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Hearth & Home February 2018

Richard Wright
Hearth & Home Magazine

A Heavy Loan!

Everyone marketing any home-related product has been waiting anxiously for those in the Millennial cohort (born between 1980 and 2000, and 92 million strong) to begin buying homes. Well, the time has come.

In 2017, 27% of Millennials were married and living in their own households, and that’s up from 23% in 2012. According to the National Association of Realtors, that generation now represents 35% of the homebuyer market.

Millennials have been much slower at entering the homeowner stage of their lives than their predecessors. The reason is they have less money to spend, and they blame it mainly on student debt. According to a survey by TD Ameritrade, on average, Millennials don’t expect to fully pay off their student loan debt until age 35.

That’s a heavy loan to carry.

The upside is that the lead members of that cohort have arrived and, from this point forward, marketers can count on a steady stream of new homeowners who, as we all know, will require the purchase of a variety of products.

But remember this, Millennials favor experiences over “stuff.” Here’s an example that’s close to home. We have a nephew who’s in the early part of the Millennial cohort; he’s just turned 35, got married last fall, and has travelled extensively.

He’s already spent a year teaching in South Korea, and has visited Turkey, India, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, Belize, Japan, and is scheduled to be in New Zealand in the spring.

Experiences. That’s one way to sell to Millennials.

  • Sell the romance and ambiance of the fire, both inside and out.
  • Millennials are foodies, so sell the tastes and fun they’ll have barbecuing for friends and family.
  • Show them how to create an Outdoor Room, and what that means for their lifestyle. Just don’t sell a stove, fireplace, chair or grill.
  • Be creative in your marketing (See “They’re Buying!”)

Meet Leib Oehmig

Leib Oehmig was already president of Glen Raven when Allen Gant IV stepped down in the fall of 2017 and Oehmig added CEO to his other title. He is the first CEO not in the Gant family since its founding in 1880.

Oehmig has been with Glen Raven for 29 years now, so, clearly, he knows the inner working of the company. Nevertheless, to ensure a smooth hand-off, there was a four-year transition period prior to his taking the reins.

(Consider the difference between that transition, and a quick chat in the White House in front of cameras as the presidency of the U.S. is passed on.)

Here’s Oehmig talking about a portion of the company’s philosophy.

“All of the equipment that is in our plant in China is the same equipment you’ll find in any of our plants in Europe or the U.S. And everything is to Western construction standards – HVAC, everything – and not only for the integrity of the product. A Glen Raven employee anywhere in the world will have the same type of conditions, the same environment, be treated the same, have the same focus on safety and well-being…“What we are doing all day, every day, is trying to elevate that whole idea of design and performance married together, to create something beautiful, with performance attributes that improve the lives of people.” (See “A Family Affair.”)

More Stories in this Issue

Making it Happen

By Tom Lassiter

On the outskirts of Richmond, Mikki and Joey Hopcroft have built a solid reputation for Bon Air Hearth, Porch and Patio by making life easy for their customers.

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Give Builders a Chance!

By Bill Sendelback

If you’re a hearth dealer, your best opportunity to grow your business may be in establishing strong relationships with local builders.

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A Family Affair

By Tom Lassiter

A few months ago, Leib Oehmig became CEO of Glen Raven, but, he says, “we (meaning everyone at Glen Raven) are just a group of people trying our very best to support our customers and, hopefully, grow the business in the process.”

» Continue

They’re Buying!

By Lisa Readie Mayer

This may be the best news of 2018: The Millennial generation is finally buying homes, and here’s what you need to know.

» Continue

A Barrel of Fun

By Lisa Readie Mayer

Barrel grills are becoming an exciting new barbecue category, and now is the time for specialty retailers to jump on the bandwagon.

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Proven Performers

By Bill Sendelback

Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits have been around for about 20 years and selling well; the lifestyle they create appeals to most people.

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Fabric Wars!

By Mark Brock

There’s nothing casual about competition among casual furniture fabric makers, but at least it’s done in a civilized manner.

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2017 December Business Climate

In early January Hearth & Home faxed and emailed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, barbecue and patio products, asking them to compare December 2017 sales to December 2016. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 182 useable returns.

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