A Dealer Perspective on Vermont Castings History

  • Views Views: 14,202
  • Last updated Last updated:
  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.


      All Nighter Stove Co.
      Arrow Stoves
      Ashley Stoves
      Atlanta Stove Works
      Baker Stoves
      Bicentennial Stoves
      Bullard Stove Company
      Chubby Coal Stoves
      Comforter Wood Stoves
      Crane Stove Works
      Cunninghan Wood Stove
      Defiance Company
      Dovre Stoves
         EarthStoves 1990s Models
      Energy Harvesters
      Fire-View Wood Stove
      Fisher Stoves
      Furnace Works Boiler
      Garrison Stoves
      Glacier Bay
      Glennwood Boiler
      Harman Stoves
      HS Tarm Boilers
      Jetstream Boiler
      Kent Tile Fire
      Lakewood Stoves
      Lange Stoves
      Leyden Hearth
      Meredith stoves
      Old Mill Stoves
      Pennfield Stoves
      Petit Godin
      Pine Barren Stoves
      Quaker Stove Company
      Russo Stoves
      Scandia Stoves
      Shenandoah Stoves
      Stack Vista stoves
      Surdiac Stoves
      Timberline Stoves
      Trailblazer Stoves
      Vermont Castings
         Defiant Encore
         Dutchwest CDW Documents
      Vermont Downdrafter
      Vermont Stove Company
      Vulcan Furnace Co
      Warner Stove
      Waterford stoves
   Morso Stoves
      Al Wilker
      Ben Franklin
      Bob Fisher
      Charlie Page
      Craig Issod
      Dan Melcon
      Don Lariviere
      Duncan Syme
      Hearth.com Background
      Jerry Whitfield
      Jiggs Blackburn
      John Gulland
      John King
      Ken Rajesky
      Murray Howell
      Richard Brown
      Robert Ferguson
      Scott Williamson
      Stephen Morris
      Thomas Reynolds
      Vance Smith
      W. Mitchell
      Walter Goodridge
  • The entire Vermont Castings story is very interesting, both from a dealer and a customer perspective. The initial designs (Defiant - Vigilant) were actually pretty bad for many applications....unless you were heating a large farmhouse in VT - which a lot of People WERE. The castings and fit/finish were of extremely high quality as was the enameling. However, these early stoves were not as easy to burn and service as were some of their competitors like Jotul, Upland and the multitudes of steel models.

    VC (Vermont Castings) was ONLY sold direct to customers in the early years (1976-1980). They spent millions of dollars on marketing and direct mail and established a cult of users who are not unlike...people who influenced others and spread the word about these stoves. No other brand was even close in getting fixed into the customers mind.

    VC soon found out that stove dealers were selling against them and making inroads - especially since most people cannot get a 400-500 lb. stove by common carrier and then move and install it. They also started having service and warranty issues in the field with no one to take care of them. They opened a few dealers and gave the dealers a low markup - but the dealers easily made up for this due to a large volume of sales.. The first dealers were able to sell 500-800 stoves a year and sometimes more.

    When other stoves started improving and going catalytic, VC held onto their original line. It is much more difficult to make changes and upgrades in the cast iron stove business because of the time and expense in creating patterns and molds. Steel stove companies can work at a much faster pace. Instead of developing new stoves, VC cdeveloped add-on technology that was expensive and didnt work well. They had retrofit kits for coal, catalytic converters and for cleaner glass that didnt work well. The result being when other stoves were staying clean, the VC line stayed dirty.

    Finally, they bit the bullet and went back to the drawing board and created the Encore....from scratch. Then they did the Acclaim, then retrofitted the Intrepid and then the Winterwarms. They also updated the Vigilant for coal. Now they have a full line of redesigned and newly designed units.

    VC is still a legend. The sad part of the story is that many who helped this company get started are either broke or passed away....one of each in the case of the founders. They went bust or almost bust a number of time, and the old CFM CEO was reportedly an unsavory charachter. The legacy is, unfortunately, not good although we all want it to be! Its the American Dream to think that people who do good will all turn out right in the end, but those who have been in business know that there are many forces at work and sometimes the best efforts are not good enough.

    The good news is this: VC spawned a large part of the industry.....a number of the people who worked there are still in the stove biz working as consultants, contractors, reps and designers and are responsible for MANY of the top notch products you see in the market today. Once stoves get into your blood, its tough to do anything else.

    The New Company - CFM of Canada: The success of the newest VC models may depend on what they are doing in R&D, customer service and also in terms of how they go to market. VC is (still) trying to have their cake and eat it too - meaning they want to sell (wholesale) to as many accounts as possible such as LP dealers, chimney sweep to the mass merchants. Traditional stove and fireplace dealers dont like this, but then again a company with so many products has to sell to many outlets.

    Dealers will pass up exclusivity sometimes....but they need something in place of it like a good price or lots of customers walking in the door asking for a product.

    The company has changed, the people have changed, the products have changed but the legend of an American company with the tenacity to build a stove Foundry in Vermont lives on.

    Note - as of May, 2013 the company has been sold twice again, first to Monesson and recently to an unnamed buyer. Stay tuned.