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Industry News

Industry News - March 2008

Rory Rehmert Joins Pride Family Brands
Pride Family Brands has announced that Rory Rehmert has joined the company in the position of vice president of sales and marketing for specialty-store and contract divisions. Rory is a 27-year veteran of the casual industry and for the last six years has served as an officer on the SCFMA board, most recently as president (2006 and 2007). In his new position, Rory will be responsible for all aspects of the sales and marketing efforts of the specialty-store and contract divisions of Pride Family Brands.

“We are pleased to have Rory joining our organization, and with the wealth of experience he brings to this position,” Jamie Lowsky, CEO of Pride Family Brands, says. “Pride is focused on the specialty retail category, and with Rory’s leadership, this will continue to grow.” Formerly vice president of sales and marketing for Meadowcraft, Rehmert also held management positions with Winston Furniture and Seasonal Concepts.

Pride Family Brands Expands and Redesigns Showroom in Chicago’s Merchandise
MartPride Family Brands recently announced the expansion of its permanent showroom in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The new Pride showroom will encompass over 9,000 square feet, nearly twice the square footage of its current showroom.

Located on the 17th floor of the Merchandise Mart, the Pride Family Brands expanded showroom will create greater opportunity for retailers to view the company’s lines in complete outdoor-room vignettes. “We have long been restricted by the available space within the Mart,” Jamie Lowsky, CEO of Pride Family Brands, says. “With the new commitment of the Mart and its management team to the casual-furniture category, we were able to realize the type of space we have needed.” The expansion and redesign will debut early in the summer of 2008.

Calise Outdoor Kitchens Expands Its Market Presence
Las Vegas-based Calise Outdoor Kitchens has teamed up with a number of national chains and builders (such as Home Depot and KB Homes) to establish an innovative national sales-and-marketing program. The partnership is structured so that the accounts supply display space to sell Calise products, while Calise and the local Calise distributor provide sales and product support. Mark Chapman, Calise’s vice president of sales and marketing, says, “It’s a true trifecta, in which the distributor shares in all national account programs and we all end up as winners.”

According to Chapman, the organizations that Calise has teamed up with view this as a major opportunity because they recognize that the outdoor-kitchen product category is in its infancy, with strong marketing potential, and that Calise’s modular products are among the best in the outdoor-kitchen industry.

The response from distributors, potential distributors and dealers has been enormous. Bruce Spangrud, president of Calise, says, “Nothing like this has ever been done before. When most companies are involved in these types of business arrangements, the dealer loses out on the sale.” In this program, when a Calise outdoor kitchen is sold at a national account, the sale goes directly through the local distributor.

Chapman notes that by the end of April 2008, Calise outdoor kitchens will be available for sale in up to 75 major and midmarket cities nationwide. “We’ve been doing a systematic rollout because we want to be certain that everything is working smoothly,” he says.

In another major strategic move, Calise is in the process of interviewing distributors for protected territories nationwide. This structure is the result of an extensive review of the industry and marketplace, which revealed that this new business model would help Calise grow at a faster, but controlled, pace.

“This has been an easy sell because we’re offering our new distributors and franchisees a better financial opportunity as we continue to expand,” Chapman says. “We don’t want to put chains on our distributors or franchisees; we simply want them to be their own business people, selling business to business by establishing other dealers within their markets and by opening retail stores, if that’s what they choose to do.” As distributors, franchisees and dealers, they will have the opportunity to make higher margins and participate in Calise’s national training programs.

According to Chapman, this is an exciting time for Calise, which he expects to become a household name by the end of the year. “One of the signs of great business founders is that they recognize when they need to do things differently to succeed,” he says. “Bruce Spangrud is a forward-thinking individual who realized that this new direction for the company will benefit everybody associated with Calise.”

Pride Family Brands Announces Appointment of Public-relations Company
Pride Family Brands has retained Laurie Rudd of Laurie Rudd Public Relations to aid in public-relations efforts for the company on trade and consumer levels. Rudd will be charged with assisting in the creation of publicity strategies to market Pride Family Brands and its specialty retailers further through promotional venues, as well as trade and consumer media nationwide. “We feel Laurie Rudd’s input and enthusiasm with regard to this industry will be an asset to our marketing team and we look forward to working with her,” Jamie Lowsky, CEO of Pride Family Brands, says.

AEI Corp. Partners With Jim Butchart
AEI Corp. has partnered with Jim Butchart to serve its dealers in the Pacific Northwest. Butchart has been involved with the hearth, patio and barbecue industries for 27 years. For many years, he was the Web master for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, two of its regional affiliates, the National Fireplace Institute, the Pellet Fuels Institute and the Fireplace Installer Training System, as well as for many manufacturing and distribution companies. Butchart was also a co-owner of a hearth specialty retail store for many years. The manufacturing experience he gained as the IT manager for Pilgrim Hearthwares added one more layer to the expertise of this multifaceted sales professional.

Simpson Dura-Vent Combats Corrosion
Simpson Dura-Vent, manufacturer of chimney and venting products, recently partnered with OMNI Environmental Services to conduct research on why some stainless-steel chimney systems suffer from premature corrosion when corn fuel is used in pellet stoves. A study ensued that collected and analyzed flue gases typically derived from burning corn.

The results of this research indicated that, when compared with wood pellets, typical corn fuel has 2.5 times more water, 10 times more ash, 10 times more sulfur, 29 times more nitrogen, and 37 times more phosphorus.

The study proved that corn flue gases produce high concentrations of sulfuric, nitric, and phosphoric acids, which produce a highly corrosive environment in vent systems. Various metals commonly used for venting pellet stoves were tested. All, including 430, 304 and 316 stainless steels, demonstrated early signs of corrosion when exposed to liquid forms of acids typically found in corn-stove flues. Test results for two superferritic metals, on the other hand, showed high resistance to corrosion.

Facility Changes for Simpson Dura-Vent
Stephen P. Eberhard, president and CEO of Simpson Dura-Vent Company, Inc., recently announced the scheduled closure of the company’s Vicksburg, Miss., manufacturing facility and the consolidation of manufacturing operations at its existing Vacaville, Calif., facilities. With the recent addition of 38,000 square feet to its Vacaville facilities, Simpson Dura-Vent will meet all of its manufacturing needs from one location.

Future plans include establishing regional distribution warehouses in key markets across North America. The closure of the Vicksburg operations will occur over a 24-month period. According to Eberhard, Simpson Dura-Vent will be more competitive by reducing costs and improving efficiencies, resulting in continued overall enhancements in customer service.

Suncoast Aluminum Furniture Starts New Company
Patio Now, a new company owned by Suncoast Alu - minum Furniture Inc., will open a retail outlet in Fort Myers, Fla., where it is headquartered. According to Rick Baker, national sales manager, “Patio Now will be used as a retail outlet to sell items with discontinued fabrics and furniture lines that we have as extra inventory, or one-ofa- kind items. We have no interest in competing with our valued dealers.” Before joining Suncoast, Baker was head of a major patio-furniture retail company that won the industry’s Apollo award. He often frowned upon manufacturers that competed against retailers. Baker states, “I still believe retailers that buy product from manufacturers that supply mass merchants are getting stabbed in the back. Recently, two major well-known manufacturers in our industry were recognized as the Home Depot and Lowe’s vendors of the year.”

He continues, “Another well-known manufacturer is allowing its products to be sold on the Internet with advertised prices. Any fear that Patio Now will compete against one of our valued retailers is misguided. Retailers should not worry about us; they should be worried about the mass merchant down the street or the guy selling products with prices on the Internet.”

Suncoast Aluminum Furniture Inc. is celebrating its 25-year anniversary and manufactures cast- and extruded-aluminum furniture. Two years ago, Suncoast opened Suncoast International LLC to offer its customers value-priced foreignsourced products.

Lloyd/Flanders Announces New Staff Appointment
Lloyd/Flanders has hired Lou Rosebrock to serve as senior vice president of sales and marketing. Rosebrock is returning to this position at Lloyd/Flanders after five years in other industry endeavors. Rosebrock will work closely with Dudley Flanders, president, and Warren Juliano, national sales manager, in growing Lloyd/Flanders’ stature in the casual-furnishings industry. According to Flanders, “We welcome Lou back to the Lloyd/Flanders family and look forward to the type of success that we enjoyed during Lou’s previous tenure with our company.”

Performance Fabrics for the Home Are Not All Created Equal
One of the hottest trends today in home furnishings—performance fabrics—is also possibly one of the most confusing. With so many competing products claiming to offer performance, it can be difficult for consumers to sort through all the hype and recognize that some offerings require compromises in look, feel and performance.

John Coates, vice president of research and development for Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, maker of the Sunbrella® brand of performance fabrics, says, “For some consumers, if they see a fabric that beads water, they assume it’s a performance fabric. We encourage consumers to look deeper to assure that they are not compromising unnecessarily on styling, comfort or performance.”

For example, a fabric may be waterproof, but have a stiff feel, or a fabric may offer ease of cleaning for a minor spill, but bleach or acetone cannot be used for really tough stains without damaging the fabric. “Traditionally, fabrics have been a study in compromises. You could have a luxurious look and feel, but performance would not be as good, or you could have performance, but the fabric would be stiff and scratchy,” Coates says. “The newest generation of performance fabrics, such as those offered by Sunbrella, no longer requires compromises.” Coates offers tips for sorting through performance-fabric offerings.

Coated fabrics: Many of today’s so-called performance fabrics are created by just applying a coating to an ordinary fabric. The coating may be an inexpensive means of enhancing such properties as water repellency and ease of cleaning. While these fabrics may look and feel stylish, their performance features will diminish over time and their range of performance characteristics will be limited.

Engineered for performance: True performance fabrics are entirely engineered to meet a set of specific requirements, such as abrasion resistance, fade resistance, ease of cleaning, comfort and styling. Performance attributes that are incorporated as afterthoughts are likely to disappoint today’s consumers. A fabric that claims to be fade resistant might well retain its color, but lose much of its strength after exposure to sunlight.

Testing and research and development: Manufacturers committed to producing performance fabrics must also be committed to ongoing programs of testing and research and development. Textile technology is a rapidly evolving science and improvements should be evaluated and incorporated into existing products as appropriate.

Air quality: Some of the chemicals used to enhance the performance of fabrics can be bad for indoor air quality if those chemicals leach from the fabric into the air. Consumers should look for fabrics certified by the independent Greenguard Environ­mental Institute as low-emitting fabrics, which means that these fabrics contribute to healthy indoor air quality.

Consumer education: The Internet is an effective tool for consumer research on competing products and trends in performance fabrics. A little time on the Web can help a consumer identify fabrics that have a solid history of engineered performance, versus those that just bead water.

American Energy Systems Acquires Country Flame Technologies
American Energy Systems, Inc., the manufacturer of the MagnuM brand biomass and agrifuel corn/pellet appliances, has acquired Country Flame Technologies, a division of American Products, LLC, located in Marshfield, Mo. The purchase includes the complete line of Country Flame products, including the Ovation series, Ingelnook, model BBF, model 02, Smart Fireplace Furnace, Harvester, Crossfire-C, Little Rascal and Crossfire-P.

Sales operations and product shipment will continue from the Marshfield facility and product will be available from the corporate facility in Hutchinson, Minn. At both facilities, the passion of employees remains serving dealers with high-quality manufactured products while supporting Country Flame dealership locations and existing MagnuM dealership locations throughout the United States, Canada and international markets.

Directory of Performance-certified HVACR Equipment Changes Web Site
The Web site address for the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute’s Directory of Certified Product Performance was recently changed to http://www.ahridirectory.org/. Consumers seeking information regarding the certified performance ratings of HVACR equipment will no longer be able to access the directory using the old Web site address (http://www.aridirectory.org/).

The directory’s new address and name reflect the organization’s new name. On January 1, 2008, the institute merged with the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association to become AHRI. While the organizations merged, the certification directory listing the GAMA- and Institute of Boiler and Radiator Manufacturers-certified equipment will still be located at http://www.gamapower.org/, although future plans are underway to combine the three programs into one directory.

Users will notice when visiting http://www.ahridirectory.org/ that some changes have already been made. Over the past several months, the directory has been undergoing a face lift to enhance search capabilities and make it easier to find certified products. Users are encouraged to bookmark the directory’s new address and use this tool to help them find certified HVACR equipment and components.

Aspen Industries Updates Fully Vented Gas-log Product Line
Aspen Industries, Inc., has updated its Master Flame brand of fully vented gas-log fireplace systems to provide a fuller, more natural-looking appearance. Innovations include redesigned log sets to provide greater detail, elevated back log supports for a fuller flame and the addition of optional accessory kits to increase the overall aesthetic appeal of the installed gas-log system further. “These enhancements are the first steps in an ongoing program of product improvements that will assure customers that the Master Flame brand will continue to deliver the highest level of quality and aesthetic appeal well into the future,” Jeffrey M. Korpalski, comptroller of Aspen Industries, says.

Master Flame offers single-, double- and triple-burner fully vented gas-log fireplace systems. The product line features a one-piece, straight-port injection system with separate configurable logs. Aspen Industries also manufactures the Royal series of adjustable gas coal-effect burners and baskets, which are ideal for smaller fireplaces and for those who prefer a gas fire with a more distinctive look.

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