It’s been two years since the initial launch of Bubba’s Bundles, a kindling and firewood business owned and operated by Christopher Mosser of Stevensville. Christopher has been servicing six retail locations (four in Stevensville, one in Hamilton and one in Missoula) for the majority of that time.
However, that all changed in May of this year, when Town Pump reached out to Christopher to see if he could stock their locations in the Bitterroot and Missoula with his firewood bundles. Pete Barthelmess from the corporate office came out to meet Chris, which led to Town Pump setting Christopher up as a secondary supplier for their locations in western Montana. Bubba’s Bundles are now being delivered to stores from Polson to Milltown to the 93 Wye, and most store locations in between. Chris’s dad, Gary, who helps out with the business, said, “We are very excited for Christopher and this new relationship he has with Town Pump.” Gary has recently stepped away from his own construction business to devote more time to the fast-growing Bubba’s Bundles enterprise.
Recently Katy Miller, a reporter from KPAX, was in Stevensville and noticed the sign at Cenex promoting Bubba’s Bundles. Katy ended up talking to Phil and Rhonda Henderson at Stevensville Hardware, where Bubba sold his very first bundle of wood. The Hendersons have been huge supporters of Christopher for years. They provided him his first job in their rental department when he was in high school. Chris lives with autism and is relatively non-verbal, so making friends is hard. But one of those friends is George Golphenee in the aforementioned rental department. Chris lights up whenever he sees George, according to Gary, who appreciates the kindness and friendship he has shown Chris through the years.
Katy Miller ended up going out to the Mosser home to meet Chris, then shooting some video and doing an interview. She also interviewed Cory at Super 1 Foods and filmed Chris making a delivery there. The story ran on August 3rd. (Bubba’s Bundles was also featured in a recent Missoulian story.)
Chris and Gary’s relationship with Super 1 is special, according to Gary. A clerk reached out to Chris to see if he could supply kindling bundles to the store. This led to a meeting with Rich Luedecke. “We were standing at the courtesy counter and Rich asked if we had prior experience in wholesale or retail sales. The answer was ‘no’ so Rich ended up taking us to his office for a crash course in the wholesale/retail business.” Since that time, Rich has become their mentor and supporter as they have navigated the world of sales. Chris has been supplying the Stevensville store with kindling and firewood bundles since that first meeting, which eventually led to a retail spot at the Hamilton store as well.
Actually, the entrepreneurial roots run deep in Christopher’s family. He is a fourth generation Montanan whose great, great grandfather built the Tripp Dragstedt Apartments in Butte, still in operation today. His great grandfather Carl Dragstedt ran a business in Missoula for years, “Dragstedt Clothing Store. He has relatives in Anaconda that ranch and operate businesses there.
Christopher has been diligent in trying to meet the goals he set for his business:
#1 – Give Back. As can be seen on his displays, he continues to support the Child Development Center in Missoula. In addition to this he is sponsoring five children through World Vision, since 2017. This year he began supporting Feed the Children based in Oklahoma and Birthright of the Bitterroot, an organization that helps young couples, and women especially, in our community.
#2 – Provide Job Opportunities within the Special Needs Community. On July 24th, through Ravalli Services (Jordan Rodriguez) and Vocational Rehabilitation Hamilton (Sarah Seltzer), Chris and Gary interviewed and hired his first employee.
#3 – Become Financially Independent. Most of the money earned through Bubba’s Bundles has been invested in the business. As sales increase this goal is looking more and more realistic, but still a ways down the road.
“Bubba is not only a hard worker but he really loves to work, a good combination for a 20-year-old,” said Gary. “I believe he’s going to get there.”
The hard work and all the community support that has resulted in the amazing success of Bubba’s Bundles has prompted Gary and Kim (Bubba’s mom) to express their appreciation to the many businesses that have contributed in some way.
Gary mentioned Laura Tackes at Cenex. “A special thank you to Laura for her support of Christopher,” said Gary.
“I also want to thank Burnt Fork Market, in particular Jess Brenneman. She always greets Christopher with a ‘Hey, Bubba, you got some wood for me?’ There is something about Jess’s personality that connects with Chris and he opens up to her. Jess is a special person that has the gift of breaking past the autism and being able to engage with Bubba.” Burnt Fork Market is one of Christopher’s favorite delivery spots. Gary said that The Country Store has also supported Chris since 2018.
Matt Vandosell was one of Christopher’s teachers at Stevensville School. He was there at the very beginning of the business launch. He also helped Chris build his manufacturing building, he was his job coach at Stevensville Hardware, and was a huge supporter of Chris during his final two years of high school. “He is a true friend to Chris and our family,” says Gary.
Gary also mentioned Nola Clevidence. Nola’s family and the Mossers have a a relationship that goes back nearly 17 years. Her daughter Sarah was part of the early intervention team that worked with Chris at 3 and 4 years of age. Nola has been Chris’s job coach and friend from the beginning of the business launch. “She has been instrumental in his success,” said Gary.
And finally, Gary and Kim want the community as a whole to know that they have played a major part in this success story.
“I can’t tell you how many times people see Chris and I making deliveries and they stop and give Chris a ‘high 5’, tell him what a great job he’s doing, thank him that they no longer have to make kindling. It’s in the hundreds. I can’t put into words how grateful we are for these words of encouragement. Chris is non-verbal, but when he gets back in the truck to leave, he looks at me and smiles. Your message was received.”