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Founded in 1999 by Dan Theissen and his two sons, Dansons is a leading manufacturer of value-engineered, technologically innovative products, including wood pellet, gas, charcoal, and combination-fueled grills, barbeques, smokers, and portable grills sold under its Pit Boss® Grills, Louisiana Grills® and Country Smokers® brands. Dansons' full lines of pellet fuel, cooking accessories, spices, and sauces are available across multiple leading retailers and direct-to-consumer sales and are sold in more than 25 countries worldwide.

Industry: eCommerce, Online Retail, Consumer Goods
Location: North America
Customer since: 2022

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Dansons uses Fastly’s Compute and Fanout to delight grilling enthusiasts with blazing-fast app response speeds 

Barbeque chefs and grill masters are a passionate bunch with strong opinions about every aspect of the process: the fuel, the heat, the cut of meat, the sauce, and the most authentic BBQ style. Fine-tuning and optimizing your technique is part of the art—and fun—of wowing friends and family with your grilling prowess. That's where Dansons' proprietary Grill Connect™ technology for Pit Boss Grills comes in, expanding the toolkit of outdoor food fanatics to include wireless technology. The Pit Boss Grills mobile app gives customers another level of control and awareness in their quest for perfection.

Dansons is also committed to fine-tuning and optimizing the products its customers use, which is why the company came to Fastly. Dansons first introduced their customers to a legacy grilling app created by a third-party vendor in early 2020. The tool was popular and convenient, but Ryan Minor, Mobile and IoT Development Manager at Dansons, believed the company could create an app in-house to provide a better user experience. The result is a faster app that provides real-time responsiveness to Dansons' customers and more control over data for Dansons' IT team.

5-7x faster data transfer powers a real-time user experience

The secret ingredient in Grill Connect™ technology’s speed gains is Fastly's Compute. According to Minor, "It would be challenging to accomplish what we're doing without Fastly. Edge computing is key to our technology."
Apps similar to Pit Boss Grills store and process data in the centralized cloud, which means data travels to a possibly distant cloud location for processing and then travels back to the user device. This powerful technology is well-suited to many use cases, but if data is highly time-sensitive or traveling from a more remote location, edge computing has a significant advantage. For IoT technology like Grill Connect, made for backyard BBQ lovers who want ultimate control over their grills, faster is clearly better. Grill Connect™ features that demand fast processing include—

  • Setting and monitoring grill temperature 

  • Setting target internal temperature, manually or with pre-set temperatures based on meat type

  • Monitoring time to desired doneness 

  • Powering down your grill

These features allow users to grill with extreme precision whether they want to spend hours sitting next to their equipment or not. 

Dansons takes advantage of Fastly's Fanout, which provides edge messaging functionality on top of Compute. Adding Fanout functionality on top of Compute, makes Fastly one of the largest real-time data delivery networks in the world. “Using Compute with Fanout accelerated Grill Connect's data transfer speed from 5 to 7 times our previous technology.” Minor said. This cuts the conversation between app and grill to a few milliseconds, and reduces the lag time associated with the HTTP request and response cycle. As a result, users get a real-time grill control experience even when they run to the store for more ice, take a break to jump off the dock, or just move inside for some air conditioning—or warmth, for all you winter BBQ die-hards. 

Gaining control over data with Fastly fuels product enhancements

Bringing its app in-house also gives Dansons control over its data. "When we used the third-party app, we had no data to go on, even for the most basic things like how many people were using it or how many requests per second were coming in," Minor said. Since building its app with Fastly, Dansons can access data it can use to make customer experience even better.

Minor said Dansons plans to use the data for diagnostics, for example, identifying a pattern in error messages to help improve the product line. The company could also use it for problem prevention, such as reminding customers to clean their equipment after a certain number of grilling hours. Applying machine learning to the data will also provide insights into recipes, spices, or other products a specific user could benefit from, and it can help Dansons identify opportunities for future products.

"I've been looking forward to implementing machine learning with our software systems, so I'm excited about all of the things we can do to enhance customer experience with the data we can collect since moving to Fastly," Minor said.

Quick action from Fastly support keeps Dansons' IT team cooking 

Building a new app from scratch is a lot of work, so Dansons was relieved to lean on Fastly. "Fastly didn't just say, 'Here's what we have to offer, take it or leave it,'" Minor said. "The Fastly team offered a lot of technical help, and they were always available." 

Now that the app is up and running, Fastly support helps it stay that way. Minor cited the near-instant turnaround time and post-incident follow-up as significant benefits of Fastly's Enterprise Support plan:  "I'm usually multi-tasking with daily tasks, so I appreciate Fastly's team responding quickly, fixing things quickly, and then figuring out what we need to do to keep that problem from happening again."

"It would be challenging to accomplish what we're doing without Fastly. Edge computing is key to our technology."

Ryan Minor
Mobile and IoT Development Manager at Dansons

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