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from Patio and Hearth Products Report

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Transparent and Top-Notch — Thermo-Rite Adds to its Legacy

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 11.06.44 AM.pngRoy K. Allen bought Thermo-Rite Manufacturing in 1985, taking the reins of the respected Ohio-based company that began in 1942. Back in the 1940s, Thermo-Rite Manufacturing originated the tempered glass fireplace enclosure. In fact, Thermo-Rite was awarded the first United States Patent for tempered glass fireplace enclosures—a patent they held exclusively from 1946 to 1963.

Since 1985, Roy Allen has preserved and grown the company’s considerable legacy. Patio & Hearth Products Report sat down with Roy to discuss the company’s past and bright future.


Patio & Hearth Products Report (P&HPR): What are some other key elements of the company’s success and longevity?
Roy K. Allen: The founder, John Lydle, was creative, and a very high quality minded person. He not only invented the product, but it was a product that was in the finest homes in America. For many years, the glass doors were made out of solid brass, mostly using clear glass, although later on, bronze glass and gray glass came into play. But it started out as all solid brass.

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 11.36.31 AMP&HPR: How have tastes/preferences evolved?

Allen: Back in 1990, we were still 90 percent solid brass. But the buying public changed, and solid brass became not so popular. Today, we are about 85 percent aluminum—mostly painted with earth tone color. We have 15 heritage colors. Then we have about 12 percent quarter-inch steel, and the balance is a combination of solid brass and aluminum.

P&HPR: What are some of the key products that are selling well and design features that are popular?
Allen: First of all, we are about 60 percent custom doors. We make one of a kind, and we make them from a template that is sent in by our customers. We sell these doors all over the United States, Canada, England, Spain, and Norway. What makes us unique is that we have a high-end custom line of door products, and we have about 24 different SKUs of products featuring different types and models.

Empty classic interior of a room with fireplace over black wallP&HPR: How has the company managed to stay successful for all these years?

Allen: One of the things that has allowed for the longevity of Thermo-Rite has been our creative and new designs and new products. For example, about 20 years ago, all glass doors had a frame around the glass. We created what we call a clear view door. We took all the frames off of the glass so that the homeowner would be able to see the fireplace without seeing any of this metal around the glass. That was probably one of the major changes in the glass door industry in the last 40 years.

Heritage 2 DayMore recently, for example this past year, we added a group of doors to what we call our Artisan series, and here again we’ve done something completely different. We’ve created a door that has rounded corners on the top. We sold doors with arches on them for years, and that’s a complete arch. This is a door that softens the area in a room with the rounded corners.

P&HPR: When did dealers get a chance to see that?

Allen: We introduced it at the show this past year, and it was an instant hit. So we’ve done that, and then we’ve also come out with a new door that kind of has an old world gothic type look. Both of these doors are quarter inch steel type doors. And all of our custom quarter inch steel doors are painted one of 15 different heritage colors, so customers can select a color. In fact, they can go on our website, pick the color, and transpose it onto a doorframe of their choosing. That’s something that we just updated on our website. We upgraded it in a big way.

Vintage living roomP&HPR: For dealers who are considering carrying your products, what are some benefits that dealers would enjoy?

Allen: Our creativity and new products is something that dealers like to show their customers and a new dealer is going to look to us for that. We’re the only glass door company in the industry that actually has three different doors that we carry in inventory at all times. And we carry those in six or eight sizes, depending on the door. They can call us and in less than two days, and we can ship that product to them. So there’s a major interest level for our dealers and for prospective new dealers.

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 11.15.46 AM.pngWe’ve been around, and I guess you could call us the grandfather of the industry. We’ve been around so long, and we have so many skilled people internally. For example, we have a great customer care department on the phone that can literally tell someone how to install a glass fireplace door. That’s invaluable to dealers and installers around the country, and we are known for that. Our reputation is one of being above average in that regard. All of this is a credit to our invaluable employees.

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Star Treatment – Gyrofocus: The Life of an Icon

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 10.14.07 AMI promise you, now that you’ve seen the Gyrofocus and put a name to its iconic design, you’ll start to see it pop up everywhere.  It’s like a celebrity that just can’t shake the papparazzi.  It has recently made cameos on commercials for BMW, Samsung (South Korea), and Microsoft (France).  Of course it’s also a regular on HGTV (check out the video posted below).

That’s a lot of jet-setting so we caught up with the famed fireplace on a well-deserved vacation at a sun-soaked resort on Kangaroo Island, just off the coast of Australia. Click Here to link to the original Australia Blog Post.

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Dwell on Design (L.A.) + ICFF (New York City)

Come see our products at these world-renowned design shows.

European Home prides itself on being a design forward company.  We are excited to announce that our products will be displayed at two of the most well respected modern design shows in the world this May and June.  Come check us out alongside some of the best innovators and designers working today.

 Click the logos below for more information Dwell on Design and ICFF. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 10.18.09 AMNext Week!

ICFF 2017 Dates – Trade Only

Sunday, May 21 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m

Monday, May 22 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 23 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Trade and General Public

Wednesday, May 24 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

(11th Avenue at 38th Street)

New York City

Dwell on Design: Once again we are collaborating with Method Homes, a CSA certified builder of green, prefab structures in the US and Canada, and showcasing our outdoor gas fireplace: J Series in their full scale modern show home designed by Chris Pardo Design.

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June 23rd through 25th, 2017

Los Angeles Convention Center

1201 S Figueroa St.

Los Angeles, CA 90015

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Mont Alpi Helps Dealers Capitalize on Hot Trends

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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 8.38.03 AMMont 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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 8.39.02 AMOur 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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 8.38.29 AMP&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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 8.37.33 AMP&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.


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Experience and Expertise Set Erwin and Sons Apart

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 8.25.48 AMAfter 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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 8.26.50 AMP&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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 8.27.34 AMP&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.

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Breckenridge Bliss – Designed with Nature [and Fire] In Mind

Michael Stokes’ family home is situated in some of the most beautiful nature you will ever set your eyes on.  Step outside and you are dwarfed by a perfect snow-capped mountain (can’t miss photograph below) and a grove of old-growth pines swaying in the winter breeze.  Nature, it seems, has even permeated his walls and crept into every nook and designed cranny of the home.  From the bear-fur bedspread, to the weathered wood floors, to the stone and even steel, with the unmistakable patina of nature + time written all over them.

We had the opportunity to have a conversation with Michael and his hearth designer, Eric Walden recently.  You could call this entire home a collaboration of designers, a passion project, or simply, an act of nature.

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European Home Burns Brightest at the HPBExpo 2017

Any foodie with a Kamado style grill will tell you the key to good BBQ is cookin’ low and slow. Any designer with a discerning eye will tell you that the key to a beautiful fireplace design is simple, clean lines.

Both were on display at The HPBExpo (Hearth Patio and Barbecue) earlier this month in Atlanta.  If you happened to stop by booth #2819 you would have seen much of the latter as European Home rolled out some new fireplace designs as well as some iconic favorites.

To those fireplace retailers, architects, and designers who stopped by the booth — a sincere thank you!  We were honored to have so many amazing conversations. Please scroll through the images below and see what the people at European Home have been up to.

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FusionFire from Modern Flames is Gaining Steam

Buoyed by enthusiastic responses at industry trade shows, including a 2017 Vesta Award for best electric fireplace, the FusionFire from Modern Flames is making its mark in a competitive landscape. Using “clean steam” technology, the Phoenix, Ariz-based company is making plans to roll out its FusionFire later on in 2017.

Patio & Hearth Products Report (P&HPR) recently sat down with Kris Richardson, president of Modern Flames, to learn more about the development of FusionFire.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.45.15 PM.pngP&HPR: What can you tell me about the development of FusionFire?
Kris Richardson, president, Modern Flames: Basically about two years ago, almost exactly, we started developing this new product with an engineering team. We originally thought it was going to take a single year, but it is now on year two.

The better part of the story is we met with a company in California that used to work for Disney, and they developed special effects or Disneyland. I started working with them to see if their technology could work in our industry, but realized very quickly that it could not, because their power requirements were way too much for a residential house, and the amount of water being used was way too much for a residential standard commercial application. So we had to completely redesign and redevelop the technology to offer the correct applications for our industry, and at the right cost.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.41.24 PMP&HPR: Where did you go from there?
Richardson: That type of technology was very interesting to us. We realized we couldn’t use their technology because they had a patent. So we had to first get an exclusive licensing agreement with them, in order for us to spend money on development, and to hire new engineers. We got that done, and then we got some very talented engineers to start the development of this project.

P&HPR: Where does it stand now? Can specialty retailers buy or sell it?
Richardson: They [FusionFire units] are going to be available in the fall, and I know that’s kind of broad. Fall means September or October of this year. We are past the development phase, and we are starting production.

P&HPR: What was the goal when you began this journey?
Richardson: The goal of starting the company was to create the most realistic flame image in the electric fireplace industry. We saw a big opportunity because there is no one else who is doing it. In the last couple years, as we developed our products, we realized that we were very limited with our current technology. With LED lighting and a screen, we always had a two dimensional flame.

For us to achieve our goal of making the most realistic electric fireplace out there, we had to change the technology, and that’s when the search started. Having a three dimensional fire, we are able to create the same type of characteristics as a gas fire. We don’t have a two dimensional flame. That was why we started the search and ended up landing where we landed. The future is very bright for this technology. We have the hard part figured out. We can do almost anything with steam as you can do with gas, because it has the same type of characteristics.