Monessen Hearth Using Vermont Casting Branding For Greater Recognition

by grillrepair on January 8, 2013

Today, Monessen Hearth Systems Company announced that it has changed the company name to Vermont Castings Group.

Everyone and anyone knew Majestic and Superior brand names because they had a tremendous range of gas fireplaces to fit any installation and any budget.  I have always though the biggest mistake Majestic (CFM Corp) made was knocking-off their own Vermont Castings barbecues to be able sell cheap chinese versions of what was otherwise a well-made barbecue grill.  They took a grill that was made with high quality workmanship and materials and had them made in china of cheaper parts to sell at the super-retail outlets.  High-end clients stopped buying the $2000. version when it looked indistinguishable from the $400. version.  High quality stainless and cheap stainless looks the same and well engineered barbecues are not easy to see; if a burner is 2 inches to one side or another or if a vaporizer shield has a different pattern of holes and thicker stainless it is very difficult to see the difference.

When Monessen bought out CFM they integrated a lot of the Majestic and Superior gas fireplaces into their available models but their dissemination of information and distribution was so poor that these models were quickly replaced by competitors products. Monesson has often been seen as a more high-end supplier without a lot of mass-market kits or builder boxes designed at a price point to be affordable so builders could buy 20 packages at a time.  I do not doubt the company was profitable but it is not a line we ever got into in the way we have got deep into gas manufacturers like Rasmussen, RealFire, Empire and others.

 

For most home owners a gas fireplace is a luxury item and any gas fireplace will be seen as a luxury item.  The differences that make one model a lot more expensive than another have to be very important differences.  Minor details will not be valued by most consumers — and minor details have a way of being very expensive!  By comparison most people have owned several barbecues and will “buy-up” each time getting a better quality product and understanding what they are paying for.  The failure of the last model defines the important features of the next model so people are quicker to have a personal experience with high-end BBQ features.

Describing the decision to change the branding of the company

“Changing our name will help us leverage the heritage of our iconic Vermont Castings brand to generate growth for our full portfolio of industry leading brands and product lines….Vermont Castings is one of the most recognized brands in the hearth and outdoor industries and is synonymous with efficiency and quality.”

Of course the “efficiency and quality” is not really true but they did sell tons of those Chinese-made barbecues.  We get calls for replacement parts as home owners try to repair the grills but most of the needed grill parts are not available.    I do not know if the change is just something to get into the news as the press release continues:

“The overall structure, size and organization of the company remain the same, with headquarters staying in Paris, Kentucky. No personnel changes are expected as a result of the corporate name change… This name change will better position our corporation to take advantage of future opportunities, with Vermont Castings anchoring a world class portfolio of brands and products…”

I fear that means they are going to take the models to China and start selling products through big retailers like Lowes and The Home Depot.  Monesson may just have gone from inadequately high-end to irresponsibly low-quality.  We will see.   With Vermont Castings being on hiatus these last few years it is entirely possible the uneducated consumer — which is most of us! —  will think the brand is more like the old CFM, Corp or the Monesson brands that only sold through speciality stores.

When a manufacturer will only distribute through speciality barbecue or hearth stores and only sell to companies who keep replacement parts on hand, attend training so they are able to repair anything, keep up licensing and certification, stock all models, service and install the products it shows they care about their clients.  When manufacturers select only qualified retailers it shows they are concerned with how the products will be installed and used.  To sell a gas fireplace out of a big box store for a home owner to try to install without an educated installer to call on can be extraordinarily dangerous.

I would like to believe the company is going to make their products better but the Vermont Castings brand was the only brand sold at low-end retail locations.  The name change seems to imply the entire line is going for fast, cheap and easy. Buyer Beware.

Superior gas logs were well known as lower cost gas fireplaces that used millivolt control valves that were very easily attached to wired wall switched or remote controls.  Most gas fireplaces were very expensive with these features.  Majestic-Superior gas log fireplaces did not have a lot of options.  There were a few sizes a few features to choose but the fireplaces were very affordable and versatile which made them perfect for contractors, builders and honest sales people.

21 feb 2013.

Not long after the above announcement we received an other press release:

The Riverside Company, the parent of leading hearth and grill manufacturer Vermont Castings Group, has elected to exit its investment in the company and is seeking potential buyers.
Re-reading the above it seems i may be psychic but alas i am not.  The trend has been to sell off recognizable names so companies importing very cheap products can use the equity in brand cognition to sell products quickly without building a presence and faster than consumers can find out the brand is not what they think it is.
Buyer beware.
In related news Viking was just purchased by the same company who bought JennAir and started selling cheapChinese  barbecues with the JennAir brand name on them.

 

 

 

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