Improvements and Expansion Helps Propel the “Fairy Godmother of Fire” to New Heights
Investments in Innovation
Tim and Voni Flaherty met while attending law school in Chicago and started a grand adventure that has seen them explore a variety of career opportunities. Having gone from law to banking to general management at Caterpillar, it was while living in San Antonio a few years ago that they decided to pursue buying a company of their own.
In early 2018, Warming Trends was a small Colorado manufacturing company that was gaining market share selling a very unique outdoor fire feature system. The Flahertys were intrigued by the solid brass design and industry-leading fuel efficiency of the burner systems. What really hooked them was the potential growth opportunities that they sensed below the surface. Tim and Voni purchased Warming Trends in April 2018.
Warming Trends makes the best outdoor fire feature system available on the market. The all-brass, jetted system provides unmatched fuel efficiency as well as superior flame performance. In essence, customers get big, beautiful flames with a fraction of the gas used by competitors’ products. What also sets Warming Trends apart, is the ability to customize any design down to a 2” – 3” adjustment. So, for example, if a homeowner wants a simple round fire pit, Warming Trends offers a variety of standard sizes and shapes of burners to choose from. If, however, like a recent customer, someone wants to fill a 50’ wide 125’ opening with fire and surround it with a steel bamboo forest, there is really only one option available – that is to call Warming Trends.
After Tim and Voni purchased the company, they immediately identified areas of untapped potential and the obstacles to overcome in order to efficiently expand and succeed. A quick internet search for Lean training led Tim to the Manufacturer’s Edge website. After meeting with a Regional Director, he quickly realized that the resources available through Manufacturer’s Edge could help with much more than Lean. A series of Lean Basics and 5S sessions were held with the Warming Trends Production team.
Beyond hands-on training, Tim and Voni also worked through two consultants associated with Manufacturer’s Edge to help them expand into a larger facility and assess and restructure the company’s distribution model.
The combination of Lean training, systems flow, 5S, and facility layout, and improved distribution has resulted in notable year-over-year efficiency improvements. The Flahertys saw over a 50% revenue improvement in their first year of ownership, followed by a 20% improvement from 2018 to 2019 and an additional 30% and growing improvement from 2019 to 2020. The timing of which could not have been more ideal as they have seen more than a 60% YOY increase in sales in Q3 of this year and would not have kept up with increasing demand but for the improvements. The increase in sales has also supported the expansion of their team. Starting 2020 with a team of 23, Warming Trends now has 45 employees and is positioned well to continue growing and making people’s “dreams of fire” come true.
I like the resources that are available to smaller companies to enable growth or “borrow” expertise at various phases of company development and in numerous practice areas.
Tim Flaherty, President, Warming Trends