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JULY 2019 ®



The Belle Vie Collection NEW! from OW Lee

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1 0 Beauty, Comfort, Performance Casual fabric options for the 2020 season are virtually limitless.

Faces 3 0 Clean Sales of gas fireplaces remain strong, as manufacturers add features to satisfy the desires of their customers.

3 8 Entertainment products add fun to the Outdoor Room That’s Entertainment!


and profits for retailers.

4 4 Enemy to Frenemy to Friend Specialty retailers turn to sophisticated marketing programs to attract customers and close sales.

5 8 Affordable Elegance Family values are the key to success for Kozy Heat Fireplaces.

the Press! 6 2 Meet Stop those knees from knocking, those lips from stuttering, and those palms from sweating, here’s how to take control of a media interview.

Is Destiny 7 0 Demographics Here are four trends that will determine retailers’ future.


7 4 The Importance of SEO Advice from Marty Heim will help you improve .

8 0

your business.

Link Outdoor The name says it all.

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86 Las Vegas New Products 90 Business Climate



Stock Watch


Ad Index


Parting Shot


Who Reads Hearth & Home?

ON THE WEB News Homeownership Rate Rises Again in 2018 Are You a Have or a Have-Not?

Recipes Wittus’s Grilled Lamb Sausage Louisiana Grills’s Smoked Berry Lemonade


JULY 2019 ®

On the Cover

Summer Classics’ Santa Barbara in oyster teak finish.


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Publisher/Editor Richard Wright wright@villagewest.com Editorial only, send digital images to paquette@villagewest.com

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

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

Creative Services Erica Paquette, Art Director paquette@villagewest.com April Brown, Graphic Designer brown@villagewest.com Tobi Carter, Graphic Designer carter@villagewest.com

Susan MacLeod, Proofreader

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

Office Judy McMahon, Accountant mcmahon@villagewest.com

Copyright Š 2019 by Village West Publishing. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. All advertising is subject to approval by the publisher. Please address all correspondence to Hearth & Home, P.O. Box 1288, Laconia, NH 03247, (603) 528-4285, (800) 258-3772, FAX: (603) 524-0643. Hearth & Home, The Outdoor Room and Vesta Awards are registered trademarks of Village West Publishing. Village West Publishing is not associated with, and has no financial interest in, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. Hearth & Home (USPS 575-210/ISSN 02735695), Vol. XL, No. 8 is published monthly by Village West Publishing, 25 Country Club Road, Ste. 403, Gilford, NH 03249/P.O. Box 1288, Laconia, NH 03247. Subscription price $36 per year; $60 (USD) in Canada; $120 (USD) overseas (first class, airmail only). Single copy price $15 (includes postage and handling) in U.S. and in Canada. Periodicals postage paid at Laconia, NH and at additional entry office. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Village West Publishing, Circulation Department, P.O. Box 1288, Laconia, NH 03247.

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| Perspective |

Traffic Down? Here’s Why.


etailers – during the past three or four years, have Families with children spend more, and their children you noticed that traffic is down in your store? Your grow into adults who become customers as well. The retail average ticket, and gross revenues, may be up, apocalypse, those massive store closings, coincides with the but that’s because your average customer is fairly drop in people having children. wealthy and is buying the best you have. Still, a constantly In 1936, at the bottom of the Great Depression, there were declining traffic count is reason for concern. 75.8 births per 1,000 women. In 2017 there were only 60.3. By You may have tried stemming that tide with more comparison, in 1957, at the peak of the Baby Boom, there were advertising, in more places. Perhaps you’ve even tried – forgive 122.7, and birth rates have been on the decline every since. Today, me! – a Sale over a few weekends, but it’s 50% of women aged 15 to 44 are childless. tough to move that needle. Birth Rates Per 1,000 Women The answer may be that it’s a bit out The Myth of the 122.7 of your control. Millennial Boom In an article in this issue, titled You’ve heard that the Millennial generation 75.8 60.3 “Demographics Is Destiny” (see page 70), is bigger than the Baby Boomers, some demographer Peter Francese and luxury 87 million strong as compared to 76 market expert Pam Danziger, point out million Boomers. But the pure number trends that are impacting retail sales. of consumers in the generations is not as 1936 1957 2017 One of those trends is the declining important as how they have been absorbed birth rate in this country. Birth rates in into the consumer market. America have not just fallen, they are at an all-time low and The Boomers entered the market with a bang. After the below replacement levels. “There were more births during war, a huge pent-up demand was unleashed. By comparison, the Great Depression than there are today,” says Francese. the Millennials got the very short end of the stick, says You’ve heard of the retail apocalypse, that vast number of Francese. “The first thing that happened to them is they got retail stores closing at a fast pace. It’s easy to point at the Internet saddled with $1.5 trillion in student debt. Mortgage lenders as the cause of such misery – and it certainly is having a negative looked at them and said, “Sorry, you already have a mortgage, impact on the brick-and-mortar landscape – but declining called a student loan, and I’m not going to give you another fertility rates, and shifting age and income distributions have one. So they have mortgage-level debt but no house.” impacted the American family in a major way. If traffic is down, blame it on demographics.

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OUTDOOR LIVING IS HOTTER THAN EVER Q&A WITH AWARD-WINNING ARCHITECT WAYNE VISBEEN Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, is the principal and founder of Visbeen Architects, Inc., winner of more than 100 Residential Design Awards and dozens of Best in American Living Awards.

as fireplaces. A research study conducted by leading fireplace manufacturer Napoleon disclosed that while only 13 percent of homeowners have an outdoor fireplace or fire table, 88 percent consider them to be either essential or a definite plus when shown design ideas.

edicated outdoor living spaces are becoming increasingly popular with homeowners. Years ago, well-designed outdoor spaces were generally reserved for upscale homes. Today, we see these spaces becoming more mainstream as homeowners are looking for places to escape the grind, relax and retreat to a vacation state of mind. Busy lifestyles leave these homeowners searching for this vacayvista in a very local getaway—their own backyards. What is surprising is that many architects, designers and home builders are choosing to either disregard these outdoor living areas or compromise them by leaving out key amenities such

We sat down with renowned architect Wayne Visbeen to discuss the key to creating an outdoor living space homebuyers can’t resist and the important role fire plays in their design.


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Q: What amenities and design features are homeowners requesting in outdoor living spaces?

Visbeen: An outdoor living space is an extension of the home’s square footage and it should feel like a room, a room that has been thoughtfully designed and connects with the indoor space. I’m a fan of creating outdoor living spaces off

the kitchen and dining area. This allows the homeowner to entertain while preparing food or drinks indoors. If they would rather keep the mess (and the fun) outdoors, I’ll add a premium built-in grill and kitchen to really elevate that party platter. It is important to create a natural transition between indoors and out. Take style cues from the rest of the home, continue with your existing color palette and use lighting as you would indoors to create a sense of dimension. To blend the two spaces, I like to use accordion folding doors. They allow you to truly open one space into the next. Using a retractable screen, I’m able to create separation from the outdoors when it is desired, like during a rainy day or a buggy night. The star of the show, the fireplace, serves as both a focal point and a social anchor. The right heating element is both inviting and beautiful while offering homeowners a sense of relaxation, socialization and functionality. Something Napoleon calls a Hot Spot.

the latter, I have a flame table as a sophisticated focal point and an inviting place for guests and potential clients to gather. I love my Napoleon Kensington Square Patioflame® Table because it can run off a small propane tank or be attached to a gas line. This works well for small spaces, rooftops and condos in metropolitan areas. Outdoor gathering spots can also help make a smaller home feel larger with the right design and a little open air.

Q: How can builders, architects and designers incorporate desirable outdoor living into smaller spaces?

Q: What role(s) does fire play in an outdoor living space? Visbeen: Some of life’s memorable moments happen around the fire—late-night s’mores as a child, flickering flames on a romantic evening and backyard campouts with the kids. Fire creates a space for life’s memorable moments to occur. A fireplace not only adds ambiance, but it also adds to usability and design aesthetic. Adding fire extends the usability of an outdoor living area earlier into the spring and later into the fall. Understand how this space will be used, who will be using it, how often and the style of the home, be it traditional, transitional, contemporary or rustic. Once these questions are answered, the designer can choose the right hearth for the job and ultimately that represents an increased opportunity for additional sales and profits.

Visbeen: Many homeowners are opting for smaller, multipurpose spaces both indoors and out. When it comes to a quality outdoor living area, size has nothing to do with it. It’s all about smart design and choosing the right amenities. In my own home, I’ve created a space that is small yet cleverly designed to offer ample room for grilling and entertaining. For

Napoleon is pleased to offer free hard copies of the research study and design guide to interested industry professionals. To receive your complimentary package of Hot Spots materials, visit http://www.napoleonfireplaces.com/HotSpots.

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BEAUTY, COMFORT, PERFORMANCE Casual fabric options for the 2020 season are virtually limitless. By Mark Brock


hen specialty retailers prepare for the 2020 selling season, they’ll find that casual fabric brands are offering what feels like an unlimited range of possibilities. Hundreds of new fabrics are being introduced that encompass performance attributes, beautiful aesthetics, and consumer buying trends, all of which further blur the line between décor inside the home and outdoor living spaces. The single most dominant trend in

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casual fabrics for the past several years has been how casual fabrics have attained the same look and feel of fine fabrics you would expect inside the home. At the same time, performance casual fabrics are moving indoors, offering fade resistance, durability, and ease of cleaning for sundrenched interiors populated with active families with children, pets, and messy adults. One of the great ironies of the newest casual fabrics is how they are using advanced textiles technology to create

fabrics that have the look and feel of handmade artisanal fabrics. Consumers are drawn to these classic looks created through the use of specialty yarns and jacquard and dobby fabric constructions. These fabrics may have all the look and feel of cotton, silk, or wool, but they are all synthetic and engineered to perform. There is also a growing trend of bringing back classic designs of years past with new colorations and pattern tweaks. In terms of fabric design, texture remains at the top of the list, again created


through specialty yarns and advanced fabric formation techniques. The newest casual fabrics offer a range of textures, from the heavy textural to the light. Some observers are suggesting that lighter textures are becoming more in vogue, but textural diversity remains in the newest introductions, some of which is created through optical illusions arising from yarn variations across woven surfaces. Color trends in the new season build on seasons past. Blue continues as a popular color and green colorways appear

to be coming on strong as well. One of the many evolutions in color trends has been with neutrals. First and for many years, it was beige, then came a variety of earth tones followed by the more recent warm gray trend. While beige, earth tones, and gray continue to be popular, the term neutral is being applied to a wide range of solid colors, ranging from blue to coral. Virtually any solid-colored fabric that plays well with other colors can form the background for pops of brighter colors and creative patterns.

Astute fabric designers are not only focused on yarns and weaving, but also on the psychology of fabrics. Discussions of the newest fabrics often trend toward conversations related to lifestyles and the desire of consumers to feel nurtured in their home environments, inside and out, reflecting their own unique personalities and lifestyles. The creativity by fabric designers and the expertise of mill professionals allow ephemeral human qualities to infuse with their fabric creations – comfort, home, wellness, identity, security, and nature. Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019

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| Fabrics 2020 |

Sunbrella Dimension Collection Fuses the Familiar with the Unique Category leading Sunbrella brand fabrics are launching its new Dimension Collection for the coming season, demonstrating the powerful impact that’s possible for home décor when the familiar meets the unique and unexpected. “Fusing extraordinary plains with unique jacquards, the fabrics of Dimension use color, texture, and pattern to inspire dynamic settings,” said Greg Voorhis, executive design director for Glen Raven Custom Fabrics. “Each of the nine patterns in the Dimension Collection introduces unexpected color combinations, complex weave structures, and striated yarn rotations that create exciting and distinctive textiles for use in everyday spaces.” In creating the new Dimension Collection, the Sunbrella design team was mindful of ways in which the new fabrics can integrate with and complement existing Sunbrella collections, including Elements, Shift, Makers, and Pure. “An important trend in home décor today is the creation of authentic and familiar environments by fusing indoor and outdoor spaces and juxtaposing contrasting styles,” Voorhis said. “To create a fresh and updated environment, not everything has to be new. New dimensions of design manifest themselves through layering or repurposing of existing objects with fabric. Fusing extraordinary plains with unique jacquards and unexpected color combinations creates highs and lows offering a range of options, from

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sophisticated neutrals to fresh and smart.” Patterns in the new Dimension Collection include: Resonate Contemporary, graphic interpretation of the classic Greek “key” pattern. Bold linework on fine heathered grounds creates a backlit effect with color that seems to ripple with movement. Array Small-scale yet bold geometric motif illustrating a study in shades. The unexpected mix of color creates highs and lows, accented by an iridescent effect from multi-directional weaving methods. Expand Large-scale repeat stripe in a classic canvas weave. This pattern introduces bright pops of colored accents through irregular striping. Expand complements classic to contemporary palettes. Range Simple block stripe of the same construction as Sunbrella’s Cast fabric. Range coordinates back to some of Sunbrella’s favorite Cast colorations. Heathered warps bring texture to this familiar stripe repeat. Scale Small-scale pinstripe with timeless appeal and color palettes that range from sophisticated neutrals to fresh and smart.

Extent Introduces the illusion of a painting or a space-dyed effect. Striations of color in both directions of the fabric create movement and illumination. Level Irregular basket weave updated and elevated through rich, saturated color. Timeless craft is represented through the hand-woven, artisanal feel of the fabric. Depth Sunbrella’s chunkiest weave yet, this fabric features a deep texture and a mix of vegetal and bright tones. Innovative weaving technology brings to life the aesthetic of the handmade. Layer Classic rib energized by alternating solid and strié channels. This pattern mixes many colors together in a single texture, broadening its ability to coordinate in various color groupings. “Through innovative weaving technology, we’re able to bring to life the aesthetic of the handmade, incorporating various textures from irregular basket weaves, heathered warps, and classic canvas weaves,” Voorhis said. “Complex weave structures and striated yarn rotations create exciting and distinctive textiles with a hand-woven, artisanal feel for use in everyday spaces.”

Murphy Resonate






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| Fabrics 2020 |

Tempotest Home Features Three New Collections Tempotest Home, the Italian-based fabric brand with an American flare, is featuring three new collections that illustrate how performance and beautiful aesthetics have transformed the casual fabrics marketplace. The three new collections are Long Staple (created using newly advanced fiber technology), Velvet (a performance fabric with the sensual hand of velvet) and Fifty-Four (a new line of 54inch fabrics complementing the existing 60-inch offerings.) “Performance fabrics that are highly textural and woven with faux-natural yarns are very much in demand,” said Jeff Jimison, National Sales director for Tempotest USA. “Consumers want the rich, inviting look and feel of natural fibers such as cotton

and linen without fear of spills and stains. Parà (Tempotest’s parent company) has addressed this desire in a totally new and innovative way to transform synthetics.” In terms of fiber technology, Tempotest is using long staple solution-dyed acrylic fibers in a worsted system of yarn spinning similar to a woolen yarn. The resulting yarns feature increased resistance to pilling along with a look and feel that mimics a natural fiber fabric. Lunga is a featured long staple pattern. “As with other solution-dyed acrylics, the fabrics manufactured this way remain colorfast in an outdoor environment and retain their strength after years of exposure to sunlight, and can be cleaned in a multitude of ways including bleach,

machine washing, dry cleaning, or simply hosing them off,” Jimison said. Tempotest’s new velvet fabric collection is being offered in 15 colors, from rich neutrals to jewel tones with the colors deep and richly saturated. These new velvet fabrics are luxurious yet offer the same easy living and cleaning of a solutiondyed acrylic fabric. Vendicari is a featured pattern in the new velvet collection. The new Tempotest Home Fifty-Four collection encompasses 31 new up-the-roll stripes and solid colors in a time-honored, eight-ounce canvas. This weave is highly durable but is still supple to the touch due to Parà’s use of finer count yarns. The new collection is available in both cuts and rolls and warehoused in the U.S.


Long Staple

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M ODE R N | OUT DOOR | L I V I N G Apricity’s bold, exciting, elegant collections give retailers the latest trending designs in outdoor entertaining. The Apricity brand delivers the highest quality and elevated looks to the industry. Prepare to take your product mix to the next level.


apricityoutdoor.com |

| Fabrics 2020 |

Link Outdoor Vista Collection Melds Performance with Natural Fiber Look and Feel Link Outdoor has launched its new Vista Collection featuring classic neutrals with the luxurious hand that homeowners typically associate with wool, cotton and silk. This new collection continues Link’s focus on creating sophisticated fabrics that can be used anywhere in the home, inside or out, for casual, worry-free living. “These new textiles offer comfort, durability, and sophistication,” said Greyson Kirby, Link Outdoor’s director of Textile Design. “My goal for this collection was to create a timeless palette and range of textiles that you would never expect to be pet friendly or survive an evening with friends and a bottle of red wine.” The new Vista Collection encompasses a variety of neutrals and textured fabrics for every surface of the home from window treatments to heavier upholstery fabrics for sectionals or sofas as well as faux-leather options for banquettes and other seating. Featured patterns include:

elements. The colors merge beautifully with neutral indoor palettes and offer a hint of saturation with Periwinkle and Spa yarns. Zephyr Zephyr is a jacquard fabric with a two-tone structure that results in a peekaboo pattern from different angles and in different lights. It’s meant to create a subtle movement for the eye in restful colors that could be perfect for side chairs or an entire sofa. Nantucket A plush terry-cloth boucle that would be perfect in a cozy arm chair to cuddle up and read a book on a rainy afternoon on the porch. This pattern proves rich, dense textures of solution-dyed acrylic for yearround, easy comfort that’s sophisticated and not just for outdoor use.

Barracuda This synthetic faux leather offers the rich hand of leather while providing a marinegrade surface that’s outdoor appropriate. In adding this vinyl to the collection, Link expanded its range of textures to include the appearance of a natural hide but with the benefits of a performance off-the-bolt textile.

Eclipse This fabric features a heathered twotone lightweight curtain quality with a pressed finish and supple drape, rounding out Link’s sheer collection with a heavier quality that will block out most of the light. The cool colors and pressed yarns give it the perfect ‘summer wool’ effect without the heaviness or yellow tones expected from a natural fiber.

Panorama A new pinstripe sheer, Panorama was designed to appeal to clients looking for a high-quality window treatment suitable for spaces with exposure to the natural

Carmel This chenille with a subtle two-tone effect offers the soft hand of velvet but with the easy-cleaning feature of a performance textile.

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According to Kirby, the design possibilities for performance fabrics are virtually limitless, enabling designers to create a broad assortment of colors, patterns, and textures that are on-trend for today’s consumers. “The wide range of novelty yarns now available allows for blends of colors that are more subtle than the outdoor palette used to be,” Kirby said. “Pale blues mix well with silver tones that can carry a color scheme from a living room to a portico and then brighten up with deeper cobalt palettes on a patio or poolside. “Blush and melon have become new neutrals that pair perfectly with many island tones and stucco finishes,” she continued. “I think that’s a trend we’ll continue to see evolve as they evoke the warmth and comfort of the sun in any space. Specialty retailers can capitalize on these trends by layering unexpected combinations of texture you would only expect to see from indoor fabrics with brighter pops of color that link together indoor and outdoor spaces in a home.” Based in Dallas, Link Outdoor was founded in 2008 by Eugene Freeland, a veteran of the performance textiles industry. Link Outdoor specializes in luxury outdoor fabric and furniture, collaborating with award winning designers and manufacturers around the world. The company is represented in showrooms in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico and Russia.






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| Fabrics 2020 |

Outdura Going Tribal with its New ‘Arrow’ Fabric Pattern Outdura brand fabrics are venturing into new territory for the coming casual fabrics season, launching the fabric pattern, “Arrow,” which adds to the brand’s depth in elegantly woven jacquard fabrics that combine distinctive aesthetics with proven performance. “Arrow is our first tribal jacquard design with a native flair that is quite eye catching,” said Gloria Tsocos, Design manager for Outdura fabrics. “We created this pattern by using a weaving technique that enhances depth and saturation of color in the design. The overall hues are created with a combination of light pastels and earth tones that pair perfectly to create a breathtaking design suitable for

any outdoor environment. Arrow will be available in eight stunning colors.” Other new pattern offerings from Outdura include: Paddock Stripe Paddock Stripe is Outdura’s bold new stripe that was designed to complement a wide variety of outdoor fabric ensembles. Domino Domino, also a jacquard pattern, was inspired by bold geometric structures. This crisp design will complement any outdoor space. Domino is available in 15 distinct colors.

Storm Storm is an Outdura body cloth with a unique design element utilizing novelty yarns to create a distinctive look. Storm is available in 17 colors. Also highlighting Outdura brand fabrics for 2020 is the addition of a new green called “Reseda.” “We’ve had great responses to this particular hue,” Tsocos said. “We’ve colored patterns, both jacquards and dobbies, with this fresh new green. It’s an earthy green that complements not only neutrals, but also blues, yellows, and terracotta.”

Storm Domino

Paddock Stripe

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©2019 All rights reserved. Biltmore® and images of Biltmore House are trademarks of The Biltmore Company, and are used by Castelle Luxury under license.

| Fabrics 2020 |

Introducing ‘Metropolis’ – A Sunbrella Collection by Silver State Fabrics For the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Silver State is featuring “Metropolis,” a new collection described as “vibrant sophistication with clean looks, fresh color combinations, and fun, energetic patterns featuring plenty of subtle texture.” “Metropolis is the summation of our annual effort to offer a collection beyond the ordinary,” said Manoli Sargetakis, principal with Silver State. “As I travel the country, I search for what people are wanting more of but not finding enough of. Residential design is starting to show a bolder confidence in which the hospitality segment is at the forefront.” Patterns in the Metropolis Collection, which is constructed with Sunbrella brand performance yarns, include: Wicked Playfully-angled triangles with an occasional metallic splash of PVC-coated Sunbrella yarn. For this pattern Silver State visualized sky-high penthouse homes of the “wickedly wealthy.” Available in two colorways. Cityscape Best described as Morse code in a smallscale pattern, Cityscape is a very lively

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pattern with a workable repeat and can be run in either direction. This pattern merges whimsy with a sharpness that appeals to a sense of order. Offered in five colors. Murphy Murphy is Silver State’s interpretation of a pin stripe and designed as a “go-with” pattern, complementing a wide array of other patterns and solids. Murphy is offered in an expansive assortment of 12 colors for an eclectic look of South Beach and the Hamptons. Liam Liam is also a “go-with” pattern comfortable in virtually any setting. It’s small in scale and in repeat and can be applied in any direction. Destined to be among classic patterns, Liam is available in four colors. Impact As its name makes clear, the Impact pattern was created to make a splash in any setting. Large in scale and vivacious in design, Silver State colored this pattern adventurously with the intention of creating a fabric sure to be a conversation piece. Available in four colors.

Central Park This pattern is Silver State’s mid-scale geometric with contemporary overtones. Expect the “cool kids” to be drawn to this pattern that’s both hip and approachable with an easy-to-use pattern, ideal for coordinating with Silver State’s existing Jedi offering. Available in three colors. “In terms of trends, blue is continuing to increase in popularity to the point that it’s being considered a neutral,” Sargetakis said. “Stronger and brighter colors pair well with blue, including aqua, teal, and royal blue. We are also seeing increased interest in softer hues such as coral, and more natural greens that coordinate or contrast well with white or gray.” According to Sargetakis, texture is also an important design trend, but in more subtle forms than chenille or terry-cloth. “Solid, flat canvas looks will always be a mainstay, but the homeowner who wants to distinguish herself is looking for a softer hand, a nub of texture, and more color. Whether it’s a boucle as an accent to a stripe, or a woven pattern with thicker yarns, a soft hand is always a prerequisite.”





Central Park

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| Fabrics 2020 |

Phifer Debuts New Collections for Phifertex and GeoBella Fabric Lines Phifer is debuting two new collections for its Phifertex and GeoBella casual furniture lines for the 2019-2020 seasons. Phifertex is the industry-leading sling fabric collection, noted for design innovation and strength, while GeoBella, which is woven from recycled Olefin yarns, encompasses an environmental point of view. “The new collections, ‘Street Style’ and ‘Now and Zen,’ were influenced by nature, technology, and human health,” said Monica Thornton, Design director for Phifer. “Our 2019-2020 outdoor color collections pair vibrant and mindful hues that express the emotions and the values of today’s consumers.” Phifer’s Street Style Collection is for those seeking bold color and freespirited living. Rooted in technology and influenced by modern living, this palette features bold pops of Persian blue, aqua, coral, gray, and navy. Strong geometrics and transitional patterns are key design elements for these attention-seeking hues. Pushing the boundaries of color and design, this enthusiastic assortment brings a maximum approach yet produces harmonious outdoor living. Patterns in the Street Style Collection include Kama Multicolor (kaleidoscopic influenced geometric GeoBella jacquard); Kozo Jewel Blue (horizontally multi-textured PVC sling fabric in monochromatic blues); Kimble Coral (transitional Nordic inspired GeoBella jacquard pattern); Pasadena Coral (bold and playful

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geometric PVC sling fabric, in bright white and coral); Aura Dark Shadow (intertwining hexagon lattice in heather gray and black) and Prestige Skyline (sleek low texture PVC blend sling fabric.) Phifer’s Now and Zen Collection features atmospheric and moody hues that embrace the connection of nature and human health. Muted and layered midtones of slate blue, Muscadine, pale bluegray, and stone are introspective and help to heal mind and body. These profoundly calming color combinations will be essential for 2020 as they foster inclusion, preservation, wellness, and self-love. Patterns in the Now and Zen Collection include Chandler Muscadine (transitional lattice-style GeoBella jacquard great for layering with other patterns); Jewel Steel Gray (lightly textured woven PVC sling jacquard in inviting neutrals and gray); Prestige Mist (subtle and sleek PVC blend sling fabric in a sultry blue-gray); Emory Stripe Slate (softly variegated transitional GeoBella jacquard stripe in muted midtones); Interlock Linen (high texture sea grass inspired PVC wicker sling fabric in mineral inspired neutrals); Marvel Slate (modern Bohemian inspired GeoBella jacquard in muted slate and Muscadine). In addition to the new fabric collections, Phifer is introducing several new colors, including Agave (muted introspective blue-green); Rose (warm and friendly, feminine pink); Gingerbread (confident earthy red-brown); Sunnyside

(optimistic and cheery yellow) and Tiffany Blue (crisp and inviting blue-green.) “Color Trends this season emphasize our connection to creativity and our need for human compassion,” Thornton said. “As we seek balance and focus, we look for colors that are inclusive, perceptive, and authentic. We see blue-greens and blues continuing to be important in both muted and clean variations. Blue-gray is becoming more important this season and is being seen as the color of stability and balance. Yellow and mint blue are appealing to younger consumers this season as they are seeking optimism. In terms of design, casual fabric companies are being challenged to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse customer base, according to Thornton: “Diversity continues to push design trends for 2020, and there simply has to be something for everyone. Transitional geometric styles continue to be important for us while modern Bohemian and handcrafted styles are gaining more attention with our younger consumers. There is no middle ground on texture as it is equally diverse. Texture is slowly moving to a more subtle version. Low texture and sleek weaves are surfacing more in all industries. We are also seeing super chunky textures that look hand woven. Gradient and optic texture are continuing for this season, and flat and matte colors are beginning to replace sheen.”






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| Fabrics 2020 |

New Bella-Dura Fabrics Blur the Lines Between Indoor and Outdoor Fabrics You can consider it the best of both worlds when you review the newest casual fabrics, including new introductions by Bella-Dura. “One of the strongest trends we see today is how the performance aspects of outdoor fabrics are being brought indoors, and how the design aesthetic of indoor fabrics is being taken outside,” said Orlando Peralta, director of Hospitality Design for Wearbest Weavers, the makers of Bella-Dura fabrics. “This trend reflects what consumers want in the fabrics they buy for their homes.” In terms of design, Peralta sees a continued trend of homeowners seeking out fabrics that are based on traditional motifs, such as plaid and flora, but with an updated aesthetic. There are also psychological factors at play in how fabrics

are being designed and manufactured, he said. “The Danish concept of “hygge” – a word associated with well-being and feelings or moments that are cozy or special – heavily influences textures as we focus on creating comfort. We are achieving this feeling of comfort through finishing and the use of all types of boucle, slub, and heathered yarns.” Bella-Dura’s latest collection focuses on a decorative feel with fashion-forward colors, while offering the performance demanded of casual fabrics. New fabrics for the 2020 season include:

Brighton This pattern is a bold and chunky cottonlike stripe with fresh and vibrant colors.

Chimera Heavily textured yarns and a decorative deflective weave give this pattern a distinctive textural effect.

Tennessee A combination of multi-textured yarns, weaves, and a subtle strié infuses this pattern with dimension and flow.

Everglade Simplicity with a touch of a playful metallic yarn results in an upholstery fabric that is chic with a sophisticated aesthetic. New Castle Subtle textured weaves and an array of crisp bright colors that complement each other give this pattern a fresh take on the traditional plaid.




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| Fabrics 2020 |

Pindler’s Sunbelievable Collection Well Positioned for Inside and Out Pindler’s Sunbelievable Collection is designed for any indoor or outdoor setting with a modern and vibrant look. The Collection features a myriad of fresh and bright colorways, woven in solution-dyed acrylic and solution-dyed polyester yarns that make them easy care, fade-resistant, and bleach cleanable. Patterns in the collection include Newport (fresh, all-over, small-scale floral design); Piermont (intricate interlocking geometric design in a usable upholstery scale); Flowerfield (midscale, multicolored, floral design); Tulips (two-color floral design with a transitional design appeal); Richfield (updated interpretation of a traditional large-scale damask design) and Awning (classic bold stripe design woven with textural yarns and available in 12 colors.) In terms of design trends, Pindler

reports a more decorative direction overall with the use of elaborate trims, embellishments, motifs, and the look of handcrafted textiles. Not only are these elements being used as a focal point, but they’re also being layered to create a warm, detailed space full of character. Design specialists at Pindler are also forecasting a trend toward a more traditional aesthetic with classics feeling new again with a fresh take on color. In terms of color trends, Pindler highlighted these color directions:

beautifully with all neutrals and warm and cool colors.

Capitalize on Coral Pantone named “Living Coral” the 2019 color of the year. While typically seen as an accent or pop-of-color, coral is taking the center stage as a catalyst for design. With its vivid warm tones, it brightens rooms with its vibrant hues and pairs

Must have Mink The days of cool gray tones are fading, and warmer neutrals are emerging such as the color Mink. A warmer approach to gray, Mink harmonizes well with neutrals and colors and truly transforms its cast depending on what it’s paired with.

Deep in the Evergreens Earthy, calming, dark shades of green are on the rise in the design market. In hues ranging from natural pine to jewel-like emeralds, green is making a big comeback. The key to this trend is the cast, which is leaning toward blue. Often used as a dramatic focal point, these dark greens are also being applied as an overall room scheme.




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Leading Trends in Casual Fabrics for 2020 Here’s a quick look at the leading trends that specialty retailers will find in casual fabrics for the 2020 season: Options, lots of options There is no shortage of fabric options for the coming season. With leading fabric houses offering cut-yardage programs, retailers can enjoy quick and easy access to small yardages of hundreds of different fabrics. Given the great variety of options, it’s more important than ever that retailers understand the tastes of the markets they serve, and merchandise their showrooms accordingly. Performance as table stakes Fade resistance, durability, and ease of cleaning with no compromises in comfort and beauty – these are the core

attributes of today’s casual fabrics and treated as a given by retailers and consumers. Solution-dyed acrylics, solutiondyed polyesters, and quality PVC fabrics, with manufacturerrecommended TLC, are likely to last long after the homeowner has tired of the same look season after season. Of course, fabric brand counts, so know the trusted sources. Texture is king Textural effects created with specialty yarns and advanced fabric formation technology are all the rage with consumers. These textural effects range from the chunky to the fine with some created through optical illusions created across the fabric surface. Texture implies comfort, classic design, and expensive, all of which homeowners love. Not much news for color Blue continues to be the lead color story, with hues of green also growing in popularity. The term “neutral” is being used far beyond beiges and soft grays to include tones of blue and coral. Virtually any solid color that can go with other colors and patterns is being considered a neutral in the designer’s color palette.

Handmade by machines Another important trend in casual fabrics is the popularity of fabrics that appear to be handmade using natural fibers, such as cotton, wool, or silk. These synthetic fabrics, formed using state-of-the-art textile machinery, do a great job of looking classic and artisanal, yet are high performing and long lasting. Old is new again Fabric designers are beginning to look to the past for new fabric inspirations, reviving classic designs with new colorations and pattern tweaks.

Indoors, outdoors, who’s to say The look and feel of interior fabrics has moved to outdoor fabrics, and the performance of outdoor fabrics has moved to indoor décor. The need for fade resistance and easy care is intuitive when you think of outdoor fabrics, but it’s taken a while for these attributes to be fully appreciated inside, particularly given the price differential of a solution-dyed acrylic versus piece-dyed cotton. But the trend has taken hold for sun-drenched interiors with value-conscious homeowners who appreciate how the styling of casual fabrics has morphed for interiors. Mind, body, and home It seems almost every day there is new research showing the connection between healthy minds and bodies. Among these insights is the growing realization that our environments – inside and out – have a direct impact on our feeling of wellbeing. Casual fabric designers have taken these findings to heart, creating fabric collections that soothe and comfort, and that allow homeowners to make a personal expression inside and outside of their homes that is inspiring, nurturing, and sustaining.

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Tempotest® fabric is the most colorful, durable outdoor textile on the market today. For nearly a century, Tempotest® fabric’s Italian-made design and technology have provided superior quality and unique styles. Our fabric is oil and water-repellent, and resistant to mold, stains, salt, and UV fading.

All Tempotest® fabrics are proudly and exclusively made by the Parà Group in our state-of-the-art production plants in Italy. Established in 1921, Parà Group is a three-generation, family-owned company. Our hallmark Italian style and unparalleled quality and service have earned us a distinguished reputation within the high-end fabric market world wide. In Italian, the word Tempotest® loosely translates to “stands the test of weather and time.” Tempotest® fabrics for awning, marine, and outdoor furniture are literally named for their durability, beauty, and performance.


| Gas Products |

CLEAN FACES Sales of gas fireplaces remain strong, as manufacturers add features to satisfy the desires of their customers. By Bill Sendelback


hile recent sales increases in wood- and pelletburning hearth products have been a pleasant surprise for manufacturers, sales of gas hearth products continue their market domination and strong sales growth, especially with the higher-end models. Gas hearth products continue to be the bulk of sales for the average hearth product retailer, according to research done for Hearth & Home magazine’s Buyer’s Guide. Vented-gas hearth products represent 49% of the typical hearth product dealer’s sales, while wood-burners are only 28%, and pellet-burners 12% of dealer sales. Sales of vent-free gas models are 6% of dealer sales, and electric fireplaces currently represent 3%. Direct-venting continues to dominate the venting of gas hearth products, increasing to 92% of gasventing options over B-vent and vent-free. While dealer sales are evenly split 50/50 between freestanding gas stoves and gas fireplace inserts, dealers report cast-iron models average 65% of their gas freestanding-stove sales, with steel construction at 34%, and combination

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cast-iron and stone construction 1% of gas-stove sales. For decades, wood-burners have been under constant attack from environmentalists and regulators for their emissions of particulates. But recently, environmental concerns have shifted to controlling greenhouse gases. This new effort is now focused on limiting or eliminating the use of natural gas, while threats to wood-burning have slowed. As an example, the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, with its Zero Net Carbon efforts, has regulated that natural gas can no longer be used in new residential construction of more than 3,500 sq. ft. So far that restriction does not apply to new homes of less than 3,500 sq. ft., and the City of Toronto, Ontario, is considering a similar restriction. The newly elected governor of Colorado is considering statewide limits on the use of natural gas, while, ironically, at the same time allowing more wood-burning. Such efforts are not limited to North America. Across the pond in the UK, its Committee on Climate Change is proposing that no new UK homes be connected to

the country’s gas grid after 2025. Those fighting this proposal, including the UK’s Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers, say that 90% of UK consumers can’t, or won’t, be prepared to pay for alternative low-carbon heating systems. Our gas hearth products industry and the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) are well aware of these efforts to restrict or eliminate the use of natural gas, and are working to offset such steps.

Manufacturers With new home construction and housing sales strong in 2018, Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT) did well with its gas hearth products, says Randy Wendolek, Brand Marketing manager. But while retail sales remain strong, Wendolek sees some sales softness this year in the housing market. “2019 sales will be flat, but we’re hoping for a stronger second half,” he says.

Linear styling continues to be a strong, growing trend, according to Wendolek. He points out that consumers want a gas fireplace in which they can manage the heat, so they can safely put a TV set above the fireplace. So HHT now offers its Phoenix and Legacy models, traditional open-fronted models with no glass, that can vent unwanted heat outside. With HHT’s recent purchase of Stellar Hearth Products, the company now offers

custom gas fireplaces, a continuation of the Stellar brand. New gas fireplace inserts will soon be featured in the Supreme and Provident Series in the Heat & Glo brand, the Excursion Series in the Quadra-Fire brand, and the Ruby and Jasper models in the Majestic line. Available in 25-, 30- and 35-inch models Foundation Series by Heat & Glo.

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| Gas Products | in traditional and modern styling, these inserts are engineered for easier installation with easier flue connection and easier access to components. Wendolek also says that consumers now want gas fireplaces that can be controlled with a smart phone app, and HHT soon will have that app available.

New from European Home are its vent-free peninsula model and its J Series of outdoor fireplaces featuring its M2 single-sided and see-through models, both 60-inches wide. The J Series includes multicolored LED lights inside the firebox, and frosted glass panels in front and behind the burner.

European Home’s single-sided J Series.

Gas hearth product sales grew 10% last year for European Home, a company offering domestic-manufactured fireplaces under the company name, and imported Element 4 and Focus brands from Europe. “Our growth was not as strong as in recent years,” said Holly Markham, owner. We sell in the upper-end price ranges where we’re seeing this market expand into cleanfaced, modern styling. Sales so far this year are up another 10%.” With sales growth in higher-end gas fireplaces, Markham sees increasing popularity in linear models, and now a movement toward fireplaces with taller openings. “Even many traditional-styled models are now featuring clean faces,” she says.

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Markham is particularly critical of the “heat dumping” or “heat management” trend that’s growing in the industry. “Consumers want the largest flames possible,” she says, “but why can’t we try for the best flames while using the least amount of gas to produce less heat when heat is not wanted? If the customer doesn’t want a lot of heat, dealers should educate them about what they are asking for and what they might get. Isn’t that better than selling them a bigger unit than they need, and then dumping heat and dollars outside?”

Last year was a good year for Empire Comfort Systems, especially for sales of its vent-free products and high-end gas fireplaces. “Once in about every eight to 10 years we see this kind of a sales year,” says Nick Bauer, president. “When cold weather comes early, vent-free gas logs and gas fireplace inserts sell well.” For Empire Comfort, an increase in custom homebuilding is helping its sales of highend, $4,000 to $8,000, gas fireplaces, and large, linear models of 60 inches and longer. “This year is half over,” adds Bauer, “but our sales are pretty steady across the board. We had our best pre-season sales orders ever. With this trend toward higher-end models, we’re now hitting price points that we never thought we would hit.” New from Empire Comfort is its DVCT-50 gas fireplace in the company’s TruFlame Series, a 50-inch, traditionalstyled model. The company’s new Plaza Series, a finalist in the Gas Products category in the 2019 Vesta Awards program, features “Cool Touch” technology, allowing non-combustible material to be placed to the edge of the fireplace opening. The Plaza Series has retail prices ranging from $10,000 to $15,000. Last year was the best sales year in gas log manufacturer Hargrove’s history, according to Mark Hitchcock, director of Sales and Marketing. “We saw more interest in remote controls and electronic ignition, and we sold considerably more high-end log sets than in the past. We’ve had an uptick in sales every year for the last six years, and so far, 2019 also is doing very well.” In some markets gas logs are not looked at as a “viable option,” says Hitchcock, “so dealers stopped emphasizing them. But now dealers are even adding wood-burning fireplaces just to put gas logs in them when the customer wants a less expensive gas fireplace than a direct-vent model.” Driftwood and birch logs are making a resurgence, says Hitchcock, “but they are still niche products. Our Canyon Timbers sets with ABOVE: Canyon Timbers by Hargrove.

their charred look are still our bread and butter.” Hargrove is seeing increasing sales success with its Radiant Heat Series vented-gas log sets, featuring ceramic-fiber logs and offering “more heat into the room.” New from Hargrove is its Hidden Controls Burner that hides the controls behind the burner and logs. Also new is the company’s Pinnacle burner, providing taller, more vertical flames for Rumsford-styled fireplaces. Hargrove now offers its Coal Basket in a vent-free model for smaller fireplaces. Last year was a “phenomenal” gas hearth product sales year for RH Peterson, says Jerry Scott, senior vice president of Sales. “Sales started earlier and continued later in the year. We had to work overtime and weekends to keep up with demand.” Peterson saw a better early-buy period this year. “It was a wonderful 2018,” Scott adds, “and we expect a wonderful 2019.” Despite some localities taking pot shots at gas-burning, the “environmental cleanliness of gas hearth products resonates with consumers,” Scott says. “These products are easier to use, cleaner, more beautiful, and people want to save energy. “Many consumers want more contemporary looks such as with glass or rock ember beds, but traditional styling is picking up speed,” says Scott. “Contemporary is a bit of a novelty. Fireplaces bring back images of past traditions such as the holidays.” Peterson also is seeing its outdoor fireplaces and fire pits selling well. “These tend to be welcome summer sales for dealers,” he says. New from Peterson are models of birch log sets and its new Contemporary i Series direct-vent gas fireplace inserts in 25- and 30-inch sizes. Last year was an “okay but lackluster” sales year for gas stoves and inserts for HearthStone Stoves, according to Dave Kuhfahl, president. “We’ve been highly focused on our wood stoves, getting them ready for the NSPS 2020 deadline, so we’ve not added new gas products,” he says. However, HearthStone’s flagship model, its Waitsfield gas stove, has seen

nice sales increases. “It’s that kind of an economy where higher-end models are selling,” he says. Kuhfahl also feels HearthStone has had voids in its gas fireplace insert line. “But we’ll fill those voids, too, after we wrap up our NSPS efforts,” he says. Kuhfahl expects HearthStone’s 2019 gas products sales to be “up some.” Kuhfahl is surprised by HearthStone’s strong sales in gas models with standing pilots rather than IPI units. “We actually discontinued standing pilots, but we had to bring them back,” he says. “A lot of our stoves are used as heat sources, and standing pilots really work.”

ABOVE: HearthStone Stoves’ Waitsfield gas stove. LEFT: RH Peterson Burnt Aspen gas logs.

DVLXG55 Plaza by Empire Comfort Systems.

Another reason for HearthStone’s slower sales of gas models last year was that the company was developing glass barriers for those models so production slowed during the development. “We did not want to simply slap a screen on the

outside of our glass doors,” he says. “We wanted to attractively incorporate that screen into the door. We did just that, and this screen now is not removable, a safety factor that also will contain any glass breakage.”

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| Gas Products |

Allume DLX by Innovative Hearth Products.

This year, sales of gas hearth products started slowly for Innovative Hearth Products, but picked up when winter weather cleared, according to Michael Lewis, vice president of Marketing. With gas fireplaces the major part of IHP’s sales, the company offers a full range from entry level to premium models with its Superior brand geared for homebuilders, and its Astria brand aimed at specialty hearth dealers. “We’ve done a lot in the past year to overhaul our gas fireplace lines with new logs, new firebox interiors, and larger flames,” says Lewis. “In 2015, we went after efficiency, but customers want big flames. So we’ve focused on interior aesthetics while maintaining efficiency.” More contemporary fireplaces and outdoor models are trends Lewis is seeing. “We’ve always had a strong outdoor fireplace offering, but we’ve needed more contemporary models, so we’ve done a lot of work to strengthen our contemporary lineup,” he says. “Contemporary styling is not a flash in the pan.” Lewis says larger, linear fireplaces are going into commercial and hospitality installations, and consumers are seeing and wanting more of this look. New from IHP is its Allume and Allume DXL 60-inch linear models in its Astria brand. New outdoor fireplaces soon will be added to the IHP offering. Napoleon Fireplaces had a “very good” 2018 gas-fireplace sales year with

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a double-digit sales increase, according to John Czerwonka, vice president of Hearth Sales. “We introduced new linear models in good, better, and best categories and see-throughs, all featuring our Dynamic Heat Control to allow TVs to be placed as close as 14 inches to the top of the fireplace without needing power venting.” Ascent is Napoleon’s builder model. Aries is its “good” model; Vector is its “better” model; and Luxuria is Napoleon’s “best” category in this new lineup.

Napoleon’s Luxuria gas fireplace.

First quarter 2019 sales were slow for Napoleon’s gas models after a January price increase pulled sales into December, but sales came back “quite strong” beginning in April, says Czerwonka. Price points are working their way up, he says. “More features in our ‘better’ and ‘best’ models are attracting customers to buy up.” And he points out that the biggest trend in gas fireplaces is “clean-faced, clean-faced, clean-faced.” New from Napoleon are four new gas fireplace inserts in its Oakville Series, featuring easier installation and service. In Napoleon’s new Ascent line for homebuilders, 13 models also are now available in LP, no longer requiring a conversion from natural gas. Napoleon is using its Hot Spot research to develop gas fireplaces that can be completely customized in the field. “Now dealers can take any model and modify it to fit any specific design style the consumer wants,” says Czerwonka. “We offer hundreds of options, but by starting with a basic fireplace model, this reduces dealer inventory and is easy to understand and use.” Also new from Napoleon is its Riverside Series of clean-faced outdoor models. A new patent-pending, direct-vent wall termination in stainless steel is paintable and extends only 2-½ inches from the outside wall. Regency Fireplaces did “extremely well” last year with sales of its gas hearth products, especially its City Series linear

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| Gas Products | gas fireplaces, says Glen Spinelli, president. “This series has done very well with architects and designers for high-end new homes,” he says. And 2019 sales look bright for Regency with sales up 8% by June. Dollar sales are up with Regency more than the company’s unit sales. “We’re selling much more expensive models, those retailing from $8,000 to $10,000. Dealers are doing well with custom-home builders with these higher-end models,” Spinelli says. “Consumers now have so many options in gas fireplaces. They want the variety, and dealers want the flexibility to offer anything the consumer wants.” To meet these needs, Regency is offering basic gas fireplace platforms in both traditional and contemporary styling to accept the many options, including top venting, rear venting, and heat or heat management. “We’re now even seeing linear models being fitted with traditional log sets rather than glass or stone ember-beds,” Spinelli adds. Regency also is offering basic platforms for gas fireplace inserts in small, medium, and large sizes with options including more finishes and more front and surround styles. “We had good, manageable sales growth last year, up 10%,” says Paul Miles, president and director of Sales and Marketing for Valor Fireplaces. “A very busy fall did create some challenges for us. We had a very good year in freestanding gas stoves, up 40%, but that is not the majority of our business. Our strongest sales volume last year was in gas fireplace inserts, showing a good sales percentage increase.” After a strong fall 2018, this year started off soft for Valor. “With the bad winter weather early this year, dealers could not install, but things have picked up now,” Miles adds. “Two or three years ago, contemporary styling was all the rage, but that now has stabilized. We’re seeing all styles – contemporary, transitional, and traditional – selling well as long as they have clean faces. And we’re back into logs in gas fireplaces, even in contemporary linear models, and a move away from glass ember beds.” Miles sees new energy in the remodeling market as old fireplaces from the ’70s and ’80s are now being replaced. “The consumer now wants better looking,

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City Series San Francisco Bay by Regency.

Horizon Series H3 by Valor Fireplaces.

more efficient fireplaces. So we’re replacing those 20- to 30-year-old, zero-clearance units. There also is a tremendous market replacing old fireplace inserts.” New from Valor is its Horizon Series H3, a traditional-styled, mid-sized gas fireplace.

Despite some regional concerns about the continued use of natural gas, there are no signs that sales of gas hearth products will not continue with strong growth, especially now, with manufacturers offering so many options to customize any installation to exactly what the consumer wants.

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| Outdoor Fun |

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT! Entertainment products add fun to the Outdoor Room and profits for retailers. By Lisa Readie Mayer


recent trend report by design, decorating, and remodeling platform Houzz, reveals what many specialty hearth, barbecue, and patio retailers already know: Consumers want to create an indoor-like outdoor-living environment at home. Since you’re most likely in the know about that, it’s also likely you already offer a wide variety of grills and outdoorcooking products. Maybe you even carry outdoor kitchen cabinetry, fire pits, fireplaces, bar elements, heaters, and patio furnishings.

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But there are plenty more products you could be offering to help homeowners live and entertain better outdoors. Innovative, new, entertainment-focused products ampup customers’ fun, enjoyment, and comfort in their outdoor spaces, and in the process, earn them bragging rights with the neighbors. Introducing these type of products to your line-up can add excitement to the sales floor, differentiate your business, cement your positioning as an expert in the Outdoor Room category, and create add-on sales opportunities. Here’s a look at some of them.

TV Guide An outdoor television is one of the mostrequested and most-used elements in an Outdoor Room. It is the focal point for game-day home-gating, dinner-and-amovie parties, and relaxing evenings of Netflix-binging. Early versions of outdoorrated televisions were pricy, putting them out of reach for many homeowners. But today, there are more affordable options and alternative solutions than ever. A Cabinet Tronix outdoor hidden TV.

“Most outdoor-rated TVs cost at least $5,000, so many people end up (spending $500) and using an indoor TV outdoors,” says Aaron Mellow, Senior Key Account manager at Furrion, makers of outdoor TV and audio systems. “They figure if they spend $500, and have to replace it in a year or two, they are still ahead of the game. But we saw a gap in the market that was not being met.” To answer the need, Furrion introduced its Aurora line of affordably priced, fully weatherproof, outdoor televisions this year, with sizes ranging from 43 to 65 inches, and retail

on the patio or have music outdoors when you’re entertaining? People want to be living life outdoors. Retailers have been successful running promotions around Memorial Day, Father’s Day, or other key summer holidays. Sometimes they’ll even offer a free Sound Bar with the purchase of an outdoor TV.” Another alternative is the new Storm Shell, a waterproof case that encloses and protects a regular indoor television so it can be used outdoors. The UV- and impactresistant, hard-plastic case is available in 44-, 55- and 65-inch sizes, and comes with a rotating wall-mount bracket and hardware suitable for installing on brick,

within an attractive, waterproof cabinet base, but when ready to watch, elevates it to a comfortable viewing position with the push of a button. Made in the USA, the weatherproof cabinets have 10-year warranties, heavyduty lift systems, and compartments to hide cable boxes, DVD players, sound bars, remotes, and other components. They come in a wide variety of exterior finishes, including a selection of porcelain tiles, woods, stacked stone, and more than 60 colors of stucco. On casters, the cabinets can easily be relocated on the patio, and have

concrete, stucco, wood, or siding. The front cover is attached by lockable buckle latches, and easily removed for TV viewing. “It is a simple solution for watching television outdoors and much less expensive than buying an outdoor-rated TV,” says managing partner Derrick Longson. (Retail prices range from $349 to $599.) “The response has been great.” In sophisticated indoor-living spaces, many designers and homeowners prefer to keep the TV out of sight. So it is with luxury Outdoor Rooms. When not in use, Cabinet Tronix hides the television

360-degree swivel mounts to position the television for viewing from multiple areas within the outdoor space, such as the pool, spa, outdoor kitchen, fire pit seating area, or bar. When the TV is recessed, the cabinet becomes an extra tabletop or counter surface for serving. “This is a solution-based product that’s also a cool luxury item and a conversation piece outdoors,” says Cabinet Tronix owner Trace McCullough. “It’s something that homeowners may not have known about, but as soon as they see it, they want it.”

The Aurora from Furrion.

prices between $999 and $2,699. The televisions come in sun and shade versions to provide the crispest visuals for the installation conditions. Though all models incorporate speakers, the company also offers affordable, wall-mount-able, Bluetooth-capable, weatherproof Sound Bars for higherquality sound while watching television or listening to music outdoors. “We have gotten tremendous interest from designers and retailers,” says Mellow. “It’s about creating an outdoor living experience. Why not watch the football game

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| Outdoor Fun | Fun and Games The Game Cabinet by NatureKast Weatherproof Cabinetry is designed to help families “put down their devices and go out and play,” says vice president of Sales and Marketing Chris Exelby. The eight-foot-tall cabinet is made of high-density resin that replicates the natural color and texture of real cypress wood, and coordinates with NatureKast outdoor kitchen cabinetry. The Game Cabinet, a 2019 Vesta Award winner for Outdoor Room product innovation, is stocked with classic lawn games such as darts, Kan Jam, horseshoes, bocce, croquet, and corn hole, as well as unusual ones, such Molkky from Finland, and a Viking­-inspired game called Kubb. Florida-based Gameroom Concepts Unlimited manufactures outdoor pingpong, foosball, shuffleboard, and pool tables, as well as corn hole games, to turn an Outdoor Room into the ultimate rec room or man cave. Made of aluminum, the products are designed to hold up in any outdoor weather or climate conditions, according to Joe Grasso, company vice president. “They are very durable and last 30 years or more outside,” he says. “The trend is bringing the indoors out. These tables add to the outdoor experience and enhance the fun.”

The Game Cabinet by NatureKast Weatherpoof Cabinetry.

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Coyote Fire Pit powered by Blazing Beats.

The company also offers a full complement of accessories, including cue-stick racks and conversion tops that fit over tables and convert them to a buffet surface or additional dining-table seating. “The homeowner can get double use of the table and the space,” Grasso says. “For the retailer, it’s another source of revenue.” Life of the Party Blazing Beats, from Coyote Outdoor Living, is a next-level fire table that incorporates a marine-grade, Bluetoothcontrolled, weatherproof audio system to deliver great sound, while a patentpending “Sound Visualization Burner” synchronizes flames to the music. The fire flickers and dances to the beat in a mesmerizing display that adapts whether it’s an easy-listening evening for two, or the music is rockin’ for an outdoor party. The natural- or propane-gas-fueled fire pit is available in a number of finishes, including weathered wood and stackedstone bases with concrete tops, so it looks stylish in the Outdoor Room even when the music isn’t playing. For quality sound sans flames, Soundcast’s VG5 outdoor speakers offer high-quality streaming from Internet radio, personal music libraries, and apps like Pandora or Spotify, to provide a soundtrack to any grilling session or outdoor party. The speakers are fully protected against rusting, rain, snow and sun, and at only 3.5 pounds, they are lightweight, portable and easy to move about the outdoor-living space.

Two speakers can be paired together for twice the volume and coverage. While these speakers are more likely to be heard and not seen, wood-fired fire pit grills such as OFYR Grills, Arteflame, and Le Bol Grill by Renaissance Fireplaces, command attention on the patio. These novel, garden-sculpture-like, multipurpose products inspire fun and interactive outdoor experiences that are sure to be talked about long after the party ends. Drawn to the warmth, romance, and aroma of the wood fire in the center of the unit, guests linger to socialize, and help cook on the wide, plancha-griddle band that encircles the fire. These fire pit grills are ideal for keeping self-serve appetizers and melted cheese dips warm on the flattop cooking surface, while providing live-fire cooking drama and wood-smoke flavor for

The VG5 from Soundcast.

The Outdoor Big Screen from Camp Chef.

Oh, outside Fire!

the main course and even dessert. Besides the units themselves, there are plenty of add-on, accessory sales opportunities, including grilling-grid inserts, skewer sets, rotisserie systems, wood storage units, covers, and more. For theater of another sort, outdoor movies are the ticket to memorable backyard campouts, kids’ parties, and family nights. Outdoor Big Screens by Camp Chef come in a variety of sizes, are lightweight, and easy to set up. Depending on the model, the oversized screens can be hung against a wall, strung between trees, or stand-mounted on legs. “People shopping at specialty barbecue stores tend to host friends and family for events and parties,” says Camp Chef Marketing manager Ryan Neeley. “They are looking to invest in their outdoor cooking and entertaining options, and this is another extension of outdoor living.” Retailers looking to extend their outdoor living business might want to consider expanding their outdoor entertainment offerings.

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| Digital Marketing |

ENEMY TO FRENEMY TO FRIEND Specialty retailers turn to sophisticated marketing programs to attract customers and close sales. By Mark Brock


ob Smith created Chimney Techniques in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1985, offering a unique approach to relining chimneys. Over many years, the company expanded with a variety of hearth and spa products, ranging from fireplace inserts and wood stoves to hot tubs and barbecues. His daughter, Ryann Blake,

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joined the company in 2015 and became the owner and operator when Bob retired in 2017. Under Ryann’s leadership the company has continued to grow and improve, includ­ ing enhancements to its digital marketing program. Just recently, she reimagined the company’s approach to social media, super­ charging its presence on the Internet.

“We added videos to our Facebook pages, and while we used to have between 200 and 400 hits on our website each month, now with the videos we’ve seen that increase to more than 5,000 during November, which is part of the peak season. Even during March, which is toward the end of the season, we were at 2,000.” The videos provide insights for customers concerning the technical aspects of hearth products while showcasing the personalities and expertise of people who work for Chimney Techniques. In addition to Facebook content, which focuses on the company’s products and people, Ryann uses imagery on Instagram to communicate the lifestyles that come

“We’ve already made a personal connection with them through our online content, and customers like us and they trust us.” ­— Ryann Blake

with their products, featuring friends and family having fun grilling outdoors. “The reactions to our videos have been amazing,” she said. “Our goal all along has been to be seen as a trusted resource and as someone that customers can relate to. When people come into the store, they know who I am and they know the names of our people, even our dog Cinder. Some people come in just to meet Cinder. We have gained quite a few followers in the area, and coupled with Instagram lifestyle posts, this approach to social media has done well for our business.” Ryann reserves a couple of hours on her calendar each Monday to review Google analytics to see which aspects of the program are working and to plan social media posts for the coming week. The company works with a video production specialist in producing videos at a cost that fits her marketing budget. “We know our customers shop online, and they can buy from a number of different places,” she said. “But with videos, our customers feel like they already know us when they walk in the door. We’ve already made a personal connection with them through our online content, and customers like us and they trust us.”

with their customers and encourage them to come into the showroom. Websites are morphing from brochureware to interactive sites that serve as the hub of digital marketing programs, providing a showroom experience online and a landing page for search while creating personality, credibility, and brand. Retailers are increasingly active on social media, particularly Facebook, because of its reach and targeting capabilities, and Instagram because of its emphasis on visual and lifestyle content and its growing popularity. As in the case of Chimney Techniques, retailers are recognizing the essential role of video content, not only to engage

Digital Marketing Growing in Sophistication for Specialty Retailers For many years, the Internet and all things digital were seen by specialty retailers as “the enemy.” While online merchants continue to be primary competition for specialty retailers, a fundamental shift has occurred and is accelerating. Retailers are becoming more adept at using digital marketing – from websites and social media to search and email blasts – to connect

customers but to improve positioning on social media and enhance search results. Google search programs have become a mainstay in digital marketing programs as retailers gain greater insights into how to target their content, apply their budgets, and increase their ranking through content that is both organic and paid. Many retailers are also creating a following through regular email messaging that includes not only promotional content, but also lifestyle imagery and suggestions

on how to prepare the ideal meal outdoors or add decorating zip to a patio. Retargeting or remarketing, in which a retailer’s display ads follow consumers as they search the web, is also growing in application. One of the most important shifts is recognition by retailers that their online content cannot be just about selling. Through photography and video, the most successful retailers are not only sharing technical data about their products but, more importantly, inspiring their customers to seek out a lifestyle that’s possible with Outdoor Rooms – barbecues, spas, patio furnishings, and hearth products. Content is seen as a vital tool in building a retailer’s brand. Because digital marketing can be highly technical and fast-changing, retailers are retaining the services of outside digital marketing experts. It’s become obvious to many retail owners and managers that search optimization, retargeting, and online digital ads are beyond their expertise. At the same time, these retailers remain personally engaged in their digital programs, reserving time each week to review analytics and plan future content based on those analytics.

“Consistency is essential when it comes to digital marketing.” ­— Brandon Uttley

Most importantly, retailers are recognizing that digital marketing is not the enemy but their single best opportunity for creating a level playing field with online merchants. Consistency Is Key in Digital Marketing Brandon Uttley, CEO of Go For Launch, a digital marketing agency in Charlotte, North Carolina, has one easy test to determine if a company is serious about leveraging digital marketing. Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019

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| Digital Marketing | “If I go to a company’s website, or their Facebook page, and their last post was a year ago, it’s clear they are not serious or successful with digital marketing,” said Uttley, who works with a variety of large and small companies in different market segments. “Consistency is essential when it comes to digital marketing. If your last post was months ago, people might even assume your company is no longer in business.” Social media remains a central focus for the clients that Uttley works with, and for good reason. The latest research shows that more than 70% of consumers in the U.S. use social media at some level. The keys to success are not only consistency,

as if they’re a TV station offering content that’s newsworthy with lots of human interest for their audiences.” The latest thinking and the best practices related to digital marketing are continually changing, according to Uttley. Video content, typically in three- to fourminute productions, is now leading the way for audience engagement and search success. Posting content on Facebook without a paid advertising program is not likely to prove effective. Websites should be mobile friendly because people are typically using their smartphones while out shopping, and Google favors websites that are mobile friendly.

but also selecting your channels carefully and providing content that’s compelling, relevant, and entertaining. “For patio and hearth retailers, the content should be aspirational, showing people how they can create beautiful spaces inside and outside their homes for family and friends to gather and create memories,” he said. “A common mistake is thinking that only slick videos and expensive photography is effective when in fact do-it-yourself photos and videos with an organic feel can be effective as long as it’s on message, creates an emotional connection, and has good audio with the video. Retailers should think of themselves

“Social media advertising can be extremely targeted and relatively inexpensive,” Uttley said. “Some recent research shows that organic search alone on Facebook is only between 1% and 6% effective in reaching your audience, so advertising is essential in addition to your content posts. Facebook is in business to make money, so it only makes sense the company favors its advertisers.” Other trends that Uttley is seeing include a movement to longer blog posts of 1,200 to 1,500 words where the standard used to be 250 to 500 words. Email marketing is also growing in popularity with Uttley urging a mix of 30% promotional content and 70% lifestyle.

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“One of the most effective and sometimes overlooked aspects of digital marketing is re-targeting or re-marketing,” he said. “By adding a few lines of code to your website, you can gain the ability to follow visitors to your site as they visit other sites. These ads remind them they visited your site and encourage them to return when they’re ready to schedule a showroom visit.” Digital Marketing – It’s All About Imagery Jeanne Grier, an interior design professional, views digital marketing from the perspective of imagery. On one level, a fireplace is an appliance that provides heat, but on a much higher level, a fireplace is a design element – often the central design element – that adds a sense of place and a touch of elegance to a room. It’s this focus on imagery that drives the digital marketing program for Stylish Fireplaces & Interiors, an interior design firm and electric fireplace specialty retailer that Jeanne owns with husband Colin in Ontario, Canada. From the company’s website through its social media presence, the emphasis is on visual imagery of the transformative power of fireplaces. “Designers adopted digital from the get-go because of the potential for sharing imagery, and so it’s been with digital marketing for our company,” she said. “We like to think of ourselves as interior designers who opened a fireplace store.” Stylish Fireplaces & Interiors supports a robust digital marketing program that includes monthly emails with content customized by audience – customers, prospects, designers, and contractors. The company continually adds to its email database as new prospects come into the store and as Jeanne and Colin form new relationships with designers and contractors. Stylish Fireplaces also remains top of mind with designers and contractors through digital content and advertising in professional association eNews letters. Other elements of their digital marketing program include social media and blog posts that Jeanne writes twice each month. Each of the elements of the digital program is designed to drive traffic to their website and, ultimately, lead to showroom visits. A common challenge with all elements of

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| Digital Marketing | their digital marketing program is the need to secure a continual flow of compelling images. “We supplement the images that we receive from manufacturers with photos from customers, installers, and designers,”

straightforward. A great photo, a snappy headline, a couple of paragraphs of copy, and there you have your newspaper and Yellow Pages ads. Digital marketing has changed all of that over the past two decades. Website design, search optimization, and social media are highly technical areas with languages all their own. It’s been this “Digital marketing is just increasing complexity, combined with another aspect of my job. recognition of the challenges and the opportunities of digital marketing, that If I didn’t do these things, have led an increasing number of specialty retailers to seek outside assistance. we wouldn’t reach our A good example of this trend is Rick Soccio. He and his wife began their sales goals.” entrepreneurial adventure in 1997 when ­— Jeanne Grier they began to explore heating alternatives for their 18th century home in south central Pennsylvania. Trained in HVAC, she said. “We sponsor contests to solicit both those provided by Google and results Soccio’s attention shifted to alternative images through email and offer prizes – they track within the showroom. energy sources, ultimately leading to larger prizes for designers – for sending us “We track every single sale, ask each his acquiring an existing business. The imagery that we can use for social media customer how they heard about us,” she Soccio’s company, AES Hearth & Patio, or on the web.” said. “I can review Google analytics and grew steadily over the years organically and Managing an expansive digital determine how much we spend on search through acquisitions, leading to a decision marketing program is time consuming, on the web, which search to bring on a marketing but time well spent, according to Jeanne. terms are working for us, consultant last year. “Digital marketing is just another and how we should adjust “When I came on board, aspect of my job. If I didn’t do these and change. We are also AES was moving in the things, we wouldn’t reach our sales goals,” constantly asking people to right direction with digital she said. “It was tougher in the early days review us on Google.” marketing, sending emails to when it was just me and my husband customers and making efforts operating a store and a design business Specialty Retailers to improve SEO,” said Heather six days a week. Our staff has grown over Seeking Outside Hockenberry, a marketing and the years, and I use all of the systems we Assistance communications consultant at have so that I can write a number of posts One of the defining characHockenberry Management at one sitting and have them post at future teristics of specialty retailConsulting. dates. The website was designed so that I ers is their ability to wear Rick Soccio. “My role has been to see can maintain the content myself. We have many different hats all on how AES can improve in all of outside assistance for search.” the same day – operations, its marketing activities. If we Stylish Fireplaces is highly targeted customer service, human resources and, put an ad on Facebook or Instagram, is it with its Google ad word purchases, of course, marketing. In the good old days visually appealing? Which of our search focusing on residents who are within of traditional marketing, it was relatively terms is producing the greatest return and driving distance of the store. Search remains the No. 1 element in the digital marketing program, responsible for more than 40% of sales. Through the use of analytics, Jeanne and her outside firm “If we put an ad on ensure that search results remain strong. Facebook or Instagram, “We can ship products anywhere in the country, but our focus is on consumers is it visually appealing?” within driving distance, which is a large ­— Heather Hockenberry population,” she said. “There are videos on our website, and people living in more remote areas can view our products and

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reach out to us, but we know our best investment is in search terms that reach people in a reasonable driving distance for showroom visits.” Analytics are a driving force behind digital marketing for Stylish Fireplaces,


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| Digital Marketing | how can we improve? Rick knows more come from and where they want to go have progressed, so have positive results. about alternative heating solutions than next,” she said. “For a growing business, “Customers tell us that they found us I will ever know, but I know marketing marketing can take up too much time for online, so we know our website and digital and communications. When we put our an owner and that’s when a strategic partner marketing are working for us,” Beth brains together, we can get a fuller picture is needed, not just to get stuff done, which said. “We’ve had a website and been on of where the business is today and where is important, but to ask continually how Facebook for quite some time and added we want to go in the future.” can we improve.” Instagram this year.” AES Hearth & Patio has two locations in Pennsylvania – Newville and Camp Hill – specializing in custom hearth design “Customers tell us that of all kinds, for both indoor and outdoor applications. AES has also expanded into they found us online, so outdoor living products, encompassing we know our website and grills, grill accessories, fire pits, outdoor furniture, and retractable awnings. digital marketing are Since coming on board, Hockenberry has focused on how email messaging from working for us.” AES can be enhanced, including a section ­— Beth Revello in each email for “ask the expert” that allows customers to pose questions about their hearth and outdoor living products. She has also focused on enhancing search results for the company, which has Specialty Retailers Making In terms of content for their digital improved substantially. From a broader Gradual Move to Digital program, Casual Living Outfitters regularly perspective, her role is to ensure that the Casual Living Outfitters of Ripon, features product photography while also company is strategic with its marketing Wisconsin, traces its roots to 1998 when highlighting various manufacturers. programs, including digital, and that the Sam Holmes and his daughter Heidi made Google continues to provide them with brand voice for AES is consistent and an unexpected transition from selling a top ranking for the region as a result speaks in terms that relate to the wants, insurance to selling casual furniture. of their search program, website, digital needs, and interests of customers. When a family friend in the furniture advertising, and social activities. “Creating a brand voice is so important industry needed to dispose of outdoor “Digital marketing is definitely the for a company,” Hockenberry said. furniture samples, Sam offered to help, future for specialty retailers because our “Companies have a tendency to speak in and a new business venture opened up. customers just don’t rely on print media as the terms they understand Sam and Heidi eventually they used to,” Beth said. “We’ll continue and not necessarily in terms sold the insurance agency and, to expand digital marketing while not that a consumer can relate as they say, the rest is history. losing sight of what our father set in place to. Consistency is also key, Casual Living Outfitters is a long ago – knowledgeable salespeople, and we do all in our power destination shopping location friendly staff members, fast delivery, and to have a consistent brand in the Ripon region with great customer service.” voice whether it’s the sign three sprawling warehouses on the door, how employees encompassing more than 15,000 Digital Marketing – Fishing greet customers, or the ads sq. ft. Sam’s daughters, Heidi Where the Fish Have Gone we place in the Chamber of Semenske and Beth Revello, Hugh Morris has been in the hearth Commerce directory.” are continuing their father’s industry for about seven years, including While digital marketing traditions of friendly service five years with a company called Wholesale is an important strategic Heidi Semenske. and a wide selection of quality Fireplaces of Idaho, where he built and direction for AES, the outdoor furnishings, while moderated the company’s Facebook company continues to incorporating digital marketing. page, and two years at Leisure Time of support traditional marketing outlets, “Our movement into digital marketing Boise and Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he including billboard and radio. In the has been a gradual transition,” Beth said. immersed himself in digital and social smaller communities it serves, word of “We began with a website, then moved media marketing. mouth also remains a powerful influencer into social media with Facebook and Morris is currently Operations manager in generating sales. Instagram, and retained expert assistance at Morton’s Stoves, Pools & Spas, a 30-year“As a consultant, it’s my role to get inside with Google search. Our advertising has old company with locations in Battle a client’s head, understand their customer also transitioned to digital ads.” Ground and Vancouver, Washington. experience, and determine where they’ve As their digital marketing efforts For Morris, the transition of specialty

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| Digital Marketing |

“Why social media, why digital marketing? It’s where people’s attention has shifted.” ­— Hugh Morris

retailers from traditional media to digital marketing is simply fishing where the fish have gone. “Why social media, why digital marketing? It’s where people’s attention has shifted,” he said. “It’s no longer the newspaper delivered on the driveway each morning, but it’s a smartphone where people are spending their time and attention and gaining information they need for all aspects of their lives. And with digital, it’s active engagement. You can’t interact with a printed newspaper, but you can interact on social media, and that’s where you engage with your customers today.” One of the challenges that specialty retailers face in committing to digital marketing is assuring that their employees support the transition. A long-term retail employee who is accustomed to seeing ads in the local newspaper may not be comfortable with an employer who’s spending the ad budget on social media, website, and search. “There can be a learning curve for employees moving from traditional to digital because it’s a big change,” Morris said. “One of the solutions we’ve used has been to bring employees into the content – showing them unloading or installing a stove or cooking on a grill or being involved in the local community. Your employees can be a great way to connect to the local community and get them on board with digital.” Social media can be invaluable in engaging actively with potential customers through quality content, according to Morris. “It’s not just about selling, but also about building your brand,” Morris said. “Take Red Bull, for example. It’s an energy drink, but its online content is centered around extreme sports not energy drinks. That content creates their brand. The same is true for specialty retail. Your brand is not

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just the grills, fireplaces, patio furniture, or spas you sell, but it’s bringing people together to enjoy life.” Morris’ strategy for Morton’s Stoves is to use their website and blog to provide technical details concerning the variety of products they offer. This information must be accurate and transparent in making a case for why to purchase. He views social media as complementary to website content, building the brand by focusing on the lifestyle associated with each product. One of the most significant challenges and opportunities with digital marketing is the explosion of information that’s generated and the ability to analyze, interpret, target, and market effectively.

business, which means that everyone has to raise their standard on customer service.” In Morris’ view, there is no going back to traditional media. “Traditional media may well be somewhat obsolete in the next 10 years,” he said. “When you pair digital marketing with in-home assistants, it’s hard to see how traditional media will remain relevant. I can also see a future where online merchants pair up with brick-andmortar retailers. They sell online and then we install and service. It could be a win for all of us.” Tying It All Together – Rich’s for the Home With so many different elements under the digital marketing umbrella, the question can become, how do you tie it all together? Rich’s for the Home, with five northwestern U.S. locations in and around Seattle, is a good example of pulling everything together for sales success. Whenever Rich’s launches a promotion, you’ll find content and display ads on social media, primarily on Facebook and Instagram, teasing the promotion and linking to the website where you’ll find

“The bulk of our digital marketing budget goes into search, and we also use a good bit of video in our marketing, including TV.” ­— Jon Chapman

“Digital marketing opens up so many micro-demographics that it can be difficult to find the ones where you should target your dollars,” he said. “You can’t market to everyone, and you have to be sure that your message is on target for each demographic and not overly broad. You have all of this feedback, but it’s up to you to determine what the data means. “It’s also important to recognize that the balance of power has shifted from the retailer to the consumer. A one-star rating on Google can do tremendous damage to a

promotional details. There are also email blasts, again teasing the promotion and directing consumers to the website to learn more, along with Google ad word purchases. Additionally, commercials will be running on cable TV, targeting consumers who are the most likely and most able to purchase the stoves, fireplaces, grills, patio furniture, and spas offered by Rich’s. The ultimate and measurable goal is simple – get consumers into a showroom to experience the product and the lifestyle, and make a purchase.

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Lunch, sponsored by Treasure Garden, will be available at noon, and the program will begin at 1 p.m. Klaussner Outdoor will host a reception from 6 to 7 p.m. in their showroom, Suite 16-100. Registration is $50 for ICFA members and $75 for non-members. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to City of Hope. Registration is available online at https://www.icfanet.org/event/icfa-special-events-seminar-2019. Participants will be eligible to win a variety of door prizes, including merchandise and gift certificates. Special thanks to lead sponsors:

| Digital Marketing | “The bulk of our digital marketing budget goes into search, and we also use a good bit of video in our marketing, including TV,” said Jon Chapman, CEO and son of the company founder, Larry Chapman. “We advertise on social media, primarily Facebook and Instagram, and we are good at collecting email addresses and do four email blasts each month. “One of the biggest changes in our business over the past several years is how consumers find inspirations for their homes. In years past, people clipped images from magazines for ideas for home additions, but now its digital media where they find their inspirations. For a retailer, it’s essential to get in front of people during all this screen time.” Rich’s for the Home works closely with the Carter Agency of Lynnwood, Washington, because of the continually changing nature of digital marketing. Bart Carter, agency president, is charged with keeping Rich’s at the forefront of digital marketing. “One of the tools we have emphasized for Rich’s is re-targeting or re-marketing,” Carter said. “We’ve added our own proprietary code to the Rich’s website so

that anyone visiting Rich’s online will see the company’s ads when they visit other websites. Also, we’ve created links between Rich’s website and virtually all of their suppliers, so that after someone visits a vendor site they will see banner ads for Rich’s where they can make a purchase.” Another digital tool that Carter recommends is targeting look-alike

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“We know the Millennial generation, in particular, likes to conduct business online.” ­— Bart Carter

demographics on Facebook. By sharing customer demographics with Facebook, this social media giant can offer access to additional audiences that have similar characteristics and are likely targets for products offered by Rich’s. “It’s essential that retailers include paid advertising as well as content on social media sites,” Carter said. “Everything interacts with everything else and we’ve seen results increase by 300% when we combine organic and paid display ads. Another opportunity that some retailers miss is tying their search terms back into the website. The terms you purchase should be prominent on your website landing page. Google monitors these results which

can affect your success with search.” Carter closely follows digital marketing, noting those who achieve success and those who don’t. There are distinct characteristics of companies that are not able to realize the full potential of digital marketing. “The biggest mistake that retailers make with digital marketing is they

simply don’t plan strategically and they don’t implement their programs correctly; they dabble in it, get frustrated, and quit,” he said. “Maybe they tried search for a while, but didn’t give it enough time to work, or they neglected to include their search terms on their website landing pages. Digital marketing works, but you have to do it correctly.” As far as future innovations for digital marketing and the future for companies such as Rich’s, the future is expansive, Carter says. “We’re adding conversion tools to the website so that people can schedule in-home visits online,” Carter said. “We know the Millennial generation, in particular, likes to conduct business online, so these types of online tools will be important additions.” The Non-Digital Advantage for Specialty Retailers While there is no question that digital marketing can become a competitive strategy for specialty retailers, there is no denying their ultimate advantage – hands-on customer service. Even digital marketing experts, such as Brandon Uttley, can attest to the value of the local retailer. “Last year, we did some renovation to our home and built an area for a grill,” Uttley said. “I went online to purchase a grill, hoping to save some money. When the grill arrived, we never were able to get it to work properly; after several email exchanges, we returned the grill. Then I found a retailer close by. He came out, measured, and gave us an estimate at no cost. Then he installed the grill and showed us how to work it. That experience really taught me a lesson. When it comes to some types of products, not everything can be shipped in a box. You are definitely better off looking locally.”


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| Digital Marketing |

10 Digital Marketing Trends for Specialty Retailers Specialty retailers in hearth and patio and their expert advisors have identified these 10 leading trends in digital marketing as essential to building brands and, most importantly, increasing sales. 1. Increase the use of video – Video is growing in popularity throughout digital marketing, including websites and social media content, as people read less and view more. Software advances make video faster and easier to produce with segments of three to four minutes, typically ideal for engaging people and helping to enhance search results. Videos don’t have to be overly slick productions, but make sure the audio is clear. 2. Retarget your website visitors – Retailers are adding code to their websites that allows them to follow potential customers as they surf the Internet, including the competition. The goal is to make it easy for them to return to your website with a single click should your site visitor want to view more information or schedule a showroom visit. 3. Content and display ads for social media – Facebook appears to be the top social media choice because of its millions of users, relatively inexpensive display advertising, and expansive targeting capability. Instagram is an increasingly popular social media site for retailers because of its extensive use of imagery that is drawing larger audiences. Posting content is essential, but research has shown that content without display advertising is often ineffective. 4. Seek help on search – Many retailers have made search their single greatest digital marketing investment because consumers shop online where they can compare prices and product features. Effective search optimization programs have become central to digital marketing, but the rules of engagement are complex and ever changing. Many retailers are seeking assistance from search specialists. 5. Market with email – Marketing with email is increasing in popularity because it can be a highly targeted approach in which you communicate directly with potential customers, including those who have expressly asked to hear from you on a regular basis. There are a number of software packages that make email relatively easy to manage. One of the secrets to effective use of email is to make your content 70% informational and 30% promotional.

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6. Be consistent – The single greatest mistake that some retailers make with digital marketing is lack of consistency. Posting on Facebook every couple of months or sending an email whenever the move strikes may actually work against you. Retailers are religiously setting aside time every week to review analytics and generate content for the future week. The best approach appears to be adding digital marketing management on your calendar with the same degree of importance that you would for an upcoming meeting with a customer. 7. Gather images – The use of imagery, still photos, and videos, is recognized as the holy grail of digital marketing. Photos and videos don’t have to be expensive and are best with a slightly organic feel, but should be aspirational, showing consumers how your products and services can give them an enjoyable lifestyle with fireplaces, grills, patio furnishings, and spas. Retailers say providing increased imagery access is one area where manufacturers could enhance their support for retail outlets. 8. Enlist your people – It’s one of the oldest clichés in business, but remains true even in the digital age – people do business with other people. Retailers are using photos and videos of their ownership teams and associates to create a personality for their businesses and add credibility for technical knowledge and customer service. Retailers are also bringing their people into the content online as a morale booster and to enhance teamwork. 9. Build a lifestyle brand – Product knowledge and easy-to-understand product information are essential to successful sales, but successful digital marketers today know they must sell both products and lifestyles. It’s not just a grill, it’s a fun cookout with friends. It’s not just patio furniture, it’s a place for conversation. It’s not just a spa, it’s an oasis for stress relief. Digital media with imagery and inspiring words has been proven effective in creating aspirational lifestyles that inspire purchases. 10. Tie it all together – Websites, social media, content marketing, search, and email campaigns – it’s all rather overwhelming. Retailers are becoming increasingly strategic in how they use digital marketing, linking various elements together in highly-targeted campaigns that include measurement tools. Some retailers begin with a single digital element and grow from there, always thinking how everything can leverage off everything else, both online, in the showroom, and with traditional media.

| Manufacturing |

AFFORDABLE ELEGANCE Family values are the key to success for Kozy Heat Fireplaces. By Bill Sendelback


uring the early ’70s, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) put a huge oil squeeze on North America with price increases that took the price of crude oil from just $3 a barrel in 1973 to $30 a barrel in 1980. In the frenzy that resulted, the demand for wood stoves exploded, and almost every community had someone with a blowtorch welding wood stoves together. Over the years, most of those garage entrepreneurs went out of business, and many others saw their fledgling companies acquired by ever-growing hearth products companies.

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But a few, a very few, have survived as family-owned and family-operated companies. Such a one is Kozy Heat Fireplaces in Lakefield, Minnesota; started in 1976, today it’s a successful, profitable, and growing manufacturer of a broad line of hearth appliances. For all this time, Kozy Heat has maintained its Midwest smalltown work ethic and manner of conducting business. That’s the secret to its success. Dudley Hussong in those early ’70s was production manager for a Minnesota-based, large sewing factory, producing such items as bed comforters and tractor trailer fabric liners. After

moving from small town to small town for the company, his employer told him he was moving to Minneapolis. Dudley, being a small-town guy, said “no” and quit to work in his father’s millwork shop located in Lakefield, a very small town of 1,820 people in far southwest Minnesota. Today, the population in Lakefield has plummeted to 1,626 (just kidding). L to R: Heather Hussong Reasoner, Marketing; Jim Hussong, CEO; Dudley Hussong, Founder, Board of Directors; Hannah Hussong, Technical Writer.


Like so many others at that time, Dudley decided to build a barrel wood stove to beat the growing price of heating fuel. Once again, like so many others, people started asking Dudley to make wood-burning appliances for them, including a local mason who teamed up with Dudley to design a wood-burning fireplace. Recognizing a potential opportunity, in 1976 Dudley took out a $1,500 loan on his 1975 Chevy Blazer and started Hussong Manufacturing, building fireplaces one at a time. He began showing his products at local

Dudley retired in 2011, and while retaining minor ownership and a position on the board of directors, he has turned the company reins over to his son, Jim, now president after joining the company in 1984. Jim and his wife Tresa are now majority owners of the company. Although retired, Dudley is not standing still. Besides keeping tabs on Kozy Heat, he is restoring muscle cars, mostly his own and mostly a hobby, in his business in Lakefield called Hussong Classic Cars. Today, Kozy Heat offers vented gas stoves and fireplace inserts, as well as

“Kozy Heat offers traditionalstyled models, the company is moving more toward transitional styling.” ­­— Jim Hussong President, Kozy Heat Fireplaces

Kozy Heat’s manufacturing plant, located in Lakefield, Minnesota.

fairs and homebuilders shows, eventually gaining a distributor in Minneapolis. That was the start of continued sales growth ever since. Hussong Manufacturing, now branded as Kozy Heat Fireplaces, began with woodburners, especially fireplaces. But in 1988, Dudley saw the hearth market changing and redirected the company toward gas hearth products. Some in the company thought he was crazy, but he persisted, engineering his own gas fireplaces. Today, Kozy Heat’s sales are 90% vented gas models while the company’s only woodburner is now only 10% of sales.

wood and gas fireplaces to specialty hearth product distributors and dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Besides its factory and headquarters with 153 employees in Lakefield, Kozy Heat warehouses products in Sacramento, California. Hussong describes Kozy Heat’s products as “affordable elegance” with basic retail prices ranging from $2,500 to $5,000. “Our product line is not high-end,” he says, “and it’s not low-end, and certainly not builder boxes. We strive for quality and value rather than quantity. Our models are designed for everyday people to be able to afford a nice fireplace. By adding and

mixing our many optional features, our dealers can truly customize our fireplaces for each individual customer. We make certain our dealers get good margins.” While Kozy Heat offers traditionalstyled models, the company is moving more toward transitional styling. “With more TV shows featuring linear and nontraditional fireplaces, people are becoming more comfortable with these styles. We’re seeing more and more demand for nontraditional fireplaces,” says Hussong. However, he points out that Kozy Heat will stick with the “bread and butter” traditional or transitional stylings. Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019

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| Manufacturing |

“When our competition comes out with a flashy, trendy new fireplace, some of our dealers ask us why we don’t come out with something like that. But most of our dealers say, ‘No, don’t do that. We just want something we can sell and make money on, so continue doing what you’re doing.’ “We are truly a family company,” says Jim Hussong. Two of Hussong’s daughters work in the company, Heather in marketing and Hannah as a technical writer. “Hopefully my third daughter, an accountant, will join the company after she gets more real world experience.

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“We’re just like most of our dealers who are ‘Mom-and-Pop’ stores that are family owned and operated. With this background, we understand that if someone calls us, we answer the phone. We don’t have any recorded messages. You quickly get answers from us, especially from our technicians. “Our dealers appreciate that because they might be calling us for technical service help while their customer is looking over their shoulder. They need an answer immediately. Our dealers tell me that our people always go above and beyond to get them what they need. We

call this a Kozy family, and that family includes our distributors and dealers.” Hussong does one thing that continues to surprise and please his customers. “When we do our early-buy programs, I always call all of our dealers who have placed an order. I love doing that. It is a big boost to me because they tell me how much they like our products. They’ve never had a company president take the time to call them and thank them for their business.” Kozy Heat’s personal attention to customer service must be paying off. The company has continued to grow each year since Dudley’s first fireplace in 1976, with

OPPOSITE: L to R, Clockwise: Sheila Altman handpainting detail on gas logs. Larry Vancura welding a Z42 wood-burning fireplace. Trelonnie Hennings inspecting a board on a gas fireplace. ABOVE: L to R, Clockwise: Bruce Shadle painting a gas fireplace. Adam Altman bending parts for a gas fireplace. Gary Nugent putting together a duct kit.

“Dudley always says the secret to success is to surround yourself with good people who can do things that you cannot.” ­­— Jim Hussong President, Kozy Heat Fireplaces

the company seeing double-digit sales increases in each of the last five years. Even with Kozy Heat’s 175,000 sq. ft. factory, this strong sales growth is putting pressure on the company’s operations to keep up with demand. “Even after an addition a few years ago, we are running out of room for more production and more inventory, so we’re adding another 50,000 sq. ft. later this year.” Hussong praises his 153 employees for the company’s success. “Dudley always says the secret to success is to surround yourself with good people who can do things that you cannot. All of our people are very

important.” In a recent key personnel move, Hussong promoted 15-year Kozy Heat veteran John Klopstad to general manager. Klopstad formerly was customer service manager and is now handling the day-today operations, according to Hussong. Lakefield, Minnesota, the company’s hometown, is as close as one can get to being in the middle of nowhere. The land around Lakefield is so flat that Jim Hussong laughingly says that he “watched my dog run away from home for three days. Lakefield may be tiny, but it’s home to a very successful family-run and familyoriented hearth products company.

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| Public Relations |

MEET THE PRESS! Stop those knees from knocking, those lips from stuttering, and those palms from sweating, here’s how to take control of a media interview.

By Lisa Readie Mayer

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ometime past, some point, you may have received a call from a local newspaper reporter, or a television reporter, or a radio producer that went something like this: Hi, barbecue retailer! We’ d like to come to your store tomorrow to interview you for a segment on grilling trends. Perhaps you immediately responded Yes! and considered it an amazing opportunity to market your brand, establish your store as a leading authority, and score free publicity. Or, maybe that call struck dread in your heart, turned your knees to jelly, and made you break out in a cold sweat. If you fell into the latter camp, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 73% of the population has some level of anxiety about speaking in public – a feeling that is often heightened when facing a camera, microphone, or reporter’s notebook. Fortunately, there are strategies that can help you feel comfortable and confident when speaking to a reporter, so you can ace the next interview. Practice Makes Perfect Preparation and practice are the tickets to poise in a media interview, according to Eric Davis, senior vice president at FLM Harvest, the public relations agency for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. Whenever accepting an interview invitation, Davis suggests requesting a list of questions or discussion topics, so you can

organize your thoughts and prepare responses in advance. Although it’s a good idea to outline your talking points, don’t memorize or deliver messages word for word. Responses that seem obviously scripted sound stilted and inauthentic to the viewer or listener. It’s also a good idea to ask how long the interview will last. While print interviews are usually longer and allow time to get into more detail, television interviews are typically brief – often just a few minutes – and comments must be short and concise. It’s important to plan your talking points so you can convey your key messages in the allotted time. “Be brief, be brilliant, be bold,” says DonnaLyn Giegerich, an adjunct professor of public speaking and a consultant who coaches executives on business presentation skills and media training. “By brief, I mean be focused and succinct in what you want the audience to know. Readers and listeners are over-stimulated and short on time, so share information in an organized way that adds value to consumers’ busy lives.” In an interview, retailers should aim to offer a “headline” that introduces or explains the topic, then deliver three supporting messages. “More than three key talking points can be overwhelming, so focus on the most important messages,” according to Giegerich. She says retailers can “be brilliant” in an interview by sharing a trend, fact, or statistic about the topic that audience members likely don’t know, and explain what’s in it for them.

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| Public Relations | “Boldness” comes from being confident and excited about the topic, and not being afraid to slip in a subtle brag, such as mentioning an award, that will encourage the listener to buy a product or visit your store. For instance, if the interview is timed for Father’s Day, you might note that, “Father’s Day is one of the top five grilling days of the year,” and then discuss three cool grilling accessories that would be great gifts for dad, mentioning how each is fun, solves problems, adds convenience, or makes food taste better. If the interview is about what’s new in grills, you might point out, “About one-third of consumers actually own more than one grill today. People often use their gas grill on busy weeknights. But they’ll use a charcoal, pellet, or wood-fired grill or smoker on weekends when there’s time to relax and enjoy the smoky aromas and ritual of lighting the fire.”

caught off-guard. Videotape the mock interview, then watch it for areas you need to improve. Rehearse until you feel comfortable. It’s estimated that 60 to 70% of contextual meaning is derived from non-verbal communication, so pay attention to your facial expressions, demeanor, and body language. Smiling, nodding in agreement, maintaining eye contact, and leaning forward convey engagement, enjoyment, and positivity. Arm-folding, slouching, a monotone voice, or fidgeting suggests boredom or distraction. On the other hand, you don’t want to appear so high-energy that you seem agitated or fake. The goal is to come off calm, confident, and enthusiastic about your subject. “A good spokesperson is someone who knows what to say and how to say it in a memorable way,” according to Davis. The more interesting and colorful the quotes, the more likely you’ll be called again for another interview.

Then spotlight three solid-fuel grills, such as a pellet grill, charcoal kamado, and wood-fired pizza oven, with a brief explanation of each. If it’s true, don’t forget to tell the audience, “This new grill just won a barbecue industry award for innovation.” Always deliver your messages and supporting examples in pyramid form, covering the most important first, just in case time runs short or the reporter takes the conversation on a tangent. If the discussion veers off course, try to regain control using a “bridge” to redirect to a topic you prefer. A “bridge” could be something like, “Another thing you might find interesting is…” or “Yes, but what backyard grillers are really excited about is…” Politicians have mastered the art of “the bridge.” Practice for the interview by role-playing. Have someone act as the interviewer, asking the questions that were provided by the reporter, while you respond. If no questions were provided, develop your own list, and be sure to include some odd-ball questions along with ones you anticipate. Better to over-prepare than be

If you’ll be cooking on camera, practice to ensure you can grill, talk, and stay on-message simultaneously. You may be experienced at conducting in-store demos or cooking classes, but on-air cooking is more challenging, with only a few minutes to get through the recipe and convey your messages. You’ll need to prep ingredients in advance for assembly on camera, have the fire just right, and have a finished dish already cooked and plated for the “beauty shot” at the end. If possible, spotlight an accessory product in your cooking segment and talk about it while you’re grilling. Likewise, it would be ideal to conduct the interview in your outdoor kitchen display, so you can work the Outdoor Room trend into the conversation. Make sure your workstation is clean and orderly, any tablecloths or decorative linens are neatly pressed, and you have all necessary grilling tools, serving utensils, and platters at hand. Drive traffic to your website by referring viewers or readers there to get the recipe, a coupon, or other exclusive offer.

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#casualmarket Ebel

| Public Relations |

More pointers to keep in mind • The goal of an interview is to provide valuable and useful content to readers or viewers. Your messages should not sound like a commercial. • If you have a “brain freeze,” don’t panic. Take a breath and try to get back on track. • If you don’t know the answer to a question, better to say, “I don’t know,” than fake it. • Never criticize a business, organization, competitor, or product in an interview. • Assume everything is on-the-record; don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to appear in print or on-air. If it’s a TV or radio interview, always assume the camera and/or sound are rolling.

• Check the mirror before a television interview. A shirt or apron with your store’s logo is good exposure for your brand, but don’t wear clothing with another company’s logo (e.g. a Nike shirt). Solid, pastel colors are good choices – blue always works – but skip stripes, checks, and tiny prints that create “movement” on-camera. • Avoid baseball caps and sunglasses, even if you’re outside, because they obscure eye contact. Dangling earrings can be distracting, and clunky necklaces can hit your microphone and make noise as you move. Clothes should be pressed and wrinkle-free. • Wear socks that extend above the calf, so a swath of leg doesn’t show if you cross them during a seated interview. It sounds trivial, but as the experts caution, it’s not a good look. Hands should be neatly manicured in case of a close-up shot – especially if you are preparing food on camera.

Be proactive, make the first move… If you have an idea for a segment or article, you don’t have to wait for a reporter to call. Retailers can proactively contact local television and radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and bloggers by email to pitch a story idea, and offer their expertise and insight on the subject. Before you reach out, do your homework by researching the show’s format, reporters, target audience, and previous segments, so you can tailor your pitch appropriately. A story idea must be timely, relevant, have a newsworthy “hook,” and be interesting or educational for the audience. Some sample pitch topics might include:

Fourth of July It’s the number-one grilling day of the year, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. Nearly three-quarters of consumers say they grill because of the flavor, but they’re ready to go beyond burgers. We can show viewers how to grill pizza, veggies, breakfast, even dessert…

May is National Barbecue Month It’s the time to spring-clean your grill and replace your grill brush. A wire-bristle brush should be replaced annually to prevent bristles from weakening, dislodging, and possibly getting stuck in food. There are lots of new, alternative, bristle-free grill-cleaning products available that we can tell you about...

To expand opportunities for media coverage and solidify your positioning as an expert, you might consider registering as a “source” with Help a Reporter Out (HARO, www.helpareporter. com). The service connects journalists seeking information for a story, with credible sources and experts willing to share their knowledge in an interview. HARO sends emails to registered sources three times daily with queries from journalists. Sources able to speak on the topic can respond directly to the reporter. There are over 55,000 reporters and 800,000 sources registered with HARO, with 200 to 300 press inquiries fielded daily. If you’re interested in gaining media coverage for your store, but feel like you’re not ready for prime time, consider enrolling in a public-speaking class at a community college, or a local adult-education program. Or join a public-speaking club such as Toastmasters International, or find a private coach such as Giegerich (www.donnalynspeaks.com) to help hone your skills. The benefits to your store will last far beyond your 15 minutes of fame.

Memorial Day Outdoor kitchens and Outdoor Rooms are top home trends today, according to both the American Institute of Architects and home-design platform Houzz. It’s not just about a grill on the patio anymore, people want seamless indoor/outdoor living with complete outdoor kitchens, entertaining areas with fire pits or fireplaces, comfortable furnishings, and more. Here’s what you need to know about creating an Outdoor Room… Father’s Day Dad doesn’t want a new tie. We can highlight the best grilling gear and gadget gifts for Dad.

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Labor Day Barbecuing doesn’t stop at Labor Day. The live-fire grilling trend is hot. Here’s how to cook over a fire pit grill in your backyard during all seasons.


Our passion is our people. Their passion is our product.

I most appreciate the people in our industry, whether it’s our designers, manufacturing

teams, distributors and dealers, or our end

customers. We are really a tight-knit group in the hearth business. The way we think of it, the people we sell to are family and friends. Then it doesn’t seem like a job; it’s fun.”

John Shimek SVP Brand Marketing & Product Development

| Demographics |

DEMOGRAPHICS IS DESTINY Here are four trends that will determine retailers’ future. By Pam Danziger

Pam Danziger, author and luxury market expert, interviews Peter Francese, founder of American Demographics magazine.


verybody in retail knows that their success depends on understanding the customer, and understanding the customer starts with understanding their demographics. Demographics is defined as statistical data describing a population or groups within it. As a result, demographic trends shape the future of the consumer market. Because those trends are linear and predictable, retailers can see the future by simply tapping into them and adjusting their strategies accordingly. But with businesses enthralled by big data, demographics looks old fashioned and irrelevant. But guess what? Demographics is the biggest data of all. For retailers, demographics was, and still is, destiny. Over my 40 odd years in research, I have long held the value of demographic insights, and credit Peter Francese with schooling me on their importance. He founded American Demographics magazine in 1979; it was acquired by Crain Communications in 2004 and folded into Advertising Age. Francese and I sat down to have a farranging discussion about demographic trends, starting with how profoundly illiterate most retailers are about them.

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“Most people think demographics is just plain boring,” said Francese. “They want something sexy, but when I talk demographics to business people, you can almost hear them snoring.” One retailer that has been listening is Walmart. “Walmart has paid very close attention to demographics. I can tell you that from personal experience,” he said. But many other retailers have been caught unawares, which is the underlying cause of what has been called the retail apocalypse. The unexciting, yet fundamental demographic trends changing the retail market in America include declining fertility rates, shifting

age and income distributions, and how these (factors) have impacted the American family structure. For too many retailers these shifts have silently crept up on them. Francese traces the root of the problem to the age of most C-suite executives. “They are in their 60s and graduated from college 30 or more years ago. The culture was totally different then,” he says. “It is hard to pull that image out of their minds and replace it with something that is 2020.” But he adds that they are under tremendous pressures to get better results year after year. Clearly, demographic insights would help.

Birth Rates Per 1,000 Women 122.7

75.8 60.3




“So when I hear that 5,000 retail outlets will close this year, my reaction is, ‘Where have you been?’ You should have been rationalizing your retail footprint gradually over the years, or changing your business model, not waiting ’till it’s too late,” he said.

US Population Distribution by Age Group and Gender

Declining Birth Rate Means Fewer People Shopping The declining birth rate is one data point that would have clued retailers into the future trajectory of their businesses. Families with children spend more, and their children grow into adults who become customers, too. The retail apocalypse characterized by the massive store closings coincides with the drop in people having children. Birth rates in America have not just fallen, but they are at an all-time low and below replacement levels. “There were more births during the Great Depression than there are today,” according to Francese. In 1936, at the trough of the Depression, there were 75.8 births per 1,000 women. In 2017 there were only 60.3. By comparison, in 1957 at the peak of the Baby Boom, there were 122.7, and birth rates have been on the decline ever since. Retailers have for too long operated under a “build-it-and-they-will-come” mentality, Francese believes. “But no matter how wonderful the stores look or what great products they have or how much money they invest in advertising and marketing, it makes no difference. If customers aren’t there, you can’t manufacture them,” he says. This leads Francese to point out another popular demographic fallacy in retail circles. The Millennial generation does not mean another Baby Boom.


Myth of the Millennial Boom Everybody has heard that the Millennial generation is bigger than the Baby Boomers, some 87 million strong as compared to 76 million boomers. But the pure number of consumers in the generations is not as important as how they have been absorbed into the consumer market. “Millennials are a really important generation, no question about that. But they are no Baby Boom,” Francese says. To prove it he points to the consumer age distributions







65+ 50.9







34.9 28.3 25.1 23.0 22.4

20.4 20.5

20.9 21.5




17.9 17.0

Size of Age Group (m)

12.8 12.3

17.1% 15.6% 13.9%

14.3% 13.5%

14.1% 13.1% 13.0%13.0%13.0% 12.9% 12.7% 12.6% 12.5% 12.4%

11.2% 10.3% 9.4% 7.7%



Age Group’s Share of Total / Male / Female Population

As of July 1, 2017, there were 22.4 million American females aged 25-34, comprising 13.5% of the total female population.

that marketers and retailers focus on. The number of people in the key age groups are flatter than when Baby Boomers moved from childhood to adulthood. “In the age groups 25-to-34, 35-to44 and 45-to-55, there are roughly the same number of people, between 45 and 40 million in each. There are minor perturbations and regional differences, but basically we have about the same number of people in each of these age groups most attractive to marketers,” Francese says. Another key difference between the Boomers and Millennials is the economic conditions into which they were born and came of age. For example, the Boomers entered the market with a bang. They arrived following WWII after people had experienced

almost a decade of hardship. After the war, pent-up consumer demand was unleashed. Governmental policies in the post-war years supported economic growth with the GI Bill that provided education, low-cost mortgages, and business loans to returning service members. The Boomer babies born between 1946 and 1964 enjoyed those economic benefits throughout their lives. By comparison, the Millennials “got the very, very short end of the stick,” Francese says. “The first thing that happened to them is they got saddled with $1.5 trillion in student debt. Mortgage lenders look at them and say ‘Sorry, you already got a mortgage, called a student loan, and I’m not going to give you another one.’ So they have mortgage-level debt already but no house.” Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019

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| Demographics | Add to that, Millennials’ purchasing power hasn’t grown along with their rising income. According to a recent Pew study, today’s inflation-adjusted average wage has about the same purchasing power it did in the late 70s, some 40 years ago. “The differences when retail C-suite executives got out of college and where we are now is insanely different. But it isn’t buried in the minds of the people who are running retail,” Francese says. Emergence of a Grandparent Economy While the number of consumers between the 10-year age groups of 24-and-64 are roughly the same, the Baby Boomers will keep driving the economy even as they reach their senior years. Consumers over 65 years old are the largest group in the population and will continue to grow. “There are over 50 million people age 65 and older, and in five years there will be over 60 million,” Francese said.

the 24-to-44 age demographic, dismissing the gray-haired shoppers in their midst. “Too many retailers ignore seniors and think they have no money or they are only interested in buying drugs or health products. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he says. The fact is many grandparents are buying diapers, not for themselves, but for their grandchildren. And they are buying many other things for their grandchildren, children, and friends as well. Senior boomers can become a retailer’s best, most loyal customers if retailers are in tune with what they want, both in terms of products and services. If they don’t get it, they will just go online instead. Immigrants and the Black and Brown Underclass Rounding out the most impactful demographic trends that retailers need to prepare for are the net positives that immigration will bring, including hardworking families with children. This has

As much as the aging population will impact the health care industry and drag on social security, it will also give rise to a new grandparent economy that is unprecedented in its potential for retailers. As much as the aging population will impact the health care industry and drag on social security, it will also give rise to a new grandparent economy that is unprecedented in its potential for retailers. There are about 43 million people in their 50s now, which year-by-year will add numbers and purchasing power to that group. “Today the most highly educated people in America are men in their 60s,” Francese says and they also share high levels of wealth. “They are absolutely, unconditionally the wealthiest set of grandparents the world has ever seen.” The implications of the grandparent economy are profound. For one, they have more time to spend and shopping has been a favorite pastime of this generation since their teen years. But retailers tend to favor

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to be balanced against the negatives, since many of these immigrants will enter the market in the low-income underclass, where many black and brown families are caught. Sadly, the economic boom brought on by the Baby Boom largely bypassed the black and brown minorities. “It is a shameful chapter in American history, but the Baby Boom was almost entirely white,” Francese explains. “Hispanics and African-Americans simply have lower incomes so they have less money to spend.” Median household income for a white, non-Hispanic household was $66.4k in 2017, as compared with $40.3k for black and $48.7k for Hispanics. More immigration can give a significant boost to retail sales by making up for the slow indigenous growth in the population

that is now between .5%-to-1% annually. “Immigrants are still family-oriented, but have to work two-or-three jobs to cobble together enough money to live,” he says. That also leaves them with less time to shop, and ultimately living very close to the edge. “These are people who would be ruined by an unexpected $500 bill. They are always looking for a bargain to replace something that they have to replace because it is just worn out.” Walmart Gets It In closing, Francese points to Walmart as a retailer that truly understands these demographic trends and has been planning for them for years. Walmart understands the financial constraints of lower-income shoppers, so they continue to double-down on the “Save Money. Live Better” promise with easy access and affordable prices for betterquality goods. It understands the time constraints of lower-income, as well as two-income families, where long working-hours press into in-store shopping time. Online shopping, buy-online-pickup-in-store, and curbside pickup are the solution. And for those that enjoy higher incomes and for whom low prices are not the driver for shopping there, Walmart is acquiring brands like Bonobos, working with higherend brands, like Lord & Taylor and Bobbi Brown, and adding services like Jetblack personal shopping service. Not to mention, it continues to improve the quality of the products offered in the Walmart store and website. Like Henry Ford who raised the pay of his autoworkers in order to create customers for the automobiles his company produced, Walmart is raising pay for its workers and providing educational opportunities to groom leaders for its future. “Walmart is doing spectacularly well,” Francese concludes. “They understood the demographic trends years ago, and are continuing to account for them on a monthly and weekly regional basis. Walmart has a supply chain second to none, so they can shift product offerings at a moment’s notice. This gives them a huge competitive edge. As a result, Walmart is flourishing, while so many other retailers are languishing.”

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

| Search Engine Optimization |

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THE IMPORTANCE OF SEO Advice from Marty Heim will help you improve your business. By Tom Lassiter


arty Heim had a career in graphic design and corporate marketing before launching Marty Designs, a North Carolina web development company, in 1996. Her firm serves more than 500 clients, including retailers, service companies, manufacturers, and municipalities. Hearth & Home: Apparently, SEO is

all about getting your website found by the consumer. It’s all about jumping through Google’s hoops so that your store’s ranking improves. Marty Heim: “That’s not all. One

of the biggest strategies for SEO is to improve the user experience across the entire website. Regardless as to whether you’re selling products online or not selling, adopting smart SEO strategies will improve the user experience across the entire website. “What you’re trying to do is change the mindset of the user. The online shopper uses Google when she doesn’t know what she’s looking for. She uses Amazon when she knows what she’s looking for.” When Google’s bots, also called spiders, check out a website, what are they looking for?

Heim: “The bot comes to your website

and it reads everything on the page. It also reads how long people are spending on that page. It reads how many times an image was clicked on in a Google search that ultimately went to your page. “The bot checks how the user got to your page, tracing the links through Google technologies. It knows whether the shopper came to your page from the website of the manufacturer of that grill. Perhaps you were on the manufacturer’s website and you entered your ZIP code to get a list of local stores where you could purchase that gas grill. These all become factors into ranking your website with Google, or any search engine for that matter.” So, SEO is affected by not only what I control as the owner of my website, but it’s how my website relates to the manufacturer of the products I sell. Heim: “That is correct. A lot of manufacturers

are starting to take more control of their brand by offering retailers an option to carry a lot more information about that grill. The manufacturer may be giving the shopper a link from the manufacturer’s website directly to the retailer’s website. The more links you have to your website, the better.”

We’ve been to tech seminars where the experts say that the website experience should mirror the experience that the shopper actually gets at the store. How do you pull that off? Heim: “You can do that by thinking

in terms of communicating to that online shopper as if he had walked into the showroom. In other words, show options. If the online shopper has clicked a link for a particular grill, it may or may not be the right grill for him. Program the web page so that it shows him four different grills that he hadn’t even considered. That’s what I mean by enhancing your website. “You can also do that with a showroom tour; you can do that with visuals, and you can do that with a slide presentation. I’ve never been in your showroom. Talk to me. Invite me in. Use video. Show me your showroom. Google owns YouTube, so you have another Google link to your site, and vice versa. “Many people will search YouTube for a gas grill, or any outdoor living product. I believe it’s really underutilized. Businesses should host their video on YouTube rather than hosting it on their own website and streaming it from their own server.” Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019

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| Search Engine Optimization | We always hear about keywords when talking about SEO. What’s the current thinking on that? Heim: “I think we’re just about over

keywords. Today it’s more important to have a descriptive phrase that uses a keyword or several keywords. Now the term is cluster words. For example, if you Google “gas grill,” a zillion will pop up. But if you search for ‘gas grill good for tailgating,’ you’ll get more specific hits. Another example is ‘builtin gas grill for outdoor kitchen.’ “To take advantage of cluster words, organize your gas grills that are good for tailgating onto one web page and give it a very distinctive page name using those cluster words. I highly recommend that retailers work with their web developers and dictate what their page names should be, because retailers are the ones that have the inside track to consumers. The majority of web designers have no inkling about consumers or purchasing habits. They’re coders.” So a web page name should really reflect the specific page contents? For instance, “best infrared, stainless-steel gas grills”? Heim: “Correct. You no longer name the

page ‘gas grills.’ Use a name with a topic cluster. What kind of gas grills? Now, when Google indexes your website and

all of its pages, it will register those specific page names. When someone searches for a term that uses that word cluster – ‘best infrared stainless steel’ – that individual page on your website has an opportunity to come up in that search.”

“If you get wordy, you’re wasting your time and energy. If you must use a longer sentence, put your cluster words at the beginning. The rest of the sentence can then inform, or build upon, the topic cluster at the start of the sentence.”

Some web developers say important phrases should be repeated several times on a web page, so that Google will interpret that as more focus on the specifics of the page. Does that make sense?

So, as marketers and advertisers we’re no longer writing for humans. We’re putting words together to satisfy the bots.

Heim: “It does, but remember that bots

are not human. They’re machines. If you are too repetitious, the bots may interpret the page content as spam. You have to be extremely cautious. “You’ll want to repeat the page title, obviously. ‘Best infrared, stainless-steel gas grills.’ But your description should only be three to five sentences, a very short paragraph, which incorporates the cluster words. The retailer can use her knowledge to help the web developer with the wording. “In your descriptive paragraph, you don’t want to use the same word count in each sentence. One sentence may have four or five words. The next could be six words. The next might be just four words. You want to bounce back and forth, because Google’s bots and spiders are only going to read a maximum of seven words in a sentence.

Cluster Words

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Heim: “We never were. That’s the Internet.

It’s not a person. It’s a machine. A six-word sentence is much better, technically, than a 12-word sentence.” What are some other factors of SEO that the people need to have in mind? Heim: “Target some local searches with

special landing pages or listings on your site that aren’t specifically about your products. For instance, if your business sponsors a softball team in your town’s parks and recreation department, create a page about that. Show that you’re community-minded. That’s very important. “Then, when a person searches for ‘softball teams’ in your town, your page will turn up. And on that page, you can place what’s called a ‘self-advertisement.’ Feature those gas grills or another product, with a link to that part of your website.”



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| Search Engine Optimization | And search engines value that sort of page?

“In any event, the key is to verify and claim your business address with Google. If you verify and claim your business address, you have control over the look and feel of search results on a mobile device, through Google. Google presents a page for your business. You get to fill it in with images and text, your phone number, and your hours. And you provide a link to your business’ website. “On a phone, that information dominates the screen in search results. On a computer, it comes up on the right side of the page of Google search results.”

Heim: “If a retailer can’t describe her

“If a retailer can’t describe her ultimate consumer who walks into the showroom, I can’t help them. The retailer has to be able to describe where that individual consumer comes from.”

Products are always changing in the Outdoor Room industry. Regular website updates are absolutely necessary. How can the retailer know if the website and SEO are continuing to perform?

Heim: “Yes. Because you’re creating a

local landing page, on your website, that can be found through a general search for a cluster topic. In this case, ‘softball teams in my town.’ “News and information pages also make great landing pages. You might title a page, ‘Five great tips for selecting durable patio furniture.’ Now you’ve got something to share on social media. You can share that link on Facebook or Twitter.”

— Marty Heim

Using social media to promote your website is always a good idea, but how does that impact SEO? Heim: “Because it’s going to result in traffic

coming to your website via outside links. Those incoming links are called backlinks. Backlinks are very important for SEO success.” Everyone shops from his or her phone these days. Does that make a difference in how a retailer should think about SEO? Heim: “Well, not everyone is using a

smartphone to shop. My indicators say e-commerce traffic is split 50/50 between phones and other devices; laptops, desktop computers, and tablets display search results in the same way. Phones, because they have smaller screens, provide less information when your website is optimized for mobile devices. On the West Coast, as much as 80% of searches start on phones. But in most other large cities, you need to think in terms of 50/50.

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The majority of businesses, including retailers, have taken advantage of this Google service, right? Most businesses have claimed and verified their business address. Heim: “No, they haven’t. But they

should. It’s free. Start the process at business.google.com/add.” Why does claiming your business address make such a difference? Heim: “Because phones use Google’s

map technologies to identify the user’s location. The results Google sends back are location specific. If you want something to eat, your phone will tell you the closest place to get a pizza. If you Google ‘outdoor living gas grills,’ the results will show businesses in that general vicinity that sell gas grills. If you have a verified business address, your ranking in the search results automatically improves.” What should a retailer do to help her web developer make the most of SEO strategies?

ultimate consumer who walks into the showroom, I can’t help them. The retailer has to be able to describe where that individual consumer comes from. Do they have expendable income? What’s their ZIP code? How far did they travel to get to the store? Ultimately, who buys? “If the retailer can’t explain her target customer, I can’t help her. Now, I could probably tell them how to sell more gas grills today than they did yesterday, but that’s not why we’re having a conversation. I want them to be successful. If they don’t know their target customers, it’s not going to be win-win.”

Heim: “I would look at the data in Google

Analytics every 30 days. The information is free once Google’s tracking code is built into your website. You have to be willing to slice out some time. You have to be committed. But Google’s going to give you all the information about traffic on your website. So if you have a banner month in January, January’s Google Analytics data should show a spike in your website activity.” Let’s say that a retailer’s SEO strategy begins to pay off. Store traffic and sales are up. Should the retailer take some of those profits and plow them back into the website for an even greater return? Heim: “Sometimes I recommend using

some of those profits to go back to print advertising. Remember that landing page we created with five tips for selecting great patio furniture? Place an ad in a local publication and promote that information; publish the URL to drive people to your website. Local people already know you sell patio furniture. They don’t know they can go to your website and get tips on making a great, logical choice. People like help.” This is the first time we’ve heard of using a print ad to send consumers to a retailer’s website rather than to the store to shop. Heim: “Maybe this should be a news flash!”

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| Manufacturing |

The Name Says it All By Mark Brock


hen Eugene Freeland formed a new furniture and fabrics company in 2008, he resisted the temptation to name the company after himself. Freeland wanted a name that would help position his new company as being dedicated to creating links among many different groups – designers, architects, manufacturers, showrooms, and upscale homeowners. He wanted a name that reflected the company’s focus on outdoor performance products that could link to décor inside the home.

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The result was Link Outdoor, a Dallasbased company that collaborates with global fabric and furniture manufacturing companies to bring distinctive offerings to life. Link Outdoor is a to-the-trade company, working with designers and architects through showrooms in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico, and Russia. The company has grown steadily, achieving 20% revenue increases over the past five years. “I intentionally chose not to name the company after myself because I wanted the focus to be on our efforts to collaborate – to

‘link’ designers to solutions from our design teams, and from manufacturing resources in the U.S. and overseas,” Freeland said. “I see Link Outdoor as a platform company that takes great product design, develops the products with leading manufacturers, and sells the products through showrooms to design customers.” From West Point Cadet to Home Décor Entrepreneur Freeland earned a bachelor’s of science degree in aerospace engineering at West Point, and subsequently served in the

Eugene Freeland.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He went on to earn his MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, joining Coopers and Lybrand as a certified public accountant. In 1998, he joined a to-the-trade furniture and fabrics manufacturer in Dallas as CFO and COO, managing the company’s rapid growth, including four furniture and textile companies serving the design trade. Drawing on his experiences in furniture and textiles, Freeland had a specific vision when he founded Link Outdoor. The company would design both furniture and fabrics for a comprehensive home décor concept, but would not own

manufacturing assets, choosing instead to collaborate with leading global furniture and fabric companies to produce its products. Link Outdoor would invest in design resources in-house while also partnering with other leading designers to ensure that its products would appeal to discriminating homeowners capable of investing substantial sums in outdoor living. In terms of a go-to-market strategy, the company’s furniture and fabrics would be featured in showrooms catering to designers and architects. While “outdoor” was part of the company’s name, Link

Outdoor furniture and fabrics would be designed for any room, indoors or out, offering beautiful aesthetics, durability, fade resistance, and ease of cleaning. “Our business model is focused on collaboration, understanding that we cannot do everything ourselves, so we partner with the best manufacturers, weavers, designers, showrooms, and sales partners,” Freeland said. “By doing this we can offer customers much more than we could with just our own employees. Because fabric is created for furniture, it just makes sense to us to create both to work together.” Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019

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| Manufacturing | Link Outdoor sources its products from all around the world, encompassing marble from India, plantation teak from Thailand, and performance outdoor fabrics made in the U.S. Freeland has worked with many of his manufacturing partners for 15 to 20 years, enabling him to vet their quality and service. “Our primary furniture manufacturing partners employ 700 workers, and the fabric mills we work with have hundreds of looms and thousands of yarn options; we couldn’t offer the products we design if we had to make everything ourselves,” he said.

The furniture and fabric is described as casual, comfortable, luxurious, and contemporary, with classic inspiration and a clean aesthetic, fresh and definitely with some bold options as well. In terms of a design aesthetic, Freeland describes furniture and fabric from Link Outdoor as “casual, comfortable, luxurious, and contemporary, with classic inspiration and a clean aesthetic, fresh and definitely with some bold options as well.” While Link Outdoor is soundly grounded in outdoor lifestyles, its vision includes the blurring of décor for rooms inside and outside of the home. “The separation between indoor and outdoor living has disappeared over time and people want to live in luxury no matter the location,” he said. “Our furniture and fabrics are created with both luxury and performance in mind to inspire designers to consider outdoor areas as a continuum to the stylish interiors. I believe there is a

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lot of work to be done in creating products that address this lifestyle choice, and that’s our focus and our objective.”

According to Kirby, textile design at Link Outdoor is continually evolving to meet the needs of designers, architects, and upscale homeowners. Textile Design Director Draws “Link Outdoor is going through an on European Experiences incredible transition right now,” she said. As the director of textile design for Link “What began as primarily outdoor textiles Outdoor, Greyson Kirby can draw on with simple, geometric designs and bold, experiences from working in Europe bright patterns has also seen great success where she was not only exposed to with heavier textures, subtle colorations, design influences but and innovative weave also gained insights into structures. One thing product development I learned quickly upon life cycles. She lived and joining the Link team is worked in Florence, Italy, that the clean, crisp essence and traveled extensively of white is a common throughout Europe while theme within collections managing design and and can be used in any product development with setting from traditional to leading home furnishings contemporary.” Greyson Kirby. companies. Link Outdoor textile “The experience was collections cover virtually invaluable in showing me that design every fabric need, encompassing solids, is so much more than dreaming up a stripes, textures, patterns, sheers, and beautiful pattern and color,” Kirby said. trims, all designed to offer a broad range “It’s about finding the innovative ground of complementary design opportunities, where new technologies meet artisanal inside and out. practices in manufacturing. It’s about “The collections can be used in any creating unique solutions that meet both setting from traditional to contemporary, the end user’s practical needs as well as and the way the individual colors connect creating beauty from new materials. It’s throughout palettes creates a flexible uniting the capabilities of the weavers system that designers can draw on again and makers with the vision of the overall and again for each client,” Kirby said. brand while delivering the highest quality Design influences for these fabrics are to clients.” many, all directed at creating Kirby, who studied what Kirby describes as a art, architecture, and “modern, clean aesthetic ... literature at the University an invigorating pop of color of Virginia, was attracted that coincides beautifully to Link Outdoor by with the rich textures ... Freeland’s entrepreneurial playful and sophisticated vision for the company and all at once.” an opportunity to return “My approach to to her passion, which is designing new fabrics Marc Kurlander. creative design. always begins with “I had heard of Eugene inspiration from both the Freeland throughout my natural world and trends career, and I knew his company would I see happening in the ‘now’ moment of be highly entrepreneurial and creative, our culture,” she said. “I love to spend an yet grounded in meeting the industry’s afternoon browsing through a giant stack of needs,” she said. “I love being a part of magazines from all industries and noticing a small team that carries the essence of the common threads. It’s easy to see trends family. We turn to each other for unique that form the basis of a color story, ranging strengths, and we enjoy the process from paint and leather colors in the luxury of bringing fantastic new products to automotive industry, to tones highlighted market.” in makeup on Parisian runways.”

As part of the fabric design process, Kirby collaborates closely with production teams at the various textile mills that produce her designs, allowing her to leverage the latest in specialty yarn creation and fabric constructions. A close working relationship with the Link Outdoor furniture design team is also essential in new fabric creations. “Knowing what Marc (Kurlander, director of Furniture Design) is working on gives me inspiration for textiles that might complement the curve of a sofa or call out the unique finish color with a weave combination that I might not have thought about before,” she said. “The only challenge – which is one I love – is working far enough in advance that we align our timelines to launch in unison. That makes it even more fun because we get to brainstorm and daydream together about possibilities. The collections are created with a sort of fluidity that can only come from the sharing those initial ideas.” Fabric and Furniture Design Merge at Link Outdoor Marc Kurlander, director of Furniture Design for Link Outdoor, is intent on creating an entire home aesthetic that comes together within an environment focused on the creation of both furniture and fabrics. “A sofa or lounge chair is not complete without the fabric,” said Kurlander, an award winning furniture designer for both residential and commercial markets. “My furniture designs become complete because, at Link, we have the ability to select the best fabrics to complement each furniture collection. Knowing what Greyson (Kirby, Link’s director of Textile Design) is working on inspires me to blur the lines between indoors and outdoors. With so many advances in textiles and materials, outdoors can be as sophisticated, beautiful, and stylish as everyone has come to expect from inside the home.” Kurlander earned his bachelor of fine arts in industrial design from Columbia College Chicago and has been active in the fields of furniture, interior and industrial design. For several years, he partnered with numerous Chicago-based design studios working closely with manufacturers to

FURNITURE COLLECTIONS Link Outdoor currently features 10 furniture collections that encompass a broad range of design opportunities both inside and outside of the home. A broad array of Link Outdoor fabrics ranging from solids and patterns to stripes, textures, and sheers results in a total home approach.


Mirage is a combination of six beautifully hand-crafted aluminum seating pieces and sculptural cast stone tables designed to enhance luxury outdoor living. Developed under the concept of worry-free furniture, each piece is weather resistant while maintaining Link’ s refined contemporary style.


Bombay is a seven-piece versatile collection that embraces casual comfort, honest materials, and graceful proportions that harmonize effortlessly with nature.


Flux combines modern materials and a universal vernacular to reshape transitional design with classical undertones. The 18-piece collection embodies a new definition of modernism.


Campaign offers a variety of folding stools, chairs, and side tables, the vision of mobility and easy storage. The collection is composed in a variety of teak and powder-coated finishes with smart functionality features for any indoor or outdoor setting.


Link’ s unique Jewel Tables are designed to excite and inspire designers to consider the outdoors as an extension of their stylish interiors. Each table can bring a unique, fresh approach to outdoor living. Jewel Tables offer a new perspective on entertaining, and elevate the outdoors by pairing unique tables with existing items within Link Outdoor’ s furniture collections. www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019 | 83

| Manufacturing | move design concepts through each stage to completion. He collaborated with Eugene Freeland for a number of years before joining Link Outdoor as director of Design for Furniture.

Lang reports that performance fabrics are seen as a great value throughout the world. Link Outdoor’s furniture collections are expansive, encompassing dining and lounge chairs, ottomans, sofas, sectionals, chaises, daybeds, bars and counters, dining, cocktail, side and drink tables, along with accessories. “My design approach starts with my interest in certain materials and the unique approaches to manufacturing,” Kurlander said. “I also consider natural materials and the ways in which they can be paired with one another to complement the effortless harmony of outdoor surroundings. “I find inspiration in travel, experiencing different cultures and how different cultures have slightly different approaches to the design of everyday objects. From air vents in the floor of a miniature chapel in Ireland to traditional Japanese joinery, it’s the shape of those things that are frequently overlooked. This moves me to create pieces with the same quiet beauty. “What I love most about my work is creating new collections that complement Link’s ever evolving style,” Kurlander said. “It’s been so rewarding to see how Link has grown as a company and to see how our style has changed over the years. We have a great team and culture at Link that allows everyone to evolve and grow right along with our company’s growth and successes.” Showrooms Provide Market Link for Link Outdoor Link Outdoor’s go-to-market strategy is based on partnering with leading showrooms internationally that feature the

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company’s furniture and fabrics, and it’s has grown to 17,000 sq. ft. To better Scott Lang’s responsibility to assist these serve its clientele in Orange County, San showrooms with merchandising, training, Diego, and the desert communities, Lavin and outreach to designers and architects. opened a second showroom at the Laguna It’s a job that regularly keeps Lang on the Design Center in 2014. Thomas Lavin has road and in the air. featured furniture and fabrics from Link “Eugene (Freeland) and I had known Outdoor for the past eight years. each other for many years, and when this “Gene (Eugene Freeland) and his team position became available I was attracted are passionate about outdoor lifestyles, by the design freshness of their furniture including furniture, textiles, rugs, and fabrics,” said Lang, Link Outdoor’s lighting – the gamut,” Lavin said. “Gene director of Sales. “I was also attracted is smart, has his finger on the pulse, and by the culture of a young and growing is collaborating with talented people to company with a family-like atmosphere.” bring the best products to the marketplace. Lang has been in the interior design Link Outdoor has a vision supported by business for more than 28 years with outstanding service and always with a sense broad experience in showroom sales, of humor; they are in constant R&D.” management, and manufacturing. His Link Outdoor is a leading brand for career has included executive management the Thomas Lavin showrooms, which positions with some of the nation’s leading describes the Link Outdoor collections showrooms. Lang attributes Link Outdoor’s on the website in these terms: double-digit growth to many factors. “Link Outdoor designs and manufac“It begins with the design aesthetic and tures furniture and fabric collections that product quality and continues with our inspire designers to consider the outdoors great showroom partners,” as a continuum to their he said. “We have a strong stylish interiors. Link is design team, and by defined by its versatile offering a broad collection designs, casual sophisticaof furniture and textiles we tion, and youthful modmake it easier for interior ernism inspired by classical designers and architects forms. Link’s collections to specify our products. offer unparalleled comWe benefit from how our fort, elegant proportions, furniture and fabrics are bespoke craftsmanship, Scott Lang. ideal for luxurious settings and timeless designs for both outside and in.” all tastes from casual conWith an international temporary to sophisticated perspective, Lang reports that performance transitional designs.” fabrics are seen as a great value throughout Lavin reports that Link Outdoor the world. fabrics and furniture are increasingly “Wherever I travel, whether Los popular with his showroom clientele. Angles, London, or Dubai, consumers “We have had consistent growth are more value conscious today in their year over year (with Link Outdoor),” he home décor selections,” he said. “When said. “Link is ambitious and is entering you have a white sofa that you can clean categories thoughtfully and powerfully. with bleach, that’s a great value and people Their (brand) name is very strong for a see that. It’s not just about the price, but younger company, and together, Link about value combined with the look and and Thomas Lavin have the same vision feel that can be achieved today with and goals.” solution-dyed fabrics.” The Culp Associates showroom in the Two of the leading showroom Dallas Design Center has also experienced companies that Lang works with are success in featuring Link Outdoor fabrics Thomas Lavin showrooms in California, and furniture. Interior designer Walter and Culp Associates showrooms in Texas. Lee Culp launched the Culp Associates Over the years the Thomas Lavin showroom in Dallas in 1972 and a second showroom in the Pacific Design Center showroom in 1974 in the Decorative

Center of Houston. Culp Associates began featuring Link Outdoor products in late 2016. Cammie Marrs, president of Culp Associates, says that designers enjoy a broad range of opportunities in working with Link Outdoor fabrics and furniture. “The (Link Outdoor fabric) collection has something for every design aesthetic, including an extensive color range and a wide variety of textures and plains, all suitable for indoor/outdoor use,” Marrs said. “Their entire textile collection coordinates beautifully within itself, and you can design an entire area within their collection. Whether opting for a pattern or solid texture, you can feel confident in knowing the colors will blend perfectly.” Marrs finds equally diverse opportunities in working with Link Outdoor furniture. “From a furniture perspective, their varied styles and materials allow the designer a wide selection for exterior projects, depending on climate, design style, and overall budget,” she said. “With their headquarters being based in Dallas, we have the ability to meet a customer at Link’s facility to show a piece of furniture we may not have on our floor, or allow a client to tour and see the process of their furniture being manufactured on site. “Link is very competitive in pricing, quality, and style,” Marrs continued. “Their stock levels are amazing, and Link’s attention to detail is also exquisite. Every memo packet (of fabric samples) is packaged beautifully, wrapped complete with bow and box. Their branding reinforces the luxury of their fabrics.” The blurring of interior and outdoor design is also a trend that Marrs is seeing in Dallas that fits with the Link Outdoor vision. “The ability to utilize their collection for both indoor and outdoor use is a real strength,” she said. “More and more designers are now using luxury performance textiles indoors due to their durability and ease of cleaning. This is especially true for busy households with children and pets. Simply put, the Link Outdoor collection is elegant yet livable.”


Whisper is inspired by the sleek, modernist wire designs of the 1960s. The collection is casually chic, functional, and sophisticated, with an airy sexiness that is unmistakably modern.


Echo offers a wealth of creative choices for modern living. Architecturally scaled for lofty, contemporary spaces and yacht decks alike, Echo is durable, comfortable and adaptable.


Designed by Doug Levine, Sand Dollar is the first teak outdoor line by Link. The collection offers 12 pieces with a classic, mid-centurygrounded sophistication that complements the great outdoors.


Designed by the acclaimed Holly Hunt Studio, Link’ s Banyan Collection is a deep-seated luxury collection of classic outdoor furniture made for lounging and pure comfort.


Daybreak embodies the alluring modernism of midcentury, defined by thin flowing teak slats, airy stainlesssteel frames, and luxurious made-to-order upholstery. Daybreak offers the highest comfort with modern materials and style, infused with clean lines and a calm aesthetic.

www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019 | 85

| New Exhibitors |

Las Vegas


New Products at the 2019 Las Vegas Market.


Dynamic Rugs

The earthy tones of the Coastal Collection create a simple, yet elegantly modern design with a rustic twist. A tactile feel and impactful look is achieved by tightly woven yarns. The Collection is machine-made in Turkey from stain- and weather-resistant, 100% polypropylene for high-traffic indoor-outdoor spaces. Phone: (888) 356-6701 Website: www.dynamicrugs.com Showroom: A-432





The Valencia Daybed has a versatile crescent shaped design, featuring a modern oversized synthetic weave in light gray. The daybed has a sturdy aluminum frame, with ultra-plush seat cushions and five throw pillows. Upholstering is in a light gray sun proof solution dyed acrylic fabric. An oversized Valencia coffee table also is available. Phone: (866) 798-6669 Website: www.zuomod.com Showroom: A-442



Apricity’s Trenton Fire Pit Chat Group invites guests to gather around a warming fire. The group includes the deep-seating comfort of 360-degree swivel rockers in an elegant all-weather wicker weave. The fire pit has a decorative slatted top and an all-weather wicker and aluminum base for years of the outdoor entertaining.

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Phone: (800) 416-3511 Website: www.agio-usa.com Showroom: C-1295







Screen Gems

The Santa Clara Screen is an attractive, hand crafted room divider. Each panel is hand carved around a mango wood frame with finish on both sides. The screen is the perfect way to break up a room, divide an open plan space and a stylish way to hide clutter.


Serene House

The Flare Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Diffuser, designed by Cozzolino Studios, runs up to four hours continuously or up to eight hours intermittently. Add water and essential oil, then turn it on to let the gentle mist and seven rotating LED lights create relaxation.

Phone: (310) 545-9091 Website: www.myscreengems.com Showroom: B-105

Phone: (856) 673-4117 Website: www.serenehouse.com Showroom: 1-171



Albert L. (punkt)

Two-tone matte bowls are part of the BiMa line and are handmade in Vietnam and crafted from bamboo and a food-safe lacquer. The attractive bowls are thin and lightweight, yet created with durability and longevity in mind, and come in a variety of sizes and in a choice of three colors: gray, white and pastel turquoise. Phone: (360) 682-6812 Website: www.albertpunkt.de Showroom: P1-3001

Armen Living Furniture

The Armen Living Polo Set is comprised of aluminum framed and gray powder-coated middle, left, and right corner sofa pieces as well as a coffee table. The sectional pieces and table have teak wood surfaces perfect for snack trays and drinks. The sectionals feature dark gray fabric cushions with three modern accent pillows for added comfort. Phone: (818) 767-6626 Website: www.armenliving.com Showroom: B-759

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| New Exhibitors |


Pelican Reef

Available in a choice of white or gray, the Sandcastle Collection by Panama Jack is a five-piece sectional. The frame is aluminum with blue-gray cushions. Phone: (888) 820-4455 Website: www.pelicanreef.com Showroom: C-1278, C-1288




Freestanding and portable, the Lovinflame Tabletop Fire Pit can be used indoors or outside. The flames are wind-resistant, clean burning, and odorless while burning. Technology is powered by a proprietary stainlesssteel wick and non-flammable, watersoluble Lovinflame Fuel, minimizing flare-ups. The Glass Guard provides a clear view from all angles.



Phone: (909) 781-8462 Website: www.lovinflame.com Showroom: P1-1047


The artisan Wine and Champagne Holder is elegant, yet rustic and created to be the perfect centerpiece for any special occasion. The holder has a durable galvanized bucket; it is 11 inches round and 10 inches tall and woven from tropical vines.




Unique Loom

With soft tones and vivacious patterns, the Outdoor Collection, designed by “Trading Spaces” star Sabrina Soto, is the highlight of the home. The collection is a blend of subtle and chic. The rug’s material is textured and looped polypropylene with a blend of high and low pile. Phone: (800) 765-6958 Website: www.uniqueloom.com Showroom: B-424

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Phone: (262) 886-1247 Website: www.calaisio.com Showroom: C-163




Crafted with slender, straight legs on flared feet, the Lorette Chair also has rounded angles between the base and the seat and exudes the style of 1950s designs. The backrest has a latticed pattern of florals and rhombuses. With a nod to practicality, the chairs are stackable and come in a choice of 24 colors. Phone: (678) 343-9021 Website: www.fermobusa.com Showroom: C-464


C A R ME L C o l l e c t i o n

Designed and crafted exclusively for specialty retailers, Agio’s new Apricity brand delivers the highest quality and most trendsetting looks in the industry. Are you prepared to take your product to the next level?


| Business Climate |


In early June, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare May 2019 sales to May 2018. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 193 useable returns.

RETAILER SALES - U.S. AND CANADA May 2019 vs. May 2018


29% 29%





38% 38%














Retailers No Change

Retailers Up

Retailers No Change




Retailers Up




Retailers Down Retailers Down

There’s little to like in the May numbers. The Hearth category posted the best numbers: 38% of retailers said they were UP, but 29% told us they were Down. Thirty percent of Spa retailers were UP, 20% were Down. Twenty-six percent of Patio retailers were UP, 19% were Down, and 19% of Barbecue retailers were UP, and 18% were Down. Nothing to write home about here.



19% 19% 9%

8% 10%

10% 2%


8% 10%

3% 3%



4% 4% 4% 4%

-2% -2%

5% 5% 5% 5%





4% 3% 4% 3%

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

5/18 6/18 7/18 8/18 9/18 10/18 11/18 12/18 1/19 2/19 3/19 4/19 5/19

5/18 6/18 7/18 8/18 9/18 10/18 11/18 12/18 1/19 2/19 3/19 4/19 5/19

5/18 6/18 7/18 8/18 9/18 10/18 11/18 12/18 1/19 2/19 3/19 4/19 5/19

5/18 6/18 7/18 8/18 9/18 10/18 11/18 12/18 1/19 2/19 3/19 4/19 5/19


5% 5% 5% 5%


7% 7%

-6% -6%

2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2%

0% -3% 0% -3%

3% 12% 2% 3%


12% 13%


12% 13% 5% 5% 5% 5%


21% 9% 9%


9% 9%

12% 4% 4%

-11% 12% -11%

5% 5%

1% 1%

In May, Patio but11/18 by only which a little better Barbecue, and 9/18 Spas10/18 – all 11/18 three 12/18 were 1/19 up but by only 5/18 6/18 7/18sales 8/18were 10/18 1/19 2/19 is3/19 5/18 6/18 7/18 8/18 2/19 3/19 1%. 9/18UP, 12/182%, 4/19 5/19than Hearth, 4/19 5/19 5/18 6/18 7/18 8/18 9/18 10/18 11/18 12/18 1/19 2/19 3/19 4/19 5/19

90 | JULY 2019 | www.hearthandhome.com

5/18 6/18 7/18 8/18 9/18 10/18 11/18 12/18 1/19 2/19 3/19 4/19 5/19

RETAILER COMMENTS NORTHEAST Connecticut: (Hearth) “Interest has slowed down since we finally got warmer weather, but we’re still up 100% from last year. We have to attribute that to the colder, longer winter and semi-high gas prices, but we would also like to think that the repeat business we get and referrals are due to our honest, dependable service. “Our A+ BBB rating is due to the fact that we insist our employees be friendly, helpful, and honest, not to mention timely and courteous on the job and in the store. Our employees get awesome reviews and work together like a family. Just want to give them a big thank you for their loyalty and hard work.” Connecticut: (Hearth, BBQ ) “The

rains have subsided and we can see Mt. Ararat. With any luck, something positive will happen to Connecticut’s economy, but I won’t get my hopes up. We are patiently waiting.” Maryland: (Hearth, BBQ) “Customers

are buying but are being very frugal on the amount they are spending. They’re fighting down to the last dollar, which makes it hard when they get five or six estimates and you have a one-man show giving it away because he has no license, no insurance, and no employees to worry about. That gets frustrating and old very quickly!” Massachusetts: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ,

Spas) “Sales are spotty because of weather.”

New Hampshire: (Patio, BBQ) “We are


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 May 2019



26 72




6 26


13 11

724 6




4 Much Below Average

Below Average

34 31 50 54




60 107 65 75 119 118 123 17 110 119 34 61 18 124 31 11 115 20 52 50 124 39 9421 54 4 124 37 60 110 118 106 1 = Coldest 125 = Warmest 19 93 107 662 11165 75 119 118 123 110 119 125 61 18 124 115 124 39 94 National Climatic124 Data Center/NESDIS/NOAA 118 1 = Coldest 110 19



Record Coldest



19 117


Average 62


Above Average





Much 125 =Record Warmest Above Average Warmest


Florida set a record – the warmest May since recording began in 125 years, while nine other Southwestern states experienced temperatures that were Much Above Normal. We can’t National Climatic Center/NESDIS/NOAA forget the outlier state – Washington, at Much Above Normal. And itData was wet. Nationwide, it was Record the second wettest Much May since Below 1895. Near Above Much Record Coldest


Below Average




Above Average


Warmest 45

45 30 82 60 TEMPERATURE RANKS 25 90 STATEWIDE AVERAGE 84 9 79 40 March – May 2019 80 105 33 28 112 88 16 52 60 119 112 118 66 33 63 88 118 45 43 32 56 89 119 45 80 29 29 90 30 82 60 118 39 5625 90 84 79 9 68 116 79 95 78 40 80 33 105 1 = Coldest 125 = 112 Warmest 28 88 16 50 7252 60 119 112116 66 118 63 88 118 43 32 56 119 80 90 118 39 56 79 National Climatic Data Center/NESDIS/NOAA 68 116 78 95 1 = Coldest

located in New England (Massachusetts and Southern NH); the weather was rainy and cold through May and just turned warm the beginning of June. We have been doing digital advertising for patio products since the middle of March, and that is the only thing that has kept us afloat and selling anything in April and May.”

Record Coldest

New York: (Hearth, Patio, Spas) “We are

Record Coldest

getting out of the barbecue business, thanks to the grill companies that have sold their souls to Amazon. You know who you are. We supported and well-represented




Much Below Average


Below Average


50 Average





Warmest Much 125 =Record Above Average Warmest


National Climatic Data Center/NESDIS/NOAA

Much Below Average

Below Average

Near Average

Above Average

Much Above Average


107 84 81 65 Again, the heat was in the Southwest, while the97 Midwest was mainly at Below Average 61 111 117 For the contiguous U.S., it 78 temperatures, Below Average. 88 with South Dakota at Much 121 99 113 87 was the sixth wettest March115 – May in 125 years. 119 122 117 89 125 122 107 103 97 53 124 91 122 here for a mobile 101 107 111 125 125 Click 64 45 84 119 friendly42reading14experience 81 65 www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019 97 61 111 23 124 117 88 116 78 45


Record Warmest

STA | 91

| Business Climate | these manufacturers for literally decades just to have this slap in the face. “I’m sorry to see Traeger, Big Green Egg, and Weber on Amazon. Tsk, tsk. The patio folks are next. You sell it on Amazon, it’s leaving my store. Period. End of story. Our plan going forward is to expand our hot tub display, marketing, and sales goals. At least the brands we carry are not selling out. They actually support their dealers. For now.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth, BBQ) “We

Tennessee: (Hearth, BBQ ) “We

have had the strongest six months in the 40-year history of the company. Tear outs with total rebuilds using gas fireplaces, stone faces, etc., have been strong. Statefunded change-out program has increased pellet stove sales. New construction is up slightly. Wood stays constant.”

experienced a bad fire about two and half years ago; about 2,500 units burned. Since then our sales have increased over the previous years – 30% to 100% in some months. Of course, some of the increase includes first-time units. The greatest increase has been in direct-vent gas. Most are the linear-type units. Ventfree units and vent-free log sets have been strong both for rental units as well as homeowners for supplemental heat. “Our winters for the last two or three years have been rather mild. Surprisingly, wood fireboxes have been very good; wood stoves have been good to start the season but flattened out later. “Our business in hearth, barbecue, etc., is rather steady; it’s not as seasonal as some even though it’s more sideline than main line. We have a strong venting and piping business with gas parts etc.”

SOUTH Arkansas: (Hearth) “Very disappointing

retail month and YTD position. Just cannot get any sales going this year despite having lots of good sales on wood products. No floor traffic whatsoever. What’s going on?”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “We are 11

months into our fiscal year, and 30% ahead of last year. It’s the best year in the last five years. Thank you, Donald.”

North Carolina: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ)

Pennsylvania: (Patio, Spas) “Rain

“Higher-end products are driving sales growth.”

every day - holding sales back. Sunny days are great but cannot make up lost sales. Just take every day and do the best we can.”

Oklahoma: (Hearth) “Foot traffic

slower, lots of rain!”


Standard & Poor’s 500 (a) HNI Corporation (b) Pool Corporation (c) Restoration Hardware (b) Wayfair (b) NOTES:












2,945.83 45.40 186.50 164.49 173.72

2,351.10 32.79 136.83 84.11 76.50

2,945.64 37.46 184.44 108.80 148.82

2,752.06 33.16 179.78 85.15 144.01

-6.6% -11.5% -2.5% -21.7% -3.2%

-0.3% -14.0% 10.6% -26.7% 35.6%

0.6% -9.9% 26.8% -13.4% 51.6%



50% 40%


30% 20% 10%


-10% -20%


$1,440.00 $7,110.00 $1,740.00 $13,200.00

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







HNI POOL RH As of 31-May-2019

92 | JUNE 2019 | www.hearthandhome.com


MARKET CAPITALIZATIONS $16,000 15000 $14,000 13000 $12,000 11000 $10,000 9000 $8,000 7000 $6,000 5000 $4,000 3000 $2,000 1000 0

(US $000,000)


POOL 1-Jun-2018

RH 31-May-2019



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Direct Vent System • Z-Flex Direct Vent Systems use outdoor air for combustion, not indoor air. Flue gases are safely exhausted outside the living space • Easy to install with only two connection points; Insert and Termination • For use when converting an existing wood-burning fireplace into a gas fireplace insert

Z-Flex® Model DVI Direct Vent Kits include two Triple Lock® Gas Liners for flue exhaust and outside combustion air. Available with either extreme weather or decorative co-linear termination USA T. 1.800.654.5600

Extreme Weather Kit

F. 1.888.889.3539

Decorative Kit


Z-FLEX Liner Triple Lock Smoothcore Z-Max - DVI Systems Hearth and Home 7 x 4.75.indd 1


2019-05-22 3:12 PM

www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019 | 93

| Business Climate | Texas: (Hearth, BBQ) “Pellet grills are up.” Texas: (Hearth, BBQ) “We are very

thankful for our loyal customers and loyal distributors. After almost 24 years in the hearth and barbecue industry, we still see there are some vendors and distributors that work hard to acknowledge our loyalty to them and their product lines as well. “For many years, manufacturers and distributors alike counted on brick-andmortar stores like ours to market and sell their products. Sadly, with a few exceptions, we are no longer as valuable to them as they still are to us. “This is a real, heartfelt thank you to all vendors and distributors that work actively to show they think about their brick-and-mortar stores. Our staff and our families appreciate all that you do.” Virginia: (Hearth) “May really slowed

down, which is not that unusual for this time of year. Even new home construction has slowed a good bit. Mainly because spec home sales are really down. Without

the normal cash flow from sales, the high-end builders are holding back. Hopefully, it will pick back up soon.”

Indiana: (Patio, BBQ, Spas) “The rain and

MIDWEST Iowa: (Hearth, BBQ) “Indeed we are up for the year. Did not figure the percentage. This spring is slow and I could not be happier! Our small shop has been so busy through the fall and winter, the slower business in the spring has allowed us to catch up!”

cool temps have been a drag on store sales for the spring of 2019. I was told it has only rained twice in Indiana so far this year, the first one lasted for 35 days and the second one was 26 days. The farmers, and anyone who works outside, are dealing with some of the worst weather I have ever seen in this part of Indiana. I was happy to see a full day-and-a-half of no moisture from the sky at the end of this week.”

Illinois: (Patio) “May was one of the

Michigan: (Patio, BBQ) “Warmer spring

rainiest Mays in history. We felt it at the end of the month. Usually the last few days we have lots of people through the door. That didn’t happen this year. We continued to see strong sales in woven and teak. We did see some cast-aluminum interest which had not been the case earlier in the season. We are looking for a strong June as the weather has settled down to a more normal range.” Illinois: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Weather

has been bad, affecting grill sales!”

temperatures gave our clients motivation to start working on their outdoor spaces. Grill sales are likely up due to lack of quality units available in our market.” Missouri: (Hearth, BBQ ) “The wet

spring didn’t help business. Building is being delayed and the cool, wet spring has slowed barbecue sales. Gas grills are down remarkably; charcoal and pellet grills are steady, but not as good as last spring. It seems the economy is slightly slowing but still ok. The end of May

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94 | JULY 2019 | www.hearthandhome.com

turned around and we finished the month slightly up from last year.”

WEST California: (Hearth, Spas) “Our rainy

sales in the $1,000 - $1,500 range are selling well. Otherwise, barbecue sales are flat. We are happy to see that gas fireplaces and insert sales are still going strong. The hearth season never really ended. We’re still having a record-setting start to the calendar year.”

season was a big help this year, but our Easter break, spring break and graduations were extended and interfered with our sales. Now that Memorial Day is behind us our sales should pick back up and we are expecting a productive summer. Lots of projects coming in already, and the economy still seems strong if the media doesn’t poison it.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ )

Oregon: (Hearth, BBQ) “May is seeing

Ohio: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Grill

“Sales dropped off; weather warmed up. Our only thoughts are that, after six months of winter, the last thing people want to think about is that winter is only four months away. Seeing some nice activity in patio and fire tables, though. Hell, it’s almost fall, and we will start making money again!” Wisconsin: (Hearth, BBQ ) “Perfect

working weather. Could use another new employee. We are booked for work way into July. Makes me very nervous for this coming fall.”

payback for investments and new products, as well as the fact our spring weather start was late.” Washington: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ,

Spas) “So far so good this year.” CANADA

British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ )

“We have received virtually all our booking orders of chimney and stoves so are scrambling to see how many we can sell before the final booking payments are due. For all of the past five years, we find

we have to reorder because we based our estimates on last year’s sales, and this year’s will be up once again.” British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ )

“Barbecue sales have been nonexistent this year despite more advertising and promotions. Hardly getting any inquiries – bizarre year.” Ontario: (BBQ ) “Very poor month.

Cold and wet most days. Not even the most dedicated barbecue grillers will go outside and cook in this weather.” Ontario: (Hearth) “Weather stinks and

it’s killing business!”

Ontario: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Nothing

exciting. Just plain, cold, rainy days. Yuk! Maybe we will have summer in the fall. Who says there is no climate change?” Ontario: (Patio, BBQ) “Coldest spring

I can remember. Traffic is way down in the store. Competition is fierce.”




www.hearthandhome.com | JULY 2019 | 95


CLASSIFIEDS Help Wanted Empire Comfort Systems – manufacturer of fireplaces, heaters, and grills – is looking for an energetic/enthusiastic person to join our growing team. National Service Trainer – Develop training materials and conduct classes. Comfortable presenting in person; via web, and in hands-on demos. Up to 50% travel. Must excel at relationship building, strong oral/ written communication skills, and desire to help others learn. Troubleshoot by phone and email. Req. 5 yrs experience. NFI cert. preferred. Full benefits and relocation assistance available. EOE employer. Please send a letter of interest and resume to: jobs@empirecomfort.com or Human Resources, 918 Freeburg Ave., Belleville IL 62220

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

| Ad Index | Advertiser





15, 89

(888) 997-7623


Blaze Outdoor Products


(866) 976-9510




(855) 612-9800


Casual Market


(800) 677-6278




(800) 622-1359


Frankford Umbrellas

42, 43

(856) 222-4134




(866) 964-4468


Hearth & Home Technologies

68, 69

(800) 927-6841


Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association


(703) 522-0086


IMC – Las Vegas


(702) 599-3046


International Casual Furnishings Association


(336) 884-5000

email: jlogan@icfanet.org

Jensen Leisure


(800) 403-0403


Kozy Heat Fireplaces


(800) 253-4904


Lloyd Flanders


(800) 526-9894


Louisiana Grills


(877) 303-3134



8, 9

(800) 461-5581




(708) 563-2890


OW Lee


(800) 776-9533


Pacific Energy


(888) 223-0088


Pará Tempotest USA

28, 29

(972) 512-3534




(866) 919-1881


Stûv America


(866) 487-7888


Sunbrella/Glen Raven


(336) 227-6211


Sunset West USA


(760) 599-1021


Telescope Casual Furniture


(518) 642-1100


Travis Industries


(800) 654-1177


Treasure Garden


(626) 814-0168


Valor/Miles Industries


(800) 468-2567


White Mountain Hearth/Empire Comfort Systems


(800) 851-3153




(800) 654-5600


96 | JULY 2019 | www.hearthandhome.com

Who Reads


Suzie Roberts, for one! City: Burlington

State: North Carolina

Occupation: Vice President, Sales & Design, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics Special Interests/Hobbies: “When I’m not working, I enjoy being with my family. My son is in middle school and my daughter is a junior in college studying Marketing. We are huge college football fans and love our Georgia Bulldogs! And, of course, I love ANY beach – anywhere, anytime.” Problems/Issues Facing the Patio Industry: “There are many opportunities for growth in patio furniture, and market growth brings change. I think the patio market is emerging as a standard, or norm, for home furnishings, bringing more attention to this category.” Key Trends in the Patio Industry Today: “There are an incredible amount of furniture options available today. From furniture to fabrics, now you can have all the comfort, durability, and aesthetics that you demand inside your home, outside your home! “With the addition of fire pits for the outdoor space, this has helped to extend the outdoor living season.” Forecast for Your Overall Business in 2019: “Business is sluggish and retail is challenging. However, there is optimism that when the weather improves, the season will be strong.” Patio Retailers Face Stiff Competition; What’s Your Advice: “Most specialty retailers are focusing on their offering, differentiating what they sell and offer the consumer – and it works! Awareness of these wonderful retail stores in their local area is a priority. Most research that we’ve seen indicates consumers are not always aware of the higher-end offerings of patio furniture from these specialty retailers.” Years Reading Hearth & Home: “A LONG time! At least 15 years or more.” Reasons for Reading Hearth & Home: “Our industry is a very close group, and reading Hearth & Home is a great way to stay current on all that is happening in our markets. Hearth & Home covers all segments of the industry, and provides an in-depth discussion on the challenges and successes of the industry. It’s a must-read!”

Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience

| Parting Shot |



his warm and inviting photo was taken in the San Diego area. It’s a great use of outside space, with an oven as the focal point (but it’s fighting with the wonderful view for that honor). The space may be small, but it’s well thought-out. Plates of glass protect people, food, and beverages from winds off the ocean. The oven, from Wood Stone Home, is built-in, and everywhere you look there is stone – on walls and on floors. The Wood Stone company has been in business since 1990, with more than

98 | JULY 2019

Click here for a mobile friendly reading experience | www.hearthandhome.com

15,000 installations in over 80 countries worldwide. Wood Stone built its reputation on a family of stone hearth ovens. In 1989, challenged with the task of finding a wood-fired stone hearth oven, or “brick oven,” that could withstand the rigors of the restaurant world, Keith Carpenter pitched some ideas to Harry Hegarty, an experienced builder of large-scale, high-temperature ceramic incinerators. Wood Stone was born the very next year. Five years later, Wood Stone introduced gas-fired, and gas-assist, stone hearth ovens, with a variety of configurations.

In January of 2014, Wood Stone was acquired by Henny Penny, a manufacturer of commercial-grade cooking equipment for restaurants, supermarkets, and institutions around the world. More recently, at the end of December in 2014, Wood Stone became employeeowned (ESOP).

Wood Stone Home; 1801 W. Bakerview Rd., Bellingham, Washington 98226; Phone: (800) 578-6836; Website: www.woodstonehome.com.

Visit us

To see what’s new for 2020 ICFA Preview Show Showroom 1568 Merchandise Mart, Chicago July 16-18


Profile for Hearth & Home

Hearth & Home Magazine – 2019 July 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 – 2019 July Issue  

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