COLUMBIANA, Ohio – Matt Skillman started Ohio Flame as a side hustle in 2009, but 14 years later, it’s fired by patriotism.

The Columbiana business manufactures firepits from steel tank heads. Skillman, president and CEO of Ohio Flame, started his business after losing his job during the recession. Three years later, it became his full-time business.

The idea came to him after a fire pit a friend gave him fell apart. He decided to try to make one himself. His firepits come with a lifetime warranty.

American made is his company’s niche. “There’s a lot of cheaper options out there. A lot of them come from overseas and nothing that we touch is imported,” Skillman says. “If you see it on our website, it’s all American made.”

Names of his firepits demonstrate that commitment, such as the Patriot and the Liberty.

“Everything we do, we’re proud of the United States of America,” he says. “We’re proud of those who have fought to protect and serve as well as our law enforcement, our first responders.”

Although Skillman never served in the military, he comes from a military family. His uncle, who was a veteran of the Vietnam War, taught Skillman how to weld when he was starting his business.

Skillman’s American-made commitment is a way to honor that uncle, who died of cancer linked to Agent Orange exposure. Skillman’s grandfather, who will turn 100 in July, is a World War II veteran.

“What a privilege just to be able to call him my grandpa,” he says. “All the military in my family, it’s humbling. To be able to hear the stories and hear how they served, not only overseas serving but coming back home, everything they’ve done for family and community. The serving doesn’t stop.”

Each Veterans Day, Ohio Flame donates a firepit to an area veteran. The company gathers stories about individual veterans and selects one veteran to receive the gift.

A firepit with a carved American flag at the base is a popular design. But Ohio Flame makes seasonal designs too. Customers like designs for Youngstown State University and other sports teams. The company also does custom work.

During the pandemic, business surged as people were staying home.

“I’ve seen the outdoor space grow in the last 15 to 20 years,” Skillman says. When people are looking to improve their homes, one of the easiest things to do is to enhance outdoor space, he says.

“When spring starts, it’s generally firepit season,” he says. “People are looking at getting out of the house.”

Most of his sales are online. “I got the attention of an online outdoor hearth and patio store,” Skillman says. The store wanted to help him grow his business and put his firepits on its website.

He has a website,, and his firepits are also on outdoor product websites of resellers.

Campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks across the country are buying his firepits too.

“Those are really fun orders because you get to talk to the campground owner and come up with a plan that’s going to help enhance the campground,” Skillman says.

Skillman graduated from YSU with a degree in art technology, but didn’t want to leave the Mahoning Valley for work. He worked at steel manufacturing companies and at Compco, doing labor, marketing and sales. His business allows him to combine the skills he learned in all of his former positions. Ohio Flame is housed inside of a Compco building. Skillman’s father and grandfather both worked at the company.

“One thing I tell young kids is don’t ever think you’re going through something in life that is a waste,” Skillman says. “Everything you do in life is preparation for something you’ll do later in life. When you’re doing something, you learn.”

Pictured at top: Matt Skillman, president and CEO of Ohio Flame in Columbiana, Ohio, kneels next to one of the firepits his company manufactures.

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KeepAmerica CEO, David Seliktar, features the Ohio Flame Patriot Fire Pit on FOX & Friends as part of KeepAmerica's Memorial Day Featured Products.  (aired Memorial Day 2013)


KeepAmerica CEO, David Seliktar, features the Ohio Flame Patriot Fire Pit on FOX News CT as part of KeepAmerica's American Made Holiday Gift Guide. (aired 2012)



Ohio Flame Inc. President & CEO, Matt Skillman, reaches out to Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson to help to honor his WWII Veteran grandfather. (aired 2013)