A General Update

Apologies for the lack of news over the last few months! Here’s an update that covers a bunch of different topics:

Managing Growth
We’re currently experiencing record demand for our stoves – despite trying to keep a low-profile and ceasing to advertise around 12 months ago while developing the Companion (I doubt this helped). Our Heritage model is fully booked out several batches ahead, and interest keeps growing for the still-to-be-publicly-launched Companion.
While it’s the nicer problem to have, particularly in today’s economic climate, our limited production capacity is an issue we are going to have to work through, and one that is going to disrupt our regular schedule for awhile.
I’ve updated the lead times on our ordering page to reflect current levels of demand, but really we are needing to be increasing our production capacity so we can keep up with sales.

Workshop Expansion
To that end, we’re in the middle of reorganising our operation to accommodate the extra demand, and in preparation for the Companion coming into production. We have the use of some extra space which is allowing us to group processes a little more efficiently, and hopefully do more at once.

(Click to enlarge)

The aim is to increase space, equipment and personnel to the point where we are able to have both Heritage and Companion batches being assembled simultaneously in the same area, so both models come under David’s direct supervision and (theoretically) allowing us to complete two batches in the time it currently takes to do one.
Not exactly talking Henry Ford levels here, but it’ll be a fairly major step forward for us!

Some Companion News
I’ve neglected to update Companion progress over the last few months, but things are still moving forward:
– Pattern adjustments were completed early August, and we’ve had another two sets cast up
– Grinding/drilling/tapping those two sets now, in preparation for assembly
– Assembly will tell us how the pattern adjustments are; hopefully great!
– Still haven’t sent the test model off for clearance testing yet, David is mulling over flue size, and if the size gets changed after testing the whole thing needs retesting for new clearances

(Click to enlarge)

Another ‘no-guarantees’ Companion timeframe: we will be putting together these two, then a few more over summer, for the handful of you at the top of our interest list – many of whom have been waiting for 2+ years now (you know who you are). Once those are cleared and we smooth out any production issues that crop up, we’ll finalise price and get in touch with the rest of you on our interest list. We’ll publically launch once we’ve worked through however many orders come out of the interest list, and start advertising again then.
We’re still not taking deposits nor confirming orders on the Companion until we can provide an accurate production timetable, so if you’re desperate for a cooking stove and we’re just taking too long with the Companion: by all means look into alternatives.

Inflation Marches On
Price increases to the Heritage and Matriarch are coming, unfortunately. These last few years have seen significant supplier price increases, and though we’ve done our best delaying price rises to keep our stoves as affordable as possible for as long as possible (even with the recession!), we can’t keep absorbing the extra costs.
If you haven’t paid a deposit yet, but are on our waiting list for one of the upcoming Heritage batches: don’t fret, the current price will apply to you (unless something radical happens with inflation!). For anyone who ends up being in batches beyond these three, sorry: all future orders will be coming under the (yet-to-be-determined) new prices.
We will work out the new pricing for the Heritage and Matriarch before the end of 2011, and before we confirm orders/accept deposits on any stoves beyond the upcoming 3 batches.

We hate having to increase prices – but something to keep in mind: it’s not products becoming more expensive, it’s money becoming worth less.

Lucky For Some
Mum and Dad (Penny and David) are currently gadding about Europe, on Dad’s first trip out of the country in decades, and his first real holiday in well over ten years. In addition to recharging his batteries, he should be getting the chance to check out some historic stoves and interesting operations up on that side of the world.

Some photos I pinched from my little sister’s facebook account:

(Click on any image to enlarge)

They’re due back in a few weeks, and by the looks of things they’ll be fresh and ready to face the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Zak – 22nd September, 2011

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