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THE VOICE OF THE HEARTH, BARBECUE AND PATIO INDUSTRIES

MAY 2020

WOMEN IN CHARGE!

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G3.5 INSERT has a new look.

FEATURING BIRCH LOGS AND CRAFTSMAN PEWTER FRONT.


LIVING In a growing industry, smart buyers know it’s key to strike while the iron is hot. Their customers are seeking high-end experiences and they need to know the latest trends and business insights to establish their own unique style. That’s why these decisionmakers come to the indoor-outdoor living industry’s largest dedicated showcase. Beyond seeing what’s new, it’s their time to collaborate with suppliers, explore new options and bring ideas to life. Join them in Nashville—a prime destination for live music, Southern hospitality and plenty of BBQ—to launch your products, gain brand exposure and generate leads.. RESERVE YOUR EXHIBIT SPACE. Visit HPBExpo.com/exhibit or contact Anita Derouin at derouin@hpba.org or 703.522.0086 ext. 117.

2021 Music City Center | Nashville, Tennessee | March 3 – 6


| CONTENTS | FEATURES Yes, We Can! 10 It’s not easy being a woman in the hearth industry, but these 20 bosses know how to handle rudeness – in a nice way.

Understanding the Sheconomy 38 If you want to grow your business, you must understand women and how they shop, for they purchase, well, just about everything.

Barlow Tyrie at 100 44  The iconic British manufacturer of teak outdoor furniture reaches its centennial year, and it’s still family-owned.

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Do Try This at Home! 54  Ideas to sell more grills, accessories, and outdoor kitchens (whether stores are open or closed).

Norwegian Roots 62  Thanks to Eva Horton and Bret Watson, Jøtul North

America is in its fifth decade in North America; it has 100 employees and 1,100 dealers (and, yes, wood is still important!)

The Pellet Industry 68 Plenty of stoves, plenty of pellets, and that’s the problem.

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DEPARTMENTS

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Perspective

64 New Products DEPARTMENTS 74 7 78 64 50

36 36 50 64 64

Business Climate Perspective StockProducts Watch New

Classifieds 80 Business Climate 74 76 Ad Index 80 Classifieds Stock Watch 78 80

81 80 80 82 80 81

Who Reads Hearth & Home? Classifieds Ad Index Parting Shot Ad IndexShot Parting

81 72 74 82

Who Reads Hearth & Home?

JOURNAL

Parting Shot

A PUBLICATION OF THE HEARTH, PATIO & BARBECUE ASSOCIATION

JOURNAL

72 THE WEB ON News

A PUBLICATION OF THE HEARTH, PATIO & BARBECUE ASSOCIATION

Why Is the White WEB Working Class Declining? ON THE ON THE WEB Stressed Out? Join the Crowd News News

Who Lives in the Suburbs? Why Is the White Working Class Declining? Recipes Activities Rank 4th in Time Use Food-Related Stressed Out? Join the Crowd Spicy Breakfast Scramble by Evo

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie by Pit Boss Grills Recipes Recipes

Cheddar and Bacon Stuffed Burger from Saber Grills Spicy Breakfast Scramble by Evo On the CoverGrills Smoked Berry Lemonade from Louisiana Strawberry Rhubarb Pie The by PPitSeries Boss Grillswith NG flame P52DF THE VOICE OF THE HEARTH, BARBECUE AND PATIO INDUSTRIES

APRIL 2020

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by Montigo.

APRIL 2020

THE VOICE OF THE HEARTH, BARBECUE AND PATIO INDUSTRIES

On the Cover

APRIL 2020 THE VOICE OF THE HEARTH, BARBECUE AND PATIO INDUSTRIES ®

MAY 2020

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The P Series P52DF with NG flame by Montigo. MAY 2020

APRIL 2020

62 62

WOMEN IN CHARGE!

www.hearthandhome.com PHOTO: ©2020 AUSTYN MORENO; REAL ESTATE MEDIA. AUSTYNMORENO.COM

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PHOTO: ©2020 AUSTYN MORENO; REAL ESTATE MEDIA. AUSTYNMORENO.COM PHOTO: ©2020 GETTY IMAGES. WWW.GETTYIMAGES.COM

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FIRE OUTSIDE

Copyright © 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.

APRIL 2020

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. Hearth & Home (USPS 575-210/ISSN 02735695), Vol. XLI, No. 6 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. 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.

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| Perspective |

The Pandemic Times

A

PRIL 12, 11:15am – It has been one month since the opening of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo in New Orleans, but it feels much longer than that – as it must for all those reading this. We – meaning the staff of Village West Publishing – are luckier than most in that our work is done on computers – designing, writing, editing – and one-third of our workforce does so at home anyway. But the present rule mandating that we stay at home is still very disruptive, as are the lines at the grocery store. As for work, I miss not being able to run down the stairs to the production department six or seven times a day to check the status of the magazine’s design. It’s just not the same seeing an opening spread on a screen. That’s about it. As I said, we’re luckier than most.

First, we sent out a survey to all our hearth retailers asking if they were, or knew of, a woman in an administrative position in a hearth shop. We defined that as someone who is an owner, co-owner, CEO, president, or general manager. About 50 women responded. Our writer, Mark Brock, interviewed 20 of them, and asked a somewhat-short series of questions. The women opened up and talked about being | Women in Charge |

YES,

WE CAN! It’s not easy being a woman in the hearth industry, but these 20 bosses know how to handle rudeness – in a nice way. By Mark Brock

W

ere you to survey the hearth industry and ask whether hearth is a male dominated industry, the likely answer would be “yes, it is.” We put this question, along with many others, to professional women in hearth and discovered “it’s complicated.” While men certainly hold leadership roles in manufacturing and throughout the industry, an increasing number of women are fulfilling leadership roles, particularly within the retail sector. Many hearth companies are family businesses owned by husband and wife teams with a clear division of labor so that each person’s strengths are emphasized and the business grows. There are also numerous hearth businesses founded and managed by entrepreneurial women. Women within hearth companies typically play leadership roles in sales, marketing, merchandising, showroom management, purchasing, scheduling, human resources, and financial management. There are also an increasing number of women who are fulfilling traditional male roles in installation and construction.

Hearth appears to be an industry where the glass ceiling is definitely cracked. Some of the most commonly mentioned advantages of women in the hearth industry is their eye for design, higher levels of empathy, attention to detail, and ability to relate to women customers who are typically decision makers on hearth purchases. Most of the women we talked with agreed, however, that it’s not a male versus female competition, but recognition that each gender and each individual has unique abilities that can be applied for a successful business. A commonly recurring theme in these interviews is a bias that women face from their clients – and oftentimes from their employees – that men are more knowledgeable when it comes to technical hearth details. On an encouraging note, several women mentioned that acceptance of women in the industry is improving as their numbers increase, and as their expertise and commitment is recognized. But don’t take our word for it. We’ve summarized comments from women in hearth retail and share those comments in the following feature.

The Pandemic Times In case you haven’t seen it, go to hearthandhome.com and click on the orange square on the right. That will take you to a new feature we call The Pandemic Times. Its purpose is to find those people (retailers, manufacturers, distributors, or reps) with interesting ideas for getting through these tough times, and to help them share those ideas with others. If you have done something that fits that description, please send us an email – wright@villagewest.com – and let us know what it is and we’ll have a writer interview you.

a boss in a male-dominated business. What those women had to say was so interesting that Brock decided to tell the story strictly in their words. (See page 10.)

Women in Charge When a female co-owner of a hearth shop mentioned that some of her male customers would request a male salesperson to help them, even though she explained that she knew more about hearth products than anyone in the store, that gave us an idea.

Selling to Women Our writer, Lisa Readie Mayer, explains how women shop and buy, and how to reach them. Given that women buy most everything, this is an article you shouldn’t miss. (See page 38.)

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www.hearthandhome.com | MAY 2020 | 11

Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience

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| Women in Charge |

10 | MAY 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com


YES,

WE CAN! It’s not easy being a woman in the hearth industry, but these 20 bosses know how to handle rudeness – in a nice way. By Mark Brock

W

ere you to survey the hearth industry and ask whether hearth is a male dominated industry, the likely answer would be “yes, it is.” We put this question, along with many others, to professional women in hearth and discovered “it’s complicated.” While men certainly hold leadership roles in manufacturing and throughout the industry, an increasing number of women are fulfilling leadership roles, particularly within the retail sector. Many hearth companies are family businesses owned by husband and wife teams with a clear division of labor so that each person’s strengths are emphasized and the business grows. There are also numerous hearth businesses founded and managed by entrepreneurial women. Women within hearth companies typically play leadership roles in sales, marketing, merchandising, showroom management, purchasing, scheduling, human resources, and financial management. There are also an increasing number of women who are fulfilling traditional male roles in installation and construction.

Hearth appears to be an industry where the glass ceiling is definitely cracked. Some of the most commonly mentioned advantages of women in the hearth industry is their eye for design, higher levels of empathy, attention to detail, and ability to relate to women customers who are typically decision makers on hearth purchases. Most of the women we talked with agreed, however, that it’s not a male versus female competition, but recognition that each gender and each individual has unique abilities that can be applied for a successful business. A commonly recurring theme in these interviews is a bias that women face from their clients – and oftentimes from their employees – that men are more knowledgeable when it comes to technical hearth details. On an encouraging note, several women mentioned that acceptance of women in the industry is improving as their numbers increase, and as their expertise and commitment is recognized. But don’t take our word for it. We’ve summarized comments from women in hearth retail and share those comments in the following feature.

Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience

11


| Women in Charge |

“Fire is sexy and cozy, just like us. The addition of more women in our industry will only enrich the client’s experience and make our industry more well rounded.” — Alicia K. Young

Alicia K. Young

Alicia K. Young

Young is responsible for providing recommendations on hearth products and applications. She also provides estimates for installations, service, and repairs, and manages human resources, vendor relations, accounts payable, and receivables.

“I’m not sure I would say there is a greater acceptance of women in the hearth industry today. I would say the attitude toward women in our industry seems more open. What I observe is that, as a woman in this industry, I must back my position up with knowledge, experience, and training in order to be taken seriously, whereas men are accepted simply by their appearance. Sometimes I take a male assistant out with me to look at a job and

“I remember the first time I experienced male bias when I was about three months into my job and a man walked in the office. When I asked him how I could help him, he looked at me and said, ‘Where is the man around here?’ It was startling and offensive – how do you react to something like that? To this day, this still happens. “For some reason, people assume that because I’m a woman, I am either the secretary or married to someone who works in the field. If that happens now, I look them in the eye unflinchingly and tell them, ‘Consider me the man around here, how can I help you?’ Now I get to watch them be startled, which sometimes changes to embarrassment as they interact with me and observe that I do actually know what I’m talking about. Experience and knowledge will speak for you.

All Seasons Fireplaces Pools & Spas.

General Manager All Seasons Fireplaces Pools & Spas Yucca Valley, California

12 | MAY 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

the client will automatically talk directly to him instead of me. If you are the type of woman who gets offended easily, the hearth industry is probably not for you. “I believe there is a direct correlation between an increase of female involvement in hearth due to design, product changes, and features. I love weighing in on design choices with my clients. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about my job, and it’s cool to know that those choices help to create something beautiful for years to come. Fire is sexy and cozy, just like us. The addition of more women in our industry will only enrich the client’s experience and make our industry more well rounded.


“I like to tell clients that fire provides the ‘cozy factor’ that forced air can never provide, and I like to think that women also provide the cozy factor in the customer service experience. Because of our demeanor, attention to detail, and design eye, I believe women are a tremendous asset to the hearth industry.”

a shaft seal, or design a chimney system. We have learned that customers will have confidence in us if we have confidence in ourselves. We do have the knowledge to answer technical questions and participate in the hearth and pool installations. “At our store, the manager, service manager, contract coordinator, construction

“The biggest bias does not come from our customers; I feel as though it comes from the industry as a whole. Hearth companies typically, it seems, are mostly men marketing to male business owners. Look at the national and regional shows for example. Men attendees and exhibitors outnumber women six to one; our factory

Johnson’s Pool, Spa & Hearth.

“I like to think that it’s time for women to be placed in executive and leadership roles in this industry. I would love to see more women in factory rep positions. In the retail setting, opportunity comes in the form of sales advantages, certainly. ” — Audra Johnson

Audra Johnson Partner Johnson’s Pool, Spa & Hearth Owego, New York

Johnson has been a member of this family business since 1977, and became a partner in 1995, working in all aspects of the company’s operations from design and sales to general management. “So often when a customer comes into our store, they will ask to speak to ‘one of the guys’ or the ‘serviceman.’ They are often surprised when a woman helps them diagnose a pellet-stove problem, change

manager, and estimator are all women. Even in our pool division, one of our installation foremen is a woman. It is very unusual, but they all do a great job and work well together. “In our sales department, we recognize that women buyers comprise 80% of our sales. They most often are the ultimate decision makers. It is understandable that, typically, a woman shopper may feel more comfortable with a woman salesperson. We definitely have an advantage in that area. In addition, when a woman shows up as part of the installation team, there often exists a dynamic that lends to an advantageous comfort level with the homeowners.

Audra Johnson

reps are all men, and even tech training and marketing materials seem to target men over women. Check out the training videos. I’ve yet to see a woman in one of them. “I like to think that it’s time for women to be placed in executive and leadership roles in this industry. I would love to see more women in factory rep positions. In the retail setting, opportunity comes in the form of sales advantages, certainly. In addition, I coach my staff to always remember to behave like the professional women that they are. When a man makes a pass at you (yes, it still happens), be prepared with how you handle that. “I’m happy that we are able, as a business, to offer real careers to our employees. We derive great satisfaction in knowing they can afford to buy a home and provide for their families, all the while doing work that we and they are very proud of.”

www.hearthandhome.com | MAY 2020 | 13


| Women in Charge |

Bethanie Taylor The Hearth Shop.

Bethanie Taylor NFI Service Technician and Director of Field Training The Hearth Shop Westlake, Ohio

Taylor services and repairs gas fireplaces, gas grills, fire pits, and gas heaters. Her services include gas log installation, servicing pellet and wood stoves, and scanning and sweeping chimneys. “It’s mostly a positive reaction when a customer opens the door and sees a woman. There have been times, however, when people won’t answer their doors, or they’ll talk to me through the door suspiciously until they realize I’m there for the service or installation appointment they scheduled. There have been plenty of people who said, ‘I was expecting a man’ and sometimes in their excitement they refer to me as a ‘little girl’ – usually that comes from older folks, so I let it slide because they are saying it proudly. “If anyone has been skeptical, they keep quiet. I do my job and I let the results change their mind. Ninety-five percent of the time the only person home when I come over is another woman. So, I find they trust me a bit more than they would a strange man.

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“There is greater acceptance of women today. Reactions are mostly positive, and I’ve had many people say how glad they are to see a lady in a trade… I don’t know about other women, but I wear my sooty hands with pride.” — Bethanie Taylor

“I love making old beat-up fireplaces work and look like new again. I’m always interested in ways to make a gas fire look the most realistic with ember placement. It also makes my brain feel good when I diagnose a problem correctly and it fires right up after I install a part. “I love animals, so seeing homeowners’ various pets makes me happy. My major accomplishment is that I did this. I made

the leap into a trade with no experience. I also passed my NFI core and gas hearth exams at the HPBExpo in Dallas. It was my first business trip and my first time in Texas, and I had so much fun. “I feel like the unique benefit women bring to the industry is we are more patient. I’ve had people say we also have better eyes for detail, but I feel like it’s all relative to each person. There are guys out there who are also patient and caring. “There is greater acceptance of women today. Reactions are mostly positive, and I’ve had many people say how glad they are to see a lady in a trade. I find myself talking about it almost every day. They can’t help but ask how I did it. Many assume I have family in the industry but, to their surprise, I don’t. Other professionals in this industry don’t treat me any differently. They trust my word and opinions. They give me the same tasks as a man in my position, except for lifting a 400 lb. wood stove that we do as a team. “My advice to other women is to just do it. Don’t second-guess yourself. If you’re handed a difficult and dirty task, jump in with both sleeves rolled up. You will feel so good about yourself. I don’t know about other women, but I wear my sooty hands with pride.”


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| Women in Charge |

The Fire House Casual Living Store.

Dyan Velez

Dyan Velez Store Manager The Fire House Casual Living Store Charlotte, North Carolina

Velez’s position requires wearing multiple hats, including coaching and training her staff, inventory management, merchandising, and sales. “Once I was actually on the showroom floor, I realized how rare it was to have a woman in the hearth field. Few women were working in such a technical position. At that time, most of my co-workers were male. Whenever a fireplace customer came in, they always took those customers, and customers seemed to gravitate toward the men. As the years have gone on, though, I have found more and more women are excited to work in this field. Now, almost all of my staff is female. “Our company sells both fireplace and patio furniture. On the hearth side, I was known as the vent-free queen. I knew more about vent-frees than the seasoned staff. I was able to overcome the stigma that a woman would not be able to answer technical questions. Now, I’m not only a hearth expert in our company, but I do a lot of the hearth training as well.

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“Most customers do not have any issues with female hearth consultants anymore. Male clients just want their technical questions answered by someone knowledgeable, and the women are appreciative that a woman can see things from their perspective. I also make sure to explain the products using language that is easily understood, and tailor my presentations to accommodate both parties.

will work well for these clients. Plus, I love thinking outside the box to create solutions for customers. Women tend to be able to think more creatively, so the solutions we can gather are not cut and dry but are unique and can create a custom look for a client. “The world might believe that some of these jobs are specific to men or women, but I think that concept is completely outdated. Both men and women have strengths and

“Since hearth can get very technical, not all customers can understand the details. As a woman, I can empathize with the difficulty of the technical side of hearth and can break things down for customers so that it is easily understood.” — Dyan Velez “Women are generally more patient when explaining things to customers. Since hearth can get very technical, not all customers can understand the details. As a woman, I can empathize with the difficulty of the technical side of hearth and can break things down for customers so that it is easily understood. Also, women relate well to other women. “Most women just want something easy to use and that works without the fuss. I know which products and brands

weaknesses that have nothing to do with their gender. Yes, more installers happen to be men, but that doesn’t mean women aren’t capable of doing it. I know men who don’t know the difference between a Phillip’s head screwdriver and a ratchet, and who should never be in construction. I know women who can do math in their head that are perfect for a finance role. Both genders have the ability to do all of the categories. They just need the passion to do it.”


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| Women in Charge |

“My advice to other women is that being a woman in a man’s business helps you to stand out. Take advantage of that. Don’t be afraid to get noticed. Make sure you know your stuff if you want to be taken seriously.” — Jeanne Grier

Jeanne Grier Stylish Fireplaces & Interiors.

Jeanne Grier President/Co-owner Stylish Fireplaces & Interiors Concord, Ontario

Grier owns and manages the business along with her husband, Colin. Her responsibilities encompass marketing, design, and sales. The Griers began the fireplace business in 2003 as an extension of their existing interior decorating business. “When we began our current business, there was no thought process around whether or not it was a male-dominated industry. It was a natural extension of our interior decorating business to add electric fireplaces to our mix of offerings. As time went on, we added more fireplaces to our showroom, and around 2012, we rebranded to make the fireplace business our primary focus. “The hearth industry certainly feels male-dominated when we attend the HPBExpo. However, two out of our four sales reps are female, and they do just fine.

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If I look at who is running the companies we buy from, women aren’t very visible at the top. “I don’t recall encountering skeptics because I’m a woman. If I know what I’m talking about, it instills confidence in the customer. If I don’t know what I’m talking about, then, of course, the customer will be skeptical. If I need to get more information, then I tell them that and we look it up and learn together. I’m always learning, as I think we all should be. “We get skeptics who don’t think electric fireplaces could be better than gas, but that has nothing to do with me being a woman; they are equally skeptical with my husband if that’s their frame of mind. I occasionally have customers who assume that I’m a hired hand, not the owner, which they wouldn’t assume of my husband. “My mean streak gets a kick out of handing them my business card as they leave. Colin and I both obtained our NFI Certification as Hearth Design

Specialists last year. There’s a definite gap on the electric side of the industry as far as certification goes. “Women understand how women think and make decisions. Since women drive most of the purchase decisions in the household, it only makes sense that female salespeople will be successful in the hearth industry, where our products are the heart of the home. Women should also be helping to design products so that they appeal to other women. Women think differently than men and that diversity is good for any business. “My advice to other women is that being a woman in a man’s business helps you to stand out. Take advantage of that. Don’t be afraid to get noticed. Make sure you know your stuff if you want to be taken seriously. There are lots of companies that could benefit from a woman’s perspective on what other women want in their homes. Find the ones that are open-minded enough to see women as equals and forget the rest – they aren’t worth your time and effort.”


Connie Maier

Connie Maier Owner & President Hearth and Home Shoppe Mechanicsville, Virginia

Maier and her husband purchased the company in 2009 with Maier in the sole management role. Her husband subsequently joined the company as sales manager. “We were looking for a business to purchase. The hearth industry and this specific business seemed like a good fit with our skill sets. Purchasing this business during the recession was very challenging. It was baby steps at the beginning but, since then, we’ve been able to double revenue, and employees, and grow profitability. I’m proud of the solid working relationships we have with our vendors, and especially proud and blessed to have an amazing team of employees. “I didn’t even think about the hearth industry being male dominated. I’ve been working in male-dominated industries all of my career since graduating school in the mid-80s (engineering and MBA). I experienced more discrimination as an employee in large organizations than I have as an owner in this industry.

“If you look around, most industries are male-dominated – except, perhaps, elementary teachers and pre-schools. I think it’s the result of more men than women who stay full-time working versus taking time off to raise children. I know a lot of well-educated, smart women, with great jobs who quit working to stay at home, as I did. It’s hard to get back on an executive-level track after being away for eight to 10 years. “It’s not discrimination – we simply don’t have as much experience at that point and have been out of the work world for too long. I’m not complaining – it was my choice and I’m blessed to have been able to do it. But, with so many women making that choice, it results in having many businesses and industries being dominated by the ones who stick around – the men. “That being said, I have not experienced any significant discrimination as owner and GM of this business – except from the occasional customer who thinks I don’t know anything about fireplaces because I’m a woman. But that misconception doesn’t last too long once we start talking. I think that customers react quite positively to someone who listens and is knowledgeable, regardless of gender. “Having design aesthetics alone is not sufficient for success in the hearth industry. The industry has steadily become more technical as well. Understanding concepts such as venting, clearances, and heating capacities, as well as having solid math skills are required to be successful; those concepts can be understood by men and women alike. Aesthetics are important, however, and customers’ tastes vary quite a lot, so giving them options is a great approach.”

“I grew up in eastern Oregon, and we only had an old wood stove for heat. If you didn’t get up in the middle of the night to put wood in the stove you would freeze. When I entered the industry I saw the potential of all the new technology and what it could become. “When I started with Tri State Distributors I had to prove myself to retailers, sales, crews/installers, service techs, along with co-workers and manufacturers reps. When I first started some customers wouldn’t talk to me. They always asked for the man who had helped them before. My major accomplishment is that, now when they call, they ask for me. I have proven my knowledge and service to the dealers throughout Oregon and Washington, both men and women. “I really enjoy working with the awesome dealers and installers in Oregon and Washington state. I know what it’s like to sell a stove to a consumer and see the dream they have about this beautiful product going into their home. Installing the product and seeing the face of a happy consumer is truly fulfilling. I love that the dealers can call me and I have the knowledge to help them get it all done right.

Amanda Mathews CSR and Hearth Specialist Tri State Distributors Portland, Oregon

Mathews’ position encompasses sales, dealer quotes, technical questions, and troubleshooting for the field. She specializes in flue design and recommendations for installations, making sure that all components are included for retailers and installers. Product recommendations, inventory control, planning, and communications fall under her responsibilities.

Amanda Mathews

www.hearthandhome.com | MAY 2020 | 19


| Women in Charge | “I’ve gained the needed technical knowledge of hearth through hands-on experience in all areas and lots of reading. Taking the online classes is convenient, and staying on top of the manufacturers’ updates is always valuable, along with staying up with the city, state, and county codes. “It’s important to know that men and woman often see things from different perspectives, and acknowledging this and collaborating with each other can lead to better results. Some people are still skeptical at first when working with me as a woman, but that soon changes when I’m able to show them I have many years of experience hands-on in the field and that I’m up to date on new products. “I think a woman can bring a little more detail and customization to the hearth, and I feel it’s often easier for a woman to relate to people from an aesthetic aspect. Working in Oregon’s progressive culture does help in gaining acceptance as a woman working in the hearth industry. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you are male or female in this industry or any industry.”

“When I go to job sites, a lot of the guys think they should be talking to my installers, not me. I shrug this off as they soon learn that I am the one with the answers.” — Joan Nutting

Joan Nutting Assistant Manager Maschino’s Springfield, Missouri

Nutting’s responsibilities include buying, human resources, payroll, sales, and design for both patio and grill islands. “Joining the hearth industry was relatively easy for me. With a background in the residential construction industry, I’m actually quite comfortable working in a male-dominated industry. I’m also very fortunate to work with my husband who is our general manager. As he is familiar with my construction skill set, he has consulted me on many of his jobs. Due to his complete confidence in my abilities, joining this industry has actually been really fun. “I do believe the hearth industry is traditionally male dominated; however, it’s encouraging to see more women join the industry. I do know that in the retail setting, there are some people who are more comfortable dealing with our male sales staff than our female sales staff, as they think the men know more. While it

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Joan Nutting

used to bother one of our former female staff members, I see it as a challenge. “I may have to work harder, but it’s thrilling when I overcome their reservations. Having said this, I have on rare occasion or two realized that they are not open to a woman so I turn it over to one of the guys who has more experience. However, this really doesn’t bother me; I don’t take it personally. “While I’m sure the ‘good ol’ boy’ attitude is still around, I personally don’t think I have faced it to the point that it affected me. As far as customers, I had one guy tell me I backed up a trailer ‘pretty darn good, little lady.’ Our delivery guys all laughed about this as I have pulled trailers around all my life. Another customer who was reluctant to work with me when he first came in, at the end of our conversation

remarked on how he learned more from me than our competitors. He ended up purchasing a log set from us. “When I go to job sites, a lot of the guys think they should be talking to my installers, not me. I shrug this off as they soon learn that I am the one with the answers. I will say that I have proven myself with our installers so I know they have my back. I will add that I have had to prove myself in the field, but so does any man. “I think we are seeing more and more women in the industry today. My advice: Be yourself, don’t feel like you have to prove anything to anyone other than yourself. Hold your head high. You are going to make mistakes, own up to them and use them as learning experiences. Most of all, don’t let other people’s attitudes affect yours, and smile.”


Yvette Aube

Yvette Aube Chief Administrative Officer AIM Chimney Sweep Ontario, Canada

Aube’s responsibilities include scheduling, technical advice, sales, report writing, accounting, skip chasing, emergency road technician, advisor, and estimator.

“It’s a common conception that the industry is male dominated but that is only because we all see more men doing the work and assume the women are only in the office. When our company travels to Europe to see our chimney families over there, we see many more females in the industry than we do here. In North America there are more and more females taking courses and becoming certified every year. “I have never had a bad reaction from any of our clients, male or female, when I’m on a job site. I have had them offer to carry my ladder and tools though. Generally, when I’m on site and away from my male teammates, they point questions directly at me to see my reaction and hear my answers. Once I’ve established myself as informed, they generally will just let me do my job. “Women bring along a different sensitivity to a client’s needs and desires with their hearth appliances and chimneys. We can talk to them about their new installations and the choices they make to ensure the new fireplace/ wood stove/insert complements their décor rather than clashes with it. In the past, we have painted freestanding stoves to match the home’s décor, to the delight of our clients.

“When our company travels to Europe to see our chimney families over there, we see many more females in the industry than we do here. In North America there are more and more females taking courses and becoming certified every year.” — Yvette Aube

“Being in a male-dominated industry has always been, even to this day, a challenge, but with my increasing knowledge of hearth equipment, methodology of installation, codes, standards and all the rest that is required, both my confidence and reputation have increased. I am now very comfortable in this industry and can hold my own against the odd egotistical male, especially when my team will direct the inquiring client to me as the expert in that area.

“Men generally tend to know more about the brute nature of the work, such as installations, where women generally can talk a bit more on the décor side, office maintenance, and running the business. But even these lines are being blurred and skewed over the years, where we both are doing equal work for equal pay. We are both equally able to do quotes, reports, computer work, and the like. “We even have more recognition in our training fields with women as trainers and

teachers. Women are more confident in bluecollar work all over the spectrum now, and we are being seen in more and more ‘man jobs.’ “In terms of advice, I say, ladies, get the training required, don’t be afraid of getting dirty and working hard. Stand your ground with confidence and knowledge. You can do anything you allow yourself to do. Stay strong in your own abilities. There are no boundaries in this industry, for either men or women.” Mary Ellen Woods and Gina Woods Woody’s Fireplace Larksville, Pennsylvania

Gina joined her husband in the family business recently as a business manager, with co-owner, Mary Ellen Woods. Gina manages banking, payroll, invoicing, accounts receivable, and human resources. Mary Ellen has been a co-owner of the business for more than 40 years. Mary Ellen Woods: “I never thought I needed to be concerned with male dominance in the hearth industry. I know many strong, intelligent, and capable women in our industry and gender is not the deciding factor. The most important thing is providing customers with high quality, beautiful, and efficient heat sources – that’s what counts. It’s also essential to maintain a positive attitude in good times and bad. “Most people have no problem in talking with a woman about a hearth product, except for some of the ‘old fellows.’ Women bring empathy to the hearth business, especially for those customers who are not technically adept. Our sales reps and suppliers provide good educational opportunities, as do the trade shows, so anyone in the industry can gain technical knowledge. A woman can succeed in any field if she is willing to work hard and learn. It’s also important for everyone to see the value of collaboration, men and women.” Gina Woods: “What I love most is that this is a small, family-owned and operated business that has been here for 43 years. I’m grateful to be part of its continuation and sustained success. We have strong men and strong

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| Women in Charge |

Mary Ellen Woods

Gina Woods

women in our company. The combination of all our strengths makes us successful. I’m surrounded by capable women. That includes my mother-in-law, and two very talented women who manage our other two locations. “Working with customers one-on-one is the favorite part of my role. Sales and marketing are my favorite functions. I love introducing products to customers, educating them on all the features, and helping to uncover and then meet their needs. When they call back after their installation and relay positive feedback that they are satisfied with their purchases, it makes it extremely gratifying. “The vast majority of customers are happy to chat with me in person or on

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“I know many strong, intelligent, and capable women in our industry and gender is not the deciding factor. The most important thing is providing customers with high quality, beautiful, and efficient heat sources – that’s what counts.” — Mary Ellen Woods the phone. Only a handful of men have communicated skepticism in working with me face-to-face, or said they only wanted to talk to ‘Woody,’ aka my fatherin-law. When faced with any kind of adversity, I’m always kind and polite. My mother always said, ‘kill them with kindness’ and that is one of my mantras.

I don’t let negative or skeptical people bring me down. “As with any career path, it’s what you make of it. I would advise women in hearth to have a thirst for knowledge and never stop learning. Do the best you can each and every day in your work and personal life and you should feel contentment.”


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| Women in Charge |

Edie Orzehowski

Edie Orzehowski General Manager/Partner Nickos Chimney Company Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Orzehowski manages all daily operations of the company, yet continues to work with customers by phone and on the showroom floor. “In my 20 years I have met many women who either owned or ran a hearth shop. I personally have great relationships with both men and women in the industry. I personally have not had any experiences that made me feel that there was a prejudice or unfairness toward me because I’m a woman. If anything, I have been encouraged to be a leader, especially from the older generation of men in the industry. “I can’t speak for all the women in the industry, but I feel that I bring a nurturing quality to our company. In other words, like a parent I want each staff member to grow and feel accomplished in the continued building of our company. Consider it a softer side but with a firm foundation. “I also enjoy talking about chimneys. Putting the components together, troubleshooting draft problems, anything to do with the venting of a chimney. Our company started out as one of the first chimney sweep companies in our area in 1977. I consider building a team of

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Nickos Chimney Company.

“My advice to other women entering the hearth industry is, don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, be kind but not weak, and have fun. Most importantly, seek advice from all the veterans in the industry who have been there and done that.” — Edie Orzehowski

dedicated and talented staff that truly is committed to our company as my greatest contribution. “In working with customers, time, experience, and knowledge are the elements that count. Our entire office and sales team are women so we haven’t noticed an extreme reaction from customers in working with women. We don’t waste a lot of time on people who are overly skeptical about working with a woman. For those customers, we just have our warehouse man come out and give them the answer. “Since the beginning of my career, if I didn’t know the answer, I made many phone calls to technical departments. I’ve also spent countless hours talking to the best and brightest, made many great business partners along the way, attended many distributor hosted events, and took advantage of the training offered.

I now focus more on sending our staff for training so they can be the best and the brightest. “I have had men and women working in office, sales, and service positions. The construction/installation portion has always been primarily men, but I’m not opposed to skilled, talented women in that position. We find that our most challenging jobs require the perspectives of men and women to figure out how to accomplish an end result that makes fireplace dreams come true. Let’s face it, the complexity will continue to increase, and we all benefit when unique minds come together. “My advice to other women entering the hearth industry is, don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, be kind but not weak, and have fun. Most importantly, seek advice from all the veterans in the industry who have been there and done that.”


Tina Dod Co-owner Dod Installations Wichita, Kansas

Dod wears many hats, from co-creation of the business 30 years ago, to sales and all areas of business operation and management. “I think there is extra effort required for a woman to ‘prove herself’ and her knowledge of this industry. More or less, like all the building trades, you develop confidence by gaining knowledge of the industry through studying and continued education. When people realize you know your stuff, they relax and you build rapport with them.

“Sometimes it’s more of a personality issue with people than a gender issue. If another team member can better serve them, I’m happy to refer them on to that team member. It’s not about me; it’s about the customer and our team.” — Tina Dod

that I’ve learned over three decades in this business. Sometimes it’s more of a personality issue with people than a gender issue. If another team member can better serve them, I’m happy to refer them on to that team member. It’s not about me; it’s about the customer and

“I think women typically are a bit more sensitive and aware at reading people and their needs. I believe women are great at multi-tasking and make strong leaders and teachers in any field they desire to put their energy and efforts in with care and competence.

Tina Dod Dod Installations.

I’ve been in the computer software and automotive graphic industries in the past – both male-dominated fields. “In our hearth business, I always greet customers with a smile, look them in the eye, ask them how they found us and how I can help them. I strive to meet them at their level of competence regarding hearth products and take it from there. “I believe confidence comes in the ‘knowing’ and in the ‘doing’ and that’s something I’ve worked hard on and

our team, using all of our strengths and helping others with their questions or weaknesses. “Our goal has always been to build a strong team, so I don’t have to provide all of the answers; we teach and empower our team members to have or find the answers for our customers. That allows me to work harder on our business, not just in it. I’m always ready to help wherever I’m needed, from sales to driving the forklift to paying the bills.

“Through the years, I’ve had my challenges with biased opinions as a woman in a predominantly male field. I do my best to help educate people by answering their questions with informed responses. If I still get the ‘where’s the man’ look, I’ll happily refer them on to an employee with whom they might better connect. It’s always good to leave yourself options and not overthink it. There are old stereotypes out there that we all still face – female or male. But I do believe it’s getting better!”

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| Women in Charge | Michelle Birnbaum Owner The Fireplace Man Houston, Texas

Birnbaum owns and manages The Fireplace Man with her two daughters, Jennifer and Ashley, who work in sales. “Joining the hearth industry was both a leap of faith and an act of bravery. It has not been easy by any means. I didn’t decide on this career path initially as my husband started and ran the company for 10-plus years before we were married. I have always worked at the store doing mostly accounting work as well as some sales until

“The hearth industry is definitely male dominated. Customers always tend to look at a woman with a puzzled face like, ‘Are you really going to be able to help me?’” — Michelle Birnbaum

my husband passed away three years ago. I now have the full responsibility of the store as well as managing the technicians and sales floor. “The hearth industry is definitely male dominated. Customers always tend to look at a woman with a puzzled face like, ‘Are Michelle Birnbaum

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you really going to be able to help me?’ I have had to transition into the role my husband had in the company, as well as continue with my responsibilities in the accounting side. We both shared roles in the company, but now I have taken on both. Although it has been challenging it’s also rewarding. I think he would be very proud of us. “Customers often react with doubt in working with a woman. Every day we experience this. Customers will look at you and automatically assume that you can’t answer their questions. They will ask you if they can talk to someone in sales. Most of the time customers will ask to talk to the owner, and when I come out they say ‘You’re the owner?’ in disbelief. “Men are definitely not the only ones who do this, we find that it happens just as much with women. We have a very large showroom to show our products to our customers and explain the differences between these products. Once they see everything and have us explain each product they realize that we do know what we’re talking about. “The unique benefit women bring to the hearth industry is design. Most customers want a woman’s opinion on what color will work best or what style they should choose. My daughter Jennifer works at our store; she has a degree in interior design and brings that to the table. She can do a design layout of a fireplace in their home, as well as 3D grill models showing islands. “I also think female customers feel a little more comfortable at times speaking to a woman when they are talking about something technical. Sometimes our customers can get overwhelmed by all of the terms and instructions. We find that a lot of our clients are women who are making the decisions and designs for their homes, and they feel at ease and not as embarrassed to ask questions.”


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| Women in Charge |

Sarah Kemp Country Stoves and Sunrooms.

Sarah Kemp Co-owner/President Country Stoves and Sunrooms Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada

Kemp’s responsibilities include sales, marketing, and overall management of the business. She and her brother purchased the business from their father when he retired. “This industry certainly is male dominated with a few exceptions. Most owners are men, and manufacturers and distributors are as well; every rep I have ever had has also been a man. Years ago, most of our customers were also men, although that has certainly changed a great deal in the last 20 years or so. Now women are involved heavily in the decision and research processes. They are buying for looks as well as operational qualities and features. “Most people welcome a woman’s help, although when it comes to technical issues, many men are skeptics. Most of the time, after a few minutes they realize I actually do know what I’m talking about and leave satisfied, although every once in a while, I will pass a customer over to my male co-worker as I’ve come to realize that not everyone will buy a wood stove from a woman. I used to work extremely hard

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“The most important thing that women bring to the hearth industry is a ‘woman’s touch,’ which means attention to detail, being easy to relate to, and our concern for how things look.” — Sarah Kemp

to prove myself to those men, but after 20 years have realized that you can’t win them all. I’m very fortunate that I have a wonderful salesman who is more than happy to always have my back in those situations. “The most important thing that women bring to the hearth industry is a ‘woman’s touch,’ which means attention to detail, being easy to relate to, and our concern for how things look. I have many times faced bias because I’m a woman with male and female customers talking over my head to a male associate as if I couldn’t know anything technical. I’ve heard the line, ‘I’ve been burning wood longer than you have been alive’ many times. “What I enjoy most about the business is the diversification, always learning something new, solving people’s problems. The hearth industry is also a great people

industry, where people are very kind, and I have met some wonderful friends. In Atlantic Canada, the industry is pretty tight; that is due greatly to our local distributor who has gotten us together at trade shows, training sessions, and annual vacations for many years. This type of networking among our peers has been priceless as it has enabled us to learn and mentor each other in many ways. We have all become great friends. Some are even more like family. “Hearth is a challenging industry, but a great one. Women in the profession should join their local HPBA affiliate board and meet other like-minded women. I currently sit on the national HPBAC board where there are just as many women sitting on the board as men. There is so much to learn from these women, and we all share many things in common.”


Kristetta Gray Miller Owner/Office Manager/Salesperson Louisiana Fireplace Pineville, Louisiana

Kristetta is an owner of the business with her husband, Chuck, and is responsible for overall management and sales.

job. My number one accomplishment right now is that we have grown to the point that my husband was able to leave his full-time job. A 25-year-old dream of us running a business together is happening right before my eyes. I also consider the loyalty that we are establishing with customers a major accomplishment.

not afraid to say that I don’t know, but I will find out. “Many times bias against women is subtle, as in having something overly explained to me. The most blatant bias I have faced has been having customers ask to speak to a man. Since I used to be at the store by myself, I would say that I

Louisiana Fireplace.

“Our industry benefits when each of us offers our distinct point of view regardless of our gender. Men and women should work within their own individual strengths and talents.”

Kristetta Gray Miller

— Kristetta Gray Miller

“I don’t think of the hearth industry as overwhelmingly male dominated. I have encountered plenty of women when dealing with my vendors and at conferences. Also, I am not one to worry about barriers and glass ceilings. I have faced a bias against women, but I will also keep on going if I’m passionate about something. “When we bought the store four years ago, the plan was for me to run it while my husband continued at his full-time

“The previous owners of our store started the business in 1977. Over the last 40 years, there were few female employees. Customers, both male and female, are sometimes surprised when I tell them that I can answer their questions. After four years of new ownership, customers have almost stopped asking for the previous owners. I gain the confidence of new and returning customers by having solid answers and getting back to them quickly when I have to look for an answer. I’m

was the only option and then follow up by answering every question and concern. “Our industry benefits when each of us offers our distinct point of view regardless of our gender. Men and women should work within their own individual strengths and talents. I don’t believe we should put people in a box in this industry or any other industry. I think when men and women each bring their unique personality, talents, and characteristics to any task those individuals do their best work.”

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| Women in Charge |

Bev Hawkins Fireplace Outfitters.

Bev Hawkins Owner and Service Tech Fireplace Outfitters Hailey, Idaho

Hawkins and her husband previously owned a distributorship and, in 2011, opened a retail store and have continued to expand retail operations. As an owner, she is involved in all aspects of the business. “I personally don’t see the hearth industry as male dominated. I went to aircraft maintenance school and took flying lessons to become a pilot after high school; those fields are male dominated. The hearth industry has always had women; over time the percent of women is increasing.

“I am one of those women who doesn’t mind working with the guys or getting dirty; that being said, I feel that women and men have different skills or roles. I am not nearly as tough as the guys, but the guys are typically not as great with design and choices as the girls in the office. Typically I find that guys do better in the field and women do better in the office, but at Fireplace Outfitters we have an overlap of guys and gals in all aspects of the work. It’s incredible to see how much someone can do when you give them a job and allow that person to excel in the job with their strengths. “I will say that, more than once, I’ve been asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ The question that I answer at least three

“As a staff, we would not have near the reach with our customers if we were just a staff of men. Most of our clients or customers are women, and women like to be assured by other women that the fireplace they are picking, or the logs and other design options, will be just perfect in their home.” — Bev Hawkins

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times a day is, ‘How did you get into this?’ Clients have been extremely shocked that I’m the service tech there to clean their barbecue, install their gas logs, or fix their fireplace. A smile, hard work, and the ability to explain the work that I’m doing put a homeowner at ease. “At Fireplace Outfitters, we are a staff of half men and half women. Each individual brings a unique set of skills. As a staff, we would not have near the reach with our customers if we were just a staff of men. Most of our clients or customers are women, and women like to be assured by other women that the fireplace they are picking, or the logs and other design options, will be just perfect in their home. “I have been able to take classes and pass all of the Idaho State certifications for HVAC specialty training. This December I will have my contractor’s license. While the classes and training were educational, my main training has been on-the-job. I’m fortunate to have great co-workers to lean on. “I love the hearth industry and the varied opportunities it provides. The hearth industry will not be replaced by Amazon or automation anytime soon. I feel that I have been challenged in all of the roles I have filled in this industry.”


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| Women in Charge | Jeanine Doubek Vice President Alaskan Fireplace Sturtevant, Wisconsin

Doubek started the business with her husband in 1992 where she manages administrative elements and the design and décor of the showroom, and works in sales during peak season.

“When we first started our business in 1992, usually older men coming into our showroom would either walk right past me in order to speak to one of our salesmen, or they would specifically say to me that they were going to wait for one of the guys. It was amusing when they would do that and then ask a question and our salesmen would respond, ‘I don’t know, let me ask our owner,’ and then turn to me and ask the question. That was fun. This rarely happens today. Our customers today are very accepting of a saleswoman, especially since today women are quite often the decision makers. Things have certainly changed. “I believe it’s an outdated concept that certain roles are only for men or only for women. Men or women can excel in any area as long as they are willing to put the time and energy into the proper training for the position. I think we just

need to be paying attention to both the functionality and design of a fireplace, because both are important. As familyowned and operated businesses, the lines blur. We fill many roles. “Our industry is very much familyowned businesses. In our business, (husband) Ken and I have very different roles, which I would imagine is the case in many similar businesses. The vendors seem to know and respect Ken as the owner, but because I handle the ‘back of the house’ it sometimes feels as if my role is considered secondary in their eyes. In that situation, I do feel disrespected as a human, not just a woman. Whether you’re a woman or a man wanting to enter this field, you just need to be open to learning. “I’m proud of managing a successful small business for over 25 years, and handling all of the technological advances we have made in our administrative office.”

“Whether you’re a woman or a man wanting to enter this field, you just need to be open to learning.” Jeanine Doubek

Alaskan Fireplace.

32 | MAY 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

— Jeanine Doubek


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www.whitemountainhearth.com


| Women in Charge | Coleen Aaron Office Manager McCready Masonry, dba The Chimney Restoration Group Cambridge, Maryland

Aaron is responsible for fielding sales and service calls, production scheduling, accounts payable and receivable, and serves as executive assistant to the supervisor in managing the schedule and assisting clients throughout the production process. “My initial reaction to the hearth industry is that it is male dominated, though I am often pleasantly surprised to see many women stepping up and challenging the status quo. Inevitably

“Generally speaking, clients are receptive to a woman helping them in this industry. To gain their confidence I incorporate stories of my personal experiences of using wood, pellet, and gas appliances.” — Coleen Aaron

there will be some client who will not feel comfortable seeking advice or guidance from a woman. There is absolutely a greater presence of women in the industry today than there has been in the past. I’ve been fortunate to get to know many great women in this industry. I lean on them often for affirmation.

Coleen Aaron

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“Occasionally it isn’t the men who come across this way. I have been in the middle of training new male employees, having them shadow me on the showroom floor, and female clients have turned to the trainees and asked them the questions, though I have been the one leading the whole conversation. The trainee points back to me for the answers and the client seems completely unaware of what has just transpired. Lastly, I have never experienced this among my co-workers, trainees, or colleagues in the industry. “Generally speaking, clients are receptive to a woman helping them in this industry. To gain their confidence I incorporate stories of my personal experiences of using wood, pellet, and gas appliances. “It has been a whirlwind of learning technical regulations, each brand, and their differences, different areas of construction, and using a flow chart style of questions to aid clients who aren’t really sure what they have or what they can and can’t do with their house. While I feel confident in my knowledge, there are times I also leave myself enough ‘gray area’ to consider the fact that I am not a ‘know it all.’ “When you’re selling premium hearth appliances you are essentially selling a working piece of furniture, so women want it to look nice aesthetically. Women want more than just a metal box of fire. I think that their input has influenced the increased array of log configurations and styles, the clean face, and linear options. “If I were to advise other women coming into this industry, I would tell them to always believe in themselves. It’s more than just selling an appliance or restoring a chimney. You are selling your personality so that you seem relatable. Go to the Expo shows, take the sales and technical classes, meet the many other wonderful women in the industry, and use the network of people. Lastly, getting certified with NFI or CSIA is a beneficial accomplishment.”


THOUGHTS OF OTHER WOMEN “If society will not admit of woman’s free development, then society must be remodeled.” — Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to become a medical doctor in the U.S., when she earned her M.D. degree in 1849

“Power’s not given to you. You have to take it.” — Beyoncé, singer

“I am bold. I smoke a big black cigar. I drink whiskey. I carry a pistol. I love adventure. I am independent. Nobody tells me what to do. Nobody tells me where to go. You got a problem with that?” — Mary Fields (1832–1914), first AfricanAmerican woman to have a contract to carry mail (on a dangerous route) between Cascade and St. Peter’s Mission in Montana

“We deny the right of any portion of the species to decide for another portion what is and what is not their ‘proper sphere.’ The proper sphere for all human beings is the largest and highest which they are able to attain to.”

“Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” — Mae Jemison, first African-American female astronaut

“What I’ve learned is that real change is very, very hard. But I’ve also learned that change is possible – if you fight for it.” Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator

“I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard – we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” — Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan, a campaigner for girls’ education, won the Nobel Peace Prize

Harriet Taylor Mill, philosopher

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”

“In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued.” — Aung San Suu Kyi, received Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent work for democracy and human rights in Myanmar

— Michelle Obama former First Lady of the U.S. www.hearthandhome.com | MAY 2020 | 35


| Women in Charge | Anne Marie Rella Office Manager/Co-owner Rella Coal and Stoves Medford, New York

Rella’s position encompasses greeting customers, scheduling deliveries, services, and cleanings, along with inventory management of stoves, parts, and fuel sales as well as general troubleshooting. “The hearth industry is huge and there are so many different things to learn. I’m fortunate to have really great teachers here. I think my major accomplishment is being confident in what I have learned so I’m able to troubleshoot problems over the phone, saving us a service call when our calendar is overly booked. It’s great to speak with someone who has been doing research on pellet stoves and they thank me, saying I have been more helpful than the other places they’ve gone. It makes me feel even better when they purchase a unit from us and thank us for being so helpful, making their decision easier. That feels like a major accomplishment. “A customer’s skepticism in working with a woman depends on what they’re looking for when they come into our showroom. If they need info on stoves my confidence kicks in as soon as I start answering questions. My confidence goes into hyper-drive when I meet the skeptic who only wants to talk to a man and I’m the only one in the office. What a good feeling it is when I can answer all of their questions; anything I didn’t know I can find out for them without having to refer them to my husband (co-owner). That’s a real confidence booster. “The stove companies we work with provide us with online training along with factory training that we have done periodically throughout the years. But most of what I do is on-the-job training, so I’ve really had to pay attention to what I’m being taught. For me, it’s a bit easier to learn all aspects of what we do because we’re a family-owned business (with her husband) with 40 years’ experience. “I think women are sometimes able to think outside the box easier than men, especially when talking to a husband and wife about a pellet stove, for example. The

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Anne Marie Rella

“Having women more involved in this industry brings more of a sense of home and comfort to the aesthetic aspect – and to functionality too, as more and more women are using hearth products on their own.” — Anne Marie Rella

man will want to know how it works while a woman will focus on the design and how it will make their home more comfortable. Having women more involved in this industry brings more of a sense of home and comfort to the aesthetic aspect – and to functionality too, as more and more women are using hearth products on their own.

“For women in the hearth industry, I suggest taking advantage of growth opportunities so your company will be there for the long run. This may sound a little cliché, but we all make mistakes so learn from them so you don’t make that same mistake again. Don’t beat yourself up so much about it, either.”


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| Selling to Women |

UNDERSTANDING THE SHECONOMY If you want to grow your business, you must understand women and how they shop, for they purchase, well, just about everything. By Lisa Readie Mayer

I

t’s a man’s world, isn’t it? Not really. According to financial experts, it’s women who drive the world’s economy, and women who are its most powerful consumers. As the gatekeepers of family spending, women control more than half the wealth in the U.S., particularly on purchases related to home, family, and well-being.

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Yet the reality is, most hearth and barbecue products are marketed to, and designed, manufactured, and sold by men. (There’s progress on that last one – turn to page 10 of this issue to read about some of the growing number of amazing women retailers in the hearth and barbecue industries!) That’s a situation that should change. Here’s why.

According to research from the Bloomberg company, women oversee 85% of household spending. They make or influence over 95% of household purchase decisions, and are the final veto on 65% of purchase considerations. Women are increasingly making decisions on traditionally maledominated purchases. A report in the Harvard Business Review indicates women decide or participate in the decisions on 91% of home purchases, 40% of home-improvements, 60% of car purchases, 51% of consumer electronics purchases, and 94% of home-furnishings purchases. They also often control purchases for additional households beyond their own, such as for aging parents and in-laws.

PHOTO COURTESY: ©2020 MEMPHIS WOOD FIRE GRILLS. WWW.MEMPHISGRILLS.COM.


While employment statistics have recently been upended in the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, as of December 2019, women made up the majority of the workforce for the first time ever, holding down 50.04% of American jobs, up from 49.7% a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although there is still a gender wage gap – “Business Insider” reports the median full-time female worker makes 80.7 cents for every male-earned dollar – it is improving. According to Pew Research, the gender wage gap has tightened from a 33-cent differential in 1980. Today, in fact, nearly 40% of married women make more money than their husbands.

patio furniture, barbecue grills, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, pergolas, patio heaters, and more for their new indoor and outdoor living spaces. Whether they are single or married homeowners, according to Suzanne Turner, a certified Hearth Design Specialist, NFI Master Hearth Specialist, and a former hearth retailer for 36 years, “Females dominate purchasing, so we need to do a better job of connecting with them.” How Women Shop and Buy According to Turner, women shop and buy differently than men. “Women see shopping and buying as an experience; men see it as a chore,” she says. “Critical

Turner says it’s important to women customers that salespeople look neat and professional (no t-shirts or ballcaps, she cautions). “Women believe these details reflect on how you conduct business and help form her opinion of how she expects you will treat her home and her project,” she says. “To her, a messy desk or design station, or a sloppy staff appearance, is a warning signal that you might mess up her order. If you can’t keep your store neat and clean, she imagines you bringing dirt into her house or messing up her yard.” Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. In an online industry discussion forum, a retailer recently complained that a homeowner canceled an order and service

to that shopping experience is how the store looks, so it’s important to view your store through fresh, unbiased eyes. Women care that the store looks tidy and clean, the check-out is uncluttered, and the merchandising displays are attractive.” After often walking past clutter or a dated display, it becomes difficult to see it for what it truly is. Therefore, organizational experts advise taking photos of your store inside and out, and analyzing what you see in the photos. Organizational pros say it is easier to look at photos more objectively and identify areas for improvement.

appointment after noticing the tires on the retailer’s service truck were bald. The retailer got defensive and thought the customer was overreacting and out of line, but other retailers pointed out the obvious: letting the technician drive on poor tires conveys the impression that the retailer was not on top of its own regular maintenance, doesn’t pay attention to details, and even worse, doesn’t prioritize safety. Female customers notice such things, and you should too. According to Turner, women also value punctuality and courtesy. They appreciate a heads-up call to say you’re on the way,

11%

of all home purchases in 2019 were made by single women. Single women represent 17% of all first-time homebuyers, and 18% of repeat buyers. By contrast, 7% of first-time homebuyers and 8% of repeat buyers were single men. Many women are delaying marriage and children, or having fewer children than previous generations, giving them the opportunity to develop personal wealth, according to reports from Bloomberg.com. Many are not waiting for marriage to make major purchases. Builder.com reports housing’s fastestgrowing buyer segment is the single, female household. According to the National Association of Realtors 2019 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, 11% of all home purchases in 2019 were made by single women. Single women represent 17% of all first-time homebuyers, with a median age of 34, and 18% of repeat buyers, with a median age of 60. By contrast, 7% of first-time homebuyers and 8% of repeat buyers were single men. As new-home buyers, women are considering the purchases of hearth products,

PHOTOS: ©2020 GETTY IMAGES. WWW.GETTYIMAGES.COM.

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39


| Selling to Women | or are running late. Women want service technicians and installers to be respectful of their home and patio. They like it when service people and installers run drop cloths from the front door to the fireplace, wear booties, and take care not to trample garden beds. According to Bloomberg.com, women ask more questions than men and take longer to arrive at purchase decisions. They are more selective and willing to shop and search longer to find the perfect solution that meets all of their requirements and desires, whereas men prefer to get in and out fast, and are willing to settle for a workable solution. Turner says women want to buy from a trusted “friend,” so retailers need to do everything they can to gain her trust. That means talking with her respectfully, and directing attention, conversation, and questions to her equally, even if her spouse is present. “Make eye contact, actively listen to her, take notes, and give feedback along the way to show you’re listening,” says Turner. Women are more interested in hearing about how a product can help make their lives better, more convenient, and more comfortable, rather than dry facts about specs and Btus. These attributes indicate value, and Turner says women buy on value more than price.

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“Don’t apologize about the price, talk about the benefits,” she says. “Don’t just mention a list of the specs and features; talk about what they mean to her. For example, it’s not enough to say this pellet stove has an 80 lb. hopper; she wants to know that, because it holds two bags of pellets, it can be filled less frequently. A blower with high CFMs is relatable to having a powerful hairdryer. You should talk about prices confidently and unapologetically and say, ‘This product is worth it and let me tell you why.’”

Turner says women often research on social media platforms such as Pinterest and Houzz for design inspiration and guidance when planning home renovation projects and furnishings purchases. If they haven’t already created inspiration boards, suggest they do so to help you understand and achieve their vision. But also plan to show them other options beyond the products or styles in their clippings. “They may have done research, but they still are not aware of everything you, as an expert, are aware of,” says Turner. According to Forbes, businesses should have both male and female employees on sales and management teams, noting, “Research shows that companies with gender-balanced teams have higher return on investment.” Turner suggests female sales staff should be trained as Certified Hearth Specialists, and be fluent in Outdoor Room design. When creating marketing campaigns targeted to women, avoid the tendency to “pink it up,” or other stereotypically feminine approaches. Women find this condescending, according to Turner. Research shows females are more influenced by negative reviews than men. They also have higher expectations for customer service and quality, so it’s critically important to provide an exceptional experience. The added bonus for doing so is that women become loyal customers and tell others about their good experiences. But be warned: They also share about bad experiences. They can be your biggest cheerleader or your worst enemy.


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| Selling to Women | How to Reach Women Consumers Judy Musa, a partner with Julia Brannan and Mona Finston at MoJJo Collaborative Communications, a New Jersey-based marketing communications company specializing in helping companies reach women consumers, says today’s retailer needs a multi-channel strategy to connect with women, who often are stressed and busy raising their own families, while simultaneously taking care of aging relatives. “Women seek fast, easy information at their fingertips and will make purchase decisions based on quality, aesthetics, functionality, and value.” She suggests these effective ways to connect with women customers: Be easy to find online. Women are techsavvy, and use laptops, tablets, and smart phones to do their homework on planned purchases. They look for products online first – website searches, food/home influencers, and word-of-mouth on social platforms inform every purchase decision long before they enter a store. “Digital marketing can be effective at connecting with mature women, who feel traditional advertising largely misses the mark when it comes to communicating with them,” Musa says. She notes Facebook and Instagram are the most popular platforms with Baby Boomer, Gen X, and older Millennial women. Build a simple, yet easy-to-find, mobile-ready website with photos and video that show off your store and the products you carry to help you stand out from the competition. Include a photo gallery of completed hearth and Outdoor Room projects. Being accessible and responsive to online queries is important, too. “It can be exactly what drives them into your store,” Musa says.

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The recommendation of peers is particularly important to female consumers. Key social-media influencers in your area, who speak to this audience about food, cooking, lifestyle, and design, can be hugely influential, so seek them out. Likewise, obtain client testimonials and reviews and prominently post them to your website and share on social channels. Show women customers you really do understand them by anticipating their questions and being ready to explain how a product will make life easier and better for them. According to Builder.com, women – particularly single, female homeowners – are concerned about safety and low-maintenance living. As such, it is important to incorporate messages about these potential concerns in any marketing directed toward women and in sales presentations with female customers. Host in-store events and participate in community activities where attending women can obtain first-hand experience with your products. Although more women are taking up the tongs and grilling more frequently, there is still a learning curve for many of them. A growing number of grilling blogs targeted to women, such as Christie Vanover’s “Girls Can Grill,” Robyn Lindars’ “Grill Girl,” and Elizabeth Karmel’s “Girls at the Grill,” aim to help women learn barbecuing basics so they can be comfortable behind the grill. Your store can tap into this need, too, by offering a series of ladies-only outdoor-cooking clinics and classes. In addition, host an annual or semi-annual Ladies Night Out event with hands-on opportunities to try a variety of gas grills,

smokers, kamados, pellet grills, pizza ovens, and accessories, and to showcase outdoor kitchens. Consider promoting your cooking classes as a fun group activity, and an Outdoor Room showroom as a meeting location for book clubs, gourmet clubs, or other women’s organizations. “The more comfortable women are at the grill, the more they will prioritize outdoor cooking products in their family budget,” says Musa. “Likewise, the more they can visualize how a beautiful, functional Outdoor Room can be integral to family gatherings and entertaining experiences, the more likely they will want to create such a space at their home.” Providing good service to your customer, no matter who they are, is always the fastest route to establishing trust and long-term relationships, rather than just a one-off sale. Women especially appreciate and respond to a friendly environment, good service, courtesy, and respect both in-store and in their homes. Women are buying what you’re selling. If you’re not thinking about how to effectively connect with female consumers, you’re missing out on a key customer segment, as well as an opportunity to create a competitive edge that could set your store apart and boost sales and profits.


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| Manufacturing |

BARLOW AT TYRIE

The iconic British manufacturer of teak outdoor furniture reaches its centennial year, and it’s still family-owned. Queen Elizabeth II being presented with a commemorative bench crafted by Barlow Tyrie for her Silver Jubilee. London, 1977.

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PHOTOS COURTESY: ©2020 BARLOW TYRIE. WWW.TEAK.COM.


Atom Deep Seating Armchair.

By Tom Lassiter

C

harles Hessler had been selling Barlow Tyrie furniture for a few months when he purchased some teak furniture made by his employer. He selected a Commodore Steamer chair, Barlow Tyrie’s interpretation of a chaise longue with classic lines, a chair that looks as if it belongs on the deck of a transatlantic ocean liner. Hessler, now Barlow Tyrie’s top executive in the U.S. office, still has that steamer chair. It’s in his backyard, where it has resided for the past 31 years, during both winters and summers. “It still works fine,” Hessler says. “Every two or three years I clean it up. That’s it. I don’t put it away.” That particular steamer chair (which, by the way, is a 1984 design and still in production) and Hessler have been around for nearly one-third of Barlow Tyrie’s existence. Barlow Tyrie, founded in London when the wounds and memories of the Great War were still fresh, this year celebrates its centennial. The grandsons of founder Victor Tyrie – Mark and James Tyrie – preside over the company in a manner that might seem familiar to their grandfather. The Tyrie brothers are deeply involved in the day-to-day operations of the company started by their grandfather and his business partner, Frederick Barlow, in 1920. They’ve known some of the long-timers in the British operation literally all of their adult lives. They are invested, and not just in the financial sense.

Barlow Tyrie isn’t part of some industrial conglomerate. Venture capitalists who don’t know teak from ipé from bamboo hold no sway. “It’s a hands-on, family-owned and operated business,” says Hessler. “Their name is on the building. It’s on every piece of furniture, and they care about that.” Which goes to say that Barlow Tyrie continues to hold itself to the standards of quality set by the founders. The company

was established to make teak outdoor furniture, and the name Barlow Tyrie remains synonymous with teak today. The company’s URL says it all: teak.com. Barlow Tyrie uses only first-quality teak from Indonesia’s government-managed forests. Virtually all of its products are manufactured at its company-owned factory in Indonesia. The company now also produces casual furniture incorporating stainless-steel and aluminum frames, and other non-teak components. For a time, it sold a range of woven resin furniture that was produced to order by another Indonesian company. But that range is now out of production and everything once again is made in the Barlow Tyrie factory, including the company’s shade products. Barlow Tyrie’s commitment to producing garden lounge furniture of the highest quality comes at a price. “The price point is up there,” Hessler says. “I never apologize for it. It is what it is, and people get what they pay for. “Our company has been here for 100 years,” he explains. Over the years, numerous other teak vendors have attempted to gain a foothold in the North American market, often using teak of lesser quality and less rigorous

Layout Collection of dining chairs and tables.

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| Manufacturing |

Monterey dining chair in full teak.

construction standards. Hessler says he reminds people who question Barlow Tyrie’s premium prices that most of its lower-priced competitors have disappeared. They didn’t last many decades, much less a century. “So I guess we’re giving you what you’re paying for,” he says.

Victor Tyrie and Frederick Barlow, together with a few others, started their own business in London in 1920, initially in Walthamstow, but then moved to a disused horse stable behind a terrace of Victorian houses in nearby Leytonstone.

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Roots in Shipbreaking Tyrie joined the Royal Marines as a drummer boy in 1912. He was 14 years old. Two years later, Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, setting off a chain of events that plunged all of Europe and much of the rest of the world into war. Victor Tyrie survived the conflict, but not without serious injury – he lost his left thumb. As part of his rehabilitation, Tyrie participated in a government-subsidized training program to teach him a craft. He was apprenticed to a shipbreaking firm that pulled apart old sailing ships to reclaim the timber, which happened to be teak. This wood, in turn, was used to make outdoor furniture. (One wonders what Victor Tyrie would think of today’s companies that make fashionable furniture from reclaimed teak, often sourced from old Southeast Asian boats.) The British government’s rehabilitation program lasted but a year, but it was long enough to provide both Tyrie and Frederick Barlow with the skills necessary to start their own outdoor furniture business. They set up a woodworking shop in London; an early location was a former stable in a residential neighborhood.

After WWII, production was resumed, initially using home-grown timber to produce rustic outdoor furniture, but later reverting back to using only the best teak, supplying fashionable and exclusive London stores of the time, such as Harrods, Maples, and Heals.

Young Victor Tyrie.

For a number of years, the company’s furniture was built almost entirely by hand. The one power tool, an electric bench saw, was devised by the men themselves. According to a history on the Barlow Tyrie website, “It took the most efficient worker at least a full day to make one teak seat.” Barlow Tyrie soon developed a reputation for quality products and designs that were to become classics. Catalogs from the 1920s show designs that are still in production today.

After nearly 50 years, the company was moved from Leytonstone to the old market town of Braintree in Essex. This move benefited from a plan run by The Greater London Council in several designated expanding towns. The plan provided housing for residents of London that were prepared to move away from areas being redeveloped.


A worker hand-crafts a memorial seat.

The company also became known for making one-off “memorial seats,” benches with custom, hand-carved designs that memorialize individuals or events. Memorial seats are still produced in Barlow Tyrie’s facility in Braintree, some 50 miles northeast of London. Other production, however, takes place in Barlow Tyrie’s factory in Indonesia. That facility was opened in 1992 following a period when Indonesia restricted export of raw teak timber. But there were no

limitations on purchasing teak destined to be converted into manufactured goods in Indonesian factories. The Indonesian manufacturing operation was set up by Victor Tyrie’s son, Peter, who led the company after his father’s retirement in the late 1960s. It was Peter who hired Charles Hessler when Barlow Tyrie first expanded into the U.S. market in the late 1980s. Hessler had been looking through the classifieds in a Sunday edition of the

In the late 1980s the company opened an office and warehouse in the USA to serve its increasingly important market in North America.

In response to a decision by the Indonesian government to stop the export of teak, which had been sourced from there since the early 1980s, a factory was opened on the island of Java. That factory was redeveloped and expanded to approximately 300,000 sq. ft. Today, Barlow Tyrie proudly employs over 250 local people.

Philadelphia Inquirer when one particular ad caught his attention. It said something to the effect, “Must have an understanding of the British way of doing business.” Hessler recalls that he wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but it sounded intriguing. His mother and her family were from Scotland, and one of his aunts lived as though she had never emigrated to the States. “She always had a picture of the queen on her living-room wall,” Hessler remembers. Hessler came from a family business background; his father owned a small company that distributed industrial maintenance and cleaning equipment. Hessler, at that time, worked for his family’s company in sales; he also repaired equipment. Seeking employment with another small, family-owned business wasn’t a big leap for him. He was the last person interviewed during Peter Tyrie’s week in the United States. “I got the job,” Hessler deadpans. “I guess everybody else turned it down.”

Today, Victor Tyrie’s son, Peter, and grandsons Mark and James, manage the company, making Barlow Tyrie a truly family business with a continuing legacy of designing and manufacturing some of the finest outdoor furniture money can buy.

www.hearthandhome.com | MAY 2020 | 47


| Manufacturing | An Evolution Barlow Tyrie’s expansion into product categories other than teak over the last 15 years came in response to changing consumer tastes as well as ever-higher prices for the world’s best teak, the supply of which is managed by the Indonesian government. “There was a need for us to look at new materials,” says James Tyrie. He heads design and product development aspects for the company, while brother James is in charge of sales and financial operations. Making products using stainless-steel and aluminum components, as well as powder-coating capabilities for the metals, required significant changes in the Indonesian plant. Different technologies had to be mastered and personnel had to be trained. “We started with stainless steel, and that went well,” Tyrie says. When the company decided to add aluminum to the mix, “There were a few small technical differences, but metal is metal, so it wasn’t a huge leap to get from one to the other.” The decision to offer ceramic tabletops required building additional expertise. Barlow Tyrie uses slabs of ceramic material from Italy that is cut at the Indonesian plant. The company developed the ceramic top option to reduce the amount of expensive teak in tables, Tyrie said. This option also reduces the weight of a table significantly, an important factor in shipping and positioning larger tables.

Layout Collection of modular deep seating.

“The ceramics have the best of both worlds,” Tyrie says. “They have a lightness; they’re easy to clean; and they look good.” The company’s Indonesian plant employs around 250 people. Another 30 or so work in the Braintree facility. The company’s New Jersey offices, where Hessler is executive vice president, employ about 10 people. The New Jersey office serves both the United States and Canada. North America accounts for about 50% of Barlow Tyrie’s sales, Tyrie says. About 35% of sales are generated in Great Britain. Most of the remaining 15% of sales are to customers in Europe, although the company does have customers in Brazil, Australia, and around the world. Going Forward A retirement ceremony late last year in Braintree once again reminded the Tyrie brothers of the special responsibilities

A bronze Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill on a Barlow Tyrie bench. Not visible in the photo is that Roosevelt has a cigarette in his left hand, while Churchill has a cigar in his.

48 | MAY 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

and rewards of maintaining a family-run business, especially one that has reached the century mark. It was around Christmas when Nigel Sadler retired just short of 50 years of service. Sadler joined Barlow Tyrie as an assembler “and worked his way up from there,” Mark Tyrie says. He finished his career as group production manager, where he had “everything to do with production and running a factory.” During Sadler’s half-century at Barlow Tyrie, the company endured the challenges of restricted supplies of raw materials, setting up operations in Indonesia, expanding from teak into other materials, and weathering the whims of fashion and changing tastes in outdoor living. Sadler’s long service reminded Tyrie that employer-employee relationships that last for decades involve mutual responsibility, especially within smaller firms. The relationship becomes, Tyrie says, a lifestyle. “When things are good,” he says, “that’s great.” But company leaders must be prepared to navigate the inevitable downturns. “If you want to make it last,” he says, “you’ve got to be able to ride the rough as well. We’ve been very fortunate that we’re still going.” The century mark, Tyrie says, “is such a milestone for any company. To still be a small, family-owned business, to be going after a hundred years, is incredible, but daunting at the same time.” Luckily, Tyrie says, the responsibilities of managing the company also provide great satisfaction. “We enjoy it,” he says. The brothers look forward to piloting Barlow Tyrie into its next hundred years.


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European Home Sleek Miami, shown in Reef Blue, has doors and drawer fronts crafted from durable high-density polyethylene. Doors come in a range of solid colors and woodgrain inspired designs. Cabinet boxes are built to order from AllWeatherboard, a waterproof composite material with stainless-steel hardware.

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Pacific Energy Fireplace Products

The FP25 LE zero clearance, wood burning fireplace is catalytic-free. The firebox is 2.5 cu. ft. with variable air control and 1.4g/hr emissions. Phone: (250) 748-1184 Website: www.pacificenergy.net

Napoleon

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Mendota

With optional LED lighting, the ML54 gas fireplace brings warmth and style to large spaces. A Power Vent option allows for venting above or below grade. Fire base options include a rugged, yet refined, Timberline Series. Handcrafted log designs range from white oak to birch to driftwood. Phone: (800) 553-5422 Website: www.mendotahearth.com

Glen Dimplex Americas

Pairing elegant design with powerful performance, the N65 is a high efficiency wood stove. Constructed with a steel baffle, as well as a steel brick retainer and firebrick lining to improve thermal mass, the stove is sleek and modern. The stove is certified for EPA’s 2020 New Source Performance Standards, and heats up to 2,152 sq. ft. with up to eight hours of burn time. Phone: (800) 668-6663 Website: www.dimplex.com

C.R. Plastic Products

The Tofino Deep Seating Collection is simple, sleek and modern. Offering multiple modular configurations, the pieces fit in a variety of outdoor settings and come in five premium recycled plastic frames and a choice of 30 Sunbrella fabrics. Phone: (800) 490-1283 Website: www.crpproducts.com

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| New Products |

Charnwood

Charnwood, a British company, is launching the Skye E700 first in the North American market. Using patented I-Blu technology, it continuously monitors the state of the fire and electronically minimizes emissions and optimizes efficiency. It meets all EPA requirements and has a certified maximum output of 84%. Phone: +44 1983 537770 Website: www.charnwood.com

Modern Flames

The Spectrum Series Flush Mount Electric Fireplace has 12 flame color combinations projected onto a gray back screen. The multicolor glacier crystal glass enhances the ember bed. The series comes in a choice of three models: a 36-inch traditional box and a 50- or 74-inch linear box. The series also features a thermostat, touch control and remote.

Real Flame

The Aegean Collection is made from steel in a Mist Gray and Weathered Slate finishes. Square or rectangular shapes include burner lid, leveling feet, push button ignition and conversion kit.

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DO TRY THIS

AT HOME! Ideas to sell more grills, accessories, and outdoor kitchens (whether stores are open or closed). By Lisa Readie Mayer

I

t’s May as you are reading this, but April as we are writing, so we can’t predict the scenario in which we currently find ourselves. Best case, the coronavirus pandemic is easing and the nation is finally starting to emerge from the stay-at-home restrictions necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus. Worst case, we find ourselves in the unfortunate situation where our collective quarantine needs to be extended, and the impact on our physical and economic wellbeing is deepening. Either way, we can be pretty sure that social distancing and home-quarantining has created pent-up demand for socializing and entertaining friends and family. But even after stay-at-home restrictions are lifted or eased, it is likely many people have canceled summer vacations and will continue to be hesitant about traveling, mingling in crowds at concerts, movies, theater, and public events, and possibly even dining at restaurants. Some experts suggest there may

even be an emergence of the “cocooning” phenomenon that occurred after September 11. As a result, people will be searching for ways to enjoy life at home. While barbecue retailers will want to take care not to appear tone-deaf or opportunistic, it’s an ideal time to remind consumers that outdoor kitchens, fire pits, patio heaters, pizza ovens, and comfortable outdoor furnishings can help create a fun and inviting outdoor-living space for families, and a private oasis for entertaining friends and neighbors. The challenge is, how to connect customers with the products and services that fill this need if stores are shuttered. Indeed, it has been and will continue to be a tough time for small businesses everywhere, and the need to grow sales and generate revenue has never been greater. These difficult months have proven the need for flexibility, creativity, and unconventional approaches in selling and marketing barbecue grills, accessories, outdoor kitchens, and Outdoor Room products. Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience

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| Marketing |

We have compiled some innovative strategies and ideas, culled from retailers in all types of businesses, that might help. Please let us know about any others you have tried that could be helpful to fellow retailers around the country. We are all in this together.

May is National Barbecue Month Celebrations are in order – this year more than ever – for the kick-off to prime grilling season. Whether backyard barbecues can be blowouts with all the neighbors, as usual, or restricted to only household family members at this time, cooking outdoors provides tasty food, gets people outdoors, and is lots of fun. Continue the momentum of PK Grills’ #StayInGrillOut coronavirus campaign by encouraging your customers to post pictures and tag your store showing how they are celebrating National Barbecue Month. Post a daily recipe, grilling tip, special sale, or customer spotlight every day this month on your social media pages and through direct emails to customers. Kicking off grilling season in a big way now should help drive interest the rest of the year.

Quick Turnkey Turnarounds Because consumers will be eager to salvage their summer, they will want an entertaining-ready Outdoor Room NOW. It’s a good opportunity for retailers to stock and promote products that can provide fast solutions with quick turnaround times and easy installation, such as modular outdoor kitchen systems, ready-to-assemble islands, self-contained bar and beverage stations, fully assembled, readyto-go pizza ovens, and fully assembled fire pit grills, among others. Convey through marketing messages that consumers can be enjoying these products on their patio by next weekend, in two weeks, or whatever the delivery timeframe is.”

Email is Essential Anecdotal observations from the coronavirus crisis suggest that the small businesses and restaurants fairing best are the ones reaching out to their existing customer base through social media and customer email lists. Smart business owners are using these tools to communicate regularly about the availability

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of video-conference sales appointments, how to place phone and online orders, curbside pick-up, and contactless delivery opportunities, how they are taking precautions during service calls, special promotions, and more. If you have not put much effort behind growing your customer email list and gaining followers on social media, now is the time. Have a book at the check-out counter so customers can sign-up for emails; have salespeople ask every customer during check-out if they are on the email list; include instructions on store business cards, store receipts, and other handouts for email signups and for following Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts.

Websites Work Websites are another essential tool for small businesses. Studies show nearly 90% of consumers visit store websites when researching products and services. However, a survey by Visual Objects reveals 29% of small businesses did not have a website, and nearly 30% indicate their website is the marketing channel that needs the most work. If this rings true for your store, it’s imperative to update and improve your website with current product information, project photo galleries, video showroom tours, recipes, instructional grilling videos, positive customer testimonials, as well as store hours, contact details and other basics. Because more and more consumers research on their mobile phone, it’s critical your website be mobile-optimized. If you or someone on your staff does not have the skills to tackle this, hire someone who does – TODAY. Every day you do not, you are losing customers and sales.

Creative Selling Solutions If shut-downs of non-essential businesses remain in place, retailers will need to think outside the box to hold sales and design consultations with customers. Do current rules in your community allow private appointments in-store or in-home, while practicing proper social distancing and sanitation of course? If not, maybe you can hold FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom appointments online?


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| Marketing | Or perhaps you can exchange photos and videos – for example, the customer provides a photo or video of their patio and fills out a quote request with measurements and other pertinent information, and the retailer returns a computer rendering of an Outdoor Room design, with links to grills, appliances, built-in components, outdoor hearth products, furniture, fabrics, and everything else specified in the design. While it may not result in a sale at that moment, it can at least advance the design and decision process until the deal can be finalized in person.

Click-and-Collect Use of Click-and-Collect services – where you order online and pick up in-store or at curbside – were growing even before the COVID-19 pandemic made the practice a necessity for many. About 15% of consumers used Click-and-Collect in 2018, up 67% from the year prior, according to eMarketer Retail. Surely that number has risen even more dramatically this year. In fact, The New York Times reports that today’s successful retailers are increasingly becoming a hybrid between “a fastfood drive-through and a hotel concierge, with services such as curbside pickup for mobile orders – and personal shoppers.” While many barbecue, hearth, and patio products are not click-and-collect-friendly, there are still ways specialty retailers can lean into this trend. Charcoal, cooking-wood pellets, wood chips and chunks, LP gas tanks, sauces, seasonings, cookbooks, and other accessories are all possibilities for in-store or curbside pickup, or even contactless doorstep delivery, if coronavirus shut-downs linger. Create a portal on your website for online orders, or designate a dedicated email address for customers to place orders and have a staff member call back to take credit card payment over the phone and arrange pickup or delivery times.

Project Cooking The Wall Street Journal reports sales of yeast were up 647% in the week ending March 21, and flour was in short supply on grocery shelves, as many Americans tried their hand at bread baking during the coronavirus lock-down. The New York Times labeled this trend “procrastibaking.” Indeed, people who are stuck in their homes with time on their hands are turning to all types of “project cooking,” and seeking comfort in preparing and savoring dishes they might not typically have time to make. Barbecue retailers can tap into this desire by creating product bundles around “project cooking” themes. Your customers might be interested in a “Smoking Starter Kit” complete with a smoker grill, charcoal, wood chips, rib racks, bottles of dry rub

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and sauce, and a smoking cookbook; or “Family Pizza Night” with a cash-and-carry pizza oven or pizza-stone grill-topper, peel, pizza pans, and cutter; or a “Campfire Cookout” with fire pit, grilling grid, long-handled marshmallow skewers, and a fireproof deck-protector mat. There are lots of other products – pellet grills, charcoal tray inserts for gas grills, flattop griddles, to name a few – that lend themselves to project cooking. Your customers will appreciate having everything they need in a one-stop-shopping package, and at a discounted price from what the total cost would be if they purchased the items separately. You could even offer free delivery on purchases of bundled products. Promote the packages on your website, through direct email, and on your social media platforms.

Online Classes Chef JJ Boston, owner of Chef JJ’s in Indianapolis, a hands-on culinary center offering grilling classes, corporate and private events, and team building focused on kamado cooking, transitioned to online classes during the stay-at-home requirements. He says online classes help him stay connected to customers, “while helping families connect over a home-cooked meal.” Topics included baking breads on the kamado, preserving meat, and smoking, among others. Viewers have the option to tip via Venmo. Online classes might be a good way to stay in touch with your customers, provide a fun distraction for them, and generate revenue in the process. Consider also offering online classes or workshops through Zoom about outdoor kitchens or Outdoor Rooms for designers, architects, contractors, and other specifiers.

Gift Cards Gift cards are good business for many reasons, not the least of which, according to research from Giftcards.com, is that 29% of cards are never redeemed (that’s free money in your pocket). In addition, 59% of gift card recipients say they spend more than the card’s value, typically 20% more, according to Giftcards. com. Gift cards also are an effective way to gain new customers; 90% of people who received a gift card to a small business they’ve never shopped at, say it has propelled them to visit that business. Gift card purchases grew 7% between 2018 and 2019, with birthdays and Christmas holidays the most popular occasions for gift-card giving. In fact, for the past 12 years, gift cards were the most-requested holiday gift, appearing on 59% of consumer wish lists. If you don’t offer gift cards, it’s a good idea to start. According to Giftcards.com, 75% of consumers prefer to give and receive plastic gift cards (as opposed to paper certificates or digital gift cards), so your gift card program should include physical cards. Check with your current credit card processors or bank regarding


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| Marketing | their programs, as well as third-party vendors, such as Duracard Plastic Cards and eCard Systems, that create and supply custom gift card programs for small retailers. Be sure to promote gift cards in all marketing communications, and create signage and displays in-store to drive purchases. Always give store gift cards rather than physical product for charitable donations. Likewise, use gift cards rather than product giveaways to incentivize grill purchases. A bonus grill cover or tool set will walk out the door with the customer, but a gift card is more likely to bring them in for a return visit, during which they’ll probably spend more than the value of the card. For the same reasons, use gift cards as rewards for loyalty programs. Some retailers also find it effective to run holiday promotions offering gift-card buyers a $20 bonus card for themselves with every $100 gift card purchased.

On Impulse CNBC reports the average U.S. consumer spends $5,400 annually on impulse purchases. The study reveals 90% of people make occasional impulse purchases, and 75% feel happy after making those purchases. It’s a compelling argument for beefing up displays to trigger more impulse buying in your store. Create an impulse-oriented display near the checkout counter with cool accessory products, new tools, high-tech gadgets, digital thermometers, cookbooks, sauces, rubs, and other eye-catching, grab-and-go products that customers never knew they needed!

The Power of Pinterest According to the online platform Pinterest, its users, called “Pinners,” spend about 10% more on summer entertaining than non-Pinners. The July 4th holiday is the apex of summer-entertaining-related searches on the site, with 68% of Pinners saying they plan a barbecue or grilled meal to celebrate Independence Day, versus 54% of non-Pinners. Searches for “patio parties” were also up 123% year-over-year on the site. Sixty-seven percent of Pinners indicate brand content on the platform provides inspiration for entertaining, decorating, cooking, and home and patio design. Retailers report that inquiries about particular hearth and Outdoor Room products rise after consumers see them on Pinterest. Check out Pinterest regularly to see what’s trending on the site. Refer to Pinterest trends on your social media platforms, letting consumers know you can help them achieve these looks in their own homes. In addition, you can search Pinterest for topics such as “barbecue recipes,” “cookout side dishes,” “outdoor lighting,” “fire pits,” “Outdoor Rooms,” “electric fireplaces,” or

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“modern fireplaces,” to inspire ideas for cooking classes, customer workshops, and seminars for designers, contractors and architects. Pinterest is also a valuable resource for creative ideas for in-store merchandising, displays, and signage.

Work with Influencers For the past year or so, Coyote Outdoor Living has been working with influencer Farah Merhi as a brand ambassador. Merhi started a blog and Instagram page, “Inspire Me! Home Décor,” in 2012 and it has since grown to 5.8 million followers, the most of any home-décor page on the platform. As an ambassador influencer for Coyote Outdoor Living, she occasionally posts about the company’s grills and outdoor kitchen products on her blog and social media. A recent post about Coyote’s new Pellet Grill Island – an outdoor kitchen island with the company’s new built-in pellet grill, that’s shipped in flat finished panels, and easily assembled in under four hours – racked up nearly 10,000 likes and lots of positive feedback. Influencers are great to have as allies because their third-party, independent endorsements carry a lot of weight among their followers and drive people into stores. Every city has local influencers who blog or post on social media about food and cooking, design, home and garden, lifestyle, or cultural happenings in their area. They might be local newspaper food editors, restaurant chefs, interior designers, or just regular people who love to cook, and who have amassed a large following on Instagram or for their blog. Find out who the key influencers and bloggers are in your area covering the topics your customers are interested in, whether it be cooking, grilling, live-fire cooking, women grillers, local farms, and farmers markets, home décor, outdoor living, competition barbecue, or a host of other topics. Start following them, commenting on their posts, and reposting their posts on your social pages to build relationships with them. Look also among your store’s current social media followers for potential influencers and ambassadors, as did distributor John McAdams of Northwinds Marketing, Big Green Egg Canada. “We identified a group of customers who always opened our emails, tagged our retail store in their posts about the food they were cooking, and often reposted the store’s content,” he explains. “We recruited them as ‘Eggbassadors’ influencers and salespeople,” he says.

Merch as Marketing Branded logo items and wearable merchandise are walking billboards for your store. Weber, Big Green Egg, PK Grills, Traeger and other companies all have mastered this strategy, offering everything from T-shirts, ball caps, insulated tumblers, and more with their distinctive look and logos. Independent retailers can do this, too.


Consider creating a line of cool, high-quality, vintage-looking T-shirts, hats, aprons, socks, stainless-steel coffee cups, beer koozies, window clings, stickers, reusable bags, or other branded products and offer them to customers at inexpensive prices – even at cost – so they’ll be encouraged to buy on impulse. Rook, a small coffee-roasting company with several retail coffeehouses in central New Jersey, has a distinctive logo featuring the silhouette of a black crow. The image doesn’t even include the name of the business, yet it has become an instantly identifiable and sought-after status icon that’s seen all over the area on car bumpers, laptop cases, T-shirts, hats, reusable grocery tote bags, and more. Custom merchandise is a great way to grow your brand awareness, build a lifestyle image, and create a sense of cache for your store. Consider creating a line of cool, high-quality, vintage-looking T-shirts, hats, aprons, socks, stainless-steel coffee cups, beer koozies, window clings, stickers, reusable bags, or other branded products and offer them to customers at inexpensive prices – even at cost – so they’ll be encouraged to buy on impulse. You could also offer such items as giveaways with purchase, contest prizes, or free to anyone taking a cooking class. The more people that see your brand out and about, the better.

Incredible Edible Edible Communities is a network of 90 independently-owned, consumer food magazines and podcasts across the U.S. and Canada, with content focused on local farmers, growers, food artisans, chefs, fishers, vintners, distillers, and other food and beverage businesses in that community. The group also sponsors, promotes, and connects consumers to food-oriented events, tastings, workshops, classes, and other happenings, helps to preserve food traditions, techniques and recipes, and encourages home gardening, food preservation and more. Get involved with the local Edible organization to connect with like-minded food enthusiasts in your area. Offer your expertise on barbecuing, grilling, or live-fire cooking as a source for written stories or podcast interviews. Host exclusive grilling classes for Edible members, and hold information sessions on how these foodies can incorporate outdoor kitchens, pizza ovens, and/or fire pits on their patios. To learn more visit www.ediblecommunities.com

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| Manufacturing |

NØRWEGIAN RØØTS Thanks to Eva Horton and Bret Watson, Jøtul North America is in its fifth decade in North America; it has 100 employees and 1,100 dealers (and, yes, wood is still important!). By Bill Sendelback

T

he year was 1970, during the (very) early heyday of wood stoves. A young mother in Maine decided she wanted an airtight, cast-iron wood stove from her native Norway to replace her short-burning, sheet-metal wood stove, typical of wood stoves then being made in North America. A year after receiving her new stove, Eva Horton convinced Jøtul in Norway to allow her exclusive rights to import Jøtul wood stoves into the U.S. By 1980, Horton’s U.S. sales of Jøtul wood stoves topped 27,000 units and $15 million. Also in 1980, in a move that proved to be well timed, Horton sold back to Jøtul AS her rights to import and sell Jøtul stoves in the U.S. By 1991, Jøtul’s U.S. sales had plummeted to 1,500 units as the company floundered trying to meet new U.S. emissions regulations, and struggled against a rapidly growing gas hearth products market. With no clean-burn legislation, knowledge, or technology in Europe to fall back on, Jøtul USA had to play catch-up by hiring industry veterans from its competitors for clean-burn engineering. At the same time, the gas market took off, and Jøtul realized it also had no knowledge of gas hearth products. In the mid 1990s, Jøtul met with its manufacturers’ representatives and asked them, “Is this market worth our efforts?” The reply from the reps was, “Yes, but

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we must get into gas products.” By 1998 the company contracted with Superior Fireplace for its B-vent and direct-vent gas engines, and with Monessen Hearth Systems for its vent-free gas engine. The early results were Jøtul’s first gas stoves based on the #3 cast-iron wood stove, including two vented models and one vent-free model. Move the calendar ahead to 2008, just before the hearth products industry cratered, and the now renamed Jøtul North America saw its sales rise dramatically, peaking that year at $30 million. Today, with the year 2019 now in the rearview mirror, Jøtul has more than 100 employees headquartered in a 125,000 sq. ft. factory in Gorham, Maine, and it has just completed one of its best sales and profit years. Jøtul North America now accounts for approximately 20% of its Norwegian parent company Jøtul Group’s total revenues. Looking back to 2017, wood-burners were 70% of Jøtul North America’s sales with gas totaling 30%. That mix recently has changed due to the EPA’s 2020 NSPS deadline, with wood-burners now accounting for 46% of the company’s sales, says Bret Watson, Jøtul North America president. Eva Horton.


A. B.

C. D.

A. Jøtul F 370; B. Jøtul GF 300 DV IPI ALLAGASH; C. Jøtul GF 305; D. Jøtul F 602 V2.

Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience

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| Manufacturing | In 1998, Bret Watson was the 13th employee of Jøtul North America; then 32 years old, he was named Jøtul North America president after a five-year stint as National Sales manager of a competitive manufacturer of soapstone wood stoves. “A big customer of mine, Roy L’Esperance, owner of The Chimney Sweep Fireplace Shop in Shelburne, Vermont, told me, ‘You have a great opportunity with Jøtul, so go for it.’ So I did. When I started at Jøtul in 1998, our sales were $8 million. Eighteen months later we were at $21 million. Much of the credit for this success goes to Norway for letting us hire some very capable industry R&D veterans, and Red House Design.

North American team also could train Jøtul engineers in Norway on U.S. cleanburn regulations for wood-burners, and on developing the larger fireboxes needed for the North American market rather than the much smaller, and typical, European fireboxes. “After hiring six key R&D people, by 1999 we had a crackerjack research and development team,” Watson says. Along with the new R&D team, Jøtul North America hired Vance Smith and Al Wilker of Red House Design. “We worked our butts off to put together a package of new wood and gas models for the 1999 HPBExpo in Phoenix,” says Watson. “My earliest memory of coming to Jøtul was watching dealers’ jaws drop upon seeing

“In the past two years, Jøtul North America has increased by 20% the number of stoves it produces each day, while reducing injuries, lot sizes, and automatically improving on-time delivery to 96%+.” — Bret Watson.

Bret Watson.

“My business plan for Jøtul was to put together a product development team and a game plan to address the North American market needs while still sourcing from our world-class foundry in Norway.” Watson knew that Jøtul could quickly get into gas products and avoid outsourcing, but this

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the number of our new products at that show. We had changed the way Jøtul did business in the North American market. “Then the wheels came off for us operationally. We were now very strong in product development, and good at developing dealer programs, but we didn’t know a lick about manufacturing. Sales had taken off, and now we had to quickly learn to be a manufacturer.” Jøtul North America’s agreement with the Jøtul Group was that the division was free to manufacture gas stoves in Gorham, but wood stoves were to continue to be made in Norway. “In post Y2K, the freestanding gas stove market was huge,” according to Watson, “so we quickly ramped up our production of gas

models and worked to gain control of our manufacturing costs and efficiencies.” Watson and his core team in 2001 became students of lean manufacturing and the just-intime systems that would result in more efficient and profitable manufacturing. As a member of the board of an advanced lean manufacturing consulting group, Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership, Watson in 2016 was put in touch with Toyota, an international manufacturing giant long known for its ground-breaking manufacturing techniques and systems. In 1995, Toyota created a not-for-profit division called Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC) featuring some of Toyota’s best manufacturing minds in an effort to share its manufacturing prowess. “You don’t just join TSSC. You first must qualify,” says Watson. “We pay for the training and services, which includes having a Toyota manufacturing coach in our factory for three full days a month. “To qualify, Toyota wants a company culture that seeks continual improvement, and a CEO who is very much hands-on involved, and is eager to learn and put the principles into practice rather than simply delegating the responsibilities. The number one factor of TSSC thinking is how good your organization is at problem solving, short-term and long-term, and being able to solve problems so you never have to revisit those issues.” Jøtul North America today is a few months away from becoming a Toyota showcase company, “a prestigious distinction,” says Watson. The results have been impressive. In the past two years, Jøtul North America has increased by 20% the number of stoves it produces each day, while reducing injuries, lot sizes, and automatically improving on-time delivery to 96% plus. “Smaller batch sizes, smaller lot sizes, and reduced changeover times now allow us to build eight different models a day rather than four. These were much-needed improvements since our order flow and shipments have gone up almost 25%,” Watson adds. He also is seeing improvements in the quality of the company’s products. “On an average production line, an operator may have 14 models to build, but that person

PHOTOS: ©2020 MARK ROCKWOOD PHOTOGRAPHY. WWW.MARKROCKWOODPHOTOGRAPHY.COM.


may assemble certain models only once every three weeks, as an example. But now, with our smaller lot sizes, that same employee may see every model twice a week. As the employee’s familiarity increases with all models, his quality improves.” Watson, however, does point out that with the current labor shortage in the U.S., all manufacturers are now facing the challenge of finding qualified entry-level people. “We have a great plan in place with a local training institute for entry-level manufacturing technicians who learn the basics of manufacturing. “We’ve never built to a sales forecast,” Watson says. “We build to order 10 out of 12 months a year because we pre-book on early-buy orders 35% to 40% of our annual business. We build inventory only in July and August. Our supply chain is organized for ‘just-in-time’ deliveries based on a ‘min-max’ or ‘Kan Ban’ system. These all are principles and practices we began in 2001 and refined them as a result of our involvement with the TSSC.” The Jøtul Group has recognized the improvements and results in Jøtul North America’s operation, and finally, in 2016, it shifted its assembly of North American wood-burners to Gorham, Maine, doubling production at the division. In the spring of 2019, the Jøtul Group’s machining jobs were transferred to Jøtul North America. Currently, stove castings are flat-packed and shipped in containers to

Jøtul North America via Norway. “We annually bring in 125 containers of castings for which we do all the drilling, tapping, machining, and assembling,” Watson says. “Then 83% of our production goes to our U.S. dealers, 15% to Canada, and the remaining 2% goes to export customers.” Jøtul North America uses four factory salespeople and one independent manufacturers’ representative to sell 65% of its products dealer-direct to approximately 1,100 specialty hearth dealers in the U.S. and Canada. For 30% of its sales, the company uses two-step distributors, and Jøtul maintains a bonded warehouse near Reno, Nevada. “Jøtul has strong competitive advantages in part because it’s a very well-known brand,” maintains Watson. “It’s the oldest cast-iron brand in the U.S., beginning with

Eva Horton even before Vermont Castings was born. We have been the dominant cast-iron wood and gas stove supplier in North America. We now have 65% to 70% of today’s modern-styled, cast-iron gas stove market.”

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| Manufacturing |

“Jøtul Fusion Technology is a game-changer in terms of the everimportant ‘first hour’ emissions profile during testing. That nuisance wood-stove smoke from your neighbor’s chimney on startup is no longer an issue.” — Bret Watson.

Currently, Jøtul has put emphasis on becoming EPA NSPS 2020 compliant, as well as expanding its gas stove and insert line; in the past two years the company has introduced two new modern-styled gas stoves and four new gas inserts with optional fronts in either cast iron or steel. Wood-burners are still important, yet the company’s emphasis on the gas market raises questions for Watson. “There were roughly 145,000 wood stoves and inserts sold in the U.S. in 2018. I predict that, after 2020, that market could be down 25% to 33%, to 100,000 units or so. Wood is still important to Jøtul, yet it’s clear that gas is growing in the hearth product industry as the population ages and natural gas pipelines and distribution proliferate throughout North America. “However, we’re committed to woodburning. We are patenting our new Jøtul Fusion Technology, combining tubetype secondary burn technology with a downstream catalytic combustor to meet the 2020 standards. We’ll have about six new 2020 wood-burning fireboxes ready to go before May 15, 2020.” Watson points out that manufacturers must make certain that their new 2020 models are “dealer friendly and user friendly, and that dealers can trust the performance of the stove in the field. We don’t want to make stoves that perform perfectly in the lab but don’t work in the field,” he says.

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L to R: The Jøtul F 55 V2 Carrabassatt and Jøtul F 500 V3 Oslo.

Watson is concerned about increasing regulations putting a lot of pressure on smaller manufacturers that may have less capital. “I am proud of the sales, manufacturing efficiencies, and operating profits that Jøtul North America has enjoyed. We have plenty of capital to rebuild our range of wood-burners, and the Jøtul Fusion Technology is a gamechanger in terms of the ever-important ‘first hour’ emissions profile during testing. That nuisance wood-stove smoke from your neighbor’s chimney on startup is no longer an issue. We’ve done something that has never been done before with our patent-pending wood-stove technology.” The Jøtul Group, parent company of Jøtul North America, was acquired in March, 2018, by OpenGate Capital, a global private-equity firm headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with its European office in Paris, France. “This has given us terrific new leadership in Norway with Nils Agnar Brunborg now as CEO of the Jøtul Group,” says Watson. “As a turnaround specialist, he

has recognized and validated our best practices in operations and profits. He has dramatically downsized the organization in Norway, and has sent more jobs our way.” In November, 2018, OpenGate acquired AICO, a large Italian manufacturer of hearth products including the Ravelli brand of pellet stoves being marketed in North America. AICO has been added to the Jøtul Group. “The North American distribution of the Ravelli and Jøtul brands have very little overlap,” says Watson. “Ravelli will continue to be marketed separately from Jøtul through two-step distribution in the U.S. and Canada.” OpenGate Capital and Jøtul are not through making acquisitions to expand the offerings of Jøtul. The Jøtul Group also is looking at North American fireplace manufacturers for possible acquisition. “With our aggressive new owner, I think this will open up new opportunities for Jøtul North America to make strategic new acquisitions in the coming year or two,” said Watson.


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| The Pellet Industry |

THE PELLET INDUSTRY Plenty of stoves, plenty of pellets, and that’s the problem. By Bill Sendelback

T

here are some products in the hearth industry that consistently sell well, or at least they sell at a respectable level, year in and year out. Pellet stoves don’t fall into that category. Pellet stoves need a push, an outside influence, to get started. Pellet stoves need either high heating fuel prices as a stimulus, or cold winter days and nights. In 2019/2020, heating fuel was priced lower than we’ve seen for some time, and the days and nights were comparatively mild. In 2020, we can add other factors contributing negatively to the sale of pellet appliances – confusion, retail closures,

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and the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus COVID-19. Fortunately, there are more than a million and a half pellet stoves being used in North America; those products will need fuel. Add to that a rapidly growing demand for grilling pellets, and pellet mills should have plenty of demand for their products this year. Pellet stove and fireplace insert 2019 shipments from manufacturers dropped 16% to 60,805 units in North America, according to the HPBA’s latest shipment report. That total includes a 13% decline in the U.S. to 56,970 units and a whopping 39% drop in Canada to 3,835 units. While certainly better than the

20-year low in 2002 of 34,127 units in North America, the 2019 total is down 56% from the industry’s 20-year high in 2005 of 138,456 units. Pellet appliance sales appear to be continuing on a roller coaster ride. Since pellet appliances are sold more for heating than for the aesthetics of a fire, the price of heating fuels has a major affect on the sale of pellet stoves. For 2020, the average price for heating oil is expected to be $2.63 per gallon, down Harman Accentra 52i from Hearth & Home Technologies.


Good news for pellet stove sales is that a $300 federal tax credit is now available on the sale of EPA-certified wood and pellet appliances with a minimum overall efficiency of 75%.

from $3.00 in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2020. LP prices are forecast to be $1.91 per gallon, down from $2.40 last year. Natural gas prices are expected to average $10.24 per MMcF, down from $10.56 in 2019. Prices of electricity are predicted to average 13.05¢ per kWh, up slightly from 13.02¢ in 2019. Weather is another major driver for the sales of both pellet stoves and pellet fuel. The colder and longer the winter, the better for sales of stoves and fuel. But again, weather this year is not forecast to be friendly to pellet stove and pellet fuel sales. “The winter months of 2020 could be a mirror of 2019 with similar weather patterns,” according to Drew Lerner, founder, president, and senior agricultural meteorologist for Weather World. “We’re going to have a cool, long winter.” “We don’t have a trueEl Niño (unusually warm ocean temperatures in Equatorial

Pacific) or La El Niña (unusually cold ocean temperatures) happening,” according to Eric Snodgrass, principal atmospheric scientist for Nutrien Ag Solutions. “The warmer-than-normal water in the northeast Pacific will likely control weather patterns overall, leading to cold air dropping southward into the U.S. more often than not.” Nobody is really sticking their necks out about forecasting weather this year, particularly into the winter months. The Old Farmer’s Almanac comes closest, but still leaves winter out. It forecasts cooler fall weather in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and the Pacific Southwest with near-normal temperatures elsewhere. As Eric Snodgrass summed up 2020 long range weather forecasts, “We are playing our cards close to the chest because nothing is very dominant.” Good news for pellet stove sales is that a $300 federal tax credit is now available on the sale of EPA-certified wood and

pellet appliances with a minimum overall efficiency of 75%. This Biomass Tax Credit expires on Jan. 1, 2021, but efforts are underway to increase the amount of the tax credit and to extend the expiration date. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a March 11, 2020, announcement on the final NSPS unfortunately did uphold its denial of additional sell-through time for non-2020 Step 1 wood and pellet stoves. Dealers have until May 15, 2020, to sell or give away non-2020 certified wood and pellet burners. Acadia Hearth/Breckwell has no complaints about its pellet stove sales last year, up 25%, according to Shawn Henson, general manager and vice president of Sales and Marketing. “It was a wonderful year for us, and we’re ready for the 2020 season with 13 2020-certified models. Our stoves already met the 2020 standards, so all we had to do was resubmit them to be listed to the new standard.” Included in Acadia Hearth/Breckwell’s lineup is the company’s Traverse pellet stove that needs no electric power yet listed at 0.41 gph of emissions. The company has no new pellet models for 2020. Henson sees a trend toward more European styling, so Breckwell products that have tended to be more traditional, have been updated to the cleaner, more “sleek” styling of European models. Mirrored glass is now in the doors to hide the burn pot when the stove is not being burned. Sales of the Harman brand of pellet stoves from Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT) were “solid” for 2019, even with 2018, says Karen Harman-Smeltz, Harman Brand director. Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience

69


| The Pellet Industry | “For the past three years, the Harman brand has been focused solely on pellet products. In our customer research, we know that the majority of Harman pellet stove owners burn their stoves all day, every day, during the winter months, so we’ve made convenience and low maintenance keys to our products.” With all Harman pellet products 2020-certified and now being shipped, HHT is ramping up its marketing program to promote the $300 U.S. tax credit for wood and pellet burners, hoping that this incentive and a cold fall and winter will stimulate sales this year. Harman’s recent models have featured clean styling, and these more transitional models are selling “impressively,” says Smeltz. But the brand’s very traditional XXV-TC model is a top seller. “This certainly hints that traditional styling really is timeless in hearth products,” she says. However, sales of the one modern pellet stove in the Harman line, the Allure 50, have “exceeded our expectations.”

Traverse from Acadia Hearth/Breckwell.

70 | MAY 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

The IronStrike Winslow Pellet Stove from Innovative Hearth Products.

Last year Porcelain Dark Blue and Porcelain Black finishes were replaced in the Harman line with Porcelain Twilight, a “slightly more durable, semi-gloss blue/black porcelain color that has proved a winner with consumers,” says Smeltz.

Preparing for the 2020 NSPS standards put “strains” on HHT’s engineering efforts, so the company has not introduced any new Harman pellet burners in a few years. “We are now working on a few new projects, but we’re not yet ready to reveal these,” says Smeltz.


Innovative Hearth Products (IHP) always has seen big annual swings in its sales of pellet burners, according to Michael Lewis, vice president of Marketing, “but our pellet stove sales for 2019 were stable with no big ups or downs.” Even though Lewis sees many consumers moving away from wood burners to pellet models, IHP last year focused its 2020 NSPS certification efforts on its wood stoves. With no new pellet burners for this year, IHP offers a pellet freestanding stove and a pellet fireplace insert, both 2020-listed, “tried and true sellers,” says Lewis. Tim Portz. Sales of its pellet burners have been “pretty steady, not fluctuating more than 10% over the past few years,” says Cory Iversen, North American Sales manager for Pacific Energy Fireplace Products. “We recognize that pellet stove sales always have had ups and downs. It’s a small part of our business, but we’re ready to address any sales surge in that market.” Pacific Energy offers a freestanding pellet stove, its TN40, and a pellet fireplace insert, the TN40 Insert, in its economy-priced True North brand. “These are reliable, entry level, base models featuring simple, basic technology and low maintenance,” Iversen explains. Regency Fireplace Products saw “some sales growth” last year with its pellet stoves, says Glen Spinelli, president. “We offer a full range of pellet models, but we don’t see us as being a major player in the category. We don’t see this category growing, but we don’t see it declining, either. Our pellet business is stable.” Fortunately for Regency, the company filled its seven distribution centers throughout North America with its products before the coronavirus concerns grew, so the company is ready for the 2020 season. Sales last year of its pellet appliances were “quite good, up 10%” at Stove Builder International (SBI), according to Marc-Antoine Cantin, president. “But we expected that, with a fairly cold winter in the North.” However, Cantin has reduced his 2020 sales forecast because of the slowdown and concerns caused by the coronavirus.

“Discretionary spending is down, and even if new-home construction is continuing, pellet stoves usually are not part of that market. If heating fuel prices continue to decrease, that attacks pellet stove sales more than it does other hearth products.” Like most manufacturers, SBI last year concentrated “big time” on getting its woodburners 2020 ready, so other than having certified its pellet models to the 2020 standards, SBI is offering no new models. But one large SBI pellet model, its Drolet Eco-65, offering heat ducting into adjoining rooms, is a big seller, especially in Canada where this model is installed in basements. Pellet stoves are a “steady category” for Travis Industries, and 2019 was a “good sales year,” says Kip Rumens, vice president of Sales. “With the economy as strong as it was last year, we did well with our pellet stoves. We think 2020 will be a solid sales year, a good year for wood and pellet products. With the concerns about the coronavirus, we think consumers will be thinking about being more self-reliant. Some are looking to wood and pellets after hearing about possible and actual bans on natural gas.”

Pacific Energy’s TN40.

the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI), predicts that “by June, we’ll have 100,000 tons of pellets on the ground, ready to ship. Consumers this year will have pellets.” Last year was a record sales year for the pellet industry, says Portz, selling 2.3 million tons, totaling $380 million, up $100 million from 2016. “The industry exited the 2018 heating season with virtually no inventory on the ground. Production levels now are at an all-time high, which has allowed the industry to avoid shortages – so far.” The PFI estimates that the typical pellet stove now in use in North America consumes an average of three tons of pellets

“The amount of pellets going through the PFI Standards Program has increased significantly over the last two years, up 50% a year.” — Chris Wiberg Timber Products Inspection

Rumens points out that Travis’ preparation for 2020 will be critical to the company’s sales success this year. “We got our products 2020-certified well in advance, and we’ve been proactive with our non-2020 inventory and helping our dealers with their sell-through of non2020 models.” As a result of preparing for 2020, Travis, like most manufacturers, is offering no new pellet models this year. With very few shortages of pellet fuel last year, Tim Portz, executive director of

a year with a 2019 average retail price of $250 per ton or a cost of $19.05 per million Btus. Heating oil would have to be priced at $2.05 per gallon and LP at $1.36 per gallon to be competitive, says the PFI. This year, heating oil is expected to be priced at $2.63 per gallon and LP at $1.91 per gallon. The fastest growing segment of wood pellet sales is specially formulated pellets for grilling and smoking, says Portz. “This is the hottest market opportunity in the hearth, patio, and barbecue category.

www.hearthandhome.com | MAY 2020 | 71


| The Pellet Industry | the last two years, up 50% a year,” according to Chris Wiberg, Biomass Engineering Services manager at Timber Products Inspection. “Now even some mass merchants are requiring compliance with a ‘quality component’ such as the PFI standards.”

“Pellet grills are rapidly gaining ground, and the growth in sales of grilling pellets has really been a saving grace for our industry.” – Stephen Faehner American Wood Fibers

Lopi Deerfield Pellet Stove from Travis Industries.

This market has skyrocketed in the last decade.” Industry estimates of the annual amount of wood pellets produced and sold for grilling ranges from 100,000 tons to 200,000 tons, and most pellet producers now are manufacturing grilling pellets. Pellet grill and smoker manufacturers also see this category as a massive success. “Pellets are growing, gas is shrinking,” according to Luke Edgar, vice president of Traeger Pellet Grills. “In five to 10 years, pellets can overtake gas.” Jeff Thiessen, president of Dansons, agrees, saying, “We believe the pellet category will become bigger than gas.”

72 | MAY 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Big news for the pellet industry is that the March 11, 2020, EPA announcement of the final NSPS deleted the majority of its minimum pellet fuel requirements, deferring to the PFI’s existing quality standards program or similar third-party program. The PFI continues to work with the EPA to define and eliminate NSPS wording regarding prohibited raw materials allowed in pellets. The PFI’s Standards Program now includes 22 pellet producers totaling 35 manufacturing facilities. “The amount of pellets going through the PFI Standards Program has increased significantly over

Last year was an “okay” pellet sales year for American Wood Fibers, according to Stephen Faehner, CEO and president. “After coming off of several years where we maintained heavy inventories, the 2019 sales season was shorter with fewer heating degree days (HDD). That was coupled with the second or third warmest winter on record, and pellet consumption was down.” Faehner sees more pellet mills diversifying their markets to include pellets used in grilling and used as animal bedding. “Our industry probably sees at least a hundred thousand tons of pellets now being produced for grilling,” he says. Half of American Fibers’ pellet sales go for heating while the other half is split between grilling and animal bedding. “While there will be some corrections this year, the price of oil has fallen off the cliff, presenting a real challenge to the pellet market for heating fuel,” says Faehner. “Pellet grills are rapidly gaining ground, and the growth in sales of grilling pellets has really been a saving grace for our industry.” Faehner says the vast majority of grilling pellets are a blend of hardwoods, some for flavoring, called BBQ Blends.


Faehner also points out that the domestic market for hardwoods has fallen, causing a softening in the availability of raw materials for pellets and an increase in raw materials pricing. “That plus increases in freight costs of those raw materials and we see pressure on the market for pellet prices to go up 3% to 5% this season.” The last two winters “took a long time to end,” says Bruce Lisle, president of Energex America, and that cleared out excess pellet inventories, especially in the East. “But now, at the end of the first quarter 2020, things have slowed to a whimper. We stock up on raw materials when available, and we continue building pellet inventory until demand hits.” Lisle, too, points out that more pellet producers are shifting to grilling pellets, including Energex. He estimates that two million pellet grills now are in use, using an average of 200 lbs. of grilling pellets a year. “That totals 200,000 tons of pellets going for grilling, at least 10% of our industry’s sales and growing.”

There is plenty of pellet production available in the West. If consumers and dealers alike commit earlier, there should be no concern about availability.

— Rob Davis Forest Energy Corp.

As of Jan. 31, 2020, Energex was purchased by Lignetics as a separate division. At the February, 2020, International Biomass Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Lisle was given the Excellence in Biomass Award. Last year was a “good year” for pellet fuel sales for Forest Energy Corp., says Rob Davis, president, “but there was a scramble for pellets when one mill could not deliver. If we have a normal winter this year, we should see another good sales year. There is plenty of pellet production available in the West. If consumers and dealers alike commit

earlier, there should be no concern about availability. With raw materials and labor costs both up, pricing should be up a little.” Davis, too, recognizes the growth in grilling pellets, and Forest Energy also has entered that market. “The margins are slightly better for us, but a big advantage is that the sales season for grilling pellets is just the opposite of that for heating pellets, helping to level out our production and sales year.” As usual, it should be an interesting and hard to forecast year for pellet stoves and pellet fuel.

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www.hearthandhome.com | MAY 2020 | 73


VOLUME 25, NUMBER 3

Journal

A P u b l i c at i o n O f T h e H e a rt h , P at i o & B a r b e c u e A s s o c i at i o n

Barbecuing TOGETHER, Even When WE’RE Apart

M

ay is National Barbecue Month. For years, HPBA has used this month to encourage everyone to get outside and start grilling. This year, of course, things are different. We still think that everyone should get outside and grill, but the focus this year is on how to do that safely. In 2020, we aren’t going to encourage people to gather their friends and neighbors around the grill and celebrate the official start of summer and the outdoor cooking season. Originally, we planned to launch a new annual promotion this year – National Back to Barbecue Day. For the entire month of May, we were going to be encouraging consumers to visit retailers on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to buy that new grill or the newest accessory. Our aim was to launch an annual retail event that would serve as the “Black Friday” or “Small Business Saturday” for the barbecue and patio industries. With the current situation, we did not want to go with a “go out shopping” message at a time when consumers are encouraged to stay at home. Grilling inspires excitement, celebration, socializing. When we visit, we gather around the grill. No backyard party is complete without a grill. With social distancing, however, those parties are not a good idea, but the grill remains a great option. This year, we are still launching National Back to Barbecue Day on Saturday, May 23. It will be a little different from what we

74 | MAY 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

originally planned, but we are still going to encourage everyone to get outside and grill on Memorial Day weekend – and spend that Saturday getting your grill ready. Is it clean and free of cobwebs? Is your propane tank full? Do you have plenty of charcoal or pellets? Throughout May – National Barbecue Month – HPBA will help build anticipation and participation in Back to Barbecue Day by encouraging consumers to pledge to cook out on Back to Barbecue Day by entering to win a variety of prize packs offered by barbecue manufacturers. Grilling enthusiasts will help promote the call to participate. We’ll ask independent retailers – many dealing with temporary closures during the pandemic – to also share in encouraging people to take part, while also reminding customers to visit their showrooms once the pandemic ends. Back to Barbecue Day 2020 will be a national call for home cooks to celebrate the official beginning of grilling season with the largest virtual barbecue cookout by cooking in their back yards. Earlier this year, HPBA released the results of its biennial consumer survey on barbecue. Since the earliest days of the Charcoal Briquette Association in the ’60s, the Barbecue Industry Association in the ’90s, and now HPBA, the survey shows grill ownership stays somewhere between 60 and 70% of homeowners. The grills may change, but the love of grilling does not.


HPBA and COVID-19 Richard Hoffman, Chair, HPBA Trade associations are proving their worth to their members during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association is no exception. As the new Chairman, this is not how I expected my term to start. But we are all embracing this new reality. Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally the second most common day for homeowners to grill (56% will fire up their grills), only trailing July 4th (68%) in popularity. This year, let’s close that gap and get outside and cook. The most common reason people grill is for the flavor (68%), but we think more people should be grilling now for the sheer joy of being outside. We have no choice but to stay home, but we can also choose to be outside with our grills, enjoying that flavor, ambiance, and convenience. Times have changed. But our love for outdoor grilling has not. We are proud to unveil the first ever Back to Barbecue Day. Set for May 23, it’s for national grillers of all kind – from newbies to barbecue pit masters – to celebrate the official start of grilling season. Just because we can’t be together doesn’t mean we are apart. Our love for grilling unites us.

The HPBA webpage and emails are our best source of current information and suggested guidance. In addition, HPBA has held several timely webinars. I’ve dialed in to these webinars over the past few weeks and subscribed to their government update emails to get all the news. The webinars have covered the stimulus packages, outlined the various available loan options, and shared case studies. I hope that all of our retailer members have been able to learn from the HPBA experts. As a longtime retailer, recently retired, I am so pleased that HPBA has been able to provide important information to its members. In addition, HPBA constantly updates its COVID-19 webpage at www.hpba.org/coronavirus. Check it out for the most up-to-date information, links to the webinars, and much more. Like all of us, the HPBA team has been working from their homes to keep our industry supported with constant efforts in this challenging time. Together we will get through this, and HPBA is here to help all its members. I welcome your thoughts and communication. Please direct them to me via email to: dhoffman@hpba.org. My Best Wishes to Everyone

The HPBA Journal is intended to provide in-depth information to the hearth and outdoor products industries. Statements of fact and opinion are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the officers, board, staff or members of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association.

Copyright ©2020 by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association is prohibited. Direct requests for permission to use material published in the HPBA Journal to media@hpba.org.

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75


| Business Climate |

MARCH SALES In early April Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare March 2020 sales to March 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 220 useable returns.

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

62% 45% 42% 22% 5%

18% 20%

RETAILERS NO CHANGE HEARTH

40%

20%

16%

RETAILERS UP

60%

50%

PATIO

RETAILERS DOWN

BARBECUE

SPAS

The year was shaping up quite nicely, until the second or third week of March when it became clear that the coronavirus was heading our way; then traffic and sales dried up. In March, 62% of Hearth retailers were Down; 60% of Spa retailers were Down; 50% of Patio retailers were Down, and 40% of Barbecue retailers were Down.

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

PATIO

HEARTH 12% 5% 5% 1%

Mar Apr 2019

4%

May June

2%

4% 5%

July Aug

7%

Sept Oct

3% 3% 4% 4%

Nov

-26%

Dec Jan Feb 2020

6%

3%

2%

Mar Apr 2019

0%

May June

2%

July Aug

BARBECUE

5%

Sept Oct

2% 1% 2% 2% -2% -4% -1%

Mar Apr 2019

May June

July Aug

Sept Oct

Nov

-28%

Dec Jan Feb 2020

SPAS 12%

12%

-4%

1% 0%

-4%

4% 5%

4%

Nov

7%

5% 1% 1% -15%

Dec Jan Feb 2020

1%

Mar Apr 2019

May June

8%

6%

4% -7%

July Aug

3%

Sept Oct

4% 4% -1%

Nov

Dec Jan Feb 2020

In March, sales of Patio products were Down -28%, Hearth products were Down -26%, Spas were Down -23%, and Barbecue products were Down -15%.

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-23%


RETAILER COMMENTS

WEATHER REPORT

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

STATEWIDE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE RANKS MARCH 2020

NORTHEAST Connecticut: (Hearth) “Due to all non-essential business being closed, it is affecting all aspects of our hearth sales at this time – no sales!”

74

80 96

97

105

106

104 98

113

41

116 116

119 116 109 109 117 123 113 114 122 116 122 113 122 122 123

111 117

115

83

112

112

107

76

Connecticut: (Hearth) “Started off

2020 with sales up 20% until March. Expect sales to be below last year, but fair for the rest of the summer. Doing new construction only, not going into inhabited homes until this is over.”

106

60

been shut down by the government of Massachusetts.” New Jersey: (Hearth, BBQ) “Showrooms

closed as of March 1, 2020.”

121 123 121

123

124

126

Maine: (Hearth) “Coronavirus shut down!” Massachusetts: (Hearth) “We have

113 113 118 119 117

1 = COLDEST / 126 = WARMEST

Record Coldest

NATIONAL CLIMATIC DATA CENTER/NESDIS/NOAA

Much Below Average

Below Average

Near Average

Above Average

Much Above Average

Record Warmest

In March, 23 states recorded Much Above Average temperatures, while one state, Florida, had its Record Warmest March. Nationwide, it was the 10th warmest March since 1895.

New York: (Patio) “Closed for patio sales.” New York: (Hearth) “Coronavirus stinks

and it has affected our business drastically!”

STATEWIDE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE RANKS JANUARY 2020 – MARCH 2020

New York: (Hearth, Spas) “Even though

the COVID-19 virus is very rare in our rural county, the governor has blanketed our state with a pause order, rendering us 100% unable to do business until May 4 at the time of this writing. I’m finding the financing options available through the SBA and other agencies are confusing. And they all come with a catch. I expect that many of our comrades in this industry aren’t going to make it. “It’s sad to note that the public panic is nothing like I’ve ever seen. Media has done a fine job of sensationalizing this virus. I’ve lived through the assassination of President Kennedy, sent friends off to the Vietnam War, the Iran Hostage crisis, SARS, 9-11, the Gulf War, Swine flu, the Cold War, all that. But I don’t remember this level of sheer panic and anxiety (and I’m old as dirt). This will pass, friends. Stop worrying!”

122

101 98

97 109

109

103

109

106

96 97

101

99

111 111

107

124 123

123 122 116 120 124 124 122 114 126 121 125 115 120 122 123 121

110

111

104

114

118

122 125 125 125 125

125 125 125

126

1 = COLDEST / 126 = WARMEST

Record Coldest

Much Below Average

NATIONAL CLIMATIC DATA CENTER/NESDIS/NOAA

Below Average

Near Average

Above Average

Much Above Average

Record Warmest

For the three-month period of January – March, both North Carolina and Florida set Record Warmest temperatures. For the U.S., it was the eighth warmest first quarter in 126 years.

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77


| Business Climate |

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE The Consumer Confidence Index declined sharply in March, following an increase in February. The Index now stands at 120.0 (1985=100), down from 132.6 in February. The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – decreased from 169.3 to 167.7. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – declined from 108.1 last month to 88.2 this month. “Consumer confidence declined sharply in March due to a deterioration in the short-term outlook,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The Present Situation Index remained relatively strong,

reflective of an economy that was on solid footing, and prior to the recent surge in unemployment claims. “However, the intensification of COVID-19 and extreme volatility in the financial markets have increased uncertainty about the outlook for the economy and jobs. March’s decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction – rather than a temporary shock – and further declines are sure to follow.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ)

will probably be worse but we will still be open for business and will appreciate every dollar sold. Tough times in America.”

“We were one of the companies ordered to close by our governor. We filed for a waiver to at least work on exterior chimney repairs. Unfortunately, we were denied and must remain closed. “On the bright side, fortunately, we have 52 jobs to schedule as soon as we get the green light to reopen. March ended with a better than expected result.” Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ)

“Business has been great so far this year in January, February and early March. That all changed in the middle of March when we were forced by the state government to almost completely shut down because of COVID-19. Hopefully we can make it through this and get back to work as soon as possible.” Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ)

“Virus – warm weather – low oil prices – Pennsylvania shutdown, and no new construction allowed in Pennsylvania. Plus add the May 15 EPA Step 2 requirement to sell all leftover Step 1 stoves. What else can you say?” SOUTH Arkansas: (Hearth) “Between a very wet

month and the virus, it was not a very good retail month. Floor traffic came to a halt and the phones went silent as expected. April

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

Florida: (Hearth) “Good year until the

plague. Doors still open but foot traffic way down. Builder business down but not out.” North Carolina: (Hearth, BBQ) “Things

124.1 126.3

130.4 132.6 120.0

100 90

Year Ago

6 Mo. Ago

Jan 2020

Feb 2020

Mar 2020

1985 = 100

commercial places are started and we must finish. We had a record number of units (fireplaces, grills, stoves) with yellow tags (sold). These were half to fully paid for. One thing the shelter-in-place did was trigger people to pick up the paid-for units. Guess they thought we might cash out! The silver lining!”

were going pretty well up to halfway through March and the bottom fell out. I can see April sales going down 95% with the virus issues.”

Texas: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Feeling

North Carolina: (Hearth) “Impossible to

to see much again until this pandemic has run its course. Wishing everyone health and peace.”

sell showroom 2015 wood stoves when no one is visiting the showroom.” North Carolina: (Patio) “The only sunny

side to March’s numbers is comparing them to what’s coming in April. Hang in there everybody.” Oklahoma: (Hearth) “Business has come

to a standstill.”

Texas: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “March 31

is our fiscal year. We were at record going into March so even coronavirus could not spoil it. I have a feeling the three-year run of records is over! Unless it’s record lows! “Even during this time with the front locked we have sales. Many homes and

thankful that everyone on our team is healthy.”

Virginia: (Hearth, BBQ) “We don’t expect

MIDWEST Illinois: (BBQ) “Have sold a few more grills than usual as people are staying home.” Illinois: (Patio) “We have been closed for

three weeks.”

Indiana: (Hearth) “COVID-19 in March.

We had the best January in 40 years and the best February in 40 years. Hello March...” Iowa: (Hearth, BBQ) “These numbers

are not affected by COVID-19. Sales were extremely robust last year during the first quarter.”


Iowa: (Hearth, BBQ) “I just filed for

temporary unemployment due to the non-essential business shutdown, so there’s that. April figures will be interesting.”

Michigan: (Hearth) “Temporarily closed

as of March 24. This is to comply with the State of Michigan and Federal guidelines and Stay Home Stay Safe.” Michigan: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “We

were forced to close in March due to the governor’s executive order. We were super slow before being forced to close due to COVID-19 outbreak.” Missouri: (Hearth, BBQ) “Sales were

surprisingly strong the last two weeks of March. The uncertainty of the economy due to COVID-19 kept the early part of the month slower than normal, but as soon as people started working from home and hearing that employers were going to keep paying them, we noticed the phones ringing more and people getting to projects we have put off. Now that I have time to deal with it. “Roughly two-thirds of our business came in the last two weeks of the month. I anticipate that April will be a down month as our local city government has put several restrictions on construction this past weekend.” Wisconsin: (Patio) “Just when the

season was about to start, we got hit with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our store was forced to temporarily close. We are hopeful we can get back on track eventually! We know everyone is in a similar boat.” Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ)

“Well! What can I say that isn’t already broadcast over every radio and TV station out there? Quarantine! No traffic, no sales, dead air! Working on existing jobs prior to shutdowns. April will be a very bad month! Praying for May to rebound.” WEST California: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas)

“2019 was a very tough winter due to record breaking snowfall, so 2019 sales were off from 2018 significantly. 2020 winter has been very light and we were

on pace to shatter all sales records for fiscal year 2020 (June 30). Now we are going to ride that wave through this current crisis!” California: (Hearth, BBQ) “New home

building still going strong.”

California: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “With

the scare of the COVID-19 virus things are not good. Our business has been closed since March 19.” Montana: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas)

“Most of our business is new construction at this time as it is deemed essential by federal and state governments.”

New Brunswick: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ)

“Closure of our showroom was due to COVID-19. We are still working with 60% less staff via website, phone, and other social media.” Ontario: (Hearth) “Big Box stores and

Wayfair continue to affect the brick-andmortar hearth stores. They continue to sell the least expensive fireplace they can get, and have absolutely nothing in place to honor a warranty. Along with local heating contractors selling and installing the cheapest box they can get from their supplier, it all adds up to fewer sales for the specialty hearth retailer.”

“With the COVID-19 restrictions, we have seen a significant decrease in foot traffic in our store. Installations have been postponed from March with some customers wanting to wait until the end of April beginning of May.” — Oregon

Oregon: (Hearth) “With the COVID-19 restrictions, we have seen a significant decrease in foot traffic in our store. Installations have been postponed from March with some customers wanting to wait until the end of April beginning of May.”

Ontario:

Oregon: (Hearth) “With the coronavirus,

Ontario:

activity for stoves and inserts is nearly zero. People are coming in for parts, but hardly anyone looking for stoves, or other appliances.” Washington: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas)

“Over last two weeks traffic in our store has slowed. April outlook looks grim!” CANADA

(Hearth) “Customers who are housebound due to the pandemic are making home improvement decisions, and working online to make arrangements with us to get started once things return to normal.” (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “March started reasonably, then came the coronavirus. It’s not the first time something named corona shut us down for a week. This should sort out the gamblers from the businessmen. Stay safe and we’ll see you in July, with a little luck and good management. “P.S. Don’t forget to do your booking orders, ha.”

British Columbia: (Hearth, Patio,

BBQ ) “Sales were strong until March 14 – then nothing except cash and carry items – ethanol fuel, barbecue charcoal.” British Columbia: (Hearth) “Hearth

sales are minimal, except venting. Fuel sales are slightly down.”

To read more comments from retailers, go to hearthandhome.com, and click on the orange box on the right; that will take you to The Pandemic Times where you will find more retailer comments.

www.hearthandhome.com | MAY 2020 | 79


CLASSIFIEDS Business for Sale Profitable Retail Business in beautiful Ely, Minnesota specializing in sales, installation and service of hearth products. Stone fireplace construction is their specialty. 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.

Retirement Sale

Hearth & Home Editorial Invitation

Business for Sale

NEW Products Wanted

We’re always on the lookout for what’s new in the hearth, barbecue, and patio industries! Send us your new products for a chance to have them featured in the magazine or on the Hearth & Home website.

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

To submit products email a hi-res image and short description, including product name, to: pelczar@villagewest.com

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

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

1 Column x 1 Inch Minimum Price per column inch = $175 Call the Sales Department at (800) 258-3772

Please email inquiries to patioretirement@gmail.com.

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

Page

Phone

Apricity / Agio USA

23

(800) 416-3511

www.apricityoutdoor.com

American Society of Landscape Architects

67

800-424-5249

aslaconference.com

Big Green Egg

8, 9

(770) 938-9394

www.biggreenegg.com

Blaze Outdoor Products

43

(866) 976-9510

www.blazegrills.com

Dansons Group / Louisiana Grills

31

(877) 303-3134

www.louisiana-grills.com

Empire Comfort Systems / White Mountain Hearth

33

(800) 851-3153

www.whitemountainhearth.com

Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

3

(703) 522-0086

www.hpbexpo.com

Lovinflame

27

(909) 781-8462

www.lovinflame.com

Maxitrol Company

61

(248) 356-1400

www.maxitrol.com

Merchandise Mart Properties

59

(800) 677-6278

www.casualmarket.com

Napoleon

15, 17

(800) 461-5581

www.napoleonfireplaces.com

Outdoor GreatRoom, The

73

(866) 303-4028

www.outdoorrooms.com

Pará Group / Tempotest USA

49

(972) 512-3534

www.tempotestusa.com

Spartherm GmbH

37

+49 5422 9441-0

www.spartherm-america.com

Stûv America

53

(866) 487-7888

www.stuvamerica.com

Supreme Fireplaces

57

(877) 593-4722

www.supremem.com

Telescope Casual Furniture

C4

(518) 642-1100

www.telescopecasual.com

Travis Industries

41

(800) 654-1177

www.travisindustries.com

Valor / Miles Industries

C2

(800) 468-2567

www.valorfireplaces.com

WeatherStrong Outdoor Cabinetry

82, 83

(866) 708-7601

idealcabinetry.com/OD

80 | MAY 2020 | www.hearthandhome.com

Website


| Parting Shot |

STAYING AT HOME

“Ah,

shucks! Another day confined to my home in Phoenix, Arizona. Temperature is a comfortable 83 degrees this first week of April. I’ve already read The Wall Street Journal, and watched the news on CNN. I had planned to play a round of golf today, but, nooo, the governor decided we should all stay home for a while. “Most of my day will be spent reading a book, or a few magazines; eating a bit, and just doing a few chores. That is, until the sun begins to fall and colors of yellow and orange crown the mountains that encircle the Valley of the Sun.

PHOTO COURTESY: ©2020 BOBE WATER & FIRE FEATURES.

“That’s when the cocktails come out, and the wine, and the strong cheddar and soft blue cheese. Add to that a bit of Spanish guitar music, and the flames emitting from the water bowls and, you know, staying at home isn’t bad at all.” The fire bowls are part of the Bobé Artisan Series that combines a firepot with a water bowl. The design shown here features a larger outer bowl surrounding an inner firepot in a “moat” style. Water gently flows around the fire and out of the scupper-style spout. Contact: (888) 388-2623, bobewaterandfire.com, or email bobesales@c-m-p.com Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience

81


DAYTONA REEF BLUE

MADE IN THE USA • Cabinets are custom built from All-Weatherboard™️ • Over 50,000 cabinetry SKUs for design flexibility • Orders ship in 10 days direct to home or jobsite COMPLIMENTARY DESIGN SERVICE • 24 Hour turnaround


Ready to learn more and BECOME A DEALER?

11 NEW HDPE DOOR COLORS • 6 Solid colors, 5 woodgrain inspired finishes • Weather resistant from below freezing to 220°F STAINLESS STEEL HARDWARE • Door hinges and drawer runners are outdoor rated • Choose from a selection of stainless steel handles

MADE FROM

ALL-WEATHERBOARD™ WON’T

FADE!


Standing with you - Since 1903 www.TelescopeCasual.com

Profile for Hearth & Home

Hearth & Home Magazine - 2020 May 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 May Issue  

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

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