Background on Craig Issod in the Stove Biz and Hearth.com
Craig Issod is a 30 year hearth industry veteran who has been involved in many facets of our business. His previous experience as a carpenter and contractor prepared him for his first job as stove installer for the new venture - a stove shop started in 1978 (Stoveworks of Medford, NJ).
The retail store grew to be a tremendous success and the Issods invested all their time and money in related businesses. They opened a second retail stove, bought an importing company, patented a new hearth product and even operated a stove manufacturing business.
Computers played an important part in the success of all the Issod businesses. With the emergence of the Internet, Craig saw an opportunity to converge his skills in the computer and information technology fields. The result was Hearth.com an on-line hearth publication now seen by over 3 1/4 million visitors a year.
By 1998 Craig had sold all his former businesses and concentrated most of his time on Internet consulting and development. But, alas, Craig can't seem to keep his hands out of metal, so in 2005 he started a new company called Extendaflue , which created a new product category in lightweight decorative extensions for masonry chimneys. The units were granted US Patent 7014555 and Craig has now licensed the patent to a new entity for final development.
Craig enjoys teaching, volunteering, skiing, tennis, playing guitar and guitar and puttering around the house and truly wishes that there were more hours in each day. He lives in western MA. with his wife Martha. His two daughters and son are long gone from the home and replaced by a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Rosie.
How Hearth.com Came to Be
By Craig Issod
It's now been over thirteen years since the Hearth.com web site has been active. When I first decided to start this informational hearth site, it was my goal to have 10,000 readers per month...now we have more than that number in ONE DAY. Stats for Fall, 2008, show 460,000 visitors in November alone, reading over 2.6 MILLION pages!
In fact, Hearth.com is the most read stove and fireplace publication in the world and perhaps the only independent source of hearth information on the internet or in print!
Let's turn on the wayback machine and discover how Hearth.com came to be.
My wife and I first started burning wood when we lived in rural areas of West Virginia and Tenneesee during the early 70's. After we moved back east and purchased a house, we went around looking for a stove to warm our living area and discovered that there were very few outlets for efficient stoves. Being budding capitalists, we decided to start a stove shop which blossomed into multiple stores and related enterprises.
As the years passed by I became tired of the action on the sales floor and retreated into the back office. As a result, I became quite proficient in the use of computers. I set up a network, a POS system and much more.
My interest in computers became known to the HPBA (Fireplace/Stove industry trade group, then called the HPA) and they invited me to give a seminar on computers at the 1990 Nashville Show. The seminar was booked into a small room, which overflowed into the hall with the attendees. In following years, the HPA booked larger rooms and we had great interest in these seminars.
However, the internet was still yet to come. I was an online regular on Compuserve and American Online, two services which preceded the public internet. This gave me experience with modems, online forums and some of the possibilities of this type of communication.
When 1995 rolled around, the chatter about the internet became louder and louder. Finally, one day in the summer of 1995 I was able to connect to the net and see for myself what all the buzz was about.
What I saw completely amazed me...it was like the Wild West. Here was this extensive network which allowed everyone in the world to talk to everyone else....and unlike the previous online services, no one owned it! In fact, it was just waiting for everyone to claim their stake.
That same summer I visited the apple computer convention in Boston and questioned the vendors about this new network. In one booth I found a book called "How to be a Webmaster" and immediately made the purchase. After returning to my hotel room, I read the book from cover to cover in about 3 hours and decided 100% that I WAS GOING TO BE A WEBMASTER...another sleepless night ensued as I imagined the possibilities.
After returning home I learned the basics of how to create and publish web pages. My first site was for our own stove shop and immediately resulted in numerous sales, both local and throughout the country. Within a few months I came to a decision - rather than continue to sell stoves over the internet I would start an informational site...Hearth.com, a site where I could help People from all over the world with their safety and installation questions. I assumed I'd be able to make a little extra money by creating web sites for Manufacturers and retailers and promoting these sites to the qualified readers of our online material.
And so Hearth.com was born. I got busy making calls to Manufacturers - a typical conversation went like this "Kurt, I'm telling you that this internet is going to be a good thing. Sure, I understand you don't know what it is or anything else about it, but trust me - you are going to want to be part of this".
To their credit, many major Manufacturers responded to this positively, and many remain our clients to this day. A number of retailers also had us create and promote their sites.
As the internet grew, so did Hearth.com. The current site contains well over 10,000 pages of information and numerous resources for both customers and the trade. It is our hope that we help these readers install, use and enjoy their hearth products in the safest manner possible.
Those interested in promoting their businesses on Hearth.com should visit the following link:
Attached is an article featuring Craig - from Kiplingers Magazine print edition.
Note - picture below is timeline showing the founding of Hearth.com (HearthNet) in 1995