New owners Glenn Edwards and Ryan Whatley have found themselves at a nexus where tradition meets modernization. The new owners of Thunder Bay Fireplaces say they have a vision for the future of their business that will continue to honour its rich local history as they drive its development in a new direction.
“We’re looking forward to the future, we want to keep this business strong, we are providing the same quality service in our new chapter,” Edwards says. “We are here to show them we are able to deliver on that commitment.”
Edwards and Whatley became owners in April this year. Two months later, they moved the business out of its former Queen Street location to Central Avenue amongst the city’s hustle and bustle. The change, they say, will offer customers greater access to their products in an open concept showroom, stocked with 15 active displays.
Thunder Bay Fireplaces has been a fixture of the local business community since 1983. As a retailer of not only gas, wood and electric fireplaces, but also stoves, sauna heaters and barbeques, the business has prided itself on providing long-lasting Canadian-made products. Those who frequent its showroom would be familiar with names such as Pacific Energy, RSF, and Enviro. Offering a diverse selection of domestic product is something that is lacking at other retailers, according to Edwards and Whatley. And as a result, it’s something they are committed to continuing in the future, amongst offering in-depth knowledge around equipment and installation for the do-it-yourself crowd.
“I think a lot of what we do, having Canadian manufacturers, it’s something people want to get behind,” Whatley says. “But it’s always been rewarding to help people have a better experience in their house or their camp, provide them with something that will help them save money or offer them something they can look forward to using.”
The owners say the last 14 months have seen their sales unprecedentedly skyrocket. Just barbeques alone, Edwards and Whatley say they’ve sold nearly triple the amount of what would be sold during an average year. A new, more visible location seemed like one way to build off this momentum. In that same vein, they plan to double their staff and transition their internal systems to a digital platform. This will help ensure they can keep up with the pace of customers, they add, and tend to orders in a more efficient and timely manner.
One thing is for sure though; the pair acknowledges they wouldn’t be in existence without the unwavering support of Thunder Bay residents and those in the surrounding community who believe in putting local businesses first. It’s something that makes them that much more hopeful about the success of Thunder Bay Fireplaces in the years to come.