Patio & Hearth Blog

from Patio and Hearth Products Report

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Caliber Culinary Corner + Featured Caliber Dealer

In this edition of Caliber Culinary Corner, learn how to grill zucchini on any of the Caliber grills, see why Sam loves the Caliber Pro Kamado, tour the Caliber Dealer featured this month (Albano Appliances, NY) and see MODE’s new showroom through the recent NKBA So Cal Chapter event this month.


Caliber Featured Dealer of the Month – Albano Appliances, New York, NY

Albano Appliances is the home of the famed architect, David Rockwell and they have done very well featuring the Rockwell by Caliber Social Grill front and center in their store.  Pictured above in the Albano showroom is owner Fred Albano with business partner and sales manager Michael DiNapoli.


Albano Appliances was the first appliance dealer on the East Coast to have a professional chef on staff and is a big part of their continuing education program.  See Chef Jehan in this video talk about cooking rotisserie chicken on the Caliber Pro Kamado Charcoal Grill/Smoker.


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Homecrest 2017 Introductions Set for Display at ICFA Preview Show

Homecrest is excited to showcase its 2017 introductions at the ICFA Preview Show product launch. For 2017 we have expanded the Elements Dining collection into an especially comfortable and transitional Deep Seating collection. We also are excited to unveil two new low maintenance Air collections: Elements Air and Grace Air building upon the success of Airo2. To enhance these new conversation seating collections and with the popularity of our fire tables, Homecrest is launching new offering of rectangular fire pits. The new fire pits can be found in both Mode and Aurora Natural Series. We are also expanded the top offering of our Valero fire tables in the Timber texture. In Cushion, Sling and Woven, we are delighted to introduce Emory, where gorgeous artisanal styling meets the rugged outdoors. We invite you to view our 2017 catalog here.

Elements Deep Seating & Aurora Stonegate Rectangular Fire Pit (shown below)

Like its sister sling collection, Elements Deep Seating features clean lines and a gently rounded arm design, creating a warm and welcoming transitional lounging collection. Featuring Homecrest’s blissfully comfortable DreamCore™ cushions, Elements Deep Seating combines exceptional comfort and outstanding weather-resistance with elegant simplicity to create a space that is harmonious and inviting. Elements deep seating in available in 100’s of gorgeous outdoor fabrics and all frame finishes and includes a sofa, loveseat, chat or club chair and swivel rocker chat chair. Elements Deep Seating coordinates with Elements Air and Elements Sling Dining.

Be sure to check out our new trend setting Aurora Natural Series Rectangular fire pits with our Stonegate tops. Stonegate tops are offered in three color ways and available in 32″ x 52″ and 36″ x 60″. Aurora Natural Series rectangular fire pits are available in 19-inch coffee and 24.5-inch chat table heights with a powerful 60,000 BTU burner, the amazing heat will extend any outdoor season while creating an attractive atmosphere of relaxation and conversation. Aurora fire pits are extremely durable and customizable. Select from a variety of frame finishes and top textures and colors for an individual look. All Homecrest fire tables come standard with top quality reflective fire jewelry available in several color options.


Elements Air & Aurora Timber Rectangular Fire Pit (shown below)

Building upon the platform of the unique Homecrest Airo2 collection, we are delighted to introduce Elements Air by Homecrest. This new seating series features the appearance and comfort of a deep seating lounge chair, in a foam-free, “cushion-less” construction. Luxurious Sensation Sling fabric are used for the ultimate in low-maintenance comfort, while also featuring benefits such as exceptional shape retention and surface memory. Available for both residential and contract applications, our Air collections are exclusive to Homecrest and made in the USA. With over 13 skus this uniquely customizable, high performance collection coordinates with Elements Sling dining and is paired in the image below with Homecrest’s new Aurora Natural Series Rectangular fire pits with our envied Timber tops.

The beauty of the new Timber rectangular tops is undeniable. These gorgeous and durable tops are going to be a must have on every dealers floor. Timber tops are available in Drift and Sequoia in both 32″ x 52″ and 36″ x 60″new sizes for 2017. Aurora Natural Series rectangular fire pits are available in 19-inch coffee and 24.5-inch chat table heights with a powerful 60,000 BTU burner, the amazing heat will extend any outdoor season while creating an attractive atmosphere of relaxation and conversation. Aurora fire pits are extremely durable and customizable. Select from a variety of frame finishes and top textures and color ways for an individual look. All Homecrest fire tables come standard with top quality reflective fire jewelry available in several color options.


Grace Air & Mode Rectangular Fire Pit (shown below)

Building upon the platform of the unique Homecrest Airo2 collection and the popularity of Grace, we are delighted to introduce Grace Air by Homecrest. This new seating series features the appearance and comfort of a deep seating lounge chair, in a foam-free, “cushion-less” construction. Luxurious Sensation Sling fabric are used for the ultimate in low-maintenance comfort, while also featuring benefits such as exceptional shape retention and surface memory. Available for both residential and contract applications, our Air collections are exclusive to Homecrest and made in the USA. With over 13 skus this uniquely customizable, high performance collection coordinates with Grace dining and is paired in the image below with Homecrest’s new Mode Rectangular fire pits.

Complementing the sophisticated Mode table collection, we are pleased to introduce Mode fire pits. With all of the luxury features that come standard with all Homecrest fire tables, Mode features a floating Onyx aluminum rectangular top. Available in 19-inch coffee and 24.5-inch chat table heights with a powerful 60,000 BTU burner, the amazing heat will extend your outdoor season while Mode’s contemporary design creates an atmosphere of relaxation and conversation. Customize your Mode fire pit by selecting any Homecrest frame finish for your base and side panels (Duo-Tone available), and mirror design elements of your outdoor space by selecting from a wide variety of reflective fire jewelry.


Emory Cushion & Breeze Metal Tables (shown below)

Beautiful, strong, comfortable, and unbelievably functional, we are proud to introduce the Emory Cushion collection. Emory offers a wide variety of seating options, in both low and high seat back heights, in stationary, gliding and swivel rocking motion pieces. Featuring Homecrest Luxe cushions, Emory offers tremendous comfort and value in well-proportioned pieces that offer seating options for any space.  Emory cushion is available in hundreds of gorgeous and durable outdoor fabrics and all Homecrest frame finishes. Emory Cushion coordinates with Emory Sling and pairs well with all Homecrest tables and fire tables. It is shown here with the new Breeze metal table offering in a chat height.

The new Breeze metal tables for 2017 are a round slat option at a value price point. Made in the USA, these attractive and functional tables feature all-aluminum construction in a variety of heights and sizes, and are well-suited to both dining and deep seating applications.


Emory Sling (shown below)

Gorgeous artisanal styling meets rugged outdoor construction in the Emory Sling collection. This aluminum collection features old-world scrolled solid aluminum arms, and is not only visually engaging, but is remarkably comfortable. Available in both dining and balcony heights; Emory Sling Dining brings beauty and relaxation to the table. Emory Sling in available in Sling, Padded Sling, Woven and all frame finishes. Emory Sling includes a high back dining chair, high back swivel rocker, swivel rocker balcony stool and adjustable chaise. Emory Sling coordinates with Emory Cushion.


Round Timber Valero Fire Tables & Dining Tables

New for 2017, Homecrest is pleased to add the Timber texture to the Valero fire table offering. This allows for seamless design across the Homecrest offering. Valero Timber tops will be available in 42-inch and 54-inch rounds in 19-inch coffee, 24.5-inch chat, dining and balcony heights.


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Hearth & Home Technologies’ Annual Rewards Trip

BJ Hogge Ziplining

BJ Hogge ziplining.

Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT) celebrated another great year with its annual rewards trip. This spring, the 67 top-selling customers—selected based on sales growth and performance—and their guests traveled to Riviera Maya, Mexico, for a week of fun from April 25-29.

In addition to enjoying the all-inclusive Hard Rock Resort, customers were able to participate in activities such as riding ATVs through the jungle, exploring underground cave systems, ziplining above the treetops or sailing on a catamaran. The event wrapped up with a traditional Mayan fire dance and fireworks.

HHT Rewards 2016 2Left to right: Mathew Lansdon (NW Natural Appliance Center, Oregon), Marion Lansdon, Kit Pinzer-Hins (Fireside Hearth & Home Retail, Minnesota), Jud Hins, travel staff Coley Wright, Roger Oxford (HHT), Rio Secreto tour guide Javier

“Everyone is working very hard all year. Doing the small things to separate us from the competition. When your company rewards you like this, it gives you the mojo to fight even harder. What a terrific perk! Thank you. It was amazing,” said Tim Thomas, a first-time winning Builder Sales Rep from Fireside Hearth & Home in Manassas.

HHT Rewards 2016 3

Left to right: Drew Herendeen (Hearth & Home Design Center, Indiana), Eric Peterson (Capo Fireside, California), Bob Ballard (HHT), V.P. Berger (HHT), Matt Mattis (HHT), Wayne Stritsman (Best Fire Hearth & Patio, New York).

HHT will continue its rewards program in 2016, and recently announced Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, as its 2017 destination.

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Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, Sunbury Textile Mills Ask Students ‘What’s Next?’ in Philadelphia University Textile Design Competition

sunbrella_logoPHILADELPHIA – For the second time in three years, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics and Sunbury Textile Mills have joined forces in the search for the next generation of talent in textile design. Hosting a competition with the Textile Design program at Philadelphia University, the two companies asked students to imagine the future of Sunbrella® fabrics, answering the question, ‘What’s next?’

“What’s great about this partnership with Sunbury and the university is that we are exposed to a group of students that have completely different perspectives,” said Tracy Greene, style/design manager at Glen Raven Custom Fabrics. “It’s interesting to see a new take on our materials, where students are allowed to weave and finish textiles creating art rather than designing for a specific commercial market. We are here to help educate the students, but really they are educating and inspiring us.”

The competition, which launched in 2014, quickly proved to be a way for Glen Raven to interact with prospective employees. Emily Weiss, whose design featured a blue/green color palette ideal for a beach home, took second place in the inaugural textile design and went on to intern with Glen Raven Custom Fabrics. She has since been hired on to the design team.

Samantha_Fletcher-1“It’s such a cool experience being on the other side of the table this time around,” Weiss said. “I know from my experience how much work goes into this project, and it has most certainly paid off for me. I’m so glad to be part of the Sunbrella design team, and couldn’t have imagined back then where I’d be now. My best advice to students would be to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.”

In this year’s competition, graduate student Samantha Fletcher was awarded first place in a unanimous decision for her innovative, limit-pushing approach which featured melted PVC yarn.

“My process is to play with the materials, push the limits of the yarn and change it in a really unique way,” said Fletcher, whose design reminiscent of lace was based on the concept of collective memories. “It’s gratifying to win first place in this competition because this is the type of work I love doing.”

Judges from the industry included Andy Kahnke, director of trade and retail sales for DEDON, Inc.; Liora Manne, designer and owner of Lamontage/Liora Manne; Tracy Greene, style/design manager at Glen Raven; Kathy Remsa, senior designer at Sunbury; and Patricia Hoffman, manager for corporate and ecommerce web initiatives for Thibaut.

“Samantha’s design was an inventive response to the inherent properties of Sunbrella yarn,” Hoffman said. “Visually it is rich and interesting, and her story about collective memories made me relook at the fabric and see it in a whole new light. Her design inspires me to ask ‘How can I push beyond what has already been done?’ as I create fabric for real world applications.”

Second place was awarded to graduate student Valerie Gibbins for her design influenced by street art. Third-place winner Jessica Newman, a junior, was noted for her design based on bone cell patterns. Honorable mentions were presented to Becky Flax, Nyasha Chivaura and Yi-Chun Liu, all using materials in new ways, predicting the future of Sunbrella fabrics.

“It’s really joyous to be recognized, especially by judges from within the industry,” said Gibbins, who is studying industrial design but has delayed her master’s thesis to study textile design. “I have been sewing my whole life, but I’ve really immersed myself in textile design this past year. I hope to combine my interest in industrial design with my passion for textiles, and winning second place in this competition validates my efforts.”

Jessica Newman hopes her third-place win keeps her on track to one day pursue her dream of product development for sportswear.

“I’m really surprised and honored to have won third place,” Newman said. “I did a lot of experimenting with PVC yarns to get to my final product. I’m fascinated by how technology can change the products we use every day, so this was a really fun project to work on.”

The students’ designs were judged on a number of criteria: color, pattern, appropriate scale, creative materials, appropriate hand, technical execution, appropriate end use, originality and innovation.

“I like designs that push people; designs that you’re not sure if they are ugly or pretty,” Kahnke said. “When I have a strong reaction to something, it often means it spoke to me, and I appreciate the unexpected. What I enjoyed most about judging this competition was seeing the level of detail and precision, and how the students interpreted the challenge in vastly different ways.”

The winners were announced at Philadelphia University on May 10 and their entries placed on display. “I loved how the students explored the material,” Manne said. “The creativity displayed is inspiring. I was especially attracted to the various treatments of the yarns that created new textures, translucency and complex details. Their imaginations ran wild with this project and I really enjoyed speaking with the students about their designs.”

Kathy Remsa, who served as a judge on behalf of partner Sunbury, holds the university close to her heart, as she was a master’s student there 15 years ago.

“My time at Philadelphia University was so valuable,” Remsa said. “As an alumnus, I want to give back and help educate the next generation of textile designers. It’s a great opportunity for us and Glen Raven to connect with the students and provide valuable advice for their careers.”

Continuing in its tradition of recruiting competition entrants, Glen Raven will bring on honorable mention winner Nyasha Chivaura as a design intern this summer.

“Emily and Nyasha are fantastic success stories exemplifying how we connect our students with industry leaders,” said Marcia Weiss, director of the Fashion and Textiles Futures Center at Philadelphia University, no relation to Emily Weiss. “By bringing in judges from within the industry, we further widen the circle of connections our students can make. We couldn’t be more pleased with this partnership and are so proud of the talent we are producing.”


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It’s Time to Get Outdoor Spaces Prepped for Warm Weather Relaxing and Entertaining

HIGH POINT, N.C. – With Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer just around the corner, it’s time to make sure your outdoor space is ready for relaxing and entertaining in the precious warm months ahead.


“With the wide range of outdoor products available today, consumers are enjoying their outdoor spaces more than ever,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance and executive director of its outdoor division, the International Casual Furnishings Association. “Today’s outdoor spaces are just as much a part of the home as the interior. Consumers are outfitting their porches, decks and yards with comfort and practicality in mind so that they can sit back and enjoy their spaces with family and friends, or all by themselves.”


Consumers can make their outdoor spaces just as comfortable and beautiful as their interiors, she added. For those who want to curl up outside to relax, maybe even to watch TV, big, deep-seated outdoor sectionals and sofas are the perfect choice. And today’s outdoor fabrics are superdurable, yet they feel soft to the touch and come in an unbelievable array of colors and designs.


And, just like inside, accent pillows are the perfect accessories to liven things up outside and to add another layer of comfort. A group of four lounge chairs sometimes accompanied by a matching coffee table or fire pit, are popular choices for consumers who like to entertain. And, for dining alfresco, choices are endless. Consumers who want to serve a crowd can even find extending dining tables with new designs seating up to 14.


And don’t forget the shade: Umbrellas are a must in sunny spots, and they also add a nice splash of color. “As the weather warms up and summer approaches, consumers are being bombarded with choices in outdoor products,” Hirschhaut said. “Many will head to the big-box stores – or even the grocery or drug store – and choose something because it is inexpensive and easy. That choice may end up costing them more in the long run, if the product doesn’t hold up. I encourage shoppers to consider the quality as well. Many outdoor products are built to last for years and won’t need to be replaced so soon. Specialty stores are well-equipped to educate consumers about the choices available in a range of price points.”


The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, including about 100 manufacturers of outdoor furniture and accents.


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AGIO Expands Domestic Fulfillment and Warehouse Program

VIRGINIA BEACH – Agio is launching its new Domestic Fulfillment and Warehouse Program at this April’s High Point Market expressly intended to meet the demand for their brand name and product line.

The 2016 Domestic Program allows qualified buyers to carry select Agio collections without a container requirement or minimum order. Agio’s sales representatives will coordinate this program with Buyers in their territories and have all the details of the program.


Rockers by Agio.

“Over the years we have had so many requests for orders less than a container that we have had to decline,” said Andy Sokol, Agio’s vice president for Sales. “Next came e-commerce companies who wanted our brand.  Now we don’t have to turn these customers away.”

Agio’s initial domestic fulfillment program began last year with just four collections offered through a national distributor. For 2016, 12 collections will be available. Program sets range from comfortable deep-seating groups and casual bar and dining sets, to fire pit chat groups and rocking chair sets. For this new program, Agio has contracted the services of Shelba Johnson Trucking for their warehousing, trucking and fulfillment services and will self-manage the inventory levels.

“Based on how well customers responded to our announcement at the Las Vegas Winter Market that we will be able to start delivering orders in April, this new program should be a home run,” Sokol said.


The Kendall Collection from Agio.

Retailers who are already container buyers may also use the program to balance inventory or to place in-season orders which can be shipped on an as-needed basis.

“This is an opportunity for retailers to get involved with Agio from the ground floor and build their program with some of our most popular collections,” said Sokol. “This is also a great opportunity for the decorators and project managers who love and want our product to now serve their clients,” he said.

Fulfillment for this new program will begin by the end of April 2016—perfect timing for retailers looking to place summer orders and consumers ready to expand their outdoor rooms for the season.


The Del Mar Collection from Agio.

Agio USA will launch its Domestic Fulfillment and Warehouse Program at the April High Point Market to meet the needs of smaller retailers, decorators and e-commerce sites.  Below are the 12 Agio collections offered in the program:


2 lounge chairs

1 sofa (incl. 2 throw pillows)

1 coffee table

DAVENPORT DINING– Cushioned 7 pc sets

4 dining chairs

2 swivel rocker chairs

1 84” x 42” umbrella table

DAVENPORT HIGH DINING—5 pc set with fire

1 40” x 72” table

4 bar stools


4 spring action lounge chairs

1 Kensington KD fire pit

HAYWOOD DINING—5 pc aluminum set

4 dining chairs

1 48” round table


4 lounge chairs

1 fire pit

MADDOX DINING—7 pc dining set

4 cushioned dining chairs

2 cushioned swivel rockers

1 84” slate top table

1 umbrella with base


4 barstools

1 36” square top table

MADDOX CHAT—5 pc fire pit chat

4 motion lounge chairs

1 fire pit

DEL MAR SEATING—4 pc wicker set

1 loveseat (incl. 2 pillows)

2 lounge chairs

1 coffee table

SAVOYE DINING—7 pc aluminum set with sling

4 dining chairs

2 swivel dining chairs

1 84” table


2 rockers (incl. 1 pillow)

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Economic Realities and Opportunities: A Chat with V.P. Berger, President of Hearth & Home Technologies

head_shotClosing a manufacturing facility is never an easy process, but officials at Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT) recently made the difficult decision with a keen eye toward the long-term health of the company. As a hearth manufacturer and maker of several iconic brands, the Lakeville, Minnesota-based HHT decided to close its manufacturing facility in Paris, Kentucky.

Reasons are numerous, but V.P. Berger (pictured), president of HHT, cites the recent economic slow down, in addition to warmer weather and low oil prices—all of which challenged HHT’s revenue assumptions. Patio & Hearth Products Report (P&HPR) sat down with Berger to get additional insight on the closing, how it will affect employees, and how it will ultimately improve operations.

Majestic_LogoP&HPR: What factors brought about plans to close the manufacturing facility in Paris, Kentucky.
V.P. Berger, president, Hearth & Home Technologies, Lakeville, Minn: The recent slow down in the economy, warmer weather, and recent low oil prices are all challenging our revenue assumptions. We are expecting slower new construction recovery, modest retail gas, and a continued contraction in the pellet business. With all these changes, we feel we owe it to both our shareholders and our customers to protect our best cost position. When we have redundant manufacturing, it makes sense to take structural cost out to protect our position.

P&HPR: What is the time frame for closing?
Berger: Phasing out all the manufacturing will take about 12 months. The plan is to move the production to Lake City, Minnesota, and the Mount Pleasant, Iowa plant beginning in late May 2016.

Monessen_LogoP&HPR: What elements will be left at the Paris facility?
Berger: It’s important to note that we are just talking about the manufacturing in Paris. The new product engineering teams, the research and development teams, customer service, technical service, and warranty will all remain in Paris—both during and post transition. These teams are not impacted by the decision to consolidate manufacturing operations. There still will be a large call center and engineering department in Paris, Kentucky.

P&HPR: How many HHT team members will be affected by the closing?
Berger: First of all, the decision to close a manufacturing facility is a difficult one. In no way does it reflect the quality, hard work, and dedication of the Paris members. That said, there are approximately 210 members who will be affected. Certainly we appreciate them, and thank them for all their efforts. We are working with them to transition them to their new assignments.

Vermont_CastingsP&HPR: Will HHT be helping out those who are affected?
Berger: Absolutely, we will help all of our members transition to a new assignment. I think it’s important to understand how we will do that. We have a very strong culture and philosophy and we want to assist every member with their new opportunities. That’s why we call it transition pay, because we are transitioning them to a new opportunity versus traditional severance. We will spend millions of dollars on our members to help them do this.

P&HPR: How will you do this?
Berger: First, our philosophy is transparency. More than one month prior to this announcement, we were in front of the member base in Paris telling them that we were going to look at this as a possible situation. So, by no means was this going to be a surprise to them. We spent the next five weeks analyzing different opportunities, and when we actually came to a decision in early March, we were able to not only tell the members, we were able to give them dates of when it would impact them.

When you look at transparency, and then we get to the point to where we do make a decision—a difficult one—every member was given a timeline from either 60 days notice to up to 9 months. This too is key to help them from a transition standpoint. Then, while they are here and working toward their end date, they are provided weekly incentive production bonuses. Upon completion of their assignment, they are provided additional transition pay based on their years of service. It’s transparency, it’s clear timelines, and it’s more than dollars. We will reward every member above their hourly pay with transition incentives as well as production bonuses.

Dutch_West_LogoP&HPR: How are you able to go this route when so many other companies get it so wrong?
Berger:  We have a parental advantage being owned by HNI Corporation, a large and well known publicly traded company. With their parental advantage, they give us great guidance. You hug your members on the way out the same way you do on the way in. I know that sounds simple, but it is that simple. If you look at it that way, it really provides a perspective of the culture. It is about transition. It is not about severance.

P&HPR: What economies will be achieved with consolidation?
Berger: This is another example of our ongoing effort to continue to simplify and streamline our business model. By doing this, it allows us to take full advantage of our linked and lean value chain.

P&HPR: What benefits/advantages will you be able to pass on to the dealer network?
Berger: The change really advances our ability to deliver high quality products with the best cost performance. It’s back to our original point. If the markets are going to be soft, we have to be aggressive and proactive to remove structural costs and redundancies to protect that best cost position. That’s the best thing we can do, not only for our shareholders, but for our customers.


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