Judson’s Virtual and In-Person Network Night Features Sweet Baby Ray Founder | Judson University Christian College

Judson’s Virtual and In-Person Network Night Features Sweet Baby Ray Founder

Dave Raymond (ELGIN, IL – Sept. 28, 2021) Judson University will host its annual Network Night event, taking place on Thursday, September 30 at 6:30 p.m., as part of the 2021 Homecoming and Family Weekend Celebration.

Dave Raymond, founder of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce, will be the featured speaker for the event.  Dave Raymond, aka Sweet Baby Ray, and Cathy, his wife, are lifelong Chicagoans with more than three decades of passionate years of barbecue sauce, restaurants, and catering businesses behind them. As a youngster growing up on Chicago’s West Side, Dave learned early on that life is not always fair or easy—a lesson that helped to define the friend, businessman, and person that he is today.  Capitalizing on early success at Mike Royko’s Ribfest in Chicago, 1982, Dave and life-long friend, Mike O’Brien built Sweet Baby Ray’s into what is today—the best-selling barbecue sauce in the country.

In 2001, Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce was acquired by Ken’s foods of Marlborough, Mass. Now a multi-faceted business operation, Sweet Baby Ray’s businesses include two restaurants; a full-service Elk Grove Village location managed by Mike; and a 36-seat barbecue restaurant in Wood Dale managed and operated by business partner and nephew, Duce. The business also includes two catering companies also managed and operated by Duce. Attendees will hear how this family has enjoyed success as well as enduring business challenges while learning and growing along the way. 

Dave currently resides in Wood Dale, Ill., close to relatives as well as life-long friends, and spends much of his spare time with the barbecue community, while making efforts to help serve the underserved and common good in the inner city of Chicago and similar projects.

Judson alumni, students, and fellow community members are invited to attend the event, which is offered both virtually and in person that evening. The in-person event will take place in the Reed Room of Lindner Tower (1151 N. State St., Elgin), with networking and mingling beginning at 6:30 p.m. All in-person attendees will receive a free bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce!

Virtual access to the presentation will be offered beginning at 7:00 p.m. A link to the webinar will be provided via email, to those who choose to attend virtually. Participants are invited to register for Network Night and other Homecoming events here: https://bit.ly/JUHOMECOMING21

Each year, Judson’s Network Night provides opportunities for students and alumni to hear from distinguished businesspersons or alumni of the University, allowing the opportunity to build connections, community, and careers. Previous speakers of the event have included Dan Shaver ‘01, District Manager at Amazon Web Services, Kesha Kent ’05/’14, empowerment speaker, author and trainer, Lori Heiselman ’93, founder and CEO of Biscuit Media Group in Nashville, Tenn., David Plummer ’98, executive producer of WCIU-TV “The Jam,” and Jack Frisby ’81, sales coaching executive and author.

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