A New Face

Innovative Hearth Products ignites consumer interest through a companywide branding effort.

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Astria’s direct-vent gas fireplace

It’s a new year, and Innovative Hearth Products (IHP) is full of excitement—as well as new plans, new brands, and a new look—to mark the event. IHP (Nashville, Tennessee), manufacturer of hearth merchandise from Lennox Hearth Products and FMI Products L.L.C., has launched a new branding campaign that is part of IHP’s strategic initiative to streamline and restructure its product lines.

This follows the company’s 2012 acquisition by The Comvest Group (West Palm Beach, Florida), which included the merger of Lennox and FMI. The campaign unveils two big announcements involving IHP’s new corporate identity.

These announcements concern the launch of new brands: Astria, a collection of advanced fireplaces and fireplace systems, and IronStrike, a line of stoves and inserts. Together, they expand the company’s footprint in the specialty hearth-retail marketplace, making a more diverse range of hearth goods available to the consumer. IHP launched, in addition, a new brand called Superior, which includes hearth and stove products specifically for residential and commercial builders, remodelers, designers, and installers.

As Glenn Thomson, executive vice president of sales and marketing for IHP, explains, “IHP’s decision to launch the new brands was based upon a corporate objective to provide retailers with comprehensive and well-cataloged product offerings in distinct selling categories.” According to Thomson, the Astria and IronStrike brands contain the premium and most popular products from the former Lennox and FMI brands.

“IHP’s new brands encompass a full line of fireplaces, stoves, and inserts with technologically enhanced features and aesthetics that are designed to provide retailers and dealers with all-inclusive options for their customers. As we evaluated the strengths of both companies’ products and the legacy of brands that the two companies had acquired over the past decade, it was determined that we wanted to create a new identity for both the fireplace and the stove/insert categories,” Thomson says.

New Brands

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Astria’s Envy direct-vent gas fireplace

The Astria brand was designed to match its tag line: Let Your Style Shine. It has fireplace products with ample accessories, innovative features, and high levels of performance. Thomson explains that Astria is aligned with marketing to upscale, stylish, discerning, and affluent customers.

Astria features a wide selection of outdoor products, including wood-burning fireplaces and firepits; indoor traditional and contemporary direct-vent and electric fireplaces; a contemporary ethanol fireplace; traditional and contemporary vent-free gas fireboxes; and vent-free and vented gas logs—all at a variety of price points. “In this way, consumers can have the products of their dreams, designed for their individual spaces,” Thomson adds.

The company’s IronStrike brand represents a collection of products exuding practicality, ruggedness, dependability, and advanced technology. IronStrike includes wood, gas, and pellet stoves, along with wood, gas, and pellet inserts. “These high-end products have been designed to cater toward consumers who are seeking alternative, efficient home-heating options or who have a need to update existing fireplace systems,” Thomson says.

When IHP initially reviewed its collection of stove and inserts, it found that it had a broad array of product categories. “The heritage of some of the great brands, such as Country, was excellent,” Thomson says. “We saw the opportunity to take the quality image of that brand and expand its appeal to a broader offering.”

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IronStrike’s Madison Park direct-vent gas insert

Thomson continues, “We categorized the IronStrike brand as one of strong and durable products. Therefore, the brand image will become Heat for Life. We want customers who are looking for additional heat from various fuel types—and distinctly wanting heat—to know that our product is just for them. It is a product that gives them a lifestyle choice that will last a lifetime. That is why we offer limited lifetime warranties for our IronStrike brand.”

Promotion Blitz

The launch of IHP’s new brands will be marketed through new individual websites. The company will be gradually releasing the new brands by launching the websites throughout the first quarter of 2014. The new Web addresses will be www.Astria.us.com, www.IronStrike.us.com, and www.SuperiorFireplaces.us.com.

New brand logos, printed collateral materials, publicity, promotional opportunities, and advertising campaigns are all part of the launch. In addition, the company has created a new Facebook page to interact with its retailer/dealer partners, as well as directly with consumers. Astria- and IronStrike-branded point-of-purchase materials and in-store displays will be available to retailers for the purpose of promoting the various offerings within each series of products.

“The combination of our new websites, marketing plan, and point-of-purchase materials is designed to communicate Astria- and IronStrike-branded product information to consumers,” Thomson says. “Simultaneously, our branding efforts will supply engaging resources and correlated support for our distributors and dealers.”

While it certainly appears that there have been many changes afoot at IHP, Thomson (who came from FMI) says that the inherent structure of the company has changed very little. Mark Klein, who was CEO of FMI, assumed the role of CEO of IHP. Klein appointed Chuck Kimmet, formerly of Lennox, as vice president of operations.

Mike Pennington is vice president of engineering and quality, which is the position that he held at Lennox. Alivert Cabrera, who was part of the FMI management team, has taken the new position of vice president of procurement.

Tom Krebs is vice president of sales, in the same position that he held at Lennox. The only executive addition from outside Lennox and FMI is Linda Pahl, CFO.

New Products

Product development is a top priority of IHP. “We are focusing on expanding the product lines,” Thomson stresses. “In the fall, we launched a new product, the Envy™, for the Astria brand. It is a full-featured direct-vent fireplace with some great heat and accessories, and it’s offered in both contemporary and traditional styles. This product was shown at HPBExpo 2013.” He adds that it was the winner of the Vesta Award for best hearth product in the gas category.

In January 2014, IHP launched a new builder-product offering for the Superior brand, as well as for the Astria brand. Thomson says, “This new product line will have some of the most efficient AFUE ratings, for its category, in the industry. It will be totally compliant with the new barrier standards and will be the best in class for the new standard.” The builder products have been given new names: the DRT 2000 Merit series and the DRC 2000 Merit series.

In addition, IHP introduced a new insert, Madison Park, for the IronStrike brand in January. It is equipped with the same award-winning technology that earned Envy the Vesta Award. If that is not enough, IHP will also add a new ethanol unit, London Lights, to the Astria line. It has many industry-first features.

“This includes only a few of the new things on the drawing board at IHP,” Thomson notes. If these product introductions are any indication of what’s to come, dealers and consumers should fasten their seat belts: IHP will give them quite a ride in 2014.

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