From Harman - The Real Story

Karen Harman-McSherry Posted By Karen Harman-McSherry, Jul 24, 2008 at 7:11 PM

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  1. zendiagrams

    New Member 2.

    Dec 29, 2007
    Williams, PA
    Any business that doesn't do regular sales reports, and has a AR period aging on a regular basis to not only review for any mishaps but to have an idea what sales are doing should go back to pen and paper. Even Quick Books will do this. Even if you didn't know that all these confirmations were being sent out, wouldn't you see the need to revamp if you saw your sales go up double or more on the reports?

    I see it as a human mistake, not as a software upgrade issue. I work as an IT director for a Manufacturing company, even with all the advanced resource management software in place, we still have humans evaluate orders because the computer can not always determine what will be needed when, and what can be moved around.
  2. CantAfford$5Oil

    New Member 2.

    Jul 1, 2008
    Dear Harman Family,

    Now that you have removed all doubt about whether you're following this forum....

    If you have given the dealers firm dates, why does my dealer tell me as of yesterday that they have not received those dates yet?
    I called Harman - Why did Harman's receptionist say they were giving the dealers dates - dates harman would "TRY" to meet? (Her words...)

    Since I've been waiting for my XXV, the cost of my pellets has gone up, and so have the delivery fees. They are also selling out of the brands I would be willing to burn. I really believe you should authorize a discount on my stove when it arrives to help make this up... or perhaps a coupon for a ton of pellets from my dealer for my aggravation, anxiety, inconvenience and wasted time generated by your company's mistakes.

    No, I am not naive nor am I kidding. You should do so to thank the customers who chose your brand and stuck it out waiting for you to catch up, with NO guarantees!! I am quite sure HHT has the financial wherewithall to do it and it would go a LONG way in rebuilding goodwill with the consumer... happy consumer makes happier dealers, makes your life easier... especially since the stove prices have conveniently gone up several hundred dollars at least... but that's another thread I guess.

    Understandably, I will not order or pay for my pellets or hearth pad until I am sure the stove will materialize since I will need the money to pay for oil instead if the stove does not show up at all. Also, please consider that sooner or later I need to make a decision - I can't stay in limbo forever - no pellet stove and no oil either... GET THE INFO OUT TO US DIRECTLY - PUBLISH THE NUMBERS, TYPES, AND DATES BY DEALER ON THIS FORUM SO WE CAN DECIDE WHAT TO DO FOR THIS SEASON!

    My other concern is I REALLY hope that if I'm buying a stove made from production lines running at 3x capacity by NEWLY HIRED EMPLOYEES that the quality is going to be there. If not, I'd really rather be told no, and wait till next season when the quality is back to normal. I can't imagine you can push these stoves out like that and not have quality suffer. Please address this issue directly - HOW WILL YOU GUARANTEE THE QUALITY WITH ALL THOSE NEW EMPLOYEES?

    One last thing - please remember that for most of us, buying one of your stoves is a MAJOR investment and we are sacrificing many other things to buy it in the hopes of saving money on oil which we can't afford anymore... PLEASE DO NOT SCR*W US IN THE RUSH TO PUSH PRODUCT OUT THE DOOR JUST TO MEET THE NUMBERS. (Webmaster, sorry if that word's not allowed.)

    The situation is what it is. HONEST COMMUNICATION FROM YOU, IN A TIMELY MANNER, WILL DO WONDERS FOR RELATIONS ALL AROUND. How you handle it will, in the end, determine if people praise you to the heavens or abandon you in droves.

    Good Luck and I hope it all works out because I really want my XXV.
  3. stanleyjohn

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Mar 29, 2008
    southcentral Ct
    Time will tell how this will all work out.I choose Harman for a wood stove earlier this year because of the respect i give Mr Harman and company for putting out very good and reliable stoves.I admire that the Harman family took the time to talk about what has been happening.If they are sincere!and i think they are!A smoother and better operation should take hold between the company!its dealers and customers.I dont think too many people really thought heating oil would be $4+ a gal!I know i didn't! and I'm sure its taken many stove manufactures by surprise the huge increase in the demand in stoves.
  4. LIpelletpig

    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Jun 26, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    I can appreciate the Harman family finally stepping up and posting a thread on this site. The problem I have with it is I have laid out $2000 for a stove and I have no answers as to when I will get it. I'm in the medical field and if this was a problem that was realized back in May and the company continued to take orders why are we hearing from Harman in late July. Imagine if this was a prescription drug recall (Vioxx) or a product recall (children toys) that could effect everyone of us individually for life. It's a STOVE thank god! It would never happen in the medical field! So Harman don't go into medicine! That leads me to the question if we do have $2000 down on a stove are we eligible to get our money back if we decide to cancel our order?? What if we get a date and the stove doesn't arrive as promised? I think it's time to walk away from this Pellet stove idea for 2008 and see how the economy shakes out after the elections. If I have to sacrafice for another year I will. As for Harman, I hope all the waiting customers walk away. In the cellular phone industry we have all switched carriers for one reason or another. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple has capitalized on the pitfalls of Microsoft, Motorola, LG, Samsung....Let's hope compeitive pellet stove companies can do the same.
  5. Glenalmond

    Member 2.

    Jul 25, 2008
    Boston MA
    Hello Everyone

    I have read a lot of the information on here and used this site as was suggested to get information and to help form my own opinions (if I recall there is a sticky post that says as much that this is a site for people to gather and exchange info there is no way to independently check the veracity of that info).

    All I can say is that there is a lot of people who are upset (somewhat justifiably) and that does not make a good time to write an angry rant regardless of how much better it makes you feel. A little history from myself I have been involved in the oil business for twenty years through my father who has been a lobbyist, an oil executive and now a consultant for oil exploration. Additionally I work for a large industrial manufacturing company that designs and develops pharmaceutical purification equipment (stainless steel tanks, columns and purification tools). So I have some perspective on both sides. Some points to consider
    1. Oil is a commodity it is not an inexhaustible supply. Oil companies know this. The lifespan of an oil refinery when fully built is thirty years. Oil companies are not building refineries because there will not be enough oil to supply all the existing refineries in thirty years. Opening offshore drilling and wilderness drilling is a bandaid at best. Oil and tar shales are horribly inefficient and will continue to keep oil well above $100 a barrel. Folks we are on a downward spiral for oil and supply is outstripping demand so expensive (to US standards) oil is here to stay. This means we are going to have to continue to deal with it.
    2. Manufacturing. I am astounded at all the people who are able to comment that they could do a better job. Mistakes happen that is true. But to find out, acknowledge and then deal with them before communicating is standard. Why? Because finding out you have a problem is only the first part of the solution. In an ISO9000 world to ramp up production while keeping quality, records, legal, tax/accounting and capital all in step with each other is a huge undertaking. I cannot recall a product yet that did not run into problems that required huge resources (time, capital and people) in order to resolve them. It is even worse when you combine that with acquisitions and external market factors that catch the general public by surprise causing massive shifts in your companies long range forecasts and logistical and operational planning. You cannot in manufacturing reinvent the wheel every time there is a problem because the long term health of the company cannot survive if you rip up every plan and change direction without understanding all the root causes. Lastly ramping up is simple to say hard to execute, what about vendor management, training, additional plant equipment, validation, component purchasing/supply. We have come a long way from one person doing it all in their basement, you are able to get good reliable products at a reasonable price because of industrial manufacturing techniques. If you want custom manufacturing and solutions then you have to pay and wait for it.

    So to sum up. We will need to transition away from heating exclusively with oil as it becomes progressively more expensive due to price elasticity from supply and demand factors. Manufacturing is a complex beast that many have tried and failed at, don't knock it until you have been involved in it. If you are like me and disappointed that Harman can't get a stove in time then do other things. Winterize that house professionally, get insulation blown in, windows replaced etc. These will all help contribute to lowering your oil costs. Pellet stoves are just one part of the winter heating solution. I am glad to get some information from the company directly but don't be amazed that they are not giving you all the details. It is a changing environment for Harman and how can they have the answers when everything is changing all the time. Hopefully they will learn how to communicate directly to customers/dealers better for the future. Meantime their failures will be measured in lost sales and opportunities. Something that no company likes to see.

    The above is of course just my opinion. Good luck to everyone and hope we can all work to a future where we can use less oil.
  6. richg

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Nov 20, 2005
    It is commendable that the Harman family has come hear to give an update. I am sounding like a broken record here, but it is my position that the only people responsible for the great pellet panic of 2008 are the ones we see in the mirror. Why has everyone waited until oil prices have spiked to go out and buy a pellet stove? Does anyone think about the future? Oil prices took their first serious run in July of 2006 during the Israel-Lebanon war; was anyone really foolish enough to believe that it couldn't happen again, and in greater magnitude? It all comes down to my firm belief that heating with alternative energy is a decision you base not on the current cost of one fuel versus another. Rather, you heat with altnerative energy on the hope that it will reduce global warming and lessen our dependence on foreign oil. For all those that are panicking about oil prices and can't get a pellet stove, I have a simple solution here. Tear out the fiberglass insulation in your attic and have four inches of closed-cell spray foam applied. You will see an immediate 20-50% savings in your monthly utility bills, and it will keep saving money for as long as you live in the house. Spray foam contractors are having a banner year because many Americans have realized the benefits of conserving energy instead of using More More More at the cheapest price they can find.
  7. MCPO

    Minister of Fire 2.

    May 1, 2008
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    Giving the Harman`s message additional thought , it just came to me as unfair in the respect that they don`t ever communicate directly to a customer now do they (must go thru a dealer) but they have no qualms about communicating with their customers here since they are in a predicament themselves.
    Seems a bit one way to me.
  8. webbie

    Seasoned Moderator 2.

    Nov 17, 2005
    Western Mass.
    Oh, well.....I'm gonna close this thread - just because I think it holds all the various points of view and that is that. My summary is this: There is no such thing as "The Real Story", there are individual experiences, each of which is different. Harman has the right, as I said before, to make 1/10 of the demand or ALL of the demand (don't they wish they could?). In this case there was a lack of communication and miscommunication about dates - and also possibly some planning mistakes (but, again, it is Harman HHT's right to make these!). -

    I truly believe that MOST folks at Harman would not have wanted this miscommunication to happen....whatever their past and present plans. They probably learned something from it - not just here, but they certainly heard it from their dealers!

    Most of the cards are now on the table. I know that does not do some customers much good, but at least we know things are on the mend.

    My personal advice has been repeated often. Very few people really (I mean REALLY) need a 4K Pellet stove installation to save money JUST THIS WINTER. It is a long term investment, and to be even more frank it is partially a luxury (whether they believe that or not). Therefore, if folks really want a Harman and the dates are way out there - heck, just wait and see how stuff shakes out into the late winter....don't even bother getting in line (in most cases). Remember that many dealers have placed orders for stoves they may not need, and therefore artificially pumped up demand.

    If you really think you need a pellet stove immediately, find one in stock somewhere (another brand) or with a 6 week lead time or less.
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