Oct 21, 2010 ellen leahy Uncategorized
The Keehfus brothers and partner Rob Englert have cooked up a useful product entirely made in America. Todd (Skaneateles), his brother Chad (Smokey Hollow Farms, Jamesville), and Englert (Jamesville), have developed a firelighter ideal for inside or outdoor fireplaces.
The brothers credit their mother for the genesis of the idea, as many years ago she had purchased a similar Fire starter at a craft fair. The Keehfus Family lived in Guilderland at the time, but also had a camp up in the Adirondacks at Friends Lake. After growing up with this unusual device, which is still going strong, they got the idea to manufacture one on a larger scale.
They bought the rights from the original potter, and went into design mode with Englert with a mission to marry form and function. The FireLighter must be handsome in appearance, but also safe to use and as dependable as the original, which they have used for more than 25 years.
What’s in the kit?
“The FireLighter Kit includes everything you need to get your fire started; a durable stoneware pot, a reusable FireStone, a cold rolled steel handle and two bottles of candle & lamp oil. Each ceramic pot is crafted in small batches, hand-glazed and hand-numbered, so that each product is beautifully unique.” From the website adkfirestone.com/.
The firestone is essentially refractory material on an iron rod that is soaked in paraffin lamp oil, lit then laid under the wood in place of paper and/or kindling. It will stay hot for 25 minutes.
The FireLighter automatically burns out in the fireplace (or fire pit), and then you place it back in the crock stamped Adirondack FireLighter.
“There is no easier way to start a fire,” Chad said.
The crock is made in Zanesville, Ohio. The rod is produced in Greene, NY. They private labeled the oil that is made in Texas. The box, it comes in, is made in Syracuse at Empire Box. Then the product is assembled and packaged by children of The Arc, the world’s largest community-based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Bringing the FireLighter to market
The kit is priced at $99.95. The profit margin is much lower than if it was manufactured offshore. But to last a family a lifetime, the partners felt it was important to make sure each element was high quality. To achieve this, the product needed to be made in America.
Their challenge is that big box retailers mostly work on margins, where the products have to be made overseas. So, they have enlisted the Pinckney Hugo Group to help establish their brand in the marketplace. Pinckney Hugo Group is a full-service marketing communications firm that has ties to Skaneateles through another set of brothers, Douglas and Christopher Pinckney, who own the firm with partner Aaron Hugo of Fayetteville.
The Keehfus brothers knew of Central New York as their parents are from Onondaga Hill and Nedrow. They are partners in several other local ventures including insurance and B&C Storage.