John Hartwig, founder and CEO of Irvine, Calif-based Mont Alpi, has strategically positioned his company’s outdoor cooking products to cover niche areas of the marketplace that are currently not supported, or at best are unsatisfactorily supported. “We strive to produce quality products that make aspirational trends accessible,” he says.
Mont Alpi can help dealers capitalize on hot market trends, thanks to the right products and the right philosophy. Patio & Hearth Products Report (P&HPR) chatted with Hartwig to get a sense of those products and philosophies, and how they can help dealers.
P&HPR: What features, and/or relevant accessories set Mont Alpi grills apart from the competition?
John Hartwig: Starting at the top, our 805 Island offers all of the joys of a built-in outdoor kitchen without any of the hassle. It is pre-assembled using 304 Stainless steel and granite. It is strong and elegant, will not break the bank, and needs zero construction. It comes ready for propane or natural gas, which is another difficult inventory solution for retailers.
Our other unique product is the Mont Alpi Pizza Oven. Pizza ovens have become a hot trend. However, in reality they are big and cumbersome—not to mention the cost. Our insights led us to believe that consumers only use pizza ovens occasionally, and as such we have developed a stainless steel table top pizza oven, ideal for standing next to or even on the grill. It is a secondary outdoor appliance. It’s high quality, well priced, and great for patios, homes, and camping. To supplement our niche products, we also have a built-in/drop-in range, which is pre-prepared for natural gas or propane.
P&HPR: How was Mont Alpi started, and how do you handle distribution?
Hartwig: After 30 years in the Grill industry, my son and I have noticed saturation and commoditization and felt that this opened an opportunity to sell solution-based products, rather than follow the masses. We rely on distributors to sell our product to retailers. We are building a good network of distributors, but some states still need attention, and we are seeking distributors.
P&HPR: If you’re at liberty to say (or even hint at)…What products are you most excited about that are on the drawing board?
Hartwig: Our innovation pipeline is looking strong and we are eager to launch our range of outdoor refrigerators in the next 6 months. Again, these are focused on solutions for consumers.
P&HPR: What is your prediction for consumer demand in the short and long term? Why do you think it will be that way?
Hartwig: The grill industry will continue to grow in volume, but sadly the growth in volume will continue to drive quality and price down. As a grill manufacturer, distributor, and retailer, innovation/point of difference will be the place to win (Big Green Egg is a good example of this), followed by strong and moral brand principles. Consumers are entering the category daily. People love grilling! It is aspirational.
P&HPR: What marketing and dealer support programs do you offer to support dealers in their efforts?
Hartwig: We believe that online merchandising is critical in an age where influence is driven by reviews rather than ads. We will be building videos, blogs, and other smart engagements to build trust and excitement about Mont Alpi.
P&HPR: What is your target demographic?
Hartwig: Millennial families.
P&HPR: What is your best selling line of grills?
Hartwig: 805 Island is our best seller.
P&HPR: How was the reaction to Mont Alpi at HPBExpo in Atlanta?
Hartwig: It was overwhelming. We feel honored to have received such great reviews and responses from the attendees. It is our humble intention to surpass expectations as we grow.
After more than three decades in the competitive world of outdoor furniture, officials at Erwin and Sons Direct Imports, Woodstock, Georgia, have come up with significant innovations, all while helping their dealer partners succeed in business. Patio & Hearth Products Report (P&HPR) sat down with Erik Dych, vice president, Erwin and Sons, to get a sense of the company’s history, as well as what dealers can look forward to in the future.
P&HPR: How does your company’s considerable experience benefit consumers and/or dealers?
Erik Dych: Erwin and Sons has been in business for more than three decades. We began our business in the 1980s with indoor rattan furnishings, but in the late 1990s, we pioneered the manufacture of HDPE resin into all-weather furniture. So that’s some two decades of experience in the outdoor industry.
We have the track record and expertise it takes to offer consumers high quality, design innovation, a wide selection of finish and style, custom Leisureluxe™ cushions in over 400 performance fabrics, and a solid warranty, all at competitive pricing.
P&HPR: What furniture and/or relevant accessories have been particularly successful in 2017?
Erik: Contemporary sectional deep seating collections have been quite successful, judging by dealer reports. New finishes, weaves, and frame styles continue to be well-received and in high demand. We have begun incorporating mixed media within a number of collections, which is what the high-end consumer is seeking.
P&HPR: How are you balancing your product line offerings between traditional and contemporary offerings?
Erik: In the past few years, we have begun offering more contemporary designs and new materials to meet the fashion needs and wants of consumers. I’d say we are now at about a 50-50 split between contemporary and traditional. And out of our traditional offerings, about a third of them are considered more transitional in design.
P&HPR: What products are you most excited about for 2017?
Erik: We are venturing into more cutting edge modern design such as padded woven wicker, new weathered wood-like tabletops, and a new line of contemporary table bases.
P&HPR: What sets you apart from the competition in terms of product development?
Erik: It is the diversity and long term experience of the Erwin team and our vendor relationships working together to achieve the best products and service that value everyone’s best interests.
P&HPR: How do you support specialty retailers?
Erik: We serve such a wide diversity of our retailers that, for all intents and purposes, we consider every one of them a “specialty” retailer. We cater to single- and multiple- specialty stores, pool, patio and hearth shops, online dealers, garden and hardware centers. Each of them have unique consumer demographics. Geography, weather, locale, cultural style, and pricing each play an important role in their merchandising decisions.