Spokane Journal of Business

Hon unit buys assets of Colville stove maker

Sale will lead to more jobs, additional manufacturing in northeast Washington

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A subsidiary of Hon Industries Inc., the big Iowa-based office-furniture maker, has bought the assets of Aladdin Steel Products Inc., a Colville company that makes wood-, pellet-, and gas-burning stoves, says Alan Trusler, Aladdins president.

Over the next two years, the sale will mean at least 72 additional jobs at newly named Aladdin Hearth Products in Colville, the added manufacturing of two stove lines that currently are made in Iowa, and a big new facility for the operation, Trusler says.

The sale closed last week, and Aladdin Hearth Products has become the third operating unit of the Hon subsidiary, Hearth Technologies Inc. The other two operating units make Heatilator and Heat-N-Glo brand fireplaces as their main products, and Hon contends that with those two units, it is the nations largest maker of fireplaces. Trusler declines to release the terms of the Aladdin transaction.

The Colville company had been looking for the last few years at finding a buyer, setting up a strategic alliance with another company, or locating a merger partner, Trusler says. Our industry has been going through waves of consolidation over the last two or three years, he says, and Aladdin felt that joining forces with another company could help it in the marketplace.

In Hon Industries, Aladdin found the match it was looking for. The Hon Industries folks believe in autonomous business units and in rural America, says Trusler, who is staying on as president of the Aladdin Hearth unit.

Aladdin expects to add 12 to 15 employees immediately to its staff of 130 to handle marketing, administration, and other duties associated with the two stove lines Arrow and Dovre, being moved from Iowa.

The moves will consolidate all of Hearth Technologies stove manufacturing operations in one place; the other two Hearth Technologies operating units will make only fireplaces. The consolidation is expected to help boost sales of the Arrow and Dovre lines plus Aladdins own Quadra-Fire brand of stoves.

Manufacturing of the Arrow line likely will move to Colville by the end of this year, and the Dovre line should be shifted there by late 1999 or early 2000. Trusler says that at current production levels, the addition of manufacturing for the two lines will bring 60 to 80 jobs to the Aladdin operationin addition to those that will be added immediatelyand will increase the stove units need for space.

Aladdin plans to build a new facility on a 12-acre site just north of Colville to replace the 50,000 square feet of leased space in two buildings that it occupies now. Before the asset sale, Aladdin Steel Products had been planning to construct a 75,000- to 80,000-square-foot building there that would have cost between $2.5 million and $3 million. Now, Trusler says, the new stove-making operation will need a much larger facility, although the size of that building still needs to be worked out. He expects the facility to be built within the next 18 months.

Aladdin Steel Products was founded in 1979 by Trusler and Daniel Henry, who remains Aladdins vice president of product development. Last year, it had sales in the $15 million-to-$20 million range, Trusler says. With the addition of the Arrow and Dovre lines, the Aladdin Hearth operating unit is expected to have sales of about $35 million this year.

  • Marlene Mehlhaff

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