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Vermont Castings getting sold again....rumors

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by webbie, Mar 2, 2008.

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  1. slindo

    slindo Member

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    Now this is odd. Checking out the Leyden and the Arbor, I notice that while they look different superficially, the specs are identical for the two of them, even to odd details like a 160 cfm optional fan, glove, extra long poker and weird writing on the inside of the top door. And neither specify where they are made.

    Are these the same stove? Is there some great factory somewhere, churning out low pollution woodstoves, altering cosmetics to differentiate, but using the same insides?

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  2. STOVEGUY11

    STOVEGUY11 Feeling the Heat

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    Both are made by Travis Industries
  3. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Hey! Of the field, the Quad Isle Royale is the choice. This is because it uses burn tube technology and not downdraft refractory technology. They require that your chimney (liner) and everything be perfect. There isn't any perfect in the wood burning world.
    I got rid of my Defiant CAT stove because I fell for the VC line that the Everburn was the way to go. Well it is not, it does not work well and will have you sitting babysitting the stove all the time; I don't think that's what you want.
    So, if you have to get a top loader, go with the Quad.
    My wife said, we have to replace with a top loader, she felt like you. And, I thought it important too. As I looked around and assessed the current products available it became obvious that the technology is with either secondary burn tubes or baffles. This because they work and don't require lots of maintenance.
    We settled on the PE Aldera T-6 or the Hearthstone Mansfield; which we chose the Mansfield. We don't even notice that we don't have top loading.
    Also, the stove uses about 1/2 the wood the Defiant CAT stove did to heat the same space.
    The only thing VC has that is "best" is the ash system. And, I can live with other stoves.
    Even if VC was going strong, they have yet to take a product direction that remotely approaches the PE, Hearthstone, Quad or others. You would also love the Jotul 500 or 600 products.
    So, it is the end of the heating season, take the time to really get the low down and be comfortable in your own mind, then get something in June or so when the deals are good. Actually the are very good now.
    Hope this helps you.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Make sure you do a forum search on Everburn before you buy one. Lots of folks have had their differences with the VC and Dutch non-cat downdrafts.
  5. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Is G.W.B. secretly running VC?
  6. slindo

    slindo Member

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    Good tip! I'd done searches for VC, etc, but not Everburn. Makes one think, to be sure. I'd wondered why if Everburn was as great as the local VCs shops insisted,VC still makes the cat versions.

    I'm leaning towards the Isle Royale now, since something a little bigger than the Encore would be nice, but going to look at the Leyden and Oakwood too. Anyone been inside them enough to have any comments on which is the most rugged in construction? We really would rather not get another stove with a delicate refractory box inside that requires regular infusion of expensive, factory only, parts.

  7. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Just stick with the Isle Royale, the others are basically the same thing. The Isle Royale will provide you with years of good burning without significant maint. etc.
  8. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    NOOOOOOOOOOO......Avoid the neverburn nightmare.
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    FYI, I just uploaded a 1/2 hour podcast about the "beginning of the end" at VC - this is the history behind the original changeover at the company from privately owned to corporate football.....in 1990-91, which was a crisis caused by the purchase of Dutchwest - a rival company.
    http://www.hearth.com/podcast/podcast.xml
  10. DriftWood

    DriftWood Minister of Fire

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    For a place going out of business Vermont Castings is set to release a new line of inserts
    (The Montpelier) in early April and in retail by April 15, It is a medium size stove using top burn tube secondary technology The large Winter warn is being phased out and a Larger Montpelier model scheduled for June release. For now the small Winter warm is still in production VC is sending me the details on the Montpelier model today Which I will post.

    They are also coming out with a new wood burning fireplace .
    Seeking subcontract work in the casting business, the foundry has never shut down, running 3 shifts. Only one shift eliminated from the assembly plant. Again to clarify un documented rumors that are flying around.

    They have secured casting for yet another stove manufacture, besides Harman and Englander, Plus the Lodge frying pans. In reality they are quite busy surviving from aggressively seeking subcontracting
  11. Gunner

    Gunner New Member

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    Thanks Elkwood ;-P
  12. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Drift, if you are going to post someone elses words, at least quote it that way. Then we will at least know who and why, etc.


    VC is taking on any casting business they can in an effort to stay alive. Subcontract casting work is the bottom of the barrel in terms of making profit...it is almost impossible to do so these days.

    And make no mistake about it, nearly EVERY manufacturers and dealer is hurting big time right now, so VC is not alone. The only slight differences with VC is that they are still just (2 years) coming off the most reason sale/out of business/etc. - and also that they do not have a lot of "mind share" right now in the minds of some dealers. They also have a higher overhead than most, with a foundry and vast assembly plant.

    On the positive side, since our dollar is so weak they might be able to export stoves or castings! Then again, I heard things are not great in Europe either.

    All bets are off, but I certainly would not use the fact that they are introducing new products...which typically take a year or more to bring to market....as some kind of indication. I also would not take the word of anyone whom you could call on the phone. If you listen to my newest podcast you will see that even the highest management at VC did not know about them buying Dutchwest until AFTER it was done.

    The rumors persist....and, yes, they are rumors. But people do not typically make these rumors up. They need vast sales volume to continue operations as normal, and right now they do not have it. There is little chance they will shut down the foundry, but making frying pans for Lodge does nothing for the core business...just keeps the furnaces hot.
  13. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    Not all stove manufacturers are doing poorly. Just put down the local paper after reading and PE has 2 large ads-one for MIG welders and another for productions workers. Seems if you build a quallity product and sell it and the parts for it at a reasonable price then you can be successful!
  14. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Tough times for even the good guys...but there are always exceptions. Englander says they are doing OK, others are doing so-so, but all in all most are down, down, down. And it is likely to get worse.

    The recent stove boom was partially fueled by the same cheap credit - home equity loans, new houses and big additions to the house. That business is 90% gone. Now we have people who need to save money......but they don't have much money! Probably why Englander is doing OK, and PE also (they don't rely on $2000+ units as much as some others).

    Harman made a decent product and treated the dealers relatively well....but they also could not fend off the beast. Even the BIG company that bought them is hurting, but a larger co. can ride it out better because they have more credit sources, etc.

    Tough times out there. Really tough! Every day I am hearing new shoes dropping.
  15. propguy

    propguy New Member

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    That is very true. Being in the marine biz for many many years [over 25] I have NEVER seen it like this. I heard the Miami show attendance was good but you could not get financed. I say Miami because it pretty much sets the tone for the industry. Very discouraging.

    As long as the fuel prices are high it will be a long hard recovery ,if the fuel were to go down it would happen faster.

    Gary
  16. biggins08

    biggins08 New Member

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    Is PE a private company?
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Prop, my dad said the biggest action at the Miami show was that banks came and towed away the boats that they were repossessing!

    Private jets are probably still doing ok - cause at least they take you somewhere (not a toy like a boat).

    I reckon we are in for a long and hard road this time. Too much inventory (of everything). Who wants to buy a big house or boat or car when you have to fuel it?

    If I wasn't such an old dude, I would batten down the hatches more....but since I worked for the last 35+ years so I can take just a bit more leisure....well, full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes! Unfortunately, I can't spend enough to get the economy back on its feet.
  18. slindo

    slindo Member

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    So let's see. It seems to me that in the woodstove industry, if you build a really good, resonably price product, have good customer support, and make a lot of money then some conglomerate will see it as a good investment, buy you out, put non-woodburning execs in charge, raise the prices outrageously, cut customer service, raise the price of parts, until they destroy the makes reputation and alientate its customer base, and go bankrupt.

    On the other hand, if you build a just so-so product, have mediocre customer support, and never really make a go of it, some conglomerate will snap you up as a bargain basement aquisition, put non-woodburning execs in charge, raise the prices, cut customer service, raise the price of parts outrageously, until they destroy any reputation the make has, and alientate its customer base - and go bankrupt.

    (I think I will invest in airlines)
  19. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Sadly, Slindo, you are right - at least some of the time!

    Since the 1980's it has been a popular thing for investment groups to buy a whole bushel of companies....not always related, and then "milk" them for what the brands are worth. On the other side of the coin, I have seen some companies do this in the "right" way. Meaning that they keep the old crew and CEO on board, continue development and customer service, and build the brand. In the end, doing it the right way ends up with more profit for all involved.

    The current owners of VC are probably in the "good guy" camp, but the last CEO did almost irreparable harm.....so instead of having a springboard, then have a mountain to climb. I really do wish them the best, but cannot make it so (obviously).

    Wait, I actually do have a positive suggestion - they should hire the first turnaround CEO back, Bill Mathewson. He runs a stove shops not far from the plant in White River Jct. Bill was brought in the first time they failed with the job of pumping up the value for the next sale (which ended up being to CFM). Bill did a bang-up job, but unfortunately was left sitting on the side of the road (with pay, of course) afterwards.

    The right price might bring him and some of the old management back......party, party!
  20. slindo

    slindo Member

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    Coincidentally, I was in a stove shop in White River Junction just a week ago and was talking to a guy there who appeared to be the owner, and very knowledgeable about VC politics. He never mentioned having actually worked for VC, but if it was him, he must have found my uninformed rantings, speculations and theorizing on the current state of VC and what they ought to be doing very amusing.

  21. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Yep, that must be Bill - late-50's, a gentlemen looking type of guy. Incidentally, his background was at Mennen. We used to call him (as an inside joke) the Deodorant King, being as he was an industry outsider when he first came in.
  22. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

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    I was convinced (duped?) by the dealer that it was a good design because it would be lower maintenance cost (no catalytic to poison/replace). Jury is still out on that one, so far so damage after 3rd season of use. Only time will tell. It sure does throw out a lot of heat, but not noticeably better than a catalytic. Also, accidental overfiring is less likely to cause damage.

    If you're patient, you can really get the everburn/downdraft design to work for you, but it's going to be a longer learning curve than you're used to if you've been a traditional catalytic owner. I also like that it has both side & front loading, which is a feature I like and is uncommon. Both tradergordo and I have posted some procedures, tips, and supplemental instructions on how to lessen the learning (frustrating) experience.
  23. slindo

    slindo Member

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    I've got to admit, I was impressed by the construction of the NC stoves - the refractory package rock-like rather than mushboard, and looks like it should be very long-lived. And anyhow it is warranteed to last.

    If I hadn't heard so many bad reports on the operation, and wasn't so bummed out by my problems with my old cat Encore, I'd buy a new Encore NC or maybe a Defiant in a minute. VC has always had the best eye when it comes to aesthetics, and the foundry does beautiful work. If i see a good deal on a used one, I might snap it up, just to find out first hand whether the Everburn system is a bad as some say - or as good as others do.

  24. dtabor

    dtabor New Member

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    swestall has a defiant NC that he's itching to get rid of unless Corie took it already. I have the same stove in my house that Im stuck with....whatcha willing to pay for it?? Only been used since November 2007. Will it work? Sometimes...It is as bad as you read? Sometimes.......Will it heat a 2500 sq foot drafty house? Definitely. My oil furnace has not come on one time this winter for heat, only hot water. But then again, how hot do you want it? I keep my house low-mid 70's and wake up after a 7-8 hours burn with low-mid 60's. My wood is OK but not perfection.
  25. gmoney_2010

    gmoney_2010 New Member

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    I was skimming this thread and noticed someone had said that VC was going to release a larger Montpelier model? This hasnt been done yet has it? There is still only the medium out now? Will a larger one still be released and if so when? I really like the montpelier and still have plenty of space to spare in the current fireplace opening so it would be great if there was a larger one.
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