking to sell a grill. They took an active part in the industry. As contributors to trade shows and organizations, they promoted outdoor cooking and helped grow the market space. Holland Grill remained a mainstay at these events, cooking a wide range of food as people flocked around for samples.

At the time, Holland was the ideal small American business producing domestic grills. They deeply embedded themselves into the Mom and Pop grill stores. No big box stores sold their grills, but small local places pushed their product to anyone who walked through the door. The sales pitch always started with the same line, “Do you have a problem with flare-ups and burnt food.” For many, it was a pitch that worked.

Unfortunately,  it seemed that a properly cared for Holland Grill could last for decades. Some of the earliest models are still in use today. While customers remained loyal, they seldom needed a replacement unit. Sales growth was driven by loyal Holland fans who purchased new grills for their kids, parents, and friends. While this brought in new users, it wasn’t the kind of growth that made Holland a big company. It stayed in the family, local, and small. Ultimately, quality played a part in the death of the Holland Grill.

Times change. If you think about how the Holland Grill works you might find yourself comparing it to a Pellet Grill.  Yes, Holland and Traeger came up together. But where Traeger created a niche market, Holland remained what it was, a very specialized grill for a select few who understood its merits.

Holland did have imitators. Phoenix Grills is a duplicate of the Holland Grill and is still in production today under new ownership. Fans launched an attack against Phoenix, but for a short time, there was a narrow market space for both. Phoenix went bankrupt before being acquired by Modern Home Products.

On June 14, 2019, Holland Grill closed its doors. Fans will continue to use this product, but the company is gone. It can be argued that the Holland Grill and its imitators are not traditional grills and that they functioned as a minor blip in the history of outdoor cooking. The truth is that few products in the industry have had that type of loyalty. The demise as a company has much to do with the durability of the product as it does with current market changes. Indeed, pellet grills and the need for smoke have cut into the gas grill space. However, you look at it; the loss of the Holland Grill Company is a loss to the industry.

 

13 thoughts on “The Death of the Holland Grill

  • December 2, 2019 at 1:09 am
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    I got a Holland grill had or years. With stainless side burner. drip pan showing some wear. Will be looking to sale in the near future. Not sure at what price yet. The side burner was over 200 bucks when I put it on, It is a Holland too.

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 3:12 pm
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    Just bought a Apex yesterday. The local dealer had a good closeout sale. I appreciate everyone’s comments and looking forward to using it. I would like to buy the side seating unit. Please let me know if you know where I can find one? Thanks!

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 9:59 am
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    I’m a Holland die hard. Having grown up in the Piedmont of North Carolina – these were a staple of Sunday afternoon when I was a kid and dad would have a bird or chunk of hog on it since 10AM that came off just perfect by Sunday lunch.

    I’ve never called it a “grill” so much as a “BBQ.” And believe me, I’ve argued the distinction a great deal since I brought my old clunky Holland Classic out to Los Angeles. It’s one of the few things that I’ve had for .. damn, nearly 20 years now that I’ve never let go.

    I’m glad I replaced a few parts in 2018 so hopefully it’ll serve me a good 10 or 15 years longer. And honestly, I didn’t NEED to replace any of the bits – I just got too lazy to clean them. So who knows how long it’ll go with this in mind. Definitely be putting more effort in to upkeep now that I know I won’t be able to replace anything that breaks down.

    Reply
  • November 26, 2019 at 7:57 pm
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    What a grill, I have had my grill since 1995 and still cooking like it should. 4 of the 6 of my family have Holland’s. Cook year around in Ohio weather and getting ready to cook Thanksgiving turkey on the grill. I hope the grill holds up for many more years.

    Reply
  • November 22, 2019 at 6:20 pm
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    does anyone know if you can get infer red side burner parts anywhere? I love mine but I need some parts.

    Thanks

    Reply
  • November 11, 2019 at 9:19 pm
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    Would anyone have the recipe for Theresa’s Incredible Boston Butt? All the links seem to be gone. Thanks!My email is [email protected]

    Reply
  • November 1, 2019 at 3:18 am
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    There is no substitute for grilling lamb on a Holland Grill.
    I have done many lamb chops to perfection and several
    times a whole leg of lamb. It always comes out perfectly.
    With enough garlic spikes inserted, it is incomparable.
    It may take a little effort to keep clean, but the time spent
    is worth it. May someone resurrect the company so that
    I can buy my third one in forty years! I LOVE the HOLLAND
    Grill. By the way, the grill surface is perfect for mushrooms
    and vegetables, peppers and onions. (Doing a couple ducks
    tomorrow). It renders the fat into the bucket and the skin
    browns beautifully, as well as crisp!

    Reply
  • October 30, 2019 at 2:46 am
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    So, What is happening with the Holland Company? Can it be bought out of bankruptcy? Can the patents be bought?

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    • October 30, 2019 at 2:11 pm
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      That is certainly possible and there have been rumors that someone is looking into buying Holland. Fingers crossed.

      Reply
  • August 2, 2019 at 11:38 am
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    I was stationed in Warner Robins Georgia in the 90’s and they have the Georgia’s National State Fair in that county where all of the grill company’s show there goods. We had purchased a Ducane gas grill (with lifetime warrantee) which performed well as a backyard microwave. 13 minutes and ready to go. We were introduced to the New Holland and I was intrigued to their introduction that my roses would be better and the lawn greener…… From what? Do they use the grease drippings for fertilizer? No! They fixed the flame ups and you can build equipment, remodel, landscape, change oil, till gardens etc and come back and flip the meat and go back to work without offering a burnt sacrifice. I often leave four whole fryers on and come back 2.25 hours later and remove. The Ducane was left at the lake cabin and we dragged the New Holland around the states until I retired and now its directly plumbed to the house LP under the exterior stairs where I can grill most all year even in 300 inches plus of annual snow fall in the UP.
    The Holland are great grills and I talked several folks into getting one. Mine is 20 years old and the searing grill accessory satisfies my wife’s desire for grill marks. I can throttle it down and cook beans on it. I have not tried the wood chips on the pan directly but will soon. I am sorry to hear they closed their doors. They had great customer service. We needed a bigger jet for cold climates.
    The Ducane now resides in the barn where it still gets used when speed is needed or the weather dips down in the minus zero ranges.

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  • July 28, 2019 at 8:26 pm
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    We have 2 Holland grills. 1 at our home and another at our summer home. The first one I bought in 2000 and the second one I bought from a Holland Grill dealer used in 2015. He had it at his home. That one has the infer red side burner which is neat.
    We live in Minnesota and I grill year around. I hope our grills keep working great for years to come.

    Reply
  • July 23, 2019 at 10:41 pm
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    It was a good solid grill 15-20 years ago,I sold a lot of them and owned one.The quality get going down year after year.I guess maybe the public got smart.

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    • October 26, 2019 at 11:40 am
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      So sorry to hear Hollon grills have closed the doors. I love mine. I have 3 Hollon grills 2 at home and one at the lake. My turkey at thanksgiving was beautiful, golden brown. I love my steaks cooked on it. Meatloaf wrapped in bacon is delicious.

      Reply

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