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Hearth & Home February 2014

Who Reads Hearth & Home?
Kirk Newby, for one.

Kent, Washington

Occupation: “President, Associated Energy Systems (a two-step distributor).”

Special Interests/Hobbies: “I like to stay active. Skiing, golf, tennis and a little boating help me avoid ‘honey do’ lists when I’m not at work.”

Issues Facing the Hearth Industry: “The battle for the buck. With reduced home turnover and marginalized disposable income, our industry needs to stay relevant and top-of-mind to consumers. We don’t have the billions to spend on advertising like other consumer product industries.”

Forecast for the Hearth Industry in 2014: “Continued growth. Rewards to the pacesetters.”

Issues Facing the Barbecue Industry: “Because this segment doesn’t typically require installation, dealers have to work harder to differentiate themselves from the Big Boxes. From that point of view, the value of the store experience and the personal connection made to the foodies they seek to sell is even more important than in the hearth industry.”

Forecast for the Barbecue Industry in 2014: “People have to eat. The economy will continue to advance and those who have planted seeds will reap the benefits.”

Key Things Retailers Should Do to Improve Their Barbecue and/or Hearth Business: “There is no substitute for hard work. Keep good people on your team. Make sure that everyone in your company promotes your products and business. In most markets the higher income consumer will reward attention to detail. Have a plan; work your plan. Keep the excitement and fun in your company – optimism is infectious and customers buy into that confidence.”

Years Reading Hearth & Home: “Day 1. By 1980 I was an ‘oldie’ in this industry.”

Reasons for Reading Hearth & Home: “The most important thing is having an idea. Hearth & Home shares and advances ideas in the hearth and outdoor products industries. In shoes, clothes, cars, banking, insurance and computers, big bucks drive consumer tastes and have an outsized effect on the winners and losers.  

“In our small industry people actually still matter. Hearth & Home reports on these people. This is a great business to be in and in many ways Hearth & Home advances that cause. In our office there is a buzz about what is said in a new Hearth & Home as soon as the copies hit the in-box. They create excitement.”

More Stories in this Issue

Signs of Strength

By Bill Sendelback

Sales of gas fireplaces, the most important category in the hearth industry, rebounded a bit in 2012, and even more in 2013.

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Kamado Fever

By Lisa Readie Mayer

Interest in kamados remains high, as accessories proliferate and Big Box stores enter the field.

» Continue

Inside the VC Foundry

By Richard Wright

Built by Murray Howell and Duncan Syme in 1979, the Vermont Castings foundry has been managed and cared for all of those 35 years by Bob Wright.

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2013 December Business Climate

In early January, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,133 specialty retailers of hearth, barbecue and patio products, asking them to compare December 2013 sales to December 2012. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 192 useable returns.

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