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from Patio and Hearth Products Report

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OW Lee Earns Third Straight Manufacturer of the Year Award

Terri_RogersONTARIO, CA – The International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) honored top retailers, manufacturers, representatives and designers last week at a gala awards celebration during the International Casual Furniture and Accessories (ICFA) Market in Chicago.

During the celebration, OW Lee earned its third consecutive award in the coveted “manufacturer of the year” category. According to Terri Rogers, the remarkable achievement was a team effort that involved hard work, honesty, and a commitment to stylish and comfortable products.

Patio & Hearth Products Report chatted with Rogers about the award, the company philosophy, and the future.

P&HPR: What was your reaction when you learned you had once again won manufacturer of the year?
Terri Rogers, president, OW Lee, Ontario, Calif: I felt very very honored and excited, and was even a little shocked at our threepeat. I could not believe we won again. I also felt very proud of every employee who truly earned this award, and grateful to the industry.

P&HPR: What factors appealed to the judges the most?
Rogers: I think people recognize OW Lee as an honest, hardworking company. We are committed to the industry for the long term, and work hard to provide stylish and comfortable products that are a real value to the dealer. There are no smoke screens with OW Lee, and I think our customers really appreciate that.

P&HPR: What do you think you could do better as a manufacturer?
Rogers: We are very far from perfect! I feel like there is always room for improvement in all aspects of the company. I would love to figure out how to reduce lead times and offer more to our customer in terms of marketing support to name a few.

P&HPR: What new products/initiatives are you planning for the future?
Rogers: We started looking at new product for the 2015-2016 season the week after we got back from premarket, which is about 3 to 4 months earlier than normal for us. I feel so blessed to have my son Paul to take charge on the product design side of the company; he really does an outstanding job.

A few things on the drawing board for next year are lower-to-the-ground fire pits, an abundance of interesting design ideas for new collections that range from industrial-contemporary to very classic traditional, expanding our popular porcelain tile tops, and more. I am already excited for 2015-2016!

P&HPR: What is the most challenging aspect of running a successful manufacturing enterprise?
Rogers: It is VERY challenging to stay competitive manufacturing in the United States, and especially in California. I feel like because of this we have less to give to the dealer in terms of sales and marketing support. That is one reason this award means so much to us, because it is confirmation that the dealer understands our business model of focusing on the product first and foremost. As for the biggest headache? That would be freight, hands down.

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Hearth & Home Technologies Features New Designs

Modern luxury with the Heatilator Crave.

Modern luxury with the Heatilator Crave.

The new Heat & Glo MEZZO series features modern design.

The Heat & Glo MEZZO features modern design.

The Heat & Glo REVO can hang on the wall.

The Heat & Glo REVO can hang on the wall.

The new Heat & Glo MEZZO series features modern design that is all about the details—no gaps, clean finishing, and quality. Discreet and luxurious, it’s currently available in 36- and 48-inch single-sided and see-through models, with 60- and 72-inch models coming soon.

Modern luxury is now available at an affordable price with the new Heatilator Crave. All the essentials for a complete modern design come standard, and multiple upgrade options let consumers customize their look. Available in 36- and 48-inch sizes, with 60- and 72-inch models coming soon.

The Heat & Glo REVO is a slender, 7-inch deep modern fireplace that can hang on the wall or be recessed in-wall – and since it doesn’t require any framing, it’s the perfect addition to spaces in need of warmth and ambiance, like bathrooms, kitchens, or entryways. Available in square, horizontal, and vertical models, the REVO is an ideal blend of stunning design and efficient heat output.

The Hearth & Home Technologies family of brands offers a full array of gas, electric, and wood burning fireplaces, inserts, stoves, grills, mantels and more. The Heatilator and Heat & Glo brands are designed to incorporate the very latest in materials and technology.

While that technology provides comfort, warmth and ambiance in any space, it’s true that the glass front will become hot. Safety barrier screens help reduce the potential for serious burns. Because of this commitment, consumers have a safety barrier screen on their direct vent gas fireplaces or inserts.

Hearth & Home Technologies is a subsidiary of HNI Corporation. HNI Corporation was recognized for the sixth consecutive year as one of the 400 Best Big Companies in America by Forbes magazine in 2004, and one of America’s Most Admired Companies in the furniture industry by Fortune magazine in 2004.

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Danver Stainless Outdoor Kitchen Paves the Way for American-Made Products

Danver Stainless Outdoor Kitchens are manufactured in the United States.

Danver Stainless Outdoor Kitchens are manufactured in the United States.

WALLINGFORD, CN – Danver Stainless Outdoor Kitchens, manufacturer of stainless outdoor kitchens, based in Wallingford, Conn, is dedicated to helping the economy by manufacturing well-made products in the United States.

As consumers are spending more time outdoors—and investing in creating their ultimate backyard ‘haven’—the need to provide them with a one-stop destination for beautiful, high-quality outdoor kitchen appliances and lifestyle amenities, has become crucial.

“With 15 years’ experience manufacturing domestically-made stainless steel outdoor cabinets, our company strives to provide designers and homeowners with a multitude of options and quality products to choose from that are manufactured right here in the U.S.,” says Mitch Slater, president of Danver Stainless Outdoor Kitchens.

All of Danver’s cabinetry construction is completed in-house, so its expert staff of artisans and engineers have complete control over quality. It also ensures more efficient production time since the company oversees the entire process from design, production and engineering to cutting, welding and finishing.

Manufacturing products in the U.S. also enables the company’s customers to choose from an array of products and colors that meet their needs in a timely manner. “Every kitchen is made-to-order. It’s virtually impossible to stock cabinets like you would need to do with an overseas line to meet the required delivery schedule,” says Slater.

From concept to the final design, the Danver factory team strives to reach new heights in handmade American quality stainless products.

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Gene Moriarty: Tropitone Purchase “Very Much About Growth”

Gene-MoriartyCHICAGO – With this week’s International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) Casual Market show in Chicago, and last week’s acquisition of Tropitone, it’s safe to say that Gene Moriarty, president and CEO of Brown Jordan International Inc, has not had much down time.

The Brown Jordan / Tropitone transaction combines leading providers into a company generating consolidated net sales of nearly $400 million. The combined company will be headquartered in St. Augustine, Fla, and will maintain manufacturing, design and administrative operations in six states in the US, as well as in Juarez, Mexico.

Despite a hectic ICFA schedule, Moriarty took some time to chat with Patio & Hearth Products Report (P&HPR) and answer additional questions about the direction of both companies going forward.

P&HPR: What has been the reaction to the acquisition at this week’s ICFA show?
Gene Moriarty, president and CEO, Brown Jordan International Inc: Reaction has been positive. We addressed the Tropitone management team and selling organization on Monday, and gave them reasons why we bought the company, and what our strategy was going to be.

We own a number of portfolio companies, and each of those companies run on their own. We don’t envision making any changes to the way Tropitone goes to market or designs and sells products. Once that was out in the open, the reaction from sales representatives and the management team was extremely positive.

P&HPR: In what ways can you help Tropitone?
Moriarty: Tropitone is a complementary business, and clearly one of the great brand names in the consumer and commercial channels. We think there are things we can help. Our scale allows for improvements on sourcing and manufacturing. We can get improvements on lead times for products that they currently source that we might be able to make in Mexico, as an example, and that will only benefit customers.

There are balance sheet types things that can be done in terms of the scale of the companies being put together—that is where our value is going to be in this. As it relates to their strategic direction—their ability to design products, and address the market—we are going to let them drive that just as we have with our other businesses.

P&HPR: Do you anticipate any job loss associated with the acquisition?
Moriarty: That’s not one of the reasons we bought it by any means. We don’t think this business [Tropitone] is in need of any kinds of major cost-cutting initiatives. It is a well-run business. It’s a profitable business. It has had great leadership, and it has solid people across the major functions. We like the business for its growth potential, and that’s really why we bought it.

P&HPR: Why Tropitone?
Moriarty: We looked at a number of businesses to buy, and what we liked about Tropitone was its great brand name and its heritage. They look at the business very similar to the way we do. They are very disciplined and strong in the key functions of operations, sales, product development, and manufacturing. Those were all extremely complementary to the way we do things.

P&HPR: Why now?
Moriarty: One of the things we have been really successful with, post recession, is putting ourselves in a position where we don’t have a lot of debt. We have been able to utilize our cash, and some debt in this deal, to be able to purchase a company like Tropitone. We think Tropitone is clearly in a growth mode, and we want to accelerate that growth by providing them with a better balance sheet, as opposed to what they could have done as a single entity. This purchase was very much about growth—growth of our company and growth in theirs.

The transaction marks a year of celebration for both companies, as Brown Jordan’s flagship brand prepares for its 70th anniversary and Tropitone enjoys 60 years in business. Both companies are presenting their 2015 lines at this week’s ICFA show, scheduled for Sept 16-19.

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Bull Outdoor Helps Children in Haiti

bullbbq-farA partnership between Bull Outdoor Products and an educational organization called For a Reason (FAR) is helping children in Haiti. Bull Outdoor Products and FAR have embarked on a Grill for Good campaign that will build outdoor food preparation areas at schools where FAR students attend.

For most students and their classmates, the daily lunch served at these rural schools is the only meal these children will receive that day. The first undertaking is stage one of the outdoor facility at the Zanmi Agrikol University Facility in Corporan, Haiti.

Students learn agricultural techniques, construction and woodworking. The facility will not only be used to prepare and feed the students attending the university, but will eventually become a center for teaching community members about food processing, preparation and preservation.

FAR’s primary mission is to help fulfill the educational aspirations of impoverished students through tuition assistance, educational materials, and housing. Once committed to a student, FAR promises to accompany them throughout their educational journey—elementary to university and professional training.

FAR officials want to see student representatives from every community in the rural Central Plateau region of Haiti attending either the Faculty of Nursing Science of the Episcopal University of Haiti, or the Zanmi Agrikol School of Vocational Training and Agronomy.

Bull Outdoor team member Barbara Nureddine wrote the following article to explain how the Bull/FAR relationship started…
It began when our group visited an elementary school in rural Haiti, an area of subsistence farming and families that earn less than $2 a day. And yet, these are the same families that will sacrifice just about everything to keep their children in school. FAR (For a Reason) is just one of several organizations that help to support these schools and the children that attend them.

On this particular visit to St. Andre’s School in Trianon, the teachers traveling with our group led a lesson about seed germination. Already experts at a young age in the challenges of raising the food necessary to feed their families, these students were excited to decorate their pots and observe the germination process. Shovels, pots, markers and seeds combined to make the day an exciting experience for the students. For me, it was so much more.

Then came lunch time. For most of these students, it was the only meal they would consume that day. As I ventured to the food preparation area, I was shocked by what I saw. There was just a handful of Haitian women were preparing lunch for the 180 students in large kettles over open fires, in the dirt area nearby the classroom buildings. I knew immediately that Bull Outdoor Products could help provide these students and their schools with nutritious meals prepared in a sheltered kitchen facility.

I am so blessed to be a part of the Bull Outdoor Products family and able to help design and build food preparation facilities at schools like Saint Andre’s. By partnering with FAR, For a Reason, we hope to provide students throughout the region with well prepared, nutritional lunches and encourage those students to continue working toward a promising future for themselves and their country.

I invite you to join me in making the promise of a brighter future a reality for these children.