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MARCH 2020



OPTIMIZE YOUR RETAIL SPACE EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: WHY YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THE HPBA 2020 KEYNOTE ADDRESS Q&A with award-winning retail designer, architect and 2020 Keynote Speaker Wayne Visbeen.


t a time when hearth and outdoor living retailers are facing increased competition from online and other mass retailers, specialty dealers need to take advantage of leveraging the value that only they offer. A well-designed retail environment reflects a dealer’s expertise, professionalism, dedication and ability to provide homeowners with an experience that can’t be found elsewhere. In other words, there’s a reason customers should purchase their hearth and outdoor living products from you. So show it. That is the focus of the 2020 HPBA keynote address, and in advance of the expo, Jack Goldman, president and CEO of the HPBA, posed a few probing questions to renowned architect and interior designer Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, FAIBD. Q: What are some unique challenges and opportunities you see with brick-and-mortar retailers in the hearth and outdoor living categories? Visbeen: I’ve designed retail spaces for brands such as Gucci, Banana Republic and Victoria’s Secret, but the hearth retail environment is one of the toughest categories I’ve ever attacked. The units are large, expensive and need to be vented. To display them right takes a lot of square footage. You need to choose wisely, display intentionally and then showcase photos, videos, digital experiences or literature

2 | MARCH 2020 | www.napoleonfireplaces.com

to supplement for the models you can’t physically show. It is more effective to show a few great displays than it is to show a lot of average ones. First attract, then convert. Q: How important is the exterior of my showroom, and to what degree should the exterior of a dealer’s retail store reinforce what’s on the inside? Visbeen: This is a really important question because if you never get them into your showroom, you never have the chance to close a sale. To the degree possible, you want to create an inviting presence that reflects what they will experience when they enter. Think about Bass Pro Shops and how both the exterior and interior convey a distinctive and high-quality outdoor lifestyle. It tells a story. And that story reads like a billboard from the road. Q: Why is having a well-designed retail space more important today, than it was in years past?

Visbeen: Homeowners are counting on you to design and install one of the most foundational design elements of their home, and your retail space must reflect a sense of great design and aspiration. Regardless of the style they are after, homeowners want the assurance that you have the ability to design and build their dream space. As they conduct their research, they are inundated with ads and images to persuade them to purchase online. So that first showroom experience is invaluable! And how you display the fireplaces in your showroom will more than likely be the single most important aspect of why—and from whom—the fireplace is purchased.

Regardless of the style they are after, homeowners want the assurance that you have the ability to design and build their dream space. Q: Are there simple, inexpensive things specialty dealers can do right now to increase the appeal and performance of their retail presence? Visbeen: There are absolutely things dealers should be looking to do in the short term. To me, a big one is lighting. It is a total game changer and you would be surprised at what a difference a well-lit room and focused lighting can do to the appeal of your products. Another one would be a sense of organization from style to genre. If you can break your showroom into distinct styles, you can lead your customer to where they are comfortable.



Q: Do you have any recent examples of what you consider to be excellent hearth and outdoor living retail spaces? Visbeen: Great examples of impactful retail environments can be found anywhere, both outside the category and in it. I just completed the first phase of major retail redesign for a large hearth distributor in Ohio. During the HPBA address, I will focus on this recent example and share photos of the existing space, our design challenges and goals, and the resulting design solutions. In this instance, the distributor decided to add a complete outdoor offering to his existing hearth line-up. I’m really excited about this project and can’t wait to share it with everyone in New Orleans! Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, FAIBD, is the principal and founder of Visbeen Architects, Inc. and the winner of more than 100 Residential Design Awards and dozens of Best in American Living Awards.



See us at the HPBexpo at Booth #1215 to see new products for 2020!

Napoleon is a top North American manufacturer of woodburning, gas and electric fireplaces. Napoleon aims to inspire and enhance the most memorable experiences people enjoy in their homes. To learn more about Napoleon, visit napoleon.com.

www.napoleonfireplaces.com | MARCH 2020 | 3

| CONTENTS | FEATURES Clearing Hurdles 10  Wood-burners are selling well despite the turmoil created

by the EPA’s NSPS 2020; once again manufacturers display their resilience (limbo, anyone?).

Meet Dick Hoffman 26  The new chairman of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue

Association just sold his retail store in Asheville, North Carolina. Don’t worry, he says the sale will give him more time to spend on his chairman duties.


Kermit Ruffins & The Barbecue Swingers This New Orleans jazz great smokes on stage and at the grill.


Bernhardt Goes Casual 58 The 131-year-old family furniture business is known

for its luxe look, high quality, and affordable price points.

Fireside Chats 62 The following interviews with the CEOs of three

companies underline the workload required to run a hearth company today.

Listen to Yogi 76  Collin Emmett worked hard, created a successful

business, and married the right woman (which was his best decision).

A Slice of the Pie? 84  Don’t miss out on the Home Pizza Trend

it’s another major trend only in its infancy.

Buy vs. Borrow? 90  Will the rapidly growing sharing economy take a bite out of (your) retail sales? Only if you let it by not joining the trend.

Wayne’s World 98  Designing and selling truly custom fireplaces keeps Wayne Holsapple from being bored.

Human Resources 102 Insights for 10 of the Leading Human Resource Issues Faced by Specialty Retailers.

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40 26


10 84



Perspective New Products

106 Business Climate 110

Stock Watch


Ad Index

Who Reads Hearth & Home?

111 Classifieds 113

ON THE WEB News Millennial Wealth Is Below Expectations 52% Think Earth Is Warming Due to Human Activity Life Expectancy Is at a Standstill

Recipes Irish Burgers with Avocado Aioli and Irish Cheddar Dip by Napoleon Grills Grilled Garlic Potatoes by Pit Boss Grills

On the Cover A modular, freestanding stove by Spartherm, a German company that produces stoves, inserts, and fireplaces of the highest quality.



www.hearthandhome.com | MARCH 2020 | 5


Publisher/Editor Richard Wright wright@villagewest.com


Editorial only, send digital images to paquette@villagewest.com

Advertising Jackie Avignone, Director avignone@villagewest.com Melody Baird, Administrative Assistant baird@villagewest.com

Contributing Writers Lisa Readie Mayer, Tom Lassiter, Bill Sendelback, Paul Stegmeir, Mark Brock, Kathi Caldwell-Hopper

Creative Services Erica Paquette, Art Director paquette@villagewest.com April Brown, Graphic Designer brown@villagewest.com Katie Pelczar, Graphic Designer pelczar@villagewest.com Susan MacLeod, Proofreader

Circulation Sheila Kufert circulation@villagewest.com Karen Lange lange@villagewest.com

Office Judy McMahon, Accountant mcmahon@villagewest.com

Feel the heat at the HPBExpo Booths #2442 and #4226 The original and still the best in the industry.

Copyright Š 2020 by Village West Publishing. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. All advertising is subject to approval by the publisher. Please address all correspondence to Hearth & Home, P.O. Box 1288, Laconia, NH 03247, (603) 528-4285, (800) 258-3772, FAX: (603) 524-0643. Hearth & Home, The Outdoor Room and Vesta Awards are registered trademarks of Village West Publishing. Village West Publishing is not associated with, and has no financial interest in, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association.

Comparable Steel Ring Burner vs Warming Trends CFB180 Independently tested and verified.


6 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Hearth & Home (USPS 575-210/ISSN 02735695), Vol. XLI, No. 4 is published monthly by Village West Publishing, 25 Country Club Road, Ste. 403, Gilford, NH 03249/P.O. Box 1288, Laconia, NH 03247. Subscription price $36 per year; $60 (USD) in Canada; $120 (USD) overseas (first class, airmail only). Single copy price $15 (includes postage and handling) in U.S. and in Canada. Periodicals postage paid at Laconia, NH and at additional entry office. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Village West Publishing, Circulation Department, P.O. Box 1288, Laconia, NH 03247.

| Perspective |

In Memoriam Mark Stanley Brock


never met Mark Brock, at least not in person. But I knew him. For four years, we talked on the phone perhaps every other week, and communicated by email more than that. Mark was full of ideas — article ideas. He started as a reporter, but spent the bulk of his career at Wray Ward, a marketing communications agency in Charlotte, North Carolina (one of the best, in our opinion). That agency handled the Glen Raven account for years, and still does. Mark was director of Public Relations, a department that he started. Before he retired, he spent a lot of time researching and writing a two-volume history of Glen Raven and its iconic brand, Sunbrella. Mark was a very good writer, solid, and to the point. That also describes the way he spoke. When he finished the Glen Raven project, Mark retired. He was 65. My guess is that it wasn’t very long before he called, asking if he could freelance for Hearth & Home. His

first assignment was to call a number of manufacturers of outdoor fabric, and discuss the new trends in color, patterns, and textures. After years working at the agency, Mark knew fabrics, and he knew the people who made the fabric. That first article (“Blowin’ in the Wind”) appeared in our September 2016 issue. Over the next four years, Mark wrote 34 articles that appeared in Hearth & Home. Most recently was the cover story on “Climate Change” (January 2020); prior to that was the article on Mom-andPop stores (“A Family Affair,” May 2019); and the article on Richard and Catherine Frinier (“A Life of Design,” February 2019); then there was “Leadership: The Competitive Advantage,” and 29 more. Mark’s last article will appear in our May issue; it’s called “Women in Charge,” and is the result of 20 interviews with women who are either an owner, co-owner, CEO, president, or general manager of a hearth shop. On January 27, Mark Brock died at the age of 69. He is, and will be, missed — and remembered.

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Combining a see-through unit with TruFlame technology allows the most realistic rooms of any home, even outdoors.


| Burning Wood |

CLEARING HURDLES Wood-burners are selling well despite the turmoil created by the EPA’s NSPS 2020; once again manufacturers display their resilience (limbo, anyone?). By Bill Sendelback


he past year was a very confusing one for manufacturers of wood-burning products and their dealers. Manufacturers scrambled to get their wood-burners certified to the new NSPS 2020 Step 2 standards, and both manufacturers and hearth product dealers struggled to sell-off non-2020 Step 1 models before the May 15, 2020 deadline. Both groups hoped the EPA would grant an additional sell-through time to help dealers clear out old models. Unfortunately, that’s

10 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

an EPA action that has not occurred, but the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association is still trying to negotiate a sell-through period. But despite the turmoil, wood-burners sold pretty well in 2019, surprising many manufacturers, and manufacturers and dealers alike flushed out most of the old non-2020 models, readying showrooms and warehouses for new 2020 models. Now, with mostly clean pipelines and most manufacturers already shipping 2020 models, this year, 2020, looks like an

even stronger sales year for wood-burners. But even as dealers put new 2020 models on their showroom floors and replenish their inventories with these new models, sales of wood-burning products continue to slide downward. Cordwood appliance sales in the U.S. were up 10% in 2018, but that was after a 17% drop in 2017. And that 2018 total of 192,499 was down 70% from the most recent high in 2001 of 637,856. Wood-burner sales in Canada have also been falling. Sales in 2018 were down 7% to 36,362, and down 64% from the recent high in 2006 of 59,717. Steel stoves lead the wood-burning stove market, according to Hearth & Home magazine’s 2018 Buyer’s Guide, with 56% of the wood stove market. Cast-iron models captured 38%, and combination Hearthstone Stoves’ Hase Bari TruHybrid Stove.

Pioneer III wood fireplace by Hearth & Home Technologies.

cast-iron and stone models were 6% of sales. Freestanding stoves still lead the woodburning market, totaling 63% of sales, while fireplace inserts were 37% of sales. Non-catalytic wood-burners were 83% of the wood-burner market, with catalytic models nabbing 17%. But these percentages undoubtedly will change dramatically for 2020 as more manufacturers use catalytic or hybrid technologies to meet the tougher 2020 NSPS standards. Hearthstone Stoves “Last year was a good year for us, but it was the most convoluted yet interesting year,” says Dave Kuhfahl, president of Hearthstone Stoves. “We ran out of non-2020 wood-burners in mid-October and had to switch over to our new 2020 models. We’re now selling and shipping our full line of 2020-certified models.” Kuhfahl says that some manufacturers may “disappear” because of the costs of 2020 certification, and some others “are not yet prepared. But we expect 2020 to be a phenomenal sales year. Most of our dealers have cleared out their non-2020 inventory, and we started getting early-buy requests as this year began.” Hearthstone offers two wood-burning fireplaces and an insert tested to the noncat cordwood 2020 standard. The rest of the company’s wood-burning line features hybrid technology with Hearthstone’s TruHybrid system. “We use full secondary combustion before flue gases go to our stainless-steel combustor for crazy high efficiencies,” says Kuhfahl. “And with this system, the combustor lights-off quicker.” Also new from Hearthstone is its Green Mountain line of wood-burning stoves and inserts, cast-iron models featuring clean, contemporary styling with “massive” glass

windows. Available in five stove sizes and one fireplace insert, the Green Mountain models are designed to be simpler, lowerpriced models to compete with steel stoves. “Most Euro-styled stoves have single-burn rates,” says Kuhfahl. “Ours all feature hybrid clean-burn technology.” Hearth & Home Technologies Sales of wood-burners in 2019 were “a bit soft” for Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT), according to John Shimek, senior vice president of Product Innovation. “Sales of wood-burning fireplaces were flat, and while sales of fireplaces were up and sales of both wood stoves and inserts were down by double-digits, insert sales were stronger than that of wood stoves. Much of this sales slow-down was because dealers last year were concerned about taking on too much non2020 inventory. But our dealers’ inventories now are in good shape. Once we get through the early part of this year as dealers take on 2020 models, we expect a good sales year buoyed by strong consumer demand.”

Shimek sees a growing demand for smaller wood-burners to fit with today’s smaller new homes, and less demand for heat with these more efficient new homes. While HHT offers non-cat technology in some of its wood-burning lines, the company offers hybrid technology in its Vermont Castings brand, technology that combines secondary air, tube-type technology with a catalytic combustor to finish the cleanup of emissions. “There is a divided camp regarding catalytic technology,” Shimek says, “but catalytic technology has come a long way since its early days, and combustors have gotten a lot better, more durable, and cheaper. The replacement costs of combustors are down considerably, and catalytic technology now is everywhere in our lives, as in our automobiles and microwave ovens.” Much of HHT’s research and development activities were “tabled” last year as the company readied its wood-burners to meet the new 2020 standards. “This allowed us to weed out some of our slow sellers,” says Shimek. “Consumers will see better burns with this new technology, but we should see retail prices up only slightly.” While HHT plans to offer new models later in 2020, it is now highlighting its EPA-recertified Quadra-Fire Pioneer III non-cat fireplace featuring a 4.1 cu. ft. firebox, which HHT says is the largest 2020 wood-burning fireplace. The Pioneer III also features HHT’s Smart Burn technology that automatically controls the fire even without electric power.

Lopi Endeavor wood stove from Travis Industries.

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| Burning Wood | Travis Industries It was a “strong” sales year for woodburners at Travis Industries, according to Kip Rumens, vice president of Sales. “Dealers were very cautious early in 2019 because of their inventories of non-2020 models. But sales really took off when our new 2020-compliant models hit the market. “We expect a very strong wood year in 2020. Dealers already have our new 2020 products, and their performance is even better, cleaner than we expected. That was our number one concern for our 2020 models – that they worked well in the field.” Sales of fireplace inserts were strong in 2019 for Travis, and Rumens expects insert sales again to be strong in 2020.

Empire Comfort Systems Empire Comfort Systems entered the wood-burner market late in 2019 with the addition of wood-burner models from its earlier acquisition of Stove Builder International to add to its previously gas-only offerings. “Our dealers certainly sell wood-burners, too,” says Nick Bauer, president. “We want to better serve our dealers, and most would prefer to deal with fewer suppliers, so we thought woodburners were a natural fit for us. Adding to this category has already helped us gain new customers.” Empire Comfort now offers three wood stoves and two fireplace inserts, all 2020 non-cat models. The company will add two EPA-certified wood-burning fireplaces in 2020.

clear-outs done early. We expect a better 2020 in the U.S. with dealers buying 2020 models earlier in the year.” Cantin says he is always surprised by the sales strength of SBI’s larger models, so when the company launched its 2020 models, it finished its larger models first. “Maybe it is because of the colder weather and the need for heat, but I think it is because it does not cost that much more for a larger size.” Cantin also sees the growing trend continuing toward modern styling. “These models exceeded our forecasts for last year.” New from SBI is the Ventis brand of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces made for Olympia Chimney Supply. SBI will market the Ventis line in Canada, and Copperfield Chimney Supply, a division of Olympia, will market these Ventis models in the U.S.

Archway 2300 insert from Empire Comfort.

Osburn 3300 from SBI.

FP25 fireplace from Pacific Energy.

Black is back, says Rumens. He sees a trend in wood-burners away from “fancy trim” to simpler, black styling. Travis did not simply tweak its existing models to meet the 2020 standards but “invented” new fireboxes, most using noncat technology and tested with cordwood. Travis’ hybrid models, too, were tested with cordwood to try to duplicate real world use. Other features on Travis’ 2020 wood-burners include ash pans on medium and large Lopi models, new doors with new door seals and larger glass windows on all of Travis’ NexGen-Fyre stoves. The very popular Lopi Endeavor wood stove also got a bigger firebox, and engineering to allow it to draft better and start easier.

Stove Builder International (SBI) Last year was a “record year” for woodburner sales at Stove Builder International (SBI), according to Marc-Antoine Cantin, president. “The economies of both the U.S. and Canada are doing well, and it was brutally cold in some areas. While dealers were clearing out non-2020 models in the U.S., our Canadian sales were a bit stronger percentage-wise. Some dealers were very concerned about their non-2020 inventories, but most were pretty clean by the first of this year. However, some home centers still have old non-2020 models. “We think the conditions will be similar for 2020 – pretty good economies, no recessions, and most non-2020

Also new from SBI are the Osburn 3300 and Enerzone Solution 3.3 wood stoves featuring “north-south” front-to-back loading. And SBI is introducing the Osburn Everest, a mid-sized, EPA-certified, ZC fireplace featuring retractable glass doors.

12 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Pacific Energy Fireplace Products Despite dumping of non-2020 models in some markets by “several manufacturers,” wood-burner sales were up by double-digit percentages at Pacific Energy Fireplace Products, according to Cory Iversen, North American Sales manager. “Woodburner sales for us were up in the East but down in the West.” Most of Pacific Energy’s wood-burners are now 2020-certified, “catalytic free,” says

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| Burning Wood | Iversen, and the remainder of the company’s line of wood-burners will be 2020-certified by April including what Iversen describes as the first wood-burning fireplace to be 2020-certified with non-cat technology. Pacific Energy is actively promoting that its line of 2020-certified woodburners are certified without the use of catalytic combustors. “Our research indicates that the usability and durability of a catalytic combustor in a wood stove is significantly overstated by some in the industry,” Iversen says. “It is well documented that the performance of a combustor declines in direct proportion to use. We see no justification for the higher initial cost and increased maintenance.” Innovative Hearth Products (IHP) Innovative Hearth Products (IHP) saw a lull early in 2019 in its sales of woodburners, but sales “finished the year strong with strong demand,” according to Michael Lewis, vice president of Marketing. “After the market trepidation from preparing for the 2020 standards, let’s hope we can get back to regular business. People still want wood-burners, so we expect demand to continue.”

Napoleon’s High Country 8000 wood fireplace.

14 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Astria Plantation fireplace from Innovative Hearth Products (IHP).

In addition to IHP’s BIS brand of EPA products, the company offers decorative wood-burners. “This category, including cheaper, entry-level fireplaces, is declining as more builders and consumers go to direct-vent gas, vent-free gas or electric models. But the large, premium, decorative fireplaces are selling very well. People still want a big, open-faced wood-burner as a focal point of their room.” IHP’s EPA line now is all 2020-certified with all stoves, inserts, and some fireplaces using non-cat technology while some fireplaces use hybrid technology. Lewis

points out that the total costs to re-engineer, develop and 2020-certify each model can approach $100,000 including $20,000 to $30,000 in testing costs. IHP will be introducing new decorative wood-burners later this year. Napoleon Fireplaces It was a relatively flat sales year for woodburners at Napoleon Fireplaces, down a little in the U.S. and flat in Canada, according to John Czerwonka, vice president of Hearth Sales. “We were just so focused on our gas and electric models, plus

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| Burning Wood | getting our wood-burners ready for 2020. And we had a significant inventory of non2020 models to move while dealers were reluctant to take on non-2020 products as they waited for our 2020-certified models. “Sales of our decorative wood-burners were up slightly with the higher-end models in this category up by doubledigits. Fortunately, our dealers worked through their non-2020 models, and our inventory started this year bare bones of old models, so we are in a good position.” Czerwonka is excited about 2020, seeing wood-burner sales picking up and “certainly a better sales year. There is a high sense of confidence in the U.S. economy. Consumers are parting with their money and want bigger and more deluxe fireplaces. Homebuilders of medium- to high-end homes also want bigger, clean-faced fireplaces with more features. Today’s homebuyers want choices to make their fireplace their own.” While attending the January International Builders Show in Las Vegas, Czerwonka says he was “astounded” by the increase in interest in electric fireplaces. New for this year are Napoleon’s 2020-certified wood-burners including five new stove models and inserts. Napoleon primarily has used non-catalytic technology and one catalytic model in its new 2020 lineup. “When we bring out new, larger models, we will probably have to use catalytic technology to meet the standards,” says Czerwonka. He says while preparing for

The Stûv 6 Line of wood-burning inserts.

16 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Zero Clearance unit from Spartherm.

2020, Napoleon took the opportunity to redesign and modify many models to update their styling. “Some of our 2020 models are redesigned, but some are brand new.” Czerwonka, too, thinks that the average cost of $100,000 per unit to certify and bring 2020 models to market is “light.” Spartherm Spartherm, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of hearth products, and headquartered in Germany, saw “good” sales in 2019 of its wood-burners throughout North America, according to Markus Aumann, Export Sales manager. The company had been concentrating on the Canadian market with its wood and vented gas products, but in 2019 began efforts in the U.S. “Our unique products are becoming well known with architects and designers.”

Unique models such as Spartherm’s three-sided, corner, and see-through fireplaces are the company’s best sellers. “Our straight-faced, one-sided units have not yet taken off as well, even though these models are priced in line with North American-made products, perhaps because there are just so many single-sided fireplaces already on the North American market.” For 2020, Spartherm has launched a complete range of wood-burning, zeroclearance fireplaces, freestanding stoves, and fireplace inserts, all certified to the NSPS 2020 Step 2 standards. Featuring very clean, minimalistic, European designs, all have fully adjustable combustion air controls, large ceramic glass doors, and 6-inch chimney connection. “We’ve been very pleased at the dealer reception of these new products,” says Aumann. Stûv America “We’ve had four years of very strong sales growth,” says Vincent Boudreau, president and CEO of Stûv America, “but 2019 was a little slower for our woodburner sales, our core business. We will still see sales growth this year, 2020, but not as much as we saw in 2016 through 2018. The first quarter of 2020 will be a mirror of 2019 as non-2020 models are sold off in the field.” All of Stûv’s wood-burners are 2020-certified using non-catalytic technology. The company also offers EPAcertified models using a single-burn-rate. “I am very ‘pro’ single-burn-rate models. These models have sold fantastically for us, but you have to explain to the customer how to use them,” Boudreau says. “You




| Burning Wood | can reduce and manage the burn rate and still be clean-burning simply by managing the amount of wood in the unit.” New from Stûv is its Stûv 6 fireplace inserts, available in three models. The company’s Stûv 16 insert requires a 24½inch fireplace opening, limiting the fireplaces it can fit. The new Stûv 6 is a clean-faced insert made to fit almost all fireplaces with lower openings. It features a light gauge, galvanized-steel convection shell into which the insert “engine” is installed. Then the Stûv 6 is slid into the fireplace. The unit also features Stûv’s patented glass door system offering the largest fire view. ICC/RSF After a slow summer as dealers flushed out non-2020 wood-burners, ICC/RSF had a “very strong” end of 2019, according to Dan Bonar, vice president of Residential Sales. “When the season started, consumers did not seem concerned whether the product was 2020-certified or not. They just wanted product. So since we had no inventory, we were literally building product for homeowners.” That momentum apparently continued into this year as ICC/RSF posted its strongest January ever. “Sales have been extremely strong, and based on this early season, we expect a strong sales year. Every distributor has asked for more product than we expected. We are fully booked.” Bonar has seen an “enormous” 30% sales increase so far this year in the company’s decorative wood-burning fireplaces.

Novo 18 by Supreme Fireplaces.

18 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Pearl 3600 fireplace from ICC/RSF.

“This has become a great market,” says Bonar. Sales are up on the company’s high-efficiency lines, too, but Bonar sees contemporary, cleaner aesthetics as being more important than expected. “People know all our units will heat, so they want more contemporary models.” The entire RSF line of wood-burners is 2020-certified. Two new wood-burners are the traditional Pearl 3600, and contemporary Focus 3600, both using the same, new, 2.1 cu. ft. firebox. Supreme Fireplaces Supreme Fireplaces had “huge sales growth” in 2019 in both the U.S. and Canada, according to Anastasia Marcakis, Sales manager. “And with our growing

wood-only line, we are confident that we will see continued sales growth this year, maybe not the huge increase we saw in 2019, but definite growth.” Like most manufacturers, Supreme is seeing the growing trend toward cleaner, more contemporary models. “And we’re seeing more interest in larger fireboxes with the biggest glass windows so the customer can enjoy the wood fire,” Marcakis says. Most of Supreme’s products are now 2020-certified, all using non-cat technology. Last year the company introduced its Novo 18 and Novo 24 wood stoves, and this year it has introduced its Novo 38 model with a 3.8 cu. ft. firebox. Also new is the Lumes, a larger, more contemporary insert with a 3.2 cu. ft. firebox. In many of its wood-burners, Supreme features its patented automatic primary air control coupled with its patented secondary air variable control using a baffle with holes for the secondary air rather than air tubes. And Supreme is using cast-iron or soapstone for its firebox linings for more even heat output. Kuma Stoves It was a year like no other for Kuma Stoves, says Mark Freeman, president. “We did very well with our wood-burners, our core product category. After a record sales year in 2018, sales last year equaled that record even with all the confusion of the 2020 NSPS deadline.” Freeman predicts 2020 will be another good year for wood-burners. “We have a strong economy. A few manufacturers



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| Burning Wood | have dropped wood-burners, some are still working on 2020 products, and many have reduced their offerings rather than re-certifying slow movers. Because of all this, we think there will be fewer 2020-certified models available this year, causing holes in the marketplace and not as much for dealers to pick from.” Freeman doesn’t see prices of woodburners getting any cheaper. “With the high costs of certification, wood stoves will be more expensive, but we’re holding any necessary price increases to a minimum.” Freeman feels that an estimate of $100,000 each to bring a 2020-certified wood-burner to market is “light.” Kuma now has eight wood-burners 2020-certified to the cordwood standard using hybrid technology. “When we began development of our 2020 models, two things were non-negotiable; they had to offer long burn times and the glass had to remain clean. We got these with our hybrid technology. We can turn down the stove for a long burn and still have clean glass. We could not maintain clean glass using just a cat, and non-cats needed more air.” Freeman says one of his new 2020 models is certified on cordwood at 82% efficiency while producing only 0.72 gph emissions. Freeman is looking ahead to the EPA again being required to visit the NSPS in 2023. “At that time, we’ll probably see the standard requiring that testing be done with cordwood rather than cribwood.” Regency Fireplace Products Last year was a “surprisingly strong” sales year for wood-burners at Regency Fireplace Products, says Glen Spinelli, president. “We were a bit concerned about inventories of non-2020 models, but we sold out everything. Most of our 2020-compliant products were being shipped by November. It was a strong market, and we had a decent sales increase. “And 2020 started strong with strong demand early. We are committed to woodburning. I am pretty positive about this year. We may not see a double-digit sales increase, but 2020 will be strong.” Regency has been doing well with its medium and large wood stoves, and its insert sales continue to be “pretty strong.” Regency began work on its 2020 models by using catalytic technology to meet the

20 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Kuma Stoves’ Alpine LE Insert.

standards. “But in our engineering, we found that we could certify many models using non-catalytic technology. So we’re offering both technologies in our 2020 lineup.” With a new R&D center due to begin operations in May, Regency is developing new models and new sizes of 2020-compliant woodburners set to hit the market in August. Blaze King Alan Murphy, president of Blaze King, was “pleasantly surprised at the robustness” of the company’s 2019 sales of wood-burners in view of the May 15, 2020, deadline to meet the NSPS Step 2 standards.

Regency’s Classic F1150 Wood Stove.

“It was an unusual year with surprisingly strong early-buy orders and strong sales late in the year,” he said, “but with slow sales in the summer, we ended 2019 with flat sales. We were happy with that, and we attribute even this flat sales year to our consistent sales message that we were ready for 2020. “We started our efforts early to get all our wood-burners 2020 certified well ahead of the May 15, 2020, deadline, so we were unable to work on new products. But now, with the confusion of the 2020 deadline almost behind us, we can start our research and development efforts for the many new products we’re planning for





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| Burning Wood | 2021 and 2022. Our dealers seem to have flushed out their non-2020 inventory, so we’re expecting a strong 2020 sales year.” Blaze King had an “enormous” inventory going into 2019, says Murphy. “We wanted to be really good on deliveries to dealers. We plan that same strategy – lots of inventory for 2020 to supply what we think will be strong demand.” Murphy chuckles when he sees some manufacturers of non-catalytic woodburners knocking catalytic technology. “We’ve successfully been selling only catalytic wood-burners for more than 40 years,” he said. “There have been incredible improvements in catalytic technology over those years. Non-catalytic stoves are not the cleanest burning nor the most efficient, and catalytic technology offers more control over the fire than most non-cat models. We offer a 10-year, 100% warranty on our combustors. Over the years, our warranty claims on combustors have been less than one-half percent of our sales.” Murphy warns that “clouds are again rising” for the wood-burning industry, saying that some state environmental regulators are not satisfied with the 2020 NSPS standards.

Jøtul’s F500 V3 Oslo.

22 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

King KE40 with Parlor Legs by Blaze King.

He’s concerned that, like decades ago, some states may try to legislate their own state emissions standards, different and stricter than the 2020 NSPS standards. “Most pollutants are coming from the millions of non-EPA wood-burners that are still being used,” he said. “We need to remove those with more change-out programs.” John Crouch, the HPBA’s director of Public Affairs, acknowledges that at least Washington State did consider tougher standards. “But the HPBA responded to challenge that effort,” he said. “We expect other states, too, will consider such actions, but we’re ready, and the HPBA and our affiliates will respond.” Jøtul North America Last year was a “respectable” woodburner sales year for Jøtul North America, according to Jim Merkel, National Sales manager. Despite Jøtul’s gas-burners growing in sales, wood-burners still represented 46% of Jøtul’s sales. “We’re looking for a good wood year in 2020. Consumers continue to want to burn wood. As we move to new, clean-burn technologies, consumers are starting to be conscious of the advantages of the new generation of wood-burners. Our 2020-certified models have been on the market since late 2019, and we’ll be adding more models this year.” Merkel says that medium- to mediumlarge wood-burner sales are “very strong” for Jøtul. A top seller is its small F 602, a model that dates back to 1939, now updated for 2020. Whether to use a catalytic combustor or use non-cat technology “depends on the model, whichever works best in each individual model,” says Merkel.

“Today’s combustors are much upgraded and improved. Twenty years ago many consumers could not adapt to using the bypass to light off the combustor. Our technology moves away from needing a bypass and makes catalytic models easier to use.” Jøtul’s patent-pending Jøtul Fusion clean-burn technology combines tubetype secondary burn technology with a downstream catalytic combustor that requires no bypass. This technology was featured in Jøtul’s F 500 V3 wood stove, the Wood Products category, and Hearth Best-in-Show 2019 Vesta Awards winner. Jøtul Fusion includes a Jøtul High Flow Combustor with metal substrate that is not welded so it is free to expand and contract under heat, a combustor that Jøtul covers with a 20-year warranty. In non-cat technology featured in some Jøtul 2020 wood-burners, the Jøtul Turbulator features tertiary burn on the stove’s top baffle to burn cleaner. Last year was a better year for woodburner sales than most expected. This year, 2020, is expected to be even better. The recently restored federal tax credit for biomass burners, including wood and pellet burners, should help the wood-burner sales success of 2020. On December 20, 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law legislation that reinstates the 25C federal tax credit that had expired on Dec. 31, 2017. The HPBA had been trying ever since to get the tax credit reinstated. This legislation offers a federal tax credit of 30% of the purchase price and installation costs of a wood or pellet appliance with an efficiency rating of at least 75%. This legislation is retroactive for purchases from Jan. 1, 2018, and continues until Dec. 31, 2020.

Need to Get Rid of Old Non-2020 Wood-Burners? Here’s an Option. The HPBA has been advocating for a sell-through period for NSPS Step 1 wood and pellet stoves ever since the new NSPS was first proposed in 2014. Since the EPA finalized the current NSPS in 2015, the HPBA has urged retailers and distributors to assume that the EPA will not grant any sell-through and to plan accordingly to clear out old Step 1 models, says John Crouch, the HPBA’s director of Public Affairs. “Reports from the field are that most retailers have cleaned out their Step 1 stoves,” he says, “but there will likely be some retailers that will not have moved all of their Step 1 units by the May 15, 2020, deadline. At the suggestion of HPBA members Shannon Good of Good Marketing Group, and Kurt Evers, 2019 president of the Mid-Atlantic HPBA Affiliate, the HPBA has worked to secure another option for retailers or distributors who need a simple way to clear out Step 1 stoves that may otherwise be unsalable after May 15, 2020.” Shannon Good has been part of an intensive summer program to repair low-income housing for families in Appalachia, run by the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). Operating from their locations in Johnson City, Tennessee, and Jonesville, Virginia, ASP makes homes “warmer, safer, drier,” by organizing volunteers to rehabilitate carefully selected homes that need repairs above and beyond the family’s financial ability. Good says that ASP tackles all types of major repairs including roofs and foundations, but currently not wood stove replacements. With training help from the hearth product industry, they could find homes for Step 1 stoves that have not been sold by the May 15, 2020, deadline. Out of this suggestion has come the Stoves-to-Homes Program. Knowing that retailers will try to continue selling their Step 1 stoves right up until the May 15, 2020, deadline, the HPBA received official word from the EPA that a simple program could be set up with a qualifying non-profit organization (such as ASP) as follows: • Prior to the deadline of May 15, 2020, dealer or distributor makes a written donation of units – identified explicitly by serial number – to the non-profit organization; • Before May 15, 2020, the non-profit organization acknowledges receipt of the donation, expressly identified by serial number, and with a value set by the dealer; • Dealer or distributor to label products in their warehouse, prominently identifying the product as “SOLD” and belonging to the non-profit organization; • Dealer or distributor physically delivers product to the non-profit organization within a reasonable period (e.g., 90 days). Some HPBA members will be volunteering to help train the ASP construction leads. ASP has agreed to make certain that all the old Step 1, non-2020-certified stoves removed from peoples’ homes are destroyed, as is the case with any change-out with which the HPBA or the EPA is involved. After May 15, 2020, Step 1 non-2020 stoves cannot be sold or transferred. Products transferred to a qualifying non-profit must go directly into consumers’ homes, not offered for sale, or transferred to any commercial owner. For more information, go to HPBA.org.

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| Viewpoint |


Dick Hoffman The new chairman of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association just sold his retail store in Asheville, North Carolina. Don’t worry, he says the sale will give him more time to spend on his chairman duties. By Bill Sendelback


t’s interesting, and important, that so many of the incoming chairmen (and women) of the HPBA assume that role with a pet project in mind. For Ingrid Schroeter and Amy Ryan, it was increasing membership in the association; for Joe Burns it was setting up a network of brokers to facilitate selling their business. Dick Hoffman’s goal is to increase the awareness of hearth products throughout the land. Hearth & Home: Talk to me about how you got into the hearth industry, and then into patio and barbecue products. Dick Hoffman: “I worked at a wholesale pharmaceutical distribution company. I had completed a 25-year career, having been through sales, buying, advertising, and promotion management. At a high

26 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

point, I was the vice president of the corporation and a division manager. At that time, it was a $150 million company, and my division was a $50 million division. “It was a fourth generation family business and had reached the point where they decided to exit; the heirs didn’t want to enter into it. It ended up with the business being sold. Within a short period of time, my division was consolidated with another startup division in Charlotte, and my wife Gleyn and I moved there. After

a three-year run, we decided life was a bit too complicated, and not what we really wanted to do. We wanted to move back to Asheville and look for an opportunity. “We met Debs Pedigo, who had a franchise situation developing out of the Charlotte base, and we made contact. Within a number of months, we were able to come into the category of hearth and patio. We developed a location in Asheville and started with trying to figure out exactly what that category meant to us.”


What year was that? Hoffman: “That was in 1995. The hearth industry was well established at that point, and our startup was based on Debs’ particular format. He was in a milder region, so the category of patio was much stronger than hearth for him. He was doing quite a bit in gas logs, but not much else in hearth. “As we grew the business in Asheville, it became pretty clear that our climate zone was much more of a winter category for hearth, and that category really outpaced patio. We began to understand that the business was more than just gas logs, as we thought it was at the beginning. So we became experts in how to work with wood stoves. That was the time when the categories were beginning to expand; fireplaces and direct-vent came in, and we really grew more and more into the hearth industry. We separated from the franchise in 2011 and renamed the store to better identify the business.” I think many other people followed that same route, and many started earlier, in the late ’70s and early ’80s. First it was hearth, then it was patio, and barbecue brought up the rear. Hoffman: “Barbecue was a small category for us in the very beginning. The only thing we did with barbecue was a Ducane grill. Of course, over the years we learned more about products, and grew along with the category. Eventually, the Hearth Products Association became the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, as it is today.” How many employees did you start with? Was it just a Mom-and-Pop operation? Hoffman: “It was. It was my wife, Gleyn, and myself, and we had one employee, Ric Porter. We started in a location that was a subdivided building. A hardware store owner decided to downsize his building and we took over half of that space. We talked about what we were trying to do and, of course, followed along with some suggestions he had. “Ric was the one employee that he recommended to us; he had been with him for a number of years but he knew that he had greater talents and more to offer than he was able to in his present position. So

we ended up with that individual joining us. He became a full-time employee, and was with us for 23 and a half years.” How large is your store now? Hoffman: “The current store operates out of about 7,500 sq. ft. in retail. There’s some additional space that’s restroom and storeroom. And it’s backed up with a separate warehouse that’s about 10,000 sq. ft.” So you’re well positioned. Am I correct that you’re very close to the entrance of the Vanderbilt Mansion?

Now, when the Great Recession hit, what percent did you drop in sales? Hoffman: “I think we were down about 50% to 55%. It was a really traumatic period.” Are you back to where you were prior to the Great Recession? Hoffman: “Yes, but it required about nine years to do so. Then the last several years have provided for continued gains. The last two years have been particularly good.

“The gas issue is growing more than we would like to see. Of course, there’s California where about 15 cities have taken steps to ban it. In Massachusetts, the city of Brookline is banning gas. Other cities may look at this and decide to do the same.” – Dick Hoffman

Hoffman: “We’re probably a mile and a half away. We’re pretty much in a downtown area.” What’s the population of Asheville? Hoffman: “Ninety-three thousand is a pretty good number, and what would be considered the metropolitan area puts it up to 424,000 when you get outside the immediate Asheville area.” It’s all these husky, young Millennial kids with a couple of bucks in their pocket and they want to go to good restaurants. Hoffman: “You’re right. There’s a lot of foodie interest in our area. We’ve always had a reputation as being a tourist area, but I guess all that’s changed over the years. Asheville’s become a beer city with two national brands locating breweries here. There’s also a lot of craft breweries and a lot of interest in that. Of course, the downtown area is really outstanding and quite a tourist draw.”

“Over a period covered by the recession, we pared down a number of our lines. With the patio lines we merged primarily with those companies that were manufacturing in the U.S. or had just a little offshore. The exception, obviously, was in wood.” What do you see as major problems for the industry as we head into 2020? Hoffman: “Well, the industry has several fronts. They categorize it as Wood & PelletNSPS issues and changeouts. With gas, we are seeing the challenge of Net Zero carbon, or electrification with municipal bans on natural gas and licensing. We are also concerned about the exclusion of our trades to fully install and service products we sell. At HPBA we’ve dealt with things in Vancouver for natural gas exclusions and, of course, Zero Net Energy emergence. “The gas issue is growing more than we would like to see. Of course, there’s California where about 15 cities have taken steps to ban it. In Massachusetts, the city of Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience


| Viewpoint |

“So that’s my objective, to find ways to better promote our hearth products. Think about a family, and an evening, in front of an inviting stove or fireplace; it’s a powerful message. I’d like to find ways to achieve that type of messaging and be more widespread with it.”

– Dick Hoffman

ways to support it. But the category that I want to focus on, and I’ve talked with Jack (Goldman) about this, is to find ways to increase and promote the awareness of our hearth products. As a trade association, we don’t really get into too much marketing, and that’s part of what a trade association does. How to accomplish that is the key. The HPBA has been fairly successful in promoting the barbecue industry. “Let’s use some newer efforts that are tied to social media, that creates awareness in a different channel than what we’ve thought about in the past. I’ve had an opportunity to have some dialogue with Emily McGee, who is our Communications director. We have been brainstorming about additional ways to accomplish that. “So that’s my objective, to find ways to better promote our hearth products. Think about a family, and an evening, in front of an inviting stove or fireplace; it’s a powerful message. I’d like to find ways to achieve that type of messaging and be more widespread with it.” How do we get the funds to get that word out throughout the land? It’s a small industry, and the money just isn’t there.

Brookline is banning gas. Other cities may look at this and decide to do the same. It just creeps in there. Of course, the idea is to be more ecological and that’s great. But sometimes I think that individual efforts move so fast that proponents of banning gas don’t realize that it has a lot of good to it, and perhaps it should be integrated into using it without totally banning it.” Is hearth still your main product? Hoffman: “It’s still a primary. We’ve been moving anywhere between 65% and 75% hearth in the last couple of years. That’s been fueled a lot by some construction they’ve been doing in the area. A lot of new

28 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

homes, remodels, etc., have been going in. We’re still in an area in the western part of our state where we have a fair amount of wood-burning stoves, wood-burning fireplaces, things like that. Patio’s been probably the category that has suffered most over the years. Then barbecue represents one of the smaller pieces.” Coming into the chairmanship of the HPBA, do you have any pet projects you would like to implement? Hoffman: “Well, I do. During the past few years, membership is an area that has really been discussed. That’s obviously an important thing, and I’ll try to find

Hoffman: “That’s true. Our manufacturers of hearth products are just not in the same category as brands that you see in magazines and on television. I think we’ve got to enlist our manufacturers to bring some ideas to the forefront, see if we can’t evolve some campaigns. “I would challenge the HPBA, through Emily McGee, to come up with ways to create tools that retail members can use that are somewhat universal – that they can implement. I think there are ways. We just don’t have them down on paper yet. But my objective is to try and find ways to better promote hearth products at the consumer level.” When Gene Butler was chairman (20162017) of the HPBA he came up with the idea of using social media and having the HPBA prepare the messages and the tools for retailers and distributors so they could get them out through social media and have a big impact. I’m not aware that it was ever tried. But it made sense.

Hoffman: “I agree with you. I don’t think it ever came to fruition. However, I think there has been some progress made using social media. But to carry it to that extent again, coming out with that toolkit and making it available to the members of the association, I think is doable. And I think Emily’s got some ideas on trying to do that. “Another thing that’s getting some attention from Jack and the association is looking at how to increase the incident rate of fireplaces in new construction. He’s putting together some thoughts and guidance from individuals within the industry to come up with ideas and talk about it. I think there’s an opportunity there where the manufacturers will support it. All of that will combine to having a better presence and promotion and awareness of the category. I may have to call Gene Butler and pick his brain.” I think Joe Burns (the present chairman), and Jack Goldman are responsible for getting the national brokerage firm called Sunbelt

onboard and ready to help anyone trying to sell his or her store. Hoffman: “Yes. I think Joe’s perception of that need found a solution that will help our industry. I’m an example of a 20-plus year retailer who got to that point where I needed to consider getting out. We were fortunate enough to realize the value in going through a broker, which led us into the ultimate sale of the retail portion of our business. “What Joe has been able to do is to take that idea and find Sunbelt, a company that has a national presence. Most of them are franchise offices that can help across most of our geography. From what I understand, there have been a good number of people that have had some discussions. They had a webinar that attracted a pretty good attendance. “One of the things that deserves a little comment is the fact that we have, in essence, sold the retail portion of our business. I continue in the industry with certain involvement, part of that being

the obligation with the new buyer as ‘a consultant,’ to be helpful in guiding him along a limited basis as he gets a foothold and continues the business. “By being able to be a consultant to him and do some other things, it gives me a great opportunity to devote time and thought to the HPBA and the chairmanship. I think other chairs have to eek out enough time to be credible in all the things they’re going to do. “I bring a lot of experience from my time in this industry, as well as what I did in previous industries. It gives me a good opportunity. I’ve said many times, if you’re part of something, there should be a point where you give back to it. I learned that a number of years ago by getting involved at an early level. I had an opportunity to get involved on the regional affiliate board and asked to participate at different levels. And now it’s kind of an exclamation point in all of that. So I would encourage other people to get involved in the industry and try to give back too.”


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| Food & Music |




s r e g n i w S This New Orleans jazz great smokes on stage and at the grill.

By Lisa Readie Mayer


n New Orleans, they take their food and their music seriously. But even in this city full of top-notch chefs and performers, it would be hard to find anyone who embraces both food and music with greater passion than Kermit Ruffins. The trumpeter, singer, composer, and bandleader has been said to personify the spirit and laid-back vibe of New Orleans jazz. With 15 albums to his credit, and a near-nightly performance schedule, Ruffins is an institution in his hometown, beloved by music critics, locals, and tourists alike. He expanded his fan base playing himself as a recurring character on the former HBO series “Tremé,” set in

post-Katrina New Orleans. He recorded “Bare Necessities” with Bill Murray for Disney’s 2016 remake of the movie “Jungle Book;” sat in with John Batiste and the Stay Human Band on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert;” and was a guest judge and performer on a New Orleansinspired episode of “Top Chef.” The latter appearance comes as no surprise, given Ruffins’ cooking is as legendary as his music. In fact, both of his skills are so intertwined, they usually take place in tandem. Ruffins is widely known for grilling out front of the venues where he’s performing – so much so that he named his band The Barbecue Swingers. He has also included recipes in his album liners.

Intersection of Cool Jazz and Hot Barbecue Ruffins began honing both his musical and cooking talents as a child. He fell in love with the trumpet when his uncle, a trumpeter, would stop by the house and let a young Ruffins open the case and play. Ruffins received a horn of his own at age 14 and joined the school band. His interest in cooking took root as a youngster as well. “I grew up in the 9th Ward, and on any given Saturday, my whole family would go out to Hopedale (Louisiana) to go fishing,” he recalls. “We’d leave at 4am and get back around 11. When we got back, the whole family would gather in the backyard and my dad, grandfather, mom, and grandmother would cook. Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience


| Food & Music | “I liked to help my grandmother in the kitchen, and I would help my grandfather clean and cook turtle, raccoon, squirrel, alligator, and all kinds of wild foods. My dad liked that I took chances when I cooked, especially with the wild foods, so he let me do more and more of the cooking.” As a 17-year-old high schooler, Ruffins and some friends formed the Rebirth Brass Band, an old-school, second-linestyle brass band with influences of funk, jazz, soul, and hip hop. Ruffins says it was unusual for young musicians to be playing traditional brass band music at the time. At first, the band busked on the streets of the French Quarter for tips, but it soon gained a following locally and beyond. The Rebirth Brass Band is credited with rejuvenating interest in brass bands and second lines in New Orleans, and inspiring other young musicians to form their own brass bands, according to Ruffins’ record label, Basin Street Records.

Several examples of Kermit's many albums.

34 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

While touring throughout the U.S. and Europe with Rebirth Brass Band from 1983 to 1992, Ruffins missed the food and culture of his hometown. So he began traveling with a small hibachi and cooking gear and would grill his favorite dishes at the hotel or between sets at the venue. He also realized he was missing out on seeing his young children grow up. After nearly a decade, Ruffins amicably parted ways with Rebirth Brass Band. He founded a new band, playing a more traditional, swing style of jazz like his idol Louis Armstrong, with some originals, pop covers, movie tunes, and R&B songs thrown in. Ruffins and the band dressed the part in dandy suits, ties, and fedoras, and sang into retro microphones, once again deviating from the typical sound and style of his peers. Even though the new band mostly played locally, Ruffins continued his tradition of cooking at shows. “I’d get hungry, so I would bring my hibachi and cook on breaks for myself, the band, and

the people at the shows,” he says. “I’d grill chicken and other foods, but I really became known for grilling spicy New Orleans sausage. People would smell the smoky sausage and go crazy. It became so popular that one day I woke up and said, we’re gonna be ‘The Barbecue Swingers!’ That’s how the band got its name.” He started taking his grills to second line parades (the iconic brass band parades that wind through the streets of New Orleans) on Sundays with his kids. “We’d cook and hand out food. It was something fun we could do together,” Ruffins recalls. “I started the biggest ruckus in New Orleans with cooking at second lines. Now every Sunday so many people set up their grills and sell food at second line parades.” Kermit’s Cookin’ The grilling became such an important part of the show that, about 20 years ago, Ruffins invested in a custom, supersized smoker rig made by Bubba Grills that cost him $7,200. “I’ve cooked in it so much I burned a hole in it,” he says with a laugh. “I need to get it repaired.” He says about four hours before a show he would hook up the smoker to his truck, light the fire – he cooks on a combination of charcoal and pecan wood logs – and load it up with Patton’s spicy hot link sausage. “It’s a traditional New Orleans beef sausage. People use it in gumbo, red beans, po boys, and more,” Ruffins says. “It comes in a 5 lb. bucket in a continuous link about 5 ft. long and I put it on the barbecue still wound in the link. Patton’s also sells the sausage in patties but I don’t believe in patties. I even use the bucket lid as a spatula! “I would pull up to the club with the smoker an hour before the show. You wouldn’t believe that smoke and smell. It would draw a crowd. I’d cut up the cooked smoked sausage and hand it out. Oh man, that taste and texture! I’ve never sold the food; I always gave it away. “As I’ve gotten older, I don’t do it as often as I used to, but in the early days I barbecued before shows all the time,” he says. “I find that when I barbecue, I play a better show. It puts me in a picnic frame of mind. I feel like I’m in my backyard and it brings me back to childhood with my family, manning the grill, with smoke

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everywhere. It’s so relaxing to stand by the grill or to cook a pot of beans right before my show. I take off my apron, smoke a little reefer (there’s a reason why the doors of his club open at 4:20!), drink a little Bud Light, and get on the stage. It’s the best feeling.” Ruffin’s love of barbecuing even inspired The Barbecue Swingers’ original song “Smokin’ with Some Barbecue.” Released in 1998, the song pays homage to Louis Armstrong’s 1927 hit “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue.” But while Satchmo’s “Barbecue” refers to a beautiful woman, in Ruffins’ version it is definitely about the food. “Music and food just go together in New Orleans,” he explains. “There is a long tradition of Mom-and-Pop bars cooking and giving away food. When you get off work, you go to this bar for seafood night on Tuesdays, then go to this other place on Thursdays for red beans and rice. You plan your whole week around it. I love the idea of bars giving away food.” Which is why when Kermit opened his own bar, Kermit’s Tremé Motherin-Law Lounge, in 2014, he made sure to carry on the practice. The bar and live music venue was initially owned by the flashy and flamboyant New Orleans R&B singer Ernie K-Doe, who named the place after his 1961 hit song “Mother-in-Law.” “He was a legend,” says Ruffins. “After Ernie’s death, his wife Antoinette ran it, but then it closed in 2010. The place was empty for three or four years before I opened it in 2014.” In addition to the indoor bar, the Mother-in-Law Lounge has an outdoor patio with a stage, dance floor, and grills. Every inch of the exterior is painted with extraordinary, brightly colored, whimsical murals painted by artist Daniel Fuselier, that depict jazz musicians and other iconic New Orleans images. “The mayor made the place an historic landmark,” Ruffins says. “Tour busses pass every day.” Unlike many musicians who are investors in bars and restaurants, Kermit Ruffins is IN the restaurant business, literally cookin’ in the kitchen, as well as on the stage. Before shows at the Motherin-Law Lounge, he can be found outside barbecuing sausage, chicken, steak, or other meats. Or he might be in the restaurant’s kitchen cooking up huge


| Food & Music |

Kermit Ruffins performance at the 2009 Satchmo Summerfest.

Kermit preparing and grilling delicious meals for the Mother-in-Law patrons.

Mother-in-Law Lounge exterior. 36 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com


quantities of red beans and rice, butter beans and rice, smothered turkey necks with potato salad, fried shrimp and fish, or other local favorites to share with the crowds for free. A few months ago, he opened another venue, Kermit’s 9th Ward Juke Joint, a few blocks away, where he plays and cooks most Wednesdays. “I love having a bar to sit and talk with people,” says Ruffins. “Every Sunday my parents and my auntie and uncle, they come from church and have lunch at the bar. I’m always thinking, ‘What am I going to cook for lunch on Sunday?’ I love it!” Ruffins believes his signature barbecue dish is smoky hot sausage. “Nobody was putting New Orleans hot sausage on the grill until I started doing it,” he says. “I think I kinda kicked that off.” But he still considers wild foods his favorite specialty. “I love to cook raccoon, turtle, squirrel, deer meat – I do that every Thanksgiving. I love turtle with red and brown gravy over some good ol’ grits. There’s nothing like it,” he says.

Kermit jazzing it up with The Barbecue Swingers.

When asked what kind of music he likes to listen to when he’s barbecuing, Ruffins says with a laugh, “At the end of my shows, I always say, ‘Please buy my CDs because they go good with barbecue!’ It’s good music for cooking and eating.”

To find out where Kermit Ruffins & The Barbecue Swingers are performing in New Orleans, visit www.basinstreetrecords.com/ events/kermit-ruffins-events/ or Kermit’s Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge www.kermitslounge.com, (504) 975-3955. Hear music samples in the digital article at www.hearthandhome.com.


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www.hearthandhome.com | MARCH 2020 | 37










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| New Products |

ALFA Ovens


New Products

Reaching cooking temperatures of 400 degrees or higher in 10 minutes, Alfa Ovens operate by using triplecook technology with convection, firebrick heat retention and direct topsearing with flame. The oven can be used year-round for outdoor cooking. Phone: (717) 951-5961 Website: www.alfaovens.com Booth: 1857

at the HPBExpo

Apogee Ceramics The dual heat sink and module design of the Ecofan AirMax DUO Model 814 delivers strong wood heat circulation. With over 200 CFMs, the fan has a modern design that fits well in any space.

The SignitePro Blue Flame Heater offers indoor supplemental heat with an easy push-button start. The vent-free technology does not require a flue or chimney. The heater is available in a range of Btus and models that use natural gas or liquid propane gas.

Phone: (800) 567-3556 Website: www.ecofan.com Booth: 718

Phone: (519) 442-2828 Website: www.signitepro.com Booth: 2424


Apption Labs

The MEATER Block is a wireless meat thermometer that holds four dualsensor thermometers the chef can leave in food to monitor temperatures. Connect the Block to WiFi and use the MEATER app on a phone. Phone: (818) 929-8907 Website: www.meater.com Booth: 3133

Focal Point Fires

The New Forest Electric Fire has a realistic flame effect, handcrafted log design, and LED fuel bed lighting for an eye-catching display. The 1.5 kW heater is discreetly located above the glass casing, utilizing Air Curtain Technology to disburse warm air throughout the room. Phone: +44 1202 499330 Website: www.britishfires.com Booth: 324

40 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com


The Entice Series of electric fireplaces is available in six size options and three color flame options. Six color ember bed choices create different looks. The fireplaces are wall hung and semi or fully recessed for a variety of installation options. Thermostat controls and timer settings provide comfort.

Memphis Wood Fire Grills

Smoke, grill, bake, sear and roast with the Beale Street grill. Features are a cooking surface of 558 to 817 sq. inches (an optional grate is available); Cloud based WiFi; a 12 lb. pellet hopper capacity; sophisticated cart design; handy cabinet for storage and an open flame option.

Phone: (800) 461-5581 Website: www.napoleon.com Booth: 1215

Phone: (888) 883-2260 Website: www.memphisgrills.com Booth: 2331

Weatherstrong Outdoor Cabinetry

The Designer Series outdoor cabinets work well for covered patios, lanai and garage applications. Made from 3/4-inch thick All-Weatherboard, the cabinets have marine grade polymer doors and drawers in solid colors and designer wood grain patterns. Phone: (888) 708-7601 Website: www.weatherstrong.com Booth: 1130

Cowboy Cauldron Modest, yet eye catching, the Sky Medium by Element4 fireplace can be viewed from two sides. Standing 3 ft., 11-inches, the fireplace has a Real Flame Burner Tunnel for the appearance of flames wrapping around logs.

The Dude is the ultimate portable fire pit and grill combo. It’s lightweight, convenient, and mobile. The Dude weighs 35 lbs., and is made from solid plate steel. Suspended from a tripod frame, it can be elevated to any height using an adjustable chain.

Phone: (781) 324-8383 Website: www.europeanhome.com Booth: 3239

Phone: (833) 244-3473 Website: www.cowboycauldron.com Booth: 300

European Home

Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience


| New Products |


Updated to include the Valor 10 remote system, and V-Class burner technology, the L2 gas fireplace has an adjustable air shutter and new front and media options. The linear engines are compatible with the Valor 10 WiFi remote system. Phone: (800) 468-2567 Website: www.valorfireplaces.com Booth: 1518

Berlin Gardens

The Mayhew Chat Chair is a modern twist on casual seating with an oversized Adirondack type lounger. The stylish lounge chair adds character to a patio or deck. Available in multiple colors and natural-looking finishes. Phone: (330) 893-3411 Website: www.berlingardensllc.com Booth: 231

Woodbridge Fireplace


The LightBug provides simple, convenient control of hearth lighting features via a smart device app. CPC Cross Platform Compatibility connects with other hearth apps to provide single device control of the fireplace and lighting. A plug and play connection ensures easy installation. Phone: (844) 352-6383 Website: www.flame-tec.com Booth: 412

The SEE-VUE Fireplace can be viewed from indoors or outside. The double-layered ceramic glass panel on the indoor side has an additional window with a beautiful dancing flame behind. The fireplace is available in four sizes, up to seven ft. long. Phone: (905) 564-3001 Website: www.woodbridgefp.com Booth: 1255

Twin Eagles

42 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Rutland Products

Bold illumination characteristics allow the homeowner to manage and track temperatures with accuracy and style when using the Eagle One Grill. The grill has an extra-large 1/2-inch diameter, Chef Grade Hexagonal Grates and a Black Glass Infrared Rotisserie Burner.

Rutland Premium Flat Black Brush-On Paint resists peeling and blistering under temperatures up to 1400℉. The paint works well for grills, stoves, smokers, stovepipes, fireplace inserts, barbecues and furnaces and can be used indoors or outside.

Phone: (800) 789-2206 Website: www.TwinEaglesGrills.com Booth: 2739

Phone: (800) 544-1307 Website: www.rutland.com Booth: 1125


OU T DO O R FUR NIT UR E AND K ITC HENS HEADQUARTERS AND SHOWROOM – 9449 8th Street | Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730 Phone: 909.989.9977 | Fax: 909.989.9970 | Toll Free: 866.964.4468 CHICAGO SHOWROOM – Merchandise Mart Suite 1667 | Chicago, IL 60654 GE N SU NCASUAL .COM

| New Products |

The Outdoor GreatRoom Company

Glen Dimplex Americas

East Coast Chair & Barstool

Phone: (800) 668-6663 Website: www.dimplex.com Booth: 918

Phone: (800) 687-5086 Website: www.ECCBOutdoor.com Booth: 2413

With easy installation, the Opti-myst Pro 1500 60-inch Built-in Electric Firebox creates the illusion of a three-dimensional flame and smoke. The discrete heater has 5,000 Btus and options such as one- or twosided installation and a variety of flame bed options.

The rustic lodge look comes to the outdoors in the poly lumber Poly Ridge Hickory Style Rocker. With the look and feel of real wood without the hassle of maintenance, the rocker has Amish craftsmanship, mortise-and-tenon construction and stainless-steel hardware.

Constructed of corrugated galvanized steel with mocha-stained wood framing, the Denali Brew Gas Fire Pit Table complements any outdoor space, from rustic to modern. The durable and attractive Sienna Suede ultracompact top completes the look, and the Crystal Fire Burner creates a warming, dancing flame. Phone: (866) 303-4028 Website: www.outdoorrooms.com Booth: 749

SBI – Stove Builder International

The Lafayette II wood burning fireplace is designed to allow customization of the unit. Choose from a square or arched faceplate, five styles of faceplate louvers and two door overlays. The large, noncatalytic fireplace has low emissions.

Coyote Outdoor Living The Coyote Pellet Grill has a digital touch screen and easy-to-use front load pellet feed. The pellet system can be used with any flavored wood pellets. Three food temperature probes are included. There are a range of even heat settings, allowing the homeowner to use the grill like an indoor oven. Phone: (855) 520-1559 Website: www.coyoteoutdoor.com Indoor Booth: 3013 Outdoor Booth: 4118

44 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Phone: (877) 356-6663 Website: www.sbi-international.com Booth: 639

Planika USA

The FORMA firebox has a zeroclearance feature and comes with an automatic fuel pump that can be controlled via a smart device. With BEV technology, the burning process is clean and no harmful byproducts are left; there is no smoke, ash or odor. Phone: (201) 933-7787 Website: www.planikausa.com Booth: 1229


Distinguished by its clean lines and harmonious ratios, the Novo embodies the ultimate culmination of contemporary form and function. Non-catalytic EPA 2020 certified

Patented baffle design with no secondary air tubes

Available in 3 firebox sizes

Customisable firebox with soapstone or cast-iron


1 877 593-4722


| New Products |

Real Flame

The Hartsel Fire Bowl is powered by propane and has a unique origami inspired design that will enliven outdoor spaces. Made of iron, the sleek fire feature has a 10-inch burner and a subtle slate gray finish.
 Phone: (800) 654-1704 Website: www.realflame.com Booth: 3045

Bull Outdoor Products

STÛV America

The Bull Slide-in Single Side Burner heats up sauces and side dishes. Made of durable stainlesssteel, the burner offers 26,000 Btus and has a cast brass burner and stainless-steel cover.

Easy to install in most hearth masonry, the Stûv 6 wood-burning insert brings new life to an old hearth. Attractive, ecological and economical, the insert has a wide fire view and a compact frame.

Phone: (800) 521-2855 Website: www.bullbbq.com Booth: 2933

Phone: (866) 487-7888 Website: www.stuvamerica.com Booth: 1349


The LED Floor Light Kit has 16 million brilliant shades of color at the homeowner’s command. The optional kit can be installed quickly and economically to give a new dimension of beauty, with or without flames. Combine with panoramic reflective liners for subtle or dramatic lighting.

Father’s Cooker

On the same appliance, barbecue chefs can use propane, charcoal, wood, wood chips or a combination on the Father’s Cooker. With a unique and patented system, the oven grills, roasts, braises, simmers, boils, sautés, smokes, cold smokes, steams, and more. Phone: (418) 934-6876 Website: www.fatherscooker.com Booth: 3145

46 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Phone: (800) 553-5422 Website: www.mendotahearth.com Booth: 1429

Mr. Bar-B-Q Products Combining a traditional gas fire pit with an infrared patio heater, the Donovan Outdoor Fire Pit has 41,000 Btus. The fire pit can be used in a number of ways: as a fire pit, patio heater, fire pit plus patio heater or an insert can be added for use as a table.

Phone: (800) 762-1142 Website: www.mrbarbqproducts.com Booth: 1713


The benefits for you The benefits for you High technical quality combined High well technical qualitydesign. combined with - balanced with well - balanced design. With Spartherm inserts, you can now enjoy a With adjustable, Spartherm safe inserts, can now fully andyou effective fire.enjoy a fully adjustable, safe and effective fire.

eans New Orl ans Visit uss in rl O w e N 4e. 2020 VfrisoitmuMainrch 12.-1 20 hbe1r21.-3114.! 20 Mnaurc m o fr m booth number 131 ! booth

Made in Germany. Made in Germany.


www.spartherm-america.com www.spartherm-america.com Contact: m.aumann@spartherm.com Contact: m.aumann@spartherm.com ZERO CLEARANCE ZERO CLEARANCE




7 7

| New Products |

Hancock Grills

Handcrafted of Corten steel, the Sterling 40-inch grill is preweathered with a rust-like patina and 1,600 inches of cooking space, allowing the chef to prepare a variety of foods at once. Phone: (813) 770-8755 Website: www.hancockgrills.com Booth: 4236

Modern Flames


Cook restaurant-level cuisine at home with the professional grade Gozney Dome. Built to last, the oven is durable and has handy side shelves and wheels for portability.

Featuring Hybrid-FX flame technology, the Landscape Pro Multi electric fireplace can be installed into more than 12 configurations. The customizable electric fireplace can be adapted to a single sided, left corner, right corner or three-sided bay and comes in 44-, 56-, 68- or 80-inch sizes. The PTC ceramic heater can warm up to 1,000 sq. ft.

Email: retail@gozney.com Website: www.gozney.com Booth: 2257

Phone: (877) 246-9353 Website: www.modernflames.com Booth: 1739

Weber Knapp Company The Vista LE woodstove has a 1.6 cu. ft. firebox, reliable catalytic-free technology and high efficiency.

Designed for barrel smokers, the Drum Smoker Hinge and Latch Handle has a hands-free adjustable spring assisted hinge. The latch handle is stainless-steel covered in heavy-duty vinyl.

Phone: (888) 223-0088 Website: www.pacificenergy.net Booth: 439

Phone: (800) 828-9254 Website: www.weberknapp.com Booth: 3019

Pacific Energy Fireplace Products

48 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

PK Grills

The PKGO grill has many options and is versatile and durable. The grill can be used as a hibachi or as a full grill and smoker; the cooking space can be doubled with the Flip Kit. Phone: (866) 354-7575 Website: www.pkgrills.com Booth: 3232

Redefine ‘The Great Outdoors’

Introducing the New FireplaceX™ Outdoor Gas Fireplace Collection!

This captivating collection of traditional and linear gas fireplaces is designed to provide the ultimate outdoor gathering space for any occasion! These fireplaces feature the most beautiful and alluring presentations of outdoor fire available, with tall mesmerizing flames, incredibly detailed media options and transitional style choices. Heavy-duty construction, all-weather unvented installation and weatherproof controls allow the comforting warmth and inviting ambiance of these outdoor fireplaces to be enjoyed all year-round on open patios or covered outdoor rooms.

Two Linear Outdoor Models: - 64” x 20” Single-Sided

One Traditional Outdoor Model: - 48” x 36” Single-Sided

1979 -



S W E AT & S T E E



- 64” x 20” See-Thru

800.654.1177 FireplaceX.com © 2020 Travis Industries, Inc.

| New Products |


Blaze King Industries With new scratch-resistant embellished finishes for table tops, outdoor fire tables have lifetime structural warranties and come in a variety of designs, sizes and finishes.

The Clarity 2714 Gas Fireplace Insert has a 27-inch wide by 14-inch tall glass area, fitting into a 30-inch fireplace. The extra-large glass allows the insert to be used as a radiant heater. Choose from varied log sets and glass liner combinations. The insert has 25,000 Btus.

Phone: (866) 964-4468 Website: www.gensuncasual.com Booth: 1755

Phone: (509) 522-2730 Website: wwwblazeking.com Booth: 1849


The MoBar 550 comes with utensils inspired by professional bartenders. Made of durable stainless steel, the center has a handy food prep area and a dual-zone refrigerator with additional can/bottle basket to keep beverages cold. Phone: (574) 294-2511 Website: www.dometic.com Booth: 1639

Grand Canyon Gas Logs

Evolution Fires

The three-sided Empire 72 has a stainless-steel, one-piece changeable cover and allows homeowners to hang a three-sided fireplace onto any wall without the need for a build-out or cut out. Features are a touch screen display, remote control, three flame colors, and 10 large crystals. Phone: (407) 851-1536 Website: www.evolutionfires.com Booth: 1953

50 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

The Olympus Fire-Table Collection is constructed from GFRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete) and has over 10-inches of table top space. The rectangular table has a 36-inch linear drop-
in burner and the square and round tables feature a 19-inch drop-in pan with 12-inch burner. Add reflective glass colors, Lava Rock, Tumbled Lava Stones, Arizona Weathered Oak or Western Driftwood fire pit logs. Phone: (602) 344-4217 Website: www.grandcanyongaslogs.com Booth: 1739

| New Exhibitors at the HPBExpo |

THE CHEF’S OUTDOOR OVEN The professional grade oven, engineered for ambitious home chefs. Find out more by emailing retail@gozney.com.


Donoma Fire Pit with Comfo Chairs.

COME SEE THE BERLIN GARDENS DIFFERENCE At Berlin Gardens, our first goal is to bring honor and glory to our creator, God, in everything we do. We do this by manufacturing the highest quality products, delivering our products on time and going beyond your expectations with our customer service. All of this starts by living by our Core Values of honesty, efficiency, attitude, respect and trust. We not only say this, but we believe it. We hope our products help you take life outdoorsâ„¢.

WWW.BERLINGARDENSLLC.COM Mayhew Chat Chairs with Mayhew End Table in Seashell.


| New Exhibitors at the HPBExpo |

Father’s Cooker.

THE REAL REVOLUTION IN THE WORLD OF OUTDOOR COOKING On the same cooking appliance, use propane, charcoal, wood, wood chips or combine them. Our unique and patented system allows for, among other things: grilling • roasting • braising • simmering • boiling • sautéing • smoking • cold smoking steam cooking • plancha cooking • charcoal cooking • flame sizzling • and much more! Our system can also be used for home brewing, making maple syrup, as an outdoor fireplace, as a rotisserie, and as a pizza oven. Our motto is simple: If you can enjoy it, you can cook it on Father’s Cooker. Find out for yourself, be part of the Father’s Cooker Revolution.


HEATING PRODUCTS MADE RIGHT HERE IN NORTH AMERICA SignitePro vent-free heaters are ideal for those who appreciate the importance of safety and reliability in a propane or natural gas heater. Topquality components and craftsmanship ensure our heaters are designed to deliver years of worry-free comfort. Living space, shed, garage, cabin or trailer, SignitePro has a vent-free, cost effective heating solution to bring comfort and warmth to your workspace or play area. Explore our extensive range of infrared and blue flame heaters and see how SignitePro can help you turn unusable space into comfortable space.

WWW.SIGNITEPRO.COM VISIT OUR BOOTH #2424 Vent-Free Blue Flame Heater.


| New Exhibitors at the HPBExpo |

EXCLUSIVELY FOR INDEPENDENT RETAILERS Introducing our retail only collection, designed exclusively for purchase by independent retail stores. Visit us in our booth #3045 at the HPBExpo March 12-14, 2020.


New Forest Electric Fire.

BRITISH FIRES PROUDLY INTRODUCES THE NEW FOREST ELECTRIC FIRE The New Forest Electric Fire features one of the most realistic flame-effects on the market – you won’t believe it’s electric. Combined with a hand-crafted log design inspired by its namesake, the New Forest National Park (UK), and variable LED lighting effects, it creates an amazing display for any room. The 1.5kW heater is discreetly placed above the minimally recessed glass casing. It utilizes ultrasleek, patent pending, Air Curtain Technology, that widely distributes warm air. Control the temperature and flames with the handset then enjoy a relaxing atmosphere.


| Manufacturing |

BERNHARDT GOES CASUAL The 131-year-old family furniture business is known for its luxe look, high quality, and affordable price points.

58 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

By Tom Lassiter


he news late last summer that yet another interior furnishings manufacturer was launching a casual line simply didn’t raise many eyebrows among manufacturers and specialty retailers in the outdoor furnishings industry. Such a move once would have created a stir, as the potential impact was weighed and debated. But in 2019, a move into the outdoor market by Bernhardt Furniture Company no longer stirred the worry pot.

Two other indoor furniture companies had already done that, diluting the shock value of any similar moves in the future. Klaussner Home Furnishings’ entry several years ago into the casual space with Klaussner Outdoor prompted genuine surprise. People took notice, and rightly so. Klaussner Outdoor – under the L to R: Kai Side Table, Wailea Swivel Chair, and Anson Side Table.

leadership of Gary McCray and Teresa Buelin – rapidly established itself as an influential contender in the Outdoor Room market. More recently, Ashley Furniture Industries’ launch of an outdoor line sent ripples throughout the casual furniture universe. The Outdoor by Ashley line shook things up, if for no other reason than Ashley is huge. The company bills itself as The No. 1 Furniture Manufacturer in the World. According to Dun & Bradstreet, Ashley has annual sales approaching $4 billion. With nearly 1,000 Ashley HomeStores in North America, Central America, and Asia, the company has the potential to capture the attention of legions of consumers and their disposable income. So the announcement before 2019’s Casual Market Chicago that Bernhardt Furniture Company was entering the outdoor furniture space wasn’t all that surprising. Outdoor furnishings are the fastest-growing category in the U.S. furniture market, according to longtime industry analyst Jerry Epperson. So it’s no wonder that interior furnishings companies want a piece of that action. Bernhardt, founded in 1889, long has been a respected furniture brand. The company made its name with oak furniture built from lumber harvested in the foothills and mountains of western North Carolina and sold throughout the nation. After World War II, the company expanded into upholstered furnishings, for which it is well-known today.

Avanni Sectional and Tenerife Cocktail Table.

Opportunity beckoned Bernhardt to launch its outdoor line, said Steve Pilgrim, Bernhardt’s senior vice president of Sales. Bernhardt dealers urged the company to create casual furniture, he said, because they had customers in their stores looking for outdoor furniture. Dealers, Pilgrim said, thought they could sell outdoor furniture that fit into the quality and price/ value niche that Bernhardt had established for itself with its interior goods. But equally if not more important, Bernhardt had been paying attention to the evolving American lifestyle and what homeowners are spending their money on. “We’ve watched as consumers have continued to build these indoor/outdoor spaces, with new builds and redesigns,” Pilgrim said. “We felt like that was our consumer filling those types of spaces. It seemed to make sense for Bernhardt to consider entering the category.”

Monterey Swivel Chair, Monterey Sofa, and Pacifica Round Cocktail Table.

Furthermore, Pilgrim said, “We feel like we’ve got a lot to offer in terms of design and product leadership with our own look.” And that’s how Bernhardt Exteriors came to be. The line debuted to the furniture industry at the High Point Market last October. Consumers will get their first glimpses of Bernhardt Exteriors on the company’s website in early March, about the same time that product should be arriving in dealer showrooms. Dealer response, Pilgrim said, “has been excellent. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and we’re going to have pretty broad distribution with our initial launch.” Bernhardt Exteriors will have representation in casual furniture showrooms, with the design trade, and in residential furniture showrooms, he said. The initial rollout of 70 SKUs includes upholstered seating, resin wicker, and a handful of tables, including dining and occasional tables, said Heather Eidenmiller, Bernhardt’s director of Brand Development. Upholstered products will be made in North Carolina, where Bernhardt has eight manufacturing facilities. The company headquarters is in Lenoir, about 100 miles west of High Point, where the company has a 75,000 sq. ft. showroom. Resin wicker products will be manufactured in Indonesia, Pilgrim said. He said setting up manufacturing relationships in Asia for outdoor products was not difficult. Bernhardt already had teams in place in several Asian nations “that could manage the process for us and find the appropriate partners to work with.” Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience


| Manufacturing | The initial resin wicker products will include typical weaves as well as more intricate herringbone weaves “that are pretty complex.” Bernhardt excels, Pilgrim said, “at giving a lot of look and a lot of value.” The company’s products, he said, often “look like something very expensive” but in reality are “more modest in price than what one might expect to pay.” Eidenmiller said that particular value proposition is “what we’re known for at Bernhardt – an incredibly luxe look with high quality, but at a surprisingly affordable price point.” Bernhardt Exteriors fits solidly into the transitional design category, Pilgrim said. If there is any modern European influence, he said, it might be found in the types of fabrics and other materials employed in the line’s upholstered furniture. These touches include fabrics with a softer hand and weaves using a thick polypropylene rope that gives upholstered products a distinctive visual texture. Resin wicker is woven over aluminum frames, Pilgrim said. Upholstered products are constructed of marine-grade plywood with waterproof glue, stainless-steel fasteners, and aluminum legs. A waterproof barrier is placed over the arms, backs, and other exposed areas, he said, before any padding and upholstery fabric is added. Bernhardt Exteriors uses two types of cushions. One is a quick-dry cushion of reticulated foam wrapped in another outdoor fiber. The cushion has a vent panel on the underside, allowing rainwater to pass through quickly. The second cushion design employs a high-density foam wrapped in a waterproof bag that is then covered with fabric.

Grenada Drink Table.

60 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Bali Woven Rope Swivel Chair.

Bernhardt’s outdoor products will use fabrics from a number of leading vendors, including Glen Raven’s Sunbrella brand, Sattler’s Outdura brand, InsideOut, and Revolution brand fabrics from Specialty Textiles. The line includes deep seating, stationary chairs, and motion chairs, such as swivel chat chairs. Tabletop options include terrazzo, cast stone, and glassresin concrete. Bernhardt is “working with known entities” that have been producing tabletops for years, Pilgrim said. Bernhardt will fill orders for the Exteriors line from its North Carolina facilities. Special orders are expected to ship within four weeks, Pilgrim said. That’s the typical production schedule Bernhardt meets for its interior furnishings. “I would hope over time that we can do better than that,” he said. General orders for resin wicker products will be shipped from North Carolina, but the company also will have a container program for merchants who wish to receive direct shipment of larger quantities. Pilgrim pointed out that Bernhardt’s container plan is “not a low-price,

container-driven model. We just want to make sure that if someone wants to buy containers, that we’re able to marry their interests with our capabilities.” Products in the Bernhardt Exteriors line will be pegged “in the middle to better price points, just as on the Bernhardt indoor line,” Pilgrim said. “We compete with all the players that are similarly situated,” such as “Lexington, Century, Summer Classics, Lee, and Brown Jordan at times.” Pilgrim said Bernhardt’s competition is “quite a cast of characters that are quite good at what they do.” Yet he’s confident that there’s a place in the outdoor industry for what Bernhardt has to offer. “We cross a lot of categories,” he said, “and are kind of unique in that way. We try to bring them a little bit of our own unique style. Our line is a little bit more eclectic than product that’s currently in the market. We think we have an opportunity.” Bernhardt Exteriors is considering exhibiting at Casual Market Chicago but has not yet signed a lease, Pilgrim said. “We’ll be there eventually, I would think,” he added.

Naples Metal Chair.

Miramar Round Cocktail Table.

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| Fireside Chats |

FIRESIDE CHATS The following interviews with the CEOs of three companies – The Empire Group (Empire Comfort Systems, Stove Builder International (SBI), Broilmaster, and Primo Grills); Montigo; and Stûv America – underlines the workload required to run a hearth company today. By Richard Wright


ong gone are the early days of the hearth rebirth in the mid-to-late ’70s, when a blowtorch and some steel was all that was needed to create a company. Today, life and work are far more complicated, and products being produced far more sophisticated. Roughly two years ago, Nick Bauer (The Empire Group) purchased SBI, a strategic move that has already proven its worth; this year he purchased Primo Grills. In short order, Bauer has substantially grown his company. About 13 years ago Vincent Boudreau noticed an advertisement for a fireplace in a foreign magazine. The company was Stûv, in Belgium, and it was love at first sight. Boudreau and his partner Nadia Gilbert flew to Belgium and returned with

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the North American rights to sell Stûv stoves, inserts, and fireplaces. Today, Boudreau is half-owner of Stûv America, and products are rolling off the lines in a factory they built on the outskirts of Montreal. It required 13 years, and many miles opening up retail stores and building a brand. Boudreau would tell you it was well worth it. Jonathan Burke became president and CEO of Montigo about three years ago – but it didn’t take him long to understand the company, and the swirl of regulations, and possible regulations, that are part of running a hearth company. Burke is a quick study, and a welcome addition to the industry. Stûv 16-cube with podium.


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| Fireside Chats |

Nick Bauer with Arlo

President The Empire Group Belleville, Illinois


wenty-seven months ago Empire Comfort Systems purchased Stove Builders International (SBI). Six months ago it purchased Primo Ceramic Grills. The synergies gained through these two acquisitions couldn’t be much better. Hearth & Home: Today, I typed in Empire

Comfort Systems and your site came up; right after that your page from our Buyers Guide came up. I was looking at all of the different brands you have and wondering how you keep all those balls in the air. Nick Bauer: “What gives you the

impression that we actually keep them all in the air? Honestly, it’s not that bad. We have a lot of different brands, and we sell a lot of different products, but whether it is SBI or Empire, it’s fundamentally the same. We buy steel, we cut it, we form it, we weld it, we paint it, we put a gas burner in ours, SBI doesn’t. Then we package it up, ship it out, and sell it to basically the same customer. So it really isn’t that complex but it is a lot of SKUs.” Let’s start with Empire Comfort Systems. How were your sales in the U.S. and then in Canada. Bauer: “We had another record year.

More of our success in 2019 came from new products. We’re now selling wood products for the first time in 35 years, and our stainless steel grills are new. That’s just growth on top of zero sales. Eighteen percent of our sales have been from new products in these last three years; new products have always been a real strong driver of our growth. “However, I was hoping for a stronger season. I keep hoping for three cold years in a row, but it just doesn’t happen. So I

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would probably give this year, just on the sales side, a six or a seven. We’re at the top of a cycle now. You’re not going to have these big growth years anymore if you’ve had big growth years the last six, seven years. Eventually the big growth years stop. “We prepared for a stronger season than we had, and that really helped our on-time delivery. We had been struggling with demand for the past three years, and we’ve invested a lot with a new facility. Now we’re seeing delivery numbers we haven’t seen in the 12 years that I’ve been here. From the customer’s standpoint, we performed better than we have in a decade, which is awesome. That was our plan, and our plan worked.” When you mentioned wood products, that has to be the SBI products, right? Bauer: “Yes, SBI manufactures our

Empire Stoves line of products; they are manufacturing a private label line for us that we sell to our customers. So they have their brand in the U.S. and we now have our brand in the U.S. If you’ve been an Empire guy for 50 years buying our gas products, and you buy 10 wood stoves from someone else, now you can buy those from us. You will have the same tech service guy you deal with on the phone, the same sales rep you deal with on the phone, the same customer service rep that you call if you have a problem. Now you only have one client contact if you buy our gas and wood products.”

That’s a compelling selling point, isn’t it? Bauer: “That’s our plan. That’s also the

reason why we bought Primo (Ceramic Grills) because 80% of their customers were current Empire customers, and a lot of their dealer customers were Empire customers. So instead of them having to deal with two vendors now they can deal with one as we roll Primo in.” Where is Primo’s strength? Bauer: “The South is strong; the upper

Midwest is one of their largest customers, they’re probably a little weaker in the Midwest, which is our backyard, and then the Northeast. They only sell through wholesale, and they only have about eight to 10 customers. They also do about 30% international sales too, in Europe. I was surprised to see how much they do overseas.” Where is Primo manufacturing? Bauer: “Primo is currently manufactured

right outside of Atlanta, Georgia, in a town called Tucker. George is the founder, and he and I have known each other for five years. He is actually going to handle all the European foreign sales for us because he’s their contact, he’s the person who set up all the licenses. He’s really good at the product side, the new product development, he has a bunch of ideas that he hasn’t brought to market, and we’re going to allow George to bring those ideas to market.”

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| Fireside Chats | Will the Primo product be at the HPBExpo? Bauer: “The Primo will be at the

HPBExpo, but they will be in our booth.” Broilmaster, is that still doing well?

Bauer: “Yes. Last year was the first year

where we introduced the stainless-steel version of our Broilmaster and, like I said to George, a lot of the outdoor kitchens have a gas model next to a kamado model, but there’s not another manufacturer out there that can say they sell both. We’re trying to be a single source for our customers. “We introduced the grill and, three months later, we got a 25% tariff on it: we started at exactly the wrong time, so

probably say a 12. Last year was their best year ever, and it has nothing to do with me. That is purely their success. As we get moving forward in 2020, they’re going to be introducing some of our gas products under their brand, Valcourt. Their 2020 stuff was all approved. I would argue that they were the most prepared out there of any manufacturer with all noncat technology, and not adding too much cost to the product. “Not only has it worked out well, but it’s been fun. We’re really good partners. The first year when an American company buys a French company in Quebec, the employees are scared that everyone’s going to lose their jobs, even though we said they would not. No one lost their job. In our

introduced it at the show last year, and we started selling it last fall. We’re going to continue to expand the Plaza line, so that’s a new category for us we haven’t been in before. “The electric is a new category for us, the wood was a new category for us, ceramic grills was a new category for us, so all of these are just brand new categories that we’ve introduced the last 12 to 18 months, and we continue to do some more gas units and keep trying to maintain or grow our market share on the gas side.” Now, are you one of the believers that gas is going by the wayside, wood will probably be discontinued, and the electric units are going to be the ones that remain? Bauer: “Empire has been doing gas

“Empire has been doing gas products now for 88 years; I like to think there’s a future, and I like to think that the government will allow choice.”

it didn’t take off as much as I had hoped. Not only was it a bad year for grills, but then we had the tariffs on top of that.” Have you heard that the pellet grills are taking a bite out of kamado sales? Bauer: “Yes, there’s no doubt that the

pellet grill is what the kamado grill was three to five years ago. Pellets have taken 5% to 15% market share in two years, and that’s from the overall grill market, not just kamados. There’s no doubt that the pellets are the hot item right now.” How is your relationship with SBI working? When we spoke last year you were very enamored with the fact that you will be selling SBI products in the states, and they’re selling Empire products in Canada. Is that continuing to be very healthy? Bauer: “Yes, we did that deal 27 months

ago, and if you asked me and my family on a 1 to 10 how happy we are, I would

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first board meeting in October, some of the feedback we got from their employees is that now they actually want to be more part of the group. “In fact, next week we’re having our next board meeting, and normally we do it in Quebec in January but instead we’re going down to the Keys where my mom lives and where I grew up. We’re going to have a meeting on Thursday and then spend the whole weekend together – fishing, diving, meeting families.” You haven’t told me about Empire’s products. What do you have new for 2020? Bauer: “We’re going to expand the Empire stove line with some highefficiency wood units that they (SBI) are going to make for us. We always have two to four different gas units that are coming out. Probably the biggest thing is we partnered with Escea down in New Zealand and they’re making the glasson-glass units for us; it’s called Plaza. We

products now for 88 years; I like to think there’s a future, and I like to think that the government will allow choice. When the government has chosen for people, they haven’t necessarily always made the right decisions. I employ a lot of people and a lot of families are dependent on wood and gas. All I can do is control what I can control and that is creating more efficient products, whether it be wood or gas, getting into modern-style products. If everything goes electric, it’s not going to help the U.S., because all that comes from China.” I know some manufacturers who are beginning to create electric fireplaces here in the states. Bauer: “Yes, but I’m sure the components

come from China, they just put them together. I like to think that the human spirit, the human mind, is the greatest thing this world has ever seen and, hopefully, someone a lot smarter than me comes up with many options so we’re not just stuck with solar and wind only.”

Yes, and I think a lot of people are working on that as we speak. Anything else you would like to get out? Bauer: “I always say that I’m cautiously

optimistic. I know we’re planning on a lighter year, just because of the election and the politics. All we can do is control the things we can control.”

| Fireside Chats |

Jonathan Burke President & CEO Montigo Langley, British Columbia, Canada


onathan Burke is not one to pass the blame on to someone else. Regarding the declining incidence of fireplaces in new construction, he says, “That’s our fault (the hearth industry). We have not done our work to make sure that fireplaces remain a must-have item in a new home.” Hearth & Home: The last time that we

spoke was a year ago, and you had about 120 employees. I suspect that remains about the same? Jonathan Burke: “Yes, we’re a little

bit more, about 130 now and we’ve still got a plant in Ferndale, Washington, and another one in Aldergrove, British Columbia.” How many dealers do you have now? Burke: “U.S. and Canadian dealers

combined, we’re at about 340 now.”

Your website is one of the better ones I’ve seen; it’s interesting, and most websites are just boring. What struck me is that you have a lot of traditional fireplaces.

Burke: “We’re always looking at what’s

going on in the electric space. It’s pretty crowded. Other than Modern Flames and maybe some unique products from Dimplex, everybody’s just ‘me too,’ get it from overseas, sell it for nothing, and keep low expectations on the part of the customers. “If we’re going to make a move into electric, we’ll want to do something unique once again, because we just don’t want to do a ‘me too.’ I do think there is definitely a market in the multifamily space for electric units.”

suffering quite a bit because of oil prices. Saskatchewan’s feeling a similar pressure. The Maritimes have not been overly good, although we did some big commercial projects out in the Maritimes. Ontario, they’ve got a new government in place, things are looking up there, but they’ve had a lot of pressure on housing prices.” When it comes to product development, or product sales, the U.S. is a huge area, and somewhat untapped in some areas. Burke: “One thing that we’re keeping

and on our residential lines, we do have a number of traditional offerings. We brought out some new products on the linear side last year and early this year, and along the same construction theme. In other words, shallow reframing depths, multiple options in a good, better, best format for log sets, lighting, things like that. We’re coming out with some new, traditional, square hearth designs.”

Burke: “In 2019 we grew our custom

business in the United States. In Canada we went down a bit, so overall we had a little bit of growth but the main reason for Canada is that all of Eastern Canada is handled by two-step distribution, other than our custom products. We made a switch of distributors, and that’s always disruptive. But in the 50 States of the Union we grew last year – pretty good growth.”

a very close eye on, and with which we’ve been involved very closely with the HPBA, is states or municipalities trying to get rid of natural gas or propane. Some government people assume that a fireplace burns 24/7, 365 days a year, and therefore if it’s 30,000 Btus, how do we cut the Btu and energy footprint of a home. “Especially with decorative fireplaces, people don’t turn them on, even in the winter, and run them 10 hours a day. They are for the purpose of providing ambiance, not for heating the home. So you can’t classify it like you would a forced-air furnace or a hot-water heater.”

Have you been eyeing the electric fireplace market?

Classify if you would, the economy in Canada for the past year.

If we lose natural gas, that would destroy 70% or 80% of the industry.

Burke: “We do, both on the custom side,

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For you, 2018 was basically a flat year. When we spoke a year ago, you said you were well positioned for 2019. How well did you do in 2019?

Burke: “It was spotty. Alberta obviously is

| Fireside Chats | Burke: “Yes. As an industry, our responsi-

bility is to make sure that people understand how our products work. But it’s also to start wading into the efficiency side of things, and looking at how we can improve the efficiency of our appliances, how we can use the energy that our appliances are consuming elsewhere in the home, and get more integrated with HVAC systems and other things.” Absolutely. Net Zero (California) and Zero Net (Vancouver). Last year you explained both programs very well. Now that some people are thinking of dropping natural gas, how will that impact those two programs? Burke: “Well, it’s incumbent upon the

industry to make sure the politicians are well-educated about where the best effort can be put into improving the environmental efficiency of homes; going in and disconnecting natural gas is not the way. A number of different groups have done a tremendous amount of work to demonstrate that just disconnecting gas from a home is not an instantaneous solution. “In a state where 75% of its electricity comes from coal or natural gas, if you switch out a home that is currently using natural gas for heating, for cooking, and perhaps for a decorative fireplace, then change that home to electric heating, with electric baseboards – which are the most common and are seven times less efficient than a natural gas-forced air furnace – you’re now consuming seven times more coal or natural gas to provide the equivalent amount of heating that individual is getting by having a natural gas pipeline to their home, with a highefficiency furnace providing the heat. “That’s the kind of stuff that we need, in collaboration with all of our industry partners, the gas suppliers, the utilities. We need to get that message out to these communities to make them understand that, be careful what you wish for because there’s unintended consequences. “The challenge we’ve got in British Columbia is that, here in the lower mainland, the most populous part of the province where four million people live, almost 50% of its energy use is natural gas. If you can imagine taking 50% of a four million person population and

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switching them to electricity, how many more hydro dams do you think would have to be built?” There’s been quite a bit of talk about the incidence of fireplaces in new homes plummeting. Burke: “Yes, and that’s a bigger deal than the

environmental issues. I think the industry can effectively manage and communicate and market the environmental story, both to government and to consumers. I think the bigger issue is that there are young people out there who are getting out of their condominium, or out of their first attached home where they may have had a less than compelling fireplace. So a fireplace may not be in the top five or 10 must-have items in their home purchase.

we need to do it, because the reality is, builders will build what consumers want to buy. Right now consumers aren’t asking for fireplaces as much as they need to.” The Millennials, however, want a big backyard. They want room to entertain, for a pool (down the road), for cooking, eating, and relaxing. They also want a fire pit or fireplace. Burke: “Absolutely.”

If they want a fire outside, it shouldn’t be that hard to convince them that it works inside as well. But we’ve got to get to them. Everybody in this industry has to do a little bit of it. Burke: “If we all do an equivalent amount,

mark my words, over the next 24 months we can get a little bit of momentum back

“You know, these things are not difficult to sell. Gathering around a fire is an innately human activity. It’s in our DNA.”

“That’s our fault. As an industry we have not done our work to make sure that fireplaces remain a desirable and, quite frankly, a must-have item in a new home. Where all of us, collectively, are at fault, is not doing what many other suppliers to home construction have done, which is keeping their products front and center in terms of desirability.” How do you do that in an industry that has very limited funds? Burke: “We’re talking about it; we’re

working on it. We’re trying to do direct consumer-marketing efforts. But in total, this industry is not small. It’s pretty sizable. If some good efforts were put forward over the next 24 months to remind people, who may have grown up with a fireplace in their parent’s home, of the importance of it as a fixture in their home, I think we could make some headway. Of course, we need to do the research to find out where

into the industry, because the momentum is going against us right now. I can’t tell you how many builders I’ve spoken to who said, ‘Yeah, (a fireplace) is nice to have, but not a must-have.’ “You know, these things are not difficult to sell. Gathering around a fire is an innately human activity. It’s in our DNA. Jack Goldman (president and CEO of the HPBA) got all the major players together last fall. We established a bit of an industry working group that is investing some meaningful time, with the goal to invest some meaningful dollars once we have an actual plan that everybody can endorse.” What other issues do you see confronting the hearth industry? Burke: “Labor. Getting good talented

people to join the industry. We have experienced installers, salespeople, etc., and we need to make sure we know where the next crop of great people is coming from.”




| Fireside Chats |

Vincent Boudreau CEO Stûv America Bromont, Quebec, Canada

How were your sales in 2019? Boudreau: “Our best year ever in

terms of growth was 2018. In 2019 we had growth in the low two digits; it was the lowest growth in the last four years, but still good growth. It was mainly due to the NSPS 2020 change-out. Dealers, distributors, and manufacturers were trying to liquidate what they had in stock and on their floor. That’s part of the reason why our growth was a little bit slower.” How is the consumer learning about Stûv? Boudreau: “We have been marketing our


aving set up its North American manufacturing operation in Bromont, Quebec, Stûv America discontinued its gas line, called TULP, in favor of consolidating its focus on wood and pellet products. Hearth & Home: The big news at Stûv

is that you have your new factory up and running. Which products are you producing now, and what quantity can you produce? Vincent Boudreau: “We now have

20 employees here at the factory. We are producing all of the Stûv 16 line, which is stoves, inserts, and fireplaces – all are EPA 2020-Certified, and all are produced here in the Bromont factory. Our goal is to progressively switch the production from Europe to North America.”

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product toward architects, designers, and all the specifiers. Our clientele is mainly the Baby Boomers and they are older and have more time to conduct research on the Internet to find the kind of product they like. Also, they do travel, so they see other product from around the world.” Are you using social media such as Facebook or Google? Boudreau: “Yes, we are investing in

marketing on the Web. So yes, that’s a new direction for us.” What percent of your sales in 2019 were in Canada? Boudreau: “In 2019 we had 70% of our

sales in Canada and 30% in the U.S. The U.S. is still marginal for us. It represents the most potential for growth. We constantly receive requests from dealers from all around the U.S, but we don’t want to grow too fast. We still want to grow in a constant curve, but with solid growth.”

Explain your decision to drop gas and stay just with wood and pellets. Boudreau: “The first principle of Stûv is

to develop products that are unique, and missing from the market. We want to go to market with innovative products. That has always been our engine for growth, and it drives what we do every day. “In North America, 70% of the market is gas. So we looked at the opportunity to acquire a company that was based in the Netherlands, and that would allow us to bring a gas line to North America. It took us two years to certify it and build a product line, and within those two years there were three other companies that came out with a similar look and function. “The brand that we bought was TULP Fireplaces. It had very high quality, but was not that innovative. But from 2015 until today, major manufacturers in North America never stopped innovating. With TULP we had a very good, complementary line to our wood line, but we had to admit we were not innovating at the same speed as the major gas manufacturers. “We decided to focus our time and money in continuing to innovate and invest all of our research and development time and money into what we have been strong at for more than 35 years, which is renewable energy. Renewable energy is wood and pellet. In Europe, five years ago, we developed a very innovative pellet stove, which is the Stûv P-10. That is an appliance that we want to bring to the North American market for 2021.” How well is that product selling in Europe? Boudreau: “In Europe, the pellet market

isn’t comparable to the North American market. It remains marginal here in America, but in Europe it’s very strong. So our pellet stove has instantly been more popular than the gas series, even in Europe. From our perspective, we don’t see the Stûv P-10 reaching the same market as all other pellet stoves in the North American market, because it’s a higher-end product. In terms of finishing, it’s more like furniture, and it will be considered as furniture. It also will be the first pellet product in North America to be silent.

| Fireside Chats | “There is no convection fan on the P-10 that makes noise, and also the way the unit feeds the pellets into the combustion chamber is from underneath. It pushes the pellets toward the pot that burns the pellets instead of dropping the pellets in. In terms of particulate matter, we have pre-tested it to the EPA standard and we have reached the second-best result in particulate matter compared to all other pellet products on the market today. It’s really impressive.” Now that the Stûv products have been around for a number of years, where are they selling best? Boudreau: “New England, Ontario, and

Quebec are our main markets for now. Besides that, the West Coast, mainly in Canada, the western Canadian coast is very ready for our products, as well as the U.S. Midwest. States such as Ohio, Michigan, and all the states surrounding the Great Lakes are markets where we are seeing good growth.”

dealer network appreciates the fact that they can reach us easily. We do have a dedicated phone number and dealers get priority when they phone through that number.” As you said, you don’t want to grow too fast, right? Boudreau: “Yes, we take our time.

However, the beauty in this project for Stûv in North America is that now we do produce locally, so we have a capacity of production here in the Bromont factory. If we have faster growth at some point, we will always be able to get product from our factory in Belgium.” Is everyone in Belgium pleased with how it’s going in the States? Boudreau: “Absolutely. It’s a strong

growth here, and it’s a constant growth. We want to build a strong relationship and a strong recognition of our brand; our goal is to become one of the major players in North America.”

“Part of our decision in stopping gas is that we would have had to invest massively in a fuel that we had less experience with. So our best bet was to focus on what we are strong in, which is renewable energy.”

How many reps do you have on the road now in Canada and in the U.S.?

Well, you might as well shoot for the sky, right?

Boudreau: “Not enough, not enough.

stay realistic. With the decision of stopping gas, we know we will lose a big market share opportunity. I think gas is here to stay. However, gas is being banned in towns and cities throughout North America. This is something that all of us have to watch. “To be honest, part of our decision in stopping gas is that we would have had to invest massively in a fuel that we had less experience with. So our best bet was to focus on what we are strong in, which

For now, we do have one agency that represents us in Ontario, which is Urban Hearth. They have three people traveling on the road. Beside that, we have two other people who mainly focus on the New England, Quebec, and the West Coast markets. “We do need many more people. But this has always been difficult and challenging. As we have been dealer-direct until now, the

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Boudreau: “Yes, exactly, but we want to

is renewable energy – wood and pellets. It deeply reaches our values.” I’m sure you are very aware of all the different locales that have banned wood-burning through the years. Do you see that stopping? Boudreau: “I don’t think so. When

you look at it from an environmental perspective, it’s fossil fuel against renewable fuel. Today, renewable fuel is our better bet. I don’t take it for granted that wood will always be there as an option, but I think it is a good path to invest in, as a manufacturer in this industry.” As long as the products burning the fuel are burning cleanly, such as yours. Boudreau: “Yes.”

What will you have for new products at the Expo? Boudreau: “The new product for 2020

is the Stûv 6. Now we are into innovation. We are coming with a product that will be the easiest insert to install on the market. You’ll be amazed by the concept of its installation casing. The second innovation is the door design. The door has been designed where there’s a curve inside the combustion chamber that continues with the door frame, so it creates an impression of a big fire but into a small combustion chamber. This is totally innovative. “The main clientele that we want to reach with this new product is people who want to stop their cold air infiltration, let’s say, from the hearth. So they are gaining efficiencies but don’t want to overheat their space. They want to keep a nice fire in their living room without overheating the space. So it’s a smaller insert. It’s, let’s say, in the 1 cu. ft. to 1.5 cu. ft. range. “The P-10 pellet stoves will not be ready until the end of this year. ” What have I not asked that I should? What else would you like to get out? Boudreau: “I would like to invite

everybody to look at our new website, which has been developed to help consumers with the experience of purchasing a stove or fireplace.”

| Retailing |

LISTEN TO YOGI Collin Emmett worked hard, created a successful business, and married the right woman (which was his best decision).

By Bill Sendelback


hen you come to a fork in the road, take it,” advised the late baseball great Yogi Berra. Collin Emmett did just that, venturing out from a top management position with a major North American retail chain to take a chance selling wood stoves. He must have taken the correct “fork” because, after 41 years, Emmett’s Energy has grown from selling wood

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stoves one at a time from an old fruit stand to now having two very successful stores in the greater Detroit, Michigan, market offering hearth products, grills, patio furniture, and Outdoor Room products. After earning a degree in Applied Arts and Sciences from the University of Michigan as the Vietnam War was winding down, Collin Emmett joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Japan as a weather specialist. While

returning to the U.S. from Japan after his military stint, Emmett’s seatmate on the plane was a manager for Sears, Roebuck & Company who suggested that Emmett join Sears. Emmett applied and was accepted for a management program at Sears, and eventually became a Sears A wall of fire makes an impressive, and colorful statement.


Collin and Jane Emmett.

“I probably was in a cocky mood, thinking I couldn’t lose even though my wife said it was a risky move. But she was on board with it and has always supported me, so we opened our second store.” division manager in the Detroit market. But after 10 years with Sears, he became disillusioned with big corporate business. It was a time in the ’70s of the oil embargo and skyrocketing fuel prices. “While building a new house, I started looking for supplemental heating since I was then paying about $4 a gallon for oil,” Emmett says. “I came upon people selling things such as wood and coal stoves out of the back of their trucks, and this really intrigued me, especially when I saw people standing in line for the

stoves.” Having experience working in his father’s hardware store, and with his retail background, Emmett thought he could make selling wood stoves a side business to his fulltime job at Sears. So in 1979, Emmett rented an old fruit stand in Romeo, Michigan; there he sold the now-defunct Black Bart brand wood stoves one at a time just as many early wood stove pioneer dealers did at the time. “I sold a stove and used that money to buy another, and my business began to grow,” he says. Emmett soon found

himself competing with the local Black Bart distributor, and they pulled the line from him. So he took on the also now-defunct Old Hickory brand wood stove line. “But I didn’t like buying through a middleman,” he says, “so I switched to the Silent Flame brand of wood stoves, and our business grew to where I was buying in truckloads. At that point, I decided to leave Sears and become a full-time hearth products dealer.” For most people, that decision might be a big leap of faith, but fortunately for Emmett, his wife, Jane, “made a decent living” as a school teacher and had family health insurance. That one-stove-at-a-time operation in a little rented fruit stand soon developed into a 4,000 sq. ft. store displaying 50 stoves including 30 burning models, and soon Emmett added grills to his lineup. At that point, a salesman from a local distributor wanted to join Emmett’s growing operation by opening a second store in Waterford, Michigan. “I probably was in a cocky mood, thinking I couldn’t lose even though my wife said it was a risky move. But she was on board with it and has always supported me, so we opened our second store. We built some pretty crude displays to begin with, but the store was functional.” Emmett started that second store with 1,000 sq. ft. but soon expanded to 5,000 sq. ft. including a 3,000 sq. ft. showroom and 2,000 sq. ft. of warehouse. “With my wife’s income and insurance, we could survive. That’s probably the only reason I was able to stay in business in those early years,” he says. Emmett’s Romeo store “has always done well,” he says; it soon was grossing more than a million dollars, with today’s sales in the multi-million range. “Our sales last year were up almost 15%,” he says. But Emmett’s success has not come without at least one hiccup. With its growth, Emmett’s Energy became one of the nation’s largest dealers of a very major stove line. An individual with “big money” promised that manufacturer that he would open three stores in the Detroit area and wanted their line of products. “I was told I was no longer welcome to sell their products,” says Emmett, “but they did offer to buy me out. I told them just where to shove their offer.” Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience


| Retailing |

“We run our business not just to provide superior customer service… We have a customer-friendly operation that makes our customers feel comfortable doing business with us. And we believe in prompt follow-through to earn the trust of our customers.” — Collin Emmett

When one door closes, another opens. So Emmett took on the Travis line which today has grown to 50% of Emmett’s Energy’s sales as the company has become one of Travis’ largest dealers. Emmett’s retail operation recently has grown with the purchase of a former Salvation Army store portion of a mall across the street from his previous location. “We

Mix and match – fireplaces, stoves, and inserts.

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Emmett’s barbeque display.

went from about 4,000 sq. ft. to now 30,000 sq. ft.,” he says. That includes a 10,000 sq. ft. showroom and a 20,000 sq. ft. warehouse to now keep Emmett from having to move merchandise from the store’s former satellite warehouse seven miles away. Emmett in 2006 opened a third location, but it is “strictly a working display” in the Michigan Design Center in Troy, Michigan,

catering to high-end customers, architects, and designers. It features a working DaVinci fireplace with an employee on location to help prospects. With the room in his Romeo location, in 2019 Emmett added patio furniture to his offering. “This was a little bit of a struggle,” he says. “It’s a learning experience because so much patio furniture business is done over

the Internet. Markups in outdoor furniture are high, but it’s a cutthroat business, and it’s difficult to find a niche.” Emmett’s Energy’s new, larger Romeo flagship store was designed by its employees and co-owner Jane Emmett. “She has a flair for design,” says Collin. Products are divided by product categories, including an entire wall of fireplace inserts and sections

we believe in prompt follow-through to earn the trust of our customers.” “Sometimes we spend maybe 20 minutes just getting to know our customers,” adds Jane. “We want to know who they are, where they are from, about their family, what are the determining factors in making a purchase, and who will make the buying decision. Once we have all that nailed

services we offer. When you sell products in which you have confidence, people tend to see that and buy into it.” Emmett’s Energy does have other competitors in its market. “But we’re not in a battle with them,” says Emmett. He points out one competitor who tries to sell by bad mouthing other dealers. “He used to really bad mouth us and lie about us,” says Jane.

A see-through fireplace serves as a window looking in on the store’s coffee bar, at right. Fire products by Travis Industries.

featuring wood stoves and gas stoves, fireplaces, grills, and patio furniture. “Where our old store was very basic and rough, this new one caters to all customers and features vignettes with custom touches like designer tiles and bricks, and custom surrounds. We have a burning, 6-ft. DaVinci fireplace and Tempest Torch outdoor heaters, 36 burning fireplaces, a nice area featuring grills and fire pits, and a custom coffee bar. “We run our business not just to provide superior customer service,” says Emmett. “It’s more about earning customer trust and showing appreciation to those customers. We have a customer-friendly operation that makes our customers feel comfortable doing business with us. And

down, we know what direction to take to provide that customer with the products they need and want.” Emmett’s Energy’s market is in the eastern Detroit area, according to Collin Emmett. “We’re a statewide dealer, but we install in the 10 counties surrounding us. The local economy is pretty decent, and everyone is paying their bills. I started with blue collar customers, but now we’re doing business with every category of customers in our market.” The Internet is Emmett’s Energy’s biggest competitor, says Collin. “Those internet sellers beat us up pretty badly as we’re now finding with patio furniture. With hearth products, we simply try to sell the advantages of our products and the

“Customers would leave his store and come to ours and say, ‘This guy is bad mouthing you, so we’re going to buy from you.’” Like many hearth product dealers, Emmett shuns tract homebuilders, leaving them to one-step or installing distributors. Instead, Emmett works with customhome builders. “Early on I got into the mass builder market, and those guys were really like the Italian mafia, stringing out payments. Honestly, we just have not had the time to pursue builder business. We don’t go knocking on doors the way we should. The builders have come to us over the years because we offer products and services they cannot get anywhere else. Today, custom-home builder business represents about 40% of our sales.”

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| Retailing |

The use of color highlights the various fireplace designs.

“There will always be a need for service, and with the Internet, this is a way to set us apart. I think service is the future of our industry… We make a fairly good profit on service, and that’s where we’re going to grow, maybe even more than in our retail business.” — Collin Emmett

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But Emmett has pursued larger commercial projects including recently signing a $60,000 contract to install Travis’ DaVinci fireplaces in a local commercial building. “And we recently sold and installed seven DaVincis in a Veterans’ Home.” The store has its own employee teams doing installations and service. “There are expensive insurance, payroll, operational costs, fuel and truck upkeep to consider,” says Emmett, “so you have to look at service knowing that it has to make money for you. There will always be a need for service, and with the Internet, this is a way to set us apart. I think service is the future of our industry, especially with all the old hearth products still in use. We make a fairly good profit on service, and that’s where we’re going to grow, maybe even more than in our retail business.”

Like most successful retailers, Collin Emmett values each of his employees and gives them credit for most of the success of the company. Collin’s wife, Jane, is coowner and, no longer teaching, is a “Jack of all things” in the company plus the designer of store layouts and arrangements. “Besides keeping Collin in check, I walk around the store and make sure that I like what I see from the view of a customer and of a woman.” Their son Brian is Emmett’s Energy’s IT person. General manager Eric Stevenson has a unique history with the company. While Jane was teaching school, she saw promise in Eric, then a sixth grader. “I had a gut feeling that he should work for us, even if it was just sweeping floors in the beginning,” she says. So Stevenson joined the Emmett’s Energy crew when he was just 16 years old.

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| Retailing | “He’s forty now, and he’s been a stalwart in our business,” says Collin. Both Brian and Stevenson have been with the company 25 years, but many of the company’s employees have at least 15 years of service. Conventional consumer advertising has gone the way of the dinosaur for most

retailers, especially with Emmett’s Energy. Most of the company’s advertising is using Google as a search engine, which highlights Emmett’s Energy as a local hearth product and outdoor living dealer. And Emmett makes certain to maintain and update the company’s website. “Our son, Brian, is

always upgrading, putting photos of current installations and adding sale coupons to our site.” Emmett also emphasizes the comment cards that go to every customer, and he asks customers to follow the company on Facebook and rate it. Emmett is having success with bulk mailers targeted to selected ZIP codes. “We design quality 8½- by 5½-inch postcards featuring selected products and promotions, and targeting subdivisions or what the U.S. Post Office describes as mail routes. This seems to be working for us,” he says.

“My dad owned a pretty successful hardware store. He worked long hours, six days a week. So he told me not to go into retail. I guess I didn’t listen.” — Collin Emmett

Store Name: Emmett’s Energy Locations: 70945 Van Dyke Rd, Romeo, MI 4994 Dixie Hwy, Waterford Twp, MI Owners: Collin Emmett, Jane Emmett Key Executives: Eric Stevenson, General Manager Year Established: 1979 Website: www.emmettsenergy.com Email: emmettsenergy@comcast.net Phone: (877) 836-6388 Number of Stores: Two Number of Employees: Full-time: 15 Part-time: 7 % of Sales by Product Category: Hearth: 75% Grills: 15% Patio: 5% Outdoor Room: 5%

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Sq. Ft. of Building Space: Romeo store: showroom 10,000; warehouse 20,000 Waterford store: showroom 3,000; warehouse 2,000 Lines Carried: Hearth: Travis, Hearthstone, Empire Comfort, Dimplex, Heatilator, Vermont Castings, Monessen, RH Peterson, Stoll, Hearth Craft, American Fireglass, JC Huffman Patio: Woodard, Lloyd Flanders, Kettler, LuxCraft, Gensun, Frankford Umbrellas Barbecue: Weber, Fire Magic, Big Green Egg, Traeger, Primo, Delsol, Twin Eagles, TEC, Green Mountain, Delta Heat Outdoor Room: The Outdoor GreatRoom Co., American Fyre Designs, Tempest Torch, HPC, Warming Trends Advertising % of Gross Revenues: .5% Advertising: Website 40%, Google search engine 30%, Direct mail 30%

It’s been 41 years of success for Collin and Jane Emmett. “It’s been a labor of love and sacrifice and a lot of hard work,” says Jane. “So now we are considering retiring. But there is a lot for us to consider because we have so many good employees, and we don’t want to leave any of them stranded in any way. Whatever happens and whenever it happens, it has to be good for us and our employees.” “My dad owned a pretty successful hardware store,” says Emmett. “He worked long hours, six days a week. So he told me not to go into retail. I guess I didn’t listen. I got cocky when I took on this business. I never realized just how many hours I put into this business and how many hours I missed with my family until now that I have gotten up in years and my wife reminds me. “So, if you are considering going into retail, marry a good wife,” Jane adds, “someone who’s willing to work in the business with you and take care of the family.”

| Pizza Ovens |

PHOTO: ©2020

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A SLICE OF THE PIE? Don’t miss out on the Home Pizza Trend; it’s another major trend in its infancy.

By Lisa Readie Mayer


riday Night Pizza” is a tradition for many North American families, including one on the hit ABC television series “A Million Little Things.” But, rather than order takeout, this TV family makes homemade pizza in a beautiful, masonry, wood-fired pizza oven on their patio.

Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience


| Pizza Ovens | An entire episode of the series is devoted to this pizza-night success in specialty barbecue, pool, appliance, and hardware tradition, with the family and friends gathered in the glow channels, as well as in the hospitality industry, and even among of the wood-fired oven, making and cooking the pizzas, and food truck operators. enjoying them together at a long dining table in the Outdoor Stone says, since 2018, the company has opened 120 dealers Room that extends seamlessly from the home’s interior living in 150 locations. “This is more than a fad,” he says. “We’ve space. After dinner, family and friends cozy around a fire pit been closing dealers even through the winter months. We on deep-seated wicker furniture to extend the evening expect to double our business in 2020. Our social media and the fun. is growing like crazy, and consumers are realizing Based on viewers’ online comments, they can have an outdoor pizza oven and the images of the pizza oven, the don’t have to spend $10,000 to $15,000 Outdoor Room, and the pizzaor have a big permanent masonry making experience resonated structure on their patio. Dealers say with the audience long after the customers are coming in asking for episode ended. As one put it, our ovens.” the “backyard brick oven made Alfa Ovens features proprietary me swoon.” Another said, “The firebrick on the deck of the oven, houses on this show might be a baffled flue system for better the best part.” and more even heat circulation, The takeaway: Pizza ovens and a double-walled ceramic-fiber are a gateway to memorable insulated exterior to hold up in experiences. They are a vehicle cold climates, while remaining for establishing pizza-night cool to the touch. The company traditions with the grandkids, offers six wood-fired models, entertaining friends with unique including its latest and smallest, the live-fire dinners, hosting make-yourAlfa One, weighing 100 pounds. own pizza parties, making great snacks While Stone says the company’s woodA l le s. gro fro on football-watching afternoons, and many fired ovens are its most popular, its two gasm ALFA Oven other types of social cooking. Pizza ovens are fired, models, UL-certified for indoor use, “are part of an experiential lifestyle and specialty retailers selling really well and are much more competitively-priced should be selling them. than tabletop, stainless-steel gas ovens.” Joe Formisano, founder of DeliVita The Dough Is Rising wood-fired ovens made in England, says Interest in homemade, artisanal pizza his company’s sales have been steadily is growing. According to the USDA, increasing since the company began homemade pizza accounted for making its tabletop, wood-fired 10% of all pizza consumed in ovens in 2016. He credits the 2015, up from 3% in 2013. growth in part to the “theatrics Market research firm Technavio of creating fire and having forecasts the global market friends and family over to cook for wood-fired pizza ovens is together. It’s fun allowing expected to grow by more than them to create their own 10% between 2017 and 2021. masterpieces,” he says. “The category is really A Vesta Award finalist last year taking off,” says Michael Stone, when the ovens were introduced to director of Sales, Outdoor for the U.S. market at the HPBExpo, Lakeview Appliance Distributing portable, DeliVita ovens are crafted in and ALFA Ovens, a line of pizza ovens a traditional beehive shape with clay stone manufactured in Italy. “Consumers and interior, and a waterproof, crack-resistant, Th . eH a a le G l i V it dealers are really understanding that it’s all fiberglass exterior shell available in several colors. rey Oven from De about the experience of cooking over a live fire Safe for any surface, the compact tabletop ovens weigh and turning an evening of dinner and drinks into an only 66 lbs., can accommodate a 12-inch pizza or cast-iron pan, experience with family, friends, or coworkers.” and reach 800°F temperatures in 25 minutes. Stone, a former brick-and-mortar retailer himself, says he still “The oven is not just for pizzas,” Formisano says. “We have occasionally encounters hesitancy from retailers who tell him, four Michelin-starred restaurants using our ovens for cooking “We previously tried (selling pizza ovens) and it didn’t work.” steaks and fish, hot-smoking, baking, and as a tandoori oven. But, he says, many are embracing the category, and he’s seeing It is a quality, artisan oven at an attainable price.”

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Russ Faulk, chief designer and head of Product at Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, says roughly half of those who purchase an outdoor kitchen from Kalamazoo now include the company’s Artisan Fire Pizza Oven among the components. He says the trend is hottest on the West Coast, but is also very popular in households with children. “The fact you can light it so quickly and be ready to cook in as little at 20 minutes, means an after-school pizza party is always possible,” Faulk says. After noticing customer demand increasing over the past several years, Amber Percival, president of Urban Hearth in Ontario, Canada, added pizza ovens to the store’s product mix last year. “The category is doing very well,” she says. “Outdoor cooking is going through a renaissance and people are connecting to food in a different way.” Percival says her store’s customers are “eager foodies” who are interested in making homemade sourdough bread in a pizza oven, grinding their own beef for burgers, drinking craft brews, and other artisanal pursuits. “They are also taking pictures of it all and sharing it on social media,” she says. “Social media and other influencers are helping to grow interest.” Percival says retailers who are successful at selling pizza ovens for outdoor kitchens are making a conscious effort to speak to consumers’ desires to connect with family and friends, make memories, and make really good food. “You have to show what’s possible,” she says. “A high-end gas grill, a teppanyaki grill, a wood-burning pizza oven – they’re all part of an outdoor kitchen and may even all be used during the same party.” A Pizza Oven on Every Patio While old-school, custom-masonry, wood-fired ovens may be impressive eye-candy on the patio and provide the most visual theater, they are not the only options. Today, manufacturers offer fully assembled and ready-to-use pizza ovens in a wide array of price points, sizes, and materials.

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Traditional wood-fired ovens generate tremendous heat and offer smoked-kissed flavor, but ovens are also now available fueled by propane, natural gas, and wood-pellets. Faulk says gas ovens offer the advantage of faster heat-up times, consistent temperature control, and greater convenience, while still delivering the intense heat required for Neapolitan-style pizzas. “It removes the guesswork and learning curve of managing a wood fire,” he says. In addition to Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet’s Artisan Fire Pizza Oven, the Lynx Napoli, Earthstone Ovens, and Twin Eagles Salamangrill are other premium, gas-fired, stainlesssteel units that can sit on a tabletop or cart base, or be built into a masonry surround. Bull’s propane- or natural gas-fired Pizza Oven preheats in 15 minutes to 900°F. Made in Italy, the domed unit can be built into an outdoor kitchen, or placed on an optional wheeled cart base. The gas-fired, stainless-steel Summerset Outdoor Oven has two racks for cooking two pizzas (or other foods) at once, as well as a wood-chip holder to impart smoke f lavor. Camp Chef ’s Italia Artisan Pizza Oven is a lightweight, portable oven that can be powered with a 1 lb. propane cylinder for camping or tailgating. It preheats in 15 minutes, offers adjustable flame control, and reaches temperatures up to 700°F. Mont Alpi also makes a portable, tabletop, propane pizza oven, as well as a dome accessory that fits over a sideburner to convert a gas grill into a pizza oven. Ooni’s roster of petite tabletop pizza ovens includes the Koda gas-fired model with a 13-inch stone that heats to 900°F in 10 minutes, and collapsible legs for easy portability. Its multi-fueled Ooni Pro model accepts gas, wood pellets, wood chunks, or lump charcoal fuels, has a 17-inch stone and a window in the door to monitor what’s cooking. While prices on some premium, preassembled ovens can be steep, there are lots of moderate and even entry-priced options available that allow a much broader base of consumers to get into the category. The gas-fired Firepod is a clever, compact, and versatile pizza oven that preheats to 700°F in 10 minutes, cooks a pizza in four minutes, and runs eight hours on a 1 lb. propane cylinder (or can be adapted for a 22 lb. tank). The unit has a dual stone floor separated by a little gap for better heat distribution and convection. The stones are reversible for easy cleaning, or one can be reserved for gluten-free pizzas. An optional, reversible, cast-iron skillet and griddle accessory can be swapped in for the pizza stones to enable grilling, searing, sautéing, making breakfast, and more. The oven can also be used to heat a lava stone or Himalayan salt block. The tabletop oven has an optional floor stand and comes in four cool colors – turquoise, eggplant, red, and black. A very low-risk way to get customers to test the pizzamaking waters is the All-in-1 BBQ accessory from House of BBQ Experts, a line of accessories manufactured by Canadian retailer BBQ Quebec. The unit fits any standard-sized charcoal kettle grill and converts it into a pizza oven, as well as a rotisserie or smoker.

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“Seeing is believing. The Artisan Fire Pizza Oven really comes to life when the flame is on. It’s one thing to tell a client our oven cooks a Neapolitan-style pizza in less than three minutes. It is another thing to show them and let them taste the results.”

GAME CHANGER ESP Particle Filter Self-cleaning with integrated chimney fan.

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Other Ways to Roll in the Dough Just as with any outdoor cooking appliance, the best way to increase sales of outdoor ovens is by demoing. “The most successful dealers make sure salespeople understand how to use the ovens, and cook on them regularly to educate customers,” says Stone. “There is a bit of a learning curve because ovens cook from both the top down and the bottom up.” “Seeing is believing,” adds Faulk. “The Artisan Fire Pizza Oven really comes to life when the flame is on. It’s one thing to tell a client our oven cooks a Neapolitan-style pizza in less than three minutes. It is another thing to show them and let them taste the results.” In addition to in-store demos, cooking classes, and events, some dealers have put pizza ovens on a mobile trailer for large-scale demoing at local community festivals, events, and outdoor markets. Others allow customers to rent pizza ovens and accessories to try making pizza at home. According to Stone, one dealer displays an Alfa Oven outdoors on a trailer with a sign that says “Rent Me.” Sometimes rental “test drives” lead to sales. Another way to monetize your pizza oven expertise is to create a mobile pizza catering service to make and serve artisan pizzas on location for private and corporate events, including company picnics, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, retirements, and sports team parties. If your store already offers cooking classes and is adept at food handling, this should be an easy transition. The catering service could also sell artisan pizzas at local fairs, food festivals, and concerts, and at cross-marketing events with local craft breweries, wineries, specialty food markets, and more. DeliVita served up an estimated 30,000 pizzas last year as part of its catering operation, according to Formisano. “To show how strong our product is we use our (catering) to advertise its capabilities,” he says. “These mighty little ovens are showstoppers. We are now starting to franchise our catering business outside of the UK.” Pizza ovens are not a more convenient or less expensive alternative to take out, but they are a way for customers to create unique, memorable experiences, and fantastic food at home with family and friends. It’s time to revisit this category and get your slice of the pie.

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| The Rental Economy |

BUY VS. BORROW? Will the rapidly growing sharing economy take a bite out of (your) retail sales? Only if you let it by not joining the trend. By Lisa Readie Mayer


etailing already brings its share of challenges, and now there’s a new consumer movement afoot that advocates borrowing over buying, renting over owning, and buying used whenever possible if owning is necessary. The trend goes by various names – “collaborative consumption,” the “sharing economy,” the “rental economy,” and “sustainable shopping,” to name a few. But whatever the moniker, the practice reflects a changing consumer attitude toward buying and owning.

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No Desire to Acquire The movement is part of a broader cultural shift toward a more circular economy aimed at reducing waste and carbon emissions by sharing or renting items that are used infrequently, and repurposing, refurbishing, repairing, and recycling products to keep them in use and out of a landfill longer. Supporters say the practice is a superior and more sustainable alternative to the prevailing “take-make-use-dispose” consumption patterns.

This no-desire-to-acquire philosophy dovetails with several other burgeoning consumer trends. One is a growing preference for experiences over “stuff,” in which consumers say they would rather spend money on travel, events, classes, or personal indulgences such as facials or massages, than on material goods. A simultaneous decluttering movement, popularized by organizing expert Marie Kondo’s books and the Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” has inspired countless people to get rid of clothing and other household items that “don’t spark joy,” and to buy only products they love, need, and use frequently. In that same vein, interest in fastfashion, fast-furnishings, and other singleuse or short-lived products is waning. Instead, people are consuming more consciously by supporting companies with sustainable production practices, and



of females have recently purchased used clothes and accessories, purchased secondhand furniture, and purchased used appliances



buying products that are longer-lasting and higher-quality. Today’s consumers are also much more open to buying secondhand. A 2019 study from daVinci Payments finds 52% of females have recently purchased used clothes and accessories, 23% purchased secondhand furniture, and 20% purchased used appliances. According to “eMarketer Retail,” there is actually a cachet associated with sustainable shopping; buying used is something to brag about. Finally, many consumers just don’t have room for a lot of stuff. Young Millennials living in Mom’s basement, or sharing cramped apartments with roommates, don’t have the need or room for many household items. House-hunting older Millennials prefer smaller homes that emphasize outdoor living spaces over storage closets. Even downsizing Baby Boomers are reprioritizing possessions, and jettisoning stuff that won’t fit in their smaller digs. As a result, all generations are becoming more mindful consumers. According to online news outlet “Vice.com,” shoppers are deciding to simply buy fewer things. It predicts, “Rental and secondhand (shopping) will capture more of the consumer spend away from traditional retail.” Real-World Retail Impact Indeed, from cars to condos to camping gear, collaborative consumption has penetrated nearly every industry and is impacting retail sales. Ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft, two of the most widely known and frequently used examples of the sharing economy, have contributed to the decline in the number of teens getting driver’s licenses and delayed the purchase of a first car. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

reports the number of high school seniors who have a driver’s license dropped from nearly 89% in 1996 to 71% in 2015. Members of car-sharing service Zipcar can borrow a vehicle on-demand through an app, use their Zipcar card to unlock it, and then return it to a designated parking spot when done. The company estimates that by 2025, 10% of the U.S. population is expected to adopt car-sharing as their primary means of transportation. It notes that every Zipcar in use removes 13 personally owned vehicles from the road. That’s good news, unless you sell cars. Shared transportation services are expected to grow as consumers move to walkable communities and work from home more frequently. Though suburban and rural residents are unlikely to give up their vehicles completely, ride- and car-

long-term room rentals, often with reduced rent in exchange for helping with household chores. Despite pushback in some communities, these businesses are booming – Airbnb is valued at $35 billion ahead of its impending IPO – and impacting hotel and hospitality industries. Co-working spaces such as WeWork, Instant Offices, and Spaces, rent shared work stations, conference rooms, office services, and amenities on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, eliminating the need for a costly permanent office for start-ups, small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. Even large, blue-chip corporations are adopting a “less is more” mindset and scaling back the amount of office space they occupy. Companies are calculating average daily attendance to determine how many desks are in use each day; for

share services lessen the need for households to own multiple cars, especially when the vehicles spend 90% of the day in the driveway, garage, or parking lot. For people who already own a car that mostly sits idle, a new peer-to-peer car-sharing platform called Getaround, allows individuals to rent their personal vehicles to others. The site estimates it has five million users and 20,000 cars registered in its system. Peer-to-peer housing-rental platforms such as Airbnb, Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO), and HomeExchange allow someone to temporarily rent out all or part of their home to travelers. Nesterly facilitates intergenerational,

many companies, the daily peak census may only be 75% of the total number of employees, due to absences for business travel, illness, and vacation. In an effort to cut costs, energy use, and emissions created by outfitting, heating, cooling, and maintaining underutilized floor space, many companies are downsizing their corporate footprint. Rather than assigning each employee a permanent desk, they are designating department “neighborhoods” within the building, and having workers take any available workstation. That makes sense, but it also translates to reduced sales of office furniture and equipment. Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience


| The Rental Economy | Many communities now have bikesharing services, lending libraries for tools and musical instruments, and “makerspaces” where people can share equipment such as 3-D printers, sewing machines, and filmmaking gear. Through RVshare, people can rent others’ motorhomes and campers. Clothing Industry Case History The clothing industry has been significantly impacted by the sharing economy. Peerto-peer online consignment marketplaces such as Poshmark and The RealReal allow consumers to buy and sell their used clothing directly to others. Rent the Runway provides an opportunity to rent an outfit for a special occasion and return it afterward. (Why own something that likely wouldn’t get worn again?) Clothing subscription programs allow women to practice wardrobe “rotation over accumulation,” something that’s particularly appealing to career women who can access an ever-changing supply of work clothes at a fraction of the retail cost. Initially embraced by Millennials and Gen Z, the concept is now being adopted across all generations. According to the 2019 Resale Report by online thrift store thredUP, 45% of women bought a secondhand clothing item in 2016; by 2018, 64% of women had done so. The study estimates secondhand clothing sales will double to $51 billion over the next five years, with more than 70% of those purchases shifted from traditional retail sales. The finding is causing already struggling clothing retailers to sit up and take notice: 87% say they plan to test resale programs, 61% will offer rentals, and 52% will adopt refurbishment programs in the near future. Macy’s and JCPenney have partnered with thredUP; Lord & Taylor was recently acquired by clothing subscription company Le Tote; and Bloomingdale’s just launched its own monthly subscription rental service. Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and Free People clothing brands are now available to borrow through Nuuly.

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Even luxury brands targeted to Baby Boomers are getting in on the action. Burberry has teamed with the secondhand consignment platform The RealReal, and high-end fashion house Eileen Fisher recently launched Renew, a site to sell the label’s gently used garments. Nike has implemented a kids’ shoe subscription service in which members get a new pair of shoes every three months to keep up with growing feet. The returned used shoes are either donated or upcycled. The RealReal and Kidizen have created resale marketplaces for kids’ clothes and gear. According to YPulse, the market for secondhand kids’ clothes will continue to increase as Millennials and Gen Z start families.

Patagonia sells used clothing and gear, provides free repairs, and offers a “Worn Wear” program that accepts trade-ins of its branded items for credits toward the purchase of new or used merchandise. The company’s goal: “to extend the life of gear, cut down on consumption and get more use out of stuff we already own.” It estimates that keeping clothing in use just nine extra months can reduce related carbon, water, and waste footprints between 20% and 30%. Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) offers an extensive selection of used clothing and equipment for outdoor enthusiasts, as well as a rental program for everything from camping tents and car racks to snowboards and paddle

boards. Its “re-commerce” program has been so successful, the retailer doubled the number of locations offering it to 85 in 2018, and expanded to 115 locations last year. According to its website, REI aims “to engage in a circular economy and reduce waste,” while “helping more people get outdoors and keeping useful stuff out of the landfills.” It’s estimated that 26 billion pounds of clothing ends up in landfills each year. On the Homefront The tentacles of the sharing economy are stretching into the home and onto the patio. As the number of residential townhome and apartment communities increase, residents are growing comfortable sharing amenities such as fitness centers, outdoor kitchens, and rooftop lounges that preclude the need to buy a treadmill, grill, or patio furniture for personal use. Furniture retailer West Elm now rents coordinated bundles of home accessories such as decorative pillows, throws, and bedding sets, and IKEA plans to roll out a furniture subscription service next year. Subscribers to home-furnishings rental startups Feather and Fernish can swap pieces of quality furniture in and out of their homes, including a limited selection of outdoor furniture, such as teak dining tables and chairs, chaise lounges, side tables, and deepseating all-weather wicker groupings. These companies provide an affordable way to access good design, and offer a sustainable alternative to cheaply made, self-assembled “fast furniture.” Because they deliver and pick up, the companies eliminate the hassle and expense of moving furniture when changing apartments. Renting is also a good way to try out a piece of furniture before committing to owning; should the renter love it, there’s an option to buy, with previous rental payments going toward the purchase price.

Pool-sharing service Swimply connects homeowners with underutilized swimming pools and outdoor living spaces, and those wishing to enjoy a backyard resort. The online platform lists hundreds of backyard environments with amenities such as inground pools, hot tubs, outdoor kitchens,

bar islands, outdoor refrigerators, fire pits, pergolas, comfortable furnishings, and more, at hourly rental rates from about $50 to $500. More specialty retailers are testing secondhand shopping and rental programs. Jono Ace Hardware in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, rents Traeger pellet grills,

flattop griddle grills, party-sized charcoal grills, and hog roasters. The store uses its demo units for rentals, according to retailer Loretta Ollar. She says the rental program has been successful and often leads to sales of pellet grills and griddle grills after customers try them at home. Stephen “Ruff” Ruffati, owner of Ruff’s Barbeque Shoppe, tested renting pellet grills in his Golden, Colorado, store one summer, but found it to be more trouble than it was worth. “People don’t really know how to use a pellet grill, so between the labor and the clean-up, it wasn’t always a successful experience,” he says. However, the retailer says offering preowned pellet grills, kamados, and smokers for sale in the store has been a home run. “There is definitely a market for used grills for the same reasons car dealers sell used cars,” he explains. “People want to upgrade to a new car and trade in their old car. It’s the same with grills; there are so many new models introduced and people want the latest shiny new object.

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www.hearthandhome.com | MARCH 2020 | 93

| The Rental Economy | In addition, some people can only afford to buy a used car. Others want to own a luxury-make car, but can’t or don’t want to spend the money on a new one. These are the same reasons someone would buy a quality, used grill.” Ruffati accepts trade-ins only on brands he carries (Big Green Egg, Traeger, Green Mountain Grills, Horizon Smokers), whether the customer originally bought the grill from him or not. The amount of credit he offers on a trade-in depends on several factors, including the condition of the trade-in grill and the price of the new grill the customer plans to purchase. Ruffati says pre-owned grills sell quickly in his store; he estimates moving 10 to 20 used grills a year. “We don’t get too many because people usually pass them down to their kids, or sell them on their own to a neighbor or co-worker, or through Facebook or Craigslist,” he says. “But having the option to trade in a grill leads to sales. A lot of retailers look at a sale as the end of a relationship, but we look at it as the start. Many people who buy a used grill actually barbecue a lot; they just don’t have the funds to buy new. But just like someone who buys a new grill, they keep coming back for charcoal, rubs, accessories, wood, sauces, and spices.” Premium charcoal grill manufacturer Hasty-Bake accepts trade-ins year-round at its Tulsa, Oklahoma, headquarters store, in return for a 20% discount on the purchase of a new Hasty-Bake grill;

Oil-less turkey fryer.

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the trade-in allowance bumps to 25% during its special January trade-in event. The company store also hosts an annual three-day “Scratch and Dent Sale” with savings up to 40% off. Kitchen Window, a Minneapolisbased retailer of indoor and outdoor cooking products, grills, and outdoor kitchens, rents kits with all the necessary equipment and accessories to cook paella, booya, teppanyaki, jambalaya, stir fry, seafood boils, and more, outdoors. For an additional fee, the retailer will also provide all the food ingredients, and even a chef to handle cooking duties while conducting an interactive class for party guests. Joymode is a Los Angeles-based subscription rental service that allows people to borrow 10,000 products bundled around themed experiences, such as pasta-making with a pasta machine, dough scraper, and drying rack; a tiki bar with a margarita machine; or a backyard movie night package. Consumers can rent individual bundles on a pay-as-you-go basis, or subscribe to a Joypass for unlimited borrowing during a three-, six- or 12-month period. Products are cleaned and sanitized between rentals, and delivered and picked up free (the company currently services the Los Angeles and Temecula, California, areas but plans major growth in 2020). Outdoor cooking-themed bundles are in high demand, according to Joymode CEO and Co-founder Joe Fernandez. He

Ruff with a used Egg.

says one of the most popular packages is an outdoor pizza-making kit that includes an Ooni outdoor gas pizza oven, pizza peel, and infrared thermometer, with optional add-ons (for an additional charge) such as a propane tank, dough roller, and cast-iron skillet. Fernandez says the outdoor seafood boil product bundle is an especially hot request during the summer. Other outdoor cooking packages include a Backyard Barbecue bundle with a portable Weber grill, grill stand, tool set, and propane tank, and a Turkey Fryer kit with an oil-less turkey fryer, and related accessories. Joymode members can also borrow portable fire pits, patio heaters, camping stoves, and more. Fernandez says about 20% of customers use Joymode as a way to try products they are considering purchasing. “We love being able to give people access to products in a way that enables them to make more informed purchase decisions,” he says.

“If someone takes a product for a weekend and likes it, they might end up buying their own. It gives people an opportunity to take a test drive. A good quality grill or smoker can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, so the buy-in is expensive. If you could try it first, you might be more willing to invest.” – Ryan Neeley, Marketing Manager, Camp Chef

Ryan Neeley, Marketing manager for Camp Chef, believes such programs can “only help” the outdoor cooking and outdoor living products industry. (Camp Chef’s portable camping stoves are featured in some of Joymode’s camping bundles.) “If someone takes a product for a weekend and likes it, they might end up buying their own,” he says. “It gives people an opportunity to take a test drive. A good quality grill or smoker can cost hundreds

to thousands of dollars, so the buy-in is expensive. If you could try it first, you might be more willing to invest. I definitely would not be surprised if more retailers begin offering this kind of program.” To Rent or Not to Rent: The Retailers’ Debate The sharing economy is only expected to grow as Millennials come into their own as consumers. According to Forbes, more

than one-third of Millennials say they would rather rent than own a product. Lest you think this movement has only a generational fringe following, consider this: Real Simple, a print magazine with 2 million subscribers and nearly 7 million readers with a median age of 52 and $95,000 median household income, suggests “borrowing before buying” in a recent article. It argues, “You borrow a book – why not borrow a weed whacker, stand mixer, or circular saw? Borrowing things like tools and kitchen gadgets saves you from shelling out for something you’ll only use a few times a year, and helps to make connections with neighbors and build a sense of community.” Financial experts at the online newsletter “HerMoney” also advocate renting infrequently used items to save money and reduce clutter. They recommend renting things such as camping gear, luggage, cameras, power tools, and even portable grills.

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| The Rental Economy | The sharing economy is shaking up retail, to be sure, but it doesn’t warrant raising the white flag in defeat. Retailers who adapt to the trend have the potential to increase their customer base, grow sales, and thrive. According to The New York Times, rental programs are a way to develop relationships with younger customers, by exposing them to the premium products they might want, but lack the disposable income to buy at full or even secondhand prices.

Enterprise, National, and Alamo car rental brands, finds that customers who rent a car or use car-share services are 55% more likely than the average consumer to purchase a new vehicle within six months. Some are clearly using car sharing and rentals as extended test-drive opportunities. Similarly, experimenting with a kamado grill, smoker, pellet grill, or pizza oven over a weekend might be a good way for an on-the-fence customer

defacto product demo, potentially leading to sales or rentals by other guests. However, here’s a reality check about rentals: There is considerable labor involved. You must have enough staff and vehicles to administer the program, handle deliveries, and sanitize equipment between rentals. Also, the potential damage risk on pricy equipment necessitates sizeable security deposits. But a rental program for small kamados, portable pizza ovens, smokers,

to test out a product before buying. By reducing potential buyers’ remorse, a rental program might actually grow sales. Crediting a portion, or all, of the rental fee toward the purchase price might add even more incentive to close the sale. Rental fees could become a new revenue stream for the store. Repeat rentals might actually generate a greater return than the margins on the outright sale of the same grill, pizza oven, fire pit, or accessory bundle. Offering pitmasters-for-hire to cook on the rented equipment at a customer’s party, is yet another potential source of revenue. (Avid barbecuers among your customers or staff might be interested in this kind of side gig.) As the pitmaster cooks and engages guests, the party becomes a

charcoal grills, camping, and tailgating grills, fire pits, patio heaters, accessory bundles, and more, might be fairly easy – and profitable – to implement. As consumers increasingly ask themselves, “Do I really need this?” before making a purchase, retailers must find other ways to get products into backyards and to monetize it. Providing opportunities to rent, borrow, share, tradein, or buy secondhand grills and outdoor living products could do just that, while also positioning your store as a leader in sustainability. Like it or not, the sharing economy is taking root, and contributing to the changing face of retail. Smart specialty barbecue and outdoor living retailers need to figure out how to tap into this trend.

By reducing potential buyers’ remorse, a rental program might actually grow sales. Crediting a portion, or all, of the rental fee toward the purchase price might add even more incentive to close the sale.

Forbes says retailers can also reach a new group of customers by offering pre-owned products that provide a more affordable entry point on luxury goods. As these aspirational consumers evolve into loyal, long-term customers, they eventually trade up to full-priced products. “eMarketer Retail” explains, “If you have a $1,000 luxury item and can get the same thing for $500 gently used, it brings more people into that market.” On the flip side, accepting trade-ins makes it easier for current full-price customers to upgrade to a newer, bigger, better model, and may generate more frequent, full-price, repeat sales. Rental products can often be a pathway to purchase. A study by Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of

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| Fireplace Design |

Wayne’s World Designing and selling truly custom fireplaces keeps Wayne Holsapple from being bored. By Bill Sendelback


hile most manufacturers are constantly expanding their product lines and factories, and employing scores, if not hundreds, of workers, Wayne Holsapple of Specialty Fireplaces may have the most perfect business plan in the hearth industry. He has no employees, no factory, no inventory, no sales force, and no debt, yet he has sold hundreds of unique, absolutely custom, fireplaces with suggested list prices of as much as $40,000.

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Most of his custom fireplaces are sold in his adopted state of Arizona, but as his reputation has grown among designers, custom homebuilders, and architects, he has placed his fireplaces as far from Arizona as Virginia, and even Saudi Arabia. Holsapple was a masonry contractor in Quincy, Illinois, when in 1979 his friends in Phoenix enticed him to Arizona. “They told me they were working in shirt sleeves, so I was only too glad to trade the zero-degree weather and two feet of snow in Illinois

for sunny Phoenix.” He went to work for a Phoenix-area fireplace dealer building that company’s masonry fireplaces. He soon fell in love with fireplaces, so when that retailer failed, he opened his own store, Fireplace Specialties; that was in 1981. He eventually opened a second store and had two crews building and installing fireplaces. “In my spare time, I would get a couple of hours of sleep, but when you are 30, you can do anything.” However, even youth runs out of steam, so in 1991 Holsapple closed his stores and embarked on his new business plan, Specialty Fireplaces, designing and selling custom, one-of-a-kind fireplaces. It was a decision that seems to have worked well for him. Each of the last four years have been record-breaking sales years, averaging 10% to 20% sales growth each of those years.


Unlike most fireplace manufacturers, Holsapple doesn’t deal in mass production or in large quantities of the same models. He estimates that he has designed and had built about a thousand custom fireplaces since starting on this path in 1991. “But I’ve been involved with probably 20,000 fireplaces throughout my years in the fireplace business. Now I simply ask the architects and designers to dream, and then allow me to bring their vision to reality. These are all one-off, one-of-a-kind creations for each individual project. I’ve never done the same thing twice.”

Using his Dezertfire brand, Holsapple designs all of his creations and then uses one major, local fabricator to produce his visions. Almost all are gas fireplaces, and all are constructed of one-quarter inch plate steel. Wayne’s son, Justin, through Justin’s installation contracting firm, Fireplace Specialist, then handles installations. After the installation, each unit is tested in the field by Underwriters Laboratories. “I don’t take myself seriously, but I take my work extremely seriously since it involves the safety of my customers,” he says. Holsapple gets his business through referrals from designers and architects. “They see my work or ask another architect about me. It’s all word-of-mouth.” He points out that word-of-mouth among architects recently resulted in 10 of his custom fireplaces being designed, built, and installed in a “big monster” home in Saudi Arabia. This job included outdoor models, all vertical with spiraling flames not enclosed in glass tubes. Left: Wayne Holsapple, photo taken at the Tempe Center of the Arts, Tempe, Arizona. Below: A 3 x 6-ft. fixed hood, 52 inches above the fire in a luxury lakeside home near Roanoke, Virginia. PHOTO: ©2020 KIP DAWKINS PHOTOGRAPHY. WWW.KIPDAWKINSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM.

Top left: Picture Perfect: Centered in a prominent position in an upscale restaurant is a large fire and an equally large frame. The view of the fire extends beyond to another section of the restaurant. Above: One of many sculptural art elements with a heat reflector that Holsapple designs-builds.

Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience



Art and Fire: This piece captures the eye of the beholder – and holds it.

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He currently is working on three fireplaces for a home in Texas, 6 ft., 8 ft., and 19 ft. wide. In this instance, architects called him in to rectify a “very dangerous mess left by another fireplace builder.” Another of Holsapple’s recent creations included a retractable exhaust hood with two 14-inch B-vent systems that would automatically drop down toward the fire. His largest project is one he has been working on for a year, a job that includes 12 big fireplaces with hoods to be installed in one home on a 264-acre lot. “If it’s never been done before, that’s really what I specialize in. If it’s not a little different and unique, it actually gets a little boring to me.” He also gets his share of custom commercial jobs. “One of my most recent projects is in the very expensive Ocean 44 restaurant in Scottsdale. It’s a 6-ft. wide by 4-ft. tall, see-through model right in the middle of the restaurant.”

He soon may be taking his creativity with fireplaces more mainstream. He and another Arizona company, currently building semi-custom fireplaces, have an agreement to team up to design, engineer, and build a line of fireplaces sold under the Dezertfire brand. All will be UL-Listed and will include semi-stock models as wide as 10 ft. and as tall as 3 ft. Plans are to have these Dezertfire models on the market by late spring or early summer. “Most of our current clients live in multi-million dollar second homes,” he says. “This new line of fireplaces probably will go into million-dollar-plus homes.” Holsapple may have been doing his own thing for many years, but as a volunteer he has invested time and energy into the hearth products industry. He served seven years on the board of directors of the former Arizona Wood Energy Institute, and continues to be actively involved in the Arizona affiliate of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association.


DATE March 3–6, 2021 | Nashville, TN

2021 Learn more at hpbexpo.com

| Human Resources |

HR Human


Insights for 10 of the Leading Human Resource Issues Faced by Specialty Retailers

By Mark Brock


pecialty retailers generally agree that the people who work for them are their business’ most important asset. Selling and servicing upscale hearth, barbecue, and patio products requires the best of the best to compete successfully. Going hand-in-hand with the proposition of people as the most important asset is the need for solid human resources (HR). The ways in which retailers hire and manage their people can go a long way in providing a positive culture that’s motivating and encouraging of long-term employment. The challenge, however, is that most retailers wear many different hats so that having a member of management dedicated to HR is a luxury few can afford. In most cases, a senior manager will have done a deep dive into HR policy, and likely reached out for professional advice but would not claim expert status. Reaching out for professional advice is exactly what we did for this article, in the person of Timothy J. Ford, a partner in the employment practice group as well as the On-Call for Business group of Einhorn, Barbarito, Frost & Botwinick in Denville, New Jersey. Ford works with a variety of clients on human resources issues ranging from benefits and wrongful termination to sexual harassment and employment contracts. We spoke with Ford for his insights in 10 areas of human resources. Below is a summary of some of his comments that are intended as thought-starters on complex issues:

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One of the most important issues in the hiring process is to know the questions you can ask during an interview, and which questions are taboo. They vary by state and are continually changing. Questions about criminal backgrounds and arrest history are generally off-limits, but you should also avoid questions related to marital and family status. Even questions concerning gender can be off limits these days. Questions related to salaries in previous jobs are also being outlawed in some states. Another area where someone can get into trouble is with information discovered on social media. Certainly many employers will research a job candidate on social media prior to an interview, but the information you find relative to politics, religion, and sexual preference are not relevant to employment and should not be part of the interview process. Employers are advised not to delve too deeply into social media, or base questions on the information found.


It’s essential that a company have a written disciplinary policy and follow it consistently. Closely related to disciplinary policies is the need for a personnel file on each employee with annual performance evaluations and any disciplinary actions documented. Consistency is key when it comes to discipline, particularly relative to protected classes of employees based on age, religion, ethnicity, and gender.


For specialty retailers who often employ family members, discipline can be a tough issue in ensuring everyone is treated fairly. Family members should be treated just like everyone else, and if there are issues with a family member, it’s wise to employ an objective outside source to review the situation and render a decision.


Company policies should clearly spell out in writing the grounds for termination. Again, termination is an area where personnel files are essential, with annual performance evaluations and notations of subpar performance. No employer wants to face a situation of terminating an employee who has glowing performance reviews or no reviews at all. Even if your business is in a right-to-work state, you have to be cautious when it comes to terminations that could be seen as discriminatory against a protected class. Employers often find that offering a terminated employee severance of one or two week’s pay in exchange for signing a release is money well spent compared to managing a wrongful termination claim later on.


In regards to sales incentives, the most important thing is that these programs are in writing and easily understood by everyone covered, as evidenced by their actually signing a form. Management should

explain incentive programs in detail and take needed steps to ensure that everyone is on board with a common understanding of how the incentives work. One area that causes headaches for some employers is the question of what happens to earned commissions or incentives if an employee leaves the company. Does the employee have to be onboard throughout a specific time period? Make sure this detail is covered by incentive program materials.


Harassment policies should begin with the premise of zero tolerance and build from there. Again, put the policies in writing and post them prominently, outlining how harassment is to be reported and the process for review. Training is also essential, and in some states mandatory. Employers may balk at the cost of having an outside trainer and having employees off the job during training, but the cost of a harassment lawsuit can far outweigh the cost of annual harassment training. Finally, it is incumbent on employers to take every harassment claim seriously and investigate thoroughly. The use of outside investigators is recommended, particularly if a member of management is implicated. Speaking of management, if a harassment claim is filed, but not acted upon diligently, the manager who failed to act can become personally liable for aiding and abetting the harassment. Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience


| Human Resources |

Conflict resolution A leading trend today concerning conflict resolution

is the requirement that disputes with employees go through arbitration. While arbitration may be the best route, there are a few words of caution. First, arbitration is not necessarily less expensive than litigation when you consider the administrative costs involved and the services of an arbitrator. Second, many companies favor arbitration since they see it as a private process as opposed to litigation, but in some states employees are not bound by confidentiality agreements and the details of the dispute may become public. Companies should weigh alternative conflict resolution approaches based on state and federal law and their specific business. If arbitration is selected, there should be a separate agreement for each employee to sign and a clear understanding of the rights that the employee is signing away.

Workplace violence As with sexual harassment, the only tenable policy is zero tolerance. Should an employee attack or threaten another employee, or the overall workplace, the incident should be reported and appropriate action taken, including contacting law enforcement. If a company receives a credible threat to an employee or the place of business and fails to act, it can be held liable should an incident occur. Contacting police, changing keys and security access, and modifying passwords are just some of the steps that management should follow to avoid being found negligent.

Performance reviews

As mentioned previously, written performance reviews should form the backbone of a personnel record for every employee. If an employee is exemplary, it’s an opportunity for congratulations. If the employee is below par, it’s an opportunity to create an improvement plan. And if termination becomes necessary, the

employer has a paper trail to document the reasons for firing, which brings up another point. Performance reviews should be honest and objective and based on the facts of employee performance, not a formality to pat everyone on the back regardless.

Employee manuals

There are two issues with employee manuals – every company should have one, and every company should review and update the manual annually. The review and update process is where many employers are lacking, either because they are distracted by more pressing issues or they don’t want to invest in hiring outside experts to review their manuals. Annual reviews are important because employment law changes and your manual could become out of date and present problems for you should there be litigation or internal issues. The only thing worse than not having an employee manual is having one that’s out of date. An excellent example of how changing times affect employee manuals is social media and the use of company electronic devices. While you don’t want to restrict your employees’ rights to free speech, there should be guidelines concerning company information that can be posted on social media. When using company devices, e.g., laptops, cell phones or desk computers, employees should understand there is no guarantee of privacy when using a device for personal communications.

Internal communications

Again, it’s simply good business practice to have regular and open communications with employees. Engaging in a healthy dialogue improves morale and encourages innovation, but employers should be cautious concerning information that’s committed to writing – either hard copy or digital. Everyone is also cautioned to avoid humor that may be funny to some, but offensive to others.

Sources Timothy J. Ford Partner Einhorn, Barbarito, Frost & Botwinick Denville, New Jersey 973-532-7005 tford@einhornlawyers.com

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Liz Lindley SVP Public Relations Jaffe Washington, DC 917-455-1798 llindley@jaffepr.com

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| Business Climate |


In early February, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare January 2020 sales to January 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 219 useable returns.

RETAILER SALES - U.S. AND CANADA January 2020 vs. January 2019

66% 70% 49% 25%












In January, 49% of Hearth retailers were UP over the prior year, while both Patio and Spas were UP 25%, and Barbecue retailers were UP only 16%.

13-MONTH YEAR-OVER-YEAR RETAIL SALES January 2020 vs. January 2019


HEARTH 12% 5% 5%




Jan Feb 2019

Mar Apr


May June


4% 5%

July Aug Sept


3% 4% 4%

Oct Nov


Jan 2020

0% -3%

Jan Feb 2019




Mar Apr


May June




July Aug Sept

7% 2% 2% 2% 1% 0% 0% -4% -2% -4% -1%

Mar Apr

May June

July Aug Sept

Oct Nov


Jan 2020


Oct Nov



Jan 2020

12% 5%




Jan Feb 2019

Mar Apr



May June



July Aug Sept

4% 4% -1%

Oct Nov


In January, both Hearth and Patio sales were UP 4%, while sales of Barbecue products were UP 1%, and sales of Spas were DOWN 1%.

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SPAS 12%

Jan Feb 2019

1% 0%


Jan 2020

WEATHER REPORT RETAILER COMMENTS NORTHEAST Maine: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “New construction has kept us busy with new gas fireplace installations.” Maine: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “In previous years, January is generally a recovery month from a holiday spendinghangover, however this January charged ahead and outpaced 2019. Renovations and retro fits continue to lead the way in our corner of the hearth industry.” Massachusetts: (Hearth, BBQ) “Some of January’s increase was based on carry-over from December’s deposits. We had a couple of unexpected sales in January of barbecue products. We are coming off a good 2019 year and are optimistic of a good 2020. Thanks for your efforts.” New Jersey: (Hearth, BBQ) “Not cold, but still good selling; people are spending money $$.” New York: (Hearth, Spas) “The only way to explain an unusually busy January for hearth products is to credit the burgeoning economy, as the winter weather has been so mild. We are considering a complete showroom remodel, and eliminating the grills, patio furniture, and accessories, and expanding our hearth display. “I am sick and tired of jockeying with the Internet, and the Big Box boys over kamado and gas gills and patio furniture, and all the accompanying accessories. We simply can’t compete, and we cannot exist on a 20% to 30% gross margin. You can get a Big Green Egg kamado grill on Amazon for $299.99. “Yeah, it’s a knock-off, but customers don’t get that. Going forward, we will heavily market those items that require our skills and knowledge to deliver/install – such as gas, pellet, and wood stoves and inserts. Looking forward to folks getting their big juicy tax return checks next month!”

For the following weather charts, the numbers for each state reflect the temperature ranking for the period since records began in 1895.


111 104

102 111











118 122

115 120 113 113 114 116 112 114

114 119








108 105

116 118 118 121 120

119 117 117






Record Coldest


Much Below Average

Below Average

Near Average

Above Average

Much Above Average

Record Warmest

In January, 21 states recorded Much Above Average temperatures; the rest of the country experienced Above Average temperatures.


113 114

114 111










101 106



97 107

102 110 109 107 100 110 105 112







92 101

96 98 98 108 102

104 104 105






Record Coldest

Much Below Average


Below Average

Near Average

Above Average

Much Above Average

Record Warmest

For the three-month period November – January, four states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming) experienced Much Above Average temperatures; the rest of the country was at Above Average temperature.

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| Business Climate | New York: (Hearth) “Our store is located between Home Depot and Lowe’s and our lack of sales confirms that. Our business is also affected by weather and online shopping. Many homeowners in our area purchase a unit online and then when they have problems look to us for service. It brings our service revenue up, and for that we are grateful, but we lost the original sale. Our pellet sales are also down because we cannot compete with the large Box stores’ pricing. Like many Momand-Pop stores, we are feeling the pinch.”


For the following weather charts, the numbers for each state reflect the temperature ranking for the period since records began in 1895.



Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “December sales were down due to weather and labor shortages. Work was completed in January. Our fiscal year from July 1, 2019, to January 31, 2020, is up 7% from last year, which was our best ever.” SOUTH Arkansas: (Hearth) “Better retail month than expected, with weather issues all month long slowing business down.” Louisiana: (Hearth) “Our merchandise sales were down 12%. However, our service business was up to give us an overall 5% increase in income.” Oklahoma: (Hearth) “2020 same as 2019. Good month for both years.” South Carolina: (Patio, BBQ) “Last January was dismal. This year it’s back up where it should be. Actually, it was quite a bit better than average.” Texas: (Hearth) “We had extreme amounts of rain that kept building or remodeling down. When we usually have sun and mild weather in our coastal area we had rain and several cool or cold and windy days. High winds and flooding also kept shoppers in.”

108 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com


60 99


75 92

86 35





New York: (Hearth) “Sales have been down, not sure if it’s because of the weather. Customers also keep trying to compare our products to Big Box stores’.” Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Last year our January was exceptional. This year it’s down 4%. We will take it; it could have been, and has been, worse.”




67 110

116 109




63 80 89

103 33




115 109

17 26 66 69



66 52 10 6

82 79




1 = DRIEST / 125 = WETTEST

Record Driest

Much Below Average


Below Average

Near Average

Above Average

Much Above Average

Record Wettest

In January, five states (Washington, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, and Mississippi) recorded Much Above Average precipitation, while two states (Massachusetts and Rhode Island) were at Much Below Average.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE The Consumer Confidence Index increased in January, following a moderate increase in December. The Index now stands at 131.6 (1985=100), up from 128.2 (an upward revision) in December. “Consumer confidence increased in January, following a moderate advance in December, driven primarily by a more positive assessment of the current job market and increased optimism about future job prospects,” said Lynn Franco, senior director, Economic Indicators, at The Conference Board. “Optimism about the labor market should continue to support confidence in the short-term and, as a result, consumers will continue driving growth and prevent the economy from slowing in early 2020.”

135.7 126.8 128.2



100 90

Year Ago

6 Mo. Ago

Nov 2019

Dec 2019

Jan 2020

1985 = 100

A reading above 90 indicates the economy is on solid footing; above 100 signals strong growth. The Index is based on a probability-design random sample conducted for The Conference Board by The Nielsen Company.

Virginia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Very busy and sold all products. Sell, sell, sell, and sell. February on the East Coast 66ºF outside; what happened to winter?” Virginia: (Hearth) “January sales were a little slow at the start. But, by the second week of January, they took off again. Sales wound up to be 5% higher than January 2019.” MIDWEST Iowa: (Hearth, BBQ) “I don’t think the decrease in sales is because of a lack of demand. Our efforts declined in sales and were diverted to office and managerial duties. Let’s see if we can hit last year’s numbers for February!” Iowa: (Hearth, Patio) “January this year was not as cold as normal in Iowa. In fact, it was quite a bit above normal temps.” Illinois: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Sales in grills were down a lot, but that was due to one of our manufacturers having a price increase at the end of last January. So we sold a lot of kitchens in January of 2019!”

Wisconsin: (Hearth) “The start of the year has been great for us! We have been swamped with installations and estimates for future installations. Right now, we are about two months out.” Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Overall a bit down but not terrible. Last January was a good month. Weather seems to be playing a bit of a game with us as it isn’t as bitterly cold as it was last year. Thirty-eight degrees this year where it was a -38ºF last year. Balmy January, actually.” Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Very busy, installs out six to eight weeks. New construction is way up, never slowed down from last summer. First time ever turning down big jobs. Expensive fireplaces are selling well. Customers are perceiving value with price. Never seen this much activity in hearth sales in 31 years. Not enough time in a day. Gas sales are strong, wood is steady, electric is picking up.”

Minnesota: (Hearth, BBQ) “Our 2019 sales were very good, resulting in a larger project carry-over into 2020.” Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “Barbecue products in Ohio in January are not real hot sellers even with the exceptionally mild winter that we’ve had. That said, hearth products are up over last January (which was our best ever) by 35%. Obviously some of that is carryover from year-end projects that didn’t quite hit the books by year’s end, but we are still sending out quotes for new fireplaces and installing new products almost every day! Service has been robust as well; looking forward to our full-time technician hitting the road, and that will only help our growth! It’s an exciting start to a big year for us!” Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “January sales started off rather flat. The last 10 days or so we were able to land some rather solid hearth projects that will close out in the lean months of the first quarter. That will be a tremendous help to cash flow.” Wisconsin: (Hearth) “Very strong new construction market. Retail market is steady.”

WEST California: (Hearth, Spas) “January was very busy for us because, unlike October, November, and part of December, we finally started having a winter. Hopefully it will continue into the spring months. Looks like it might be a good spa year.” California: (Hearth) “Our business has grown 300% over the past two years, so I don’t think it accurately reflects exactly how the market is going. Out of my local competitors, one of them is doing great and growing, and a couple others are on the decline.” California: (Hearth, BBQ, Spas) “The weather is cooperating this year and we are able to install stoves. We are still busy with repairs, and noticed that people are trying to limp their stoves along for another year or two before replacing. I have customers holding out and hoping for a change-out in the area.”

Colorado: (Hearth, Patio) “Our net income was up 3%, which met our goal for the quarter.”

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www.hearthandhome.com | MARCH 2020 | 109

| Business Climate | Oregon: (Hearth) “Sales dropped off considerably after the holidays. This is typical for this time of year. Quiet into February, hope it will change.”

British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Steady hearth business with steadily increasing chimney sales.”

and perspiration – the third way to success must be optimism.” Ontario: (Hearth) “New-home sales were strong in January. Still lots of service calls for older fireplaces.”

Manitoba: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “In January we are always down, quite normal. As far as barbecues, well, the factory we have been purchasing from has started to sell their product to every Tom, Dick, and Harry, so it makes it a bit tougher. Hearth products are our best sellers all around; they do quite well.”

Oregon: (Hearth) “We are heavy woodfocused and going against the grain by selling our heavy stockpile of pre-2020 stoves because there is a strong demand.” Wyoming: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Our growth is a result of our new store location and showroom. Our grand opening was September 2019. I expect we will see yearover-year growth all this year.”

Ontario: (Hearth, BBQ) “I think this might be the no change/BS-type month that will convince me to retire. Go ahead, make me an offer. Nobody wants to lift wood stoves; gas installers are not worth what they demand, and the customer is always right.”

New Brunswick: (Hearth, BBQ) “Found traffic and sales to be lackluster.”

CANADA British Columbia: (Hearth) “Pellet fuel sales are up slightly. Sales are stagnant and enquiries are down somewhat for hearth.”

Nova Scotia: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Many new constructions and renovations.”

Ontario: (Patio, BBQ) “January sales are too low for stats to be meaningful. However, we did have a few good patio sales this month.”

Ontario: (BBQ) “January is always the worst month of the year. This year – a little worse than usual. After inspiration

Quebec: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Very good month of sales for wood products with big tickets.”














Standard & Poor’s 500 (a)









HNI Corporation (b)










Pool Corporation (c)










Restoration Hardware (b)










Wayfair (b)










NOTES: (a) = Standard & Poor’s 500 is based on the market capitalizations of 500 large companies having common stock listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ. It is considered one of the best representations of the U.S stock market, and a bellwether for the U.S economy. (b) = New York Stock Exchange. (c) = NASDAQ.



(US $000,000)




$10,000 $8,000







110 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com


$2,000 0


POOL 1-FEB-2019

RH 31-JAN-2020




Business for Sale

Business for Sale


Western Wisconsin 32 year old business in 10,000 sq. ft. building. 90 plus displays, install and service vehicles, forklift and onsite parking. Owners to retire or work part time if desired. For more information inquire at 608-792-0425. Buyout or Cash with land contract.

Profitable Retail Business in beautiful Ely, Minnesota specializing in sales, installation and service of hearth products. Showroom includes many burning displays. Real estate, inventory and equipment included in sale at $595,000. Contact Steve Bragg, Calhoun Companies (218) 663-7682 / sbragg@boreal.org.

Looking for NFI Certified Installers and Techs. $25-$35 an hour. Also, looking for General Manager for 1 location in an Outdoorsman’s paradise on Western Slope of Colorado. Contact Zach Ryan - (970) 230-9363 zach@truenorthfireplaces.com

Turnkey Fireplace Company FOR SALE on NJ Coast.

Business for Sale

Retirement Sale Well established, family-owned and operated patio furniture, barbecue, and gift store located in a thriving Arizona community.

Please email inquiries to patioretirement@gmail.com.

Fireplace business, for over 25 years, for sale located in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. Enjoy independence and beautiful surroundings every day.

15 Years in business with a great name and reputation. Profitable builder base, and tons of yearly service customers. Showroom with very low overhead. Great add-on to any hearth/HVAC company.

Contact - Vince@coastalfireplaces.com

For more information: openflameshop@mail.com. Check out our website: www.openflameshop.com.

www.hearthandhome.com | MARCH 2020 | 111

AD INDEX This ad index is an additional service provided by Hearth & Home to its advertisers. Hearth & Home assumes no liability for any incorrect information.

Advertiser Apogee Ceramics Inc / SignitePro

Apricity / Agio - USA Berlin Gardens Big Green Egg Bull Outdoor Products Caframo Coyote Outdoor Dansons Group / Louisiana Grills DuraVent Eiklor Flames Empire Comfort Systems / American Hearth Energy Distribution Enervex Evolution Fires Father's Cooker Focal Point Fires Ltd Frankford Umbrellas Gensun Glen Dimplex Americas Gozney Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association Hearthstone Quality Home Heating Products Lovinflame Maxitrol Company Memphis Wood Fire Grills Montigo Napoleon Outdoor GreatRoom, The Phifer Real Flame Regency / Fireplace Products International Sand Hill Wholesale & Mfg. Schott Robax Sopka / Rizzoli Spartherm Stรปv America Supreme Fireplaces Telescope Casual Furniture Travis Industries Twin Eagles Valor / Miles Industries Vectis / Weber Knapp Vesta Awards 2020 Warming Trends WeatherStrong Cabinetry Wittus - Fire By Design Woodbridge Fireplace

112 | MARCH 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

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21 53 83 114, 115 95 93 71 23 67 8, 9 51 89 75 54 57 69 43 35, 81 52 101 97 19 87 37 105 2, 3 29 61 56 38, 39 109 100 111 47 24, 25 45 65 49 C4 15 30, 31 13 6 17 111 73

Phone (519) 442-3636

(888) 997-7623 (800) 593-3411 (770) 938-9394 (800) 521-2855 (800) 567-3556 (855) 520-1559 (877) 303-3134 (800) 835-4429 (888) 295-LOGS (800) 851-3153 (877) 257-2251 (800) 255-2923 (407) 851-1536 (418) 934-6876 +44-1202-499330 (856) 222-4134 (866) 964-4468 (800) 346-7539 +44-0142-5204999 (703) 522-0086 (800) 827-8603 (909) 781-8462 (248) 356-1400 (888) 883-2260 (800) 378-3115 (800) 461-5581 (866) 303-4028 (800) 633-5955 (800) 654-1704 (604) 946-5155 (888) 726-3445 (800) 822-0600 (216) 543-7002 +491522 26 44 162 (866) 487-7888 (877) 593-4722 (518) 642-1100 (800) 654-1177 (800) 789-2206 (800) 468-2567 (800) 828-9254 (800) 258-3772 (303) 346-2224 (866) 708-7601 (914) 764-5679 (844) 636-3473

Website www.signitepro.com

www.apricityoutdoor.com www.berlingardensllc.com www.biggreenegg.com www.bullbbq.com www.ecofan.com www.coyoteoutdoor.com www.louisiana-grills.com www.duravent.com www.eiklorflames.com www.americanhearth.com www.energydistribution.co www.enervex.com www.evolutionfires.com www.fatherscooker.com www.britishfires.com www.frankfordumbrellas.com www.gensuncasual.com www.faberfire.com; www.dimplex.com www.gozney.com www.hpbexpo.com www.hearthstonestoves.com www.lovinflame.com www.maxitrol.com www.memphisgrills.com www.montigo.com www.napoleon.com www.outdoorrooms.com www.phifer.com www.realflame.com www.regency-vision.com www.sandhillwholesale.com www.us.schott.com/robax www.sopkainc.com www.spartherm-america.com www.stuvamerica.com www.supremem.com www.telescopecasual.com www.fireplacex.com www.twineaglesgrills.com www.valorfireplaces.com www.weberknapp.com/drumsmoker www.vestaawards.com www.warming-trends.com idealcabinetry.com/OD www.wittus.com www.woodbridgedealer.com

Who Reads


Brian Eskew, for one! Marketing Director, Twin Eagles; Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Engineering Specialist at Supreme Wood Burning Products, Montréal

Special Interests/Hobbies: “Surfing, biking, and spending time with my wife and kids.” Problems/Issues Facing the Barbecue Industry: “There are no real issues, just opportunities. One of the leading opportunities continues to be providing product and category knowledge to retailers and trade professionals. It’s important that those who are in contact with the consumer understand the attributes of premium outdoor kitchen equipment and what products are available. This helps consumers complete an outdoor kitchen that best suits their needs. With knowledge comes enthusiasm and successful selling!” Key Trends in the Barbecue Industry: “Having spent more than 20 years in a sales and marketing capacity with premium outdoor kitchen equipment manufacturers, the trend toward more fully-featured kitchens continues. Consumers want to do it all outdoors. We see a lot of interest in pellet grills for the outdoor kitchen.”

Advice to Retailers on Increasing Business: “The recipe for success with premium grills and with outdoor kitchens is very simple – have a compelling outdoor kitchen display, offer products that fit different budgets, and be knowledgeable about the products and the category. Most consumers are building their first outdoor kitchen and are buying from retailers who present themselves as experts.” Forecast for Sales in 2020: “We have a wonderful and supportive base of distributors and dealers. This, combined with the introduction of our Super Premium Eagle One Gas Grill, Wood Fired Pellet Grill, and some forthcoming additions to our Delta Heat line, have us feeling very optimistic.” Years Reading Hearth & Home: “21.” Reasons for Reading Hearth & Home: “Industry insight and dealer profiles.” Article(s) Ideas: “Selling for the outdoors is a year-round business.”

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Profile for Hearth & Home

Hearth & Home Magazine - 2020 March Issue  

The voice of the Hearth, Barbecue, and Patio industries. Hearth & Home is a trade journal serving the hearth, barbecue and patio furnishings...

Hearth & Home Magazine - 2020 March Issue  

The voice of the Hearth, Barbecue, and Patio industries. Hearth & Home is a trade journal serving the hearth, barbecue and patio furnishings...