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In this Issue

Elmira Stove Works Celebrates 40 Years

Walpole Outdoors Establishes Retail Relationships

Design Specialties Plans Growth; New Ownership Group Steps In



Elmira Stove Works Celebrates 40 Years

Based in Elmira, Ontario, Elmira Stove Works stands as Canada’s only remaining kitchen appliance manufacturer. Celebrating 40 years in the business this year, the company has no plans to disappear, move or slow down.

When asked about the company’s 40-year anniversary, founder and CEO Tom Hendrick said,“It’s been quite a run. There have been some bumps in the road, but, by looking ahead and continually adapting, we’ve been able to not only survive, but thrive.” The ability to thrive over time is rooted in the company’s focus on product quality and innovation, maintaining a steadfast loyalty to its dealer network, and sticking to what it does best.

A few recent changes that will lead the company for the next decade include Brian Hendrick, Tom Hendrick’s son, assuming the role of president; Tony Dowling is the vice president of Sales and Marketing. Tom Hendrick will stay very much involved as the CEO.

“We’re looking ahead, not back,” says Brian Hendrick. “We have some exciting new products in the works, and we’re continually working on new programs and promotions to assist our dealers in keeping our products front-of-mind with the consumer. 2015 is going to be an exciting year, and the first of many more great years to come.”

To celebrate 40 years of success, Elmira Stove Works is holding a sweepstakes in the United States and Canada. The Northstar Fab Forty Fridge sweepstakes presents the opportunity for one person in each country to win a Northstar Model 1949 11-cu. ft. retro refrigerator. The contest will run from March 15 through September 30.

Elmira got its start with local Mennonites coming into Tom Hendrick’s hardware store looking for parts for wood-burning stoves. Recognizing a niche market, in 1975 Hendrick decided to begin making stoves himself. He acquired the rights and tooling for the Findlay Oval cookstove, and began manufacturing in a chicken barn on the outskirts of Elmira.

He made 25 stoves in the first year, then 200 the following year. The popularity of the stoves grew, and consumers soon began to ask for similar styling in gas and electric models.

These adaptations, and an expanded line of wood heating stoves, multiplied the product line. By 1986, the company was selling throughout Canada and the United States. Fireplace shops, appliance stores and emporiums across the continent were an enthusiastic dealer network for Elmira’s growing offering.

In keeping with the styling of the first cookstoves made by Tom Hendrick, Elmira’s 1850s Antique line now includes refrigerators, wall ovens, microwaves and dishwasher panels. One of the flagships of the Antique line is the high-efficiency, low-emission Fireview wood-burning cookstove, featuring modern clean-burn technology, a viewing window and optional propane sideburners.

In 2001, Elmira Stove Works began offering 1950s retro Northstar fridges. Over the next 14 years, the Northstar line expanded to include refrigerators, keg fridges, ranges, range hoods, splashbacks, microwaves, and dishwasher panels. Northstar has become known for its smooth curves and chrome finishes.

With the success of his inspiring ideas for kitchen appliances, founder Tom Hendrick was inducted into the National Kitchen & Bath Association Hall of Fame in 2011 as one of the industry’s leading innovators. It may seem like an unusual business plan – recreate from the past, with an eye to the future – but it’s a plan that has kept Elmira Stove Works cooking for four decades.

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Walpole Outdoors Establishes Retail Relationships

Walpole Outdoors, one of the country’s leading manufacturers and distributor of distinctive architectural landscape products and structures, has joined forces with three retail and dealer partners along the eastern coast.

The partners include DiSabatino Outdoor Living, a landscape design firm located in Wilmington, Delaware; Merrifield Garden Center, a Merrifield, Virginia-based garden center; and Gingerich Construction, a custom home building and remodeling company located in Wildwood, Florida. 

 “These new partnerships allow us to gain brand awareness in regions where traditional architecture is still a predominant style,” says Lou Maglio, president of Walpole Outdoors. “We are looking forward to continuing to build new relationships in 2015.”

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Design Specialties Plans Growth;
New Ownership Group Steps In

Design Specialties, a Milwaukee manufacturer of fireplace doors, screens and other hearth accessories sold at specialty hearth retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada, plans to enhance its operations with financial resources provided by a new ownership group that will include Michael Draves as president.

Company owner Pat Gengler is retiring, and has selected Draves and Blackthorne Partners of Brookfield, Wisconsin, to acquire the business; the transaction was effective March 30.

Michael Draves.

Draves, who has extensive experience in consumer products sectors, is partnering with Blackthorne Partners in the acquisition. The company, founded in 1983, will remain at 11100 W. Heather Ave., on Milwaukee’s northwest side. Its state-of-the-art 40,000 sq. ft. factory features laser cutting and powder-coating operations.

Gengler has owned the company since 1997. In planning for retirement, he sought a buyer who would commit to growing the business for the long term.

“I was very selective in choosing the new ownership,” Gengler said. “I wanted an ownership group who was entrepreneurial, had the owner/operator mentality, had capital to invest and was customer-focused. I wanted someone who understood our culture and our tradition of excellence. I found everything I was looking for with Mike Draves and Blackthorne Partners.”

Draves’ business experience includes leadership positions with Ariens, Sears, Pacific Cycle and Kohler. In those roles, he has accelerated revenue, market share and profit by strengthening internal capabilities, leveraging differentiations and orchestrating high yield go-to-market strategies.

“Design Specialties is known throughout the country for its high quality fireplace doors and accessories,” Draves said. “Along with strong name recognition among consumers, the company has a strong and loyal dealer network which we will continue to support. I’m looking forward to working with the company’s talented staff to enhance our operations so we remain the market leader known for quality and innovation.”

Draves said he was attracted to the opportunity based on the combination of Design Specialties’ established market position and the financial strength and management expertise coming from Blackthorne Partners.

Design Specialties’ products range from cost-effective, lower price doors to one-of-a-kind doors handcrafted by staff artisans for factory-built and masonry fireplaces.

“Pat Gengler has done a tremendous job growing this company and positioning it as a market leader,” said Steve Balistreri, a Blackthorne Partners managing director. “Our goal is to build upon that success so Design Specialties remains the premier fireplace door company in North America for the long term.”

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