Summer is here and the season for cookouts and bonfires is in full swing.
And for one local company out of Columbiana, it's prime time for business to boom.
Ohio Flame is a locally owned and operated business that crafts and sells custom fire pits and accessories. The company's mastermind, Matt Skillman of Boardman, began the company just a few years ago, simply by using his artistic talents to meet the needs of a changing economy and bring in some extra cash.
Before long, the orders and demand surpassed his original postings on Craigslist and eBay, and soon the need to expand became a necessity.
"I started the beginnings of this company in the summer of 2009 as a part-time job," said Skillman. "The recession had hit and I just started doing this as a form of supplemental income, as a side business. But in the past three years, business has been growing and it's been a little more demanding of my time."
Business had taken off so much, Skillman saw an opportunity to merge it into a full-time job.
"By the spring of this year, I had the opportunity to make this a full-time job and really began to push distribution as far as it could go," said Skillman.
As of this year, Ohio Flame products are making their way to retail chains, but the primary focus has been placed on online sales and wholesale distribution.
"We've really been targeting a lot of lawn and garden stores and online retailers. The online sales play a major part in sales here. But we also like to have the direct sales to the consumer," said Skillman. "In the coming months, we're looking to expand our online customer base and get our products into some more stores."
With the use of online promotion and sales, the company has quickly been able to reach consumers all across the country.
"Currently our outreach is within the continental U.S.," said Skillman. "We've shipped orders as far as Seattle, Maine, Buffalo, and all the way down to Miami. So we basically have our products from coast to coast. We're also going to be soon opening up to Canadian shipments. We look forward to our products getting into Canada, as well as Alaska and Hawaii in the near future."
Along with custom designs, Ohio Flame offers two unique lines of their product that all designs fall under: The Patriot Line and the Artisan Line.
"The Patriot Line of fire pits is our main production line," said Skillman. "Similar style to our customs, just different sizes ranging from 24-inch diameter to 48-inch diameter. The Artisan Line is more of our custom series. It's still in the beginning phases. We have different designs that are going to be available in the coming weeks and months. We're also going to be adding fire pit accessories such as cook tops and spark screens that will fit our Patriot Line."
Ohio Flame is very proud to be an all American-based company using only American-made parts and materials. Despite the convenience of cheaper foreign materials that are often available, Ohio Flame remains dedicated to keeping it close to home.
"It means a lot to us, our company and our consumers that we keep this an American-made business," said Skillman. "We like to show people that you can make a good quality product in America. A lot of the other options that are out there are foreign made, and they compromise quality for price. We like to create a quality American-made product that we can stand behind and people seem to respond to that very well."
Skillman said that durability is the number one factor that customers are seeking in fire pits.
"The steel that we use for our fire pits is a heavy gauge American-made steel," said Skillman. "A lot of people who've had fire pit experience are coming to Ohio Flame and purchasing our products. They've bought a cheaper, foreign-made fire pit that maybe lasted them almost a year and rusted out, and they have to keep replacing it every year."
Ohio Flame fire pits can be viewed and purchased at www.ohioflame.com.
Reported by: Rick Pollo - Web Producer
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