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Home is where the hearth is
by Jessica Garcia
Mar 19, 2009 | 805 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href=>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - Spectators gaze at a high-tech fireplace in the Hearth & Home Technologies Booth at Thursday's Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Expo.
Tribune/Debra Reid - Spectators gaze at a high-tech fireplace in the Hearth & Home Technologies Booth at Thursday's Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Expo.
If you can’t afford to go on a vacation, why not plan a “stay-cation” close to home?

At least, that’s Cadac North America, LLC president John Burke’s suggestion if a family is saving its nickels and dimes.

“People are going for one-day, two-day vacations,” he said. “They’re going to the beach or the mountains for a day.”

Packing up a portable grill and enjoy a day out at Lake Tahoe is more than likely a choice for respite these days than taking a cruise or traveling to Europe or even across the country, according to Burke.

Cadac, short for Commercial and Domestic Appliance Corp., is among hundreds of vendors at this weekend’s Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association’s HPB Expo at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center that ends Saturday, touting thousands of products that promise family entertainment in the backyard, hydronic heaters and energy-efficient stoves or fireplaces. More than 300 exhibits range from the colorful to the very large with hot tubs filled with water and fireplaces with different features.

Items on display are revealing a trend for people who may be keeping a tight lid on their wallets and also are seeking ways to enhance their homes to provide such entertainment with outdoor living features.

At the expo, Cadac, founded in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1948, was touting its portable grills that can be carried in easy-to-carry bags, nodding to durability and versatility as well. For example, some grills have two-sided plates, one side a non-stick Teflon griddle that can prepare eggs benedict, crepes and quesadillas. On the other side, people can heat up their hot dogs and seared tuna and barbecued items.

While it first had practical applications for people living in South Africa, the company has promoted gourmet cooking in the outdoors for shorter day trips with its skottel, which is similar to an Asian wok.

Distribution just began in North America, Burke said, because Cadac opened a Chinese manufacturing company that can ship the Cadac products to the United States.

“We have these things in the right kind of places,” he said, with places like REI, Wal-Mart and Sports Authority marketing their products.

Other vendors, like the Mount Vernon Mantel Co., have a more concentrated marketed along the East Coast.

Bill Mabee, sales manager of the Columbus, Ohio business, said Mount Vernon works directly with fireplace manufacturers to market its custom-made mantels.

The company doesn’t ship its products to the East Coast because it would be took difficult to get the mantels over the Rocky Mountains, he said.

Most of his customers change out their mantels as upgrades to their homes as opposed to installing them for the first time.

“Our market has been soft, but we’re growing in our ability to be more price-competitive,” he said, adding that depending on what the client wants, Mount Vernon mantels can cost up to $10,000.

For Dan Rowan, regional sales manager of Bullfrog Spas, the company that uses the concept “Powered by JetPaks,” trade shows like the HPB expo are opportunities to expose its products to other businesses or consumers, citing the creative marketing aspect as a useful tool.

“The people who buy these want them, not because they need them,” Rowan.

Asked if there’s a steady stream of customers for hot tubs in this financial market, Rowan said business for the Salt Lake City company has been good.

Rowan said many customers realize the value of hydrotherapy of hot tubs and invest in tubs with their green features, easy maintenance and lifetime warranties. Many, he said, also are installing stereo equipment for music to relax to and also to play while people are doing yard work. Lights can also be installed inside the tubs.

“The market will be fine for us,” Rowan said. “We’re still pretty young at about 13 years. It’s steady with the tough times and things are slower, but these shows are a successful avenue for us.”
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