Hearth Insight
March 2020
President's Messge
HPBA EXPO 2020 – New Orleans, Louisiana
2020 HPBA Expo was definitely a different show from past Expos! First, I can say I am happy and grateful I, along with 7 employees in tow, had a fantastic time and one of our best learning shows. If you missed it, we all understand. The COVID-19 scare and lack of several manufacturers really put a damper on this year’s show.

HPBA did a fantastic job of keeping the show as safe as possible with safety signage and hand sanitizer at every turn. Although the overall attendance and manufacturers were down in numbers, it left more time to spend for classes and time in the booths. There was not the usual rush trying to get from one booth to the next. Having employees go who have never attended before found it easy to speak in depth with many vendors who did attend. I always try to find the silver lining in diverse situations. Expo was different but we came away full of knowledge and many new smaller products to help our future clients. The city was not as busy and that made for a relaxing time touring the French Quarter and River Walk.

Tim Reed from Fireside Solutions and Grant Falco from Falco’s Fireplace and BBQ did a live podcast from the show floor on Family Business’s which was highly successful. Big thank you and shout out for our NWHPBA representation from them both.

It appears the Vesta Awards have come to an End after a very Successful 20-year run. Richard Wright had a vision and was instrumental in bringing a much recognition to Hearth Products through the Vesta Awards. We will have to wait and see if someone else can keep the Vesta’s burning in the future. Vesta the Greek Goddess of Fire deserves to burn another day!
Virus vs Business
2020 Sales started of strong for most, but by March the sting of the COVID-19 virus was beginning to sting and by mid-month brought retail sales to a screeching halt! For those dealers and distributors involved in the new construction and remodel trades seem to have an advantage to keep sales going.

NWHPBA staff and your Board of Directors have been working diligently the last two weeks gathering state and local information regarding the stay in place restrictions and whether our businesses will be deemed essential. As of March 25 th Id., Mt., and Alaska states have deemed fireplace suppliers and service techs essential workers and businesses. The rules are different in each state, refer to article in this newsletter for further detailed guidelines on continuing work during this period.

I have personally asked half our employees to take vacation time and we will re-assess our situation in two weeks. Business is continuing but much slower. The Federal Government is working on a Stimulus Bill which may have loans or grants available to small businesses for paying payroll and possibly be forgivable!
 Time will tell where this all takes us. I am optimistic and feel if we can get back on some track by mid April most of us will survive. As for the time being the best thing to do is stay busy. Use this time to spruce your stores up! Clean out the back rooms and get rid of old inventory. Paint a wall, create a new vignette, order a new sign and help another small business out. Most of all stay productive and think out of the box!

My phone is always on! If you would like to call and chat business or just shoot the breeze, I am available. We all need to be there for each other in these trying times. Be a good neighbor and treat others as you want to be treated. We will get through this!

Best Wishes and Good Luck
Scott H. Ongley – NWHPBA President
Idaho Success: West Silver Valley Targeted Airshed Grant 
By: Dan Smith, Idaho DEQ

The West Silver Valley Targeted Airshed Grant is doing a variety of programs to reduce emissions in the West Silver Valley. But the HPBA would be most interested in our Wood Stove Changeout and Dry Wood programs. These are very specific to a relatively small area within the Silver Valley of Shoshone County Idaho. This area has been in Non-Attainment for the NAAQS for decades, but through our heavy emphasis we are in the process of getting into attainment! Here’s how we are doing it.

A Wood Stove Changeout of 188 Wood Stoves with clean burning EPA approved wood and gas Stoves.
  • DEQ Specified High Quality Stoves with less than 3.5 Gr/hr Step 1 EPA ratings, great warrantees. Step 2 ratings only for 2020. Specs are strict.
  • Chimney and hearth work included
  • Multiple vendors for maximum customer choice - open Enrollment, so long as you meet our specs. Must be properly licensed
  • All professionally installed – no home owner installs allowed - all install must pass state inspections
  • Capped Cost at $4000 for all participants, $5500 for qualified low income households

Dry Wood Program
  • 75 Small wood sheds given out to WSV Residents who have a wood stove
  • North Idaho Energy Log sample packs given to each Wood stove recipient
  • 15 tons of North Idaho Energy logs have been given to Low income recipients as emergency firewood.
  • WSV Community Wood Yard development
  • DEQ, Idaho State Lands and US Forest Service offices all give moisture meters to wood cutters & home owners
  • Moisture meters given to all WSCO wood stove participants

Idaho DEQ’s outreach on all these programs is extensive and broad-based. IDEQ uses:
  • Social Media.
  • Local WSCO participants were interviewed to create a Testimonial Video series. This video was used on the IDEQ Website, Facebook page, and on local classified web sites to promote the WSCO.
  • IDEQ does a weekly “Wood Stove Wednesday” feature on the Web site to promote various features. Sometimes its dry wood, other times the latest new stoves, how to use a moisture meter, etc. We try to feature different topics.
  • Traditional News outlets
  • Featured in Spokane Public Radio numerous times.
  • Featured many times in the local newspaper - the Shoshone News Press.

And perhaps most importantly – Having a full time presence in the Silver Valley to quickly respond to Residents questions.  The WSV Coordinator is well connected within all levels of government. When a prospective person calls virtually any governmental office in the Valley: City, County, State or Federal – they are immediately referred to my office. 
Member Spotlight:
Mountain View Hearth Products, Inc.
By: Nicolette Covey, Owner
COMPANY INFO:
  • Company Name: Mountain View Hearth Products, Inc.
  • Company Birth Date: April of 2009
  • NWHPBA Member Type: Retailer
  • Size of store/showroom sq feet: 15,000 Sq. Ft. warehouse space & 4,000 Sq. Ft. Office & Retail Space
  • Number of total employees/installers/service techs/sales/sweep: 26
What do you do to separate your business from others?
  •  We have chosen to specialize in replacement parts. Most retailers can't dedicate the resources to stocking a vast range of replacement parts. We have chosen to only sell parts and not appliances.  

What diversifies your business, product wise?
  • We stock the full range of repair parts for most brands in the industry. Everything from screws and trim pieces to combustors and fans. 

What are customers telling you when they come in the shop.
  • Our business is primarily online. Our customer's comment on our free tech support, the large variety of parts we have, and the fact that the parts are in stock and ship quickly. 
How long have you been in the hearth business?
  • Since 1999

What got you started in hearth business?
  • Nicolette's father was an installer and went on to open a hearth store. She worked for her parents before starting her own company with her husband, Michael.  

What has kept you in the hearth business?
  • We enjoy helping people get their stoves up and running again. 

Why are you a member of NWHPBA?
  • It's important to support the HPBA, they lobby to keep us all in business! 

Why do you like attending HPBExpo?
  • It's a great opportunity to connect with vendors and see the newest products in the industry. 
ALASKA: Regulated Like Never Before
By: Chris Neufeld, NWHPBA Member

There is a tremendous awakening we should all be aware of taking place in Alaska. As many of you may know, the air quality in the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) is quite poor during the winter heating months. This is because a large percentage of the homes in the area heat with wood and the area, like many non-attainment areas suffers from lack of wind and a being in a valley.

For the better part of nearly 10 years, FNSB has unleashed millions of dollars in stove change out programs designed to improve air quality. Unfortunately, the change out program was flawed from day-one, wherein consumers were permitted to cash and carry the stoves. This portion of the area with poor air quality is now designated as Serious Non-Attainment area.

The state of Alaska Department of Environmental Control (ADEC) bears the burden of addressing the now designated Serious Non-Attainment portion of the FNSB. In an effort to clean up the air, some serious steps are being taken, including buying back wood and pellet heaters in an effort to minimize wood burning.
ADEC has published a list of wood heaters that may continue to be sold & used withing the Non-Attainment Area. For those of you unfamiliar with wood stove testing and certification, manufacturers must conduct multiple test runs at various burn rates. The average of these test runs, referred to as the weighted average, is how you wind up with the grams per hour (gr/h). The EPA requirement is 2.0 gr/h beginning May 15, 2020.
ADEC has taken it to a whole new level. One hour into each test run, manufacturers must pull the filters from the testing apparatus, called a filter train. A new train with clean filters is then immediately installed. ADEC has added a first ever requirement that no first hour filter pull can exceed 6.0 gr/h, totally ignoring the role created for weighted averages.

In a recent meeting attended by interested parties including EPA senior staff, state regulators and industry, ADEC’s first-hour filter pull limit was supported by multiple state agency staff in attendance. This is a dangerous precedence!

Here are just a few of the new use limitations and restrictions.
Unfortunately, NWHPBA and HPBA did not have a seat at the table when FNSB began their stove change out discussions and planning nearly 10 years ago. As a result, the change out did not accomplish the goal of reaching attainment but rather allowing the area to now being designated Serious Non-Attainment.
This is a prime example of how we must all be energized and become active in our communities as it relates to the products we sell.
Call for Involvement
Are you interested in joining NWHPBA's Board of Directors or getting involved on a committee? Do you have a great employee who would like to get more involved?

We have a number of opportunities for involvement, from providing content for social media and newsletters to helping us plan our Annual Meeting, to participating on the Board. We appreciate any time you can offer to help our association grow! 

Open Board of Director Positions:
  • Western Washington
  • At Large
  • Idaho

Open Committee Positions:
  • Government Affairs Committee Volunteer
  • Membership Committee Volunteer
  • Education & Communications Committee Volunteer
  • Annual Meeting Committee Volunteer
EPA Finalizes Amendments to 2015 NSPS for Wood Heating Appliances
March 12, 2020 - See full article here .

The U.S. EPA on March 11 finalized amendments to the 2015 new source performance standards (NSPS) for residential wood heating appliances. The amendments remove the minimum requirements for pellet fuel and clarify a requirement regarding the use of unseasoned wood to make pellets.

The rule removes most of the minimum requirements for pellet fuel contained in the 2015 NSPS, but retains a prohibition that pellet fuel must not contain any of the prohibited fuels that were listed in the 2015 NSPS. The EPA said minimum requirements for pellet fuel are already included in the standards used by the Pellet Fuels Institute and other EPA-approved third-parties for the grading of pellet fuels.

The prohibited fuels include residential or commercial garbage; lawn clippings or yard waste; materials containing rubber, including tires; materials containing plastic; waste petroleum products, paints or paint thinners, or asphalt products; materials containing asbestos; construction or demolition debris; and paper products, cardboard, plywood or particleboard; railroad ties, pressure-treated wood or pallets; manure or animal remains; salt water driftwood or other previously salt water saturated materials; unseasoned wood; any materials that are not included in the warranty and owners manual for the subject wood heater; or any materials that were not included in the certification tests for the subject wood heater.

In the rule, the EPA said it has decided to leave the prohibited fuels list in the regulation for clarity and continuity as these materials are referred to in the provisions regarding prohibited fuel types in other parts of the regulation.

The final rule also maintains the compliance dates that were established in the original NSPS. This means retailers have until May 15, 2020 to sell wood heating devises that do not comply with more stringent emission standards. The rule does not provide a sell-through period that would allow retailers additional time to sell those devises beyond the May 2020 compliance date.

The rulemaking does not impact residential wood heating appliances that are already in use by homeowners. It also does not replace any state or local requirements governing wood heating devise use.

The PFI has spoken out in support of the final rule. “The members of the Pellet Fuels Institute are pleased with the EPA’s decision to eliminate the minimum pellet fuel requirements from the New Source Performance Standard,” said Tim Portz, executive director of the PFI. “We’re also happy they clarified their position on the use of pallet derived fiber in the manufacturing of wood pellets. The comments released today make it clear that our over five year effort to have our voices and arguments heard resulted in this important regulatory victory.”

“From the beginning our chief argument was that a robust, comprehensive, consensus-based industry standard for wood pellets already existed, the PFI Standards Program,” Portz added. “The comments justifying the amendments to the rule make it clear that our argument was heard. The PFI Standards Program was built with input from the regulatory community including the EPA. Unannounced audits, regular third-party testing and an annual metals test are all components of our program informed by our ongoing dialogue with regulators.”

John Ackerly, the president for the Alliance for Green Heat, said he thinks the final rule strikes a good balance, but stresses it would have given the wood heating industry more certainty if it was finalized a year ago.

Ackerly said he thinks most stove manufacturers and retailers are prepared to meet the May 15 deadline, but notes some were holding out hope the sell through period would be extended. He offered Pacific Energy as an example of a manufacturer that has been way ahead of the game when it comes to meeting the new source performance standards. “Pacific Energy…started getting their 2020 stoves ready years ago, so their retailers are all fine,” he said.

A full copy of the final rule can be downloaded from the EPA   website .  
Creating a Digital Sales System
The disruption of COVID-19 is just beginning and as showrooms are forced close across the country retailers are looking for answers. It’s never been more important to build a digital sales funnel to connect with customers and nurture them to the point of a sale and the companies that take advantage of it are the ones who are going to win.

This course will teach you:
1. Why the market has shifted from Hi-Touch to Low-Touch content
2. What the digital sales funnel is that everyone needs to utilize
3. How to build the sales funnel and train your team to use it Don’t operate in panic in the midst of COVID-19, instead, build a sales funnel that works while your showrooms are closed, connect with customers you never would have otherwise, and come out of this crisis ready to grow. For more courses like this (and to learn the latest about how the hearth industry is responding to COVID-19) join The Fire Time Network at  http://www.thefiretimenetwork.com
We want to hear from you!!!
The NWHPBA Communications Committee publishes the Hearth Insight monthly. If you have a story or article you would like to have shared, please email us to be included in our upcoming editions!!!
Northwest HPBA | Website | Email