By way of introduction to the first “official” Sutter Blog, a little history seems in order.
I’ll try to keep it brief and edit out the juicy parts for later…
Starting a business in Seattle in 1979 was in many ways no different than starting one today. There’s nothing like youthful exuberance mixed with naivete to propel us forward.
With a three-year background at a wood stove manufacturing company I was convinced that there were better products and a better way to bring them to the marketplace.
This was the genesis of the The Sutter Home Woodstove Co. (catalog)
I found an old building vacancy on a Ballard Avenue that appeared much different in 1979 than it does today. On the cusp of the energy “crises”
It made sense that high-efficiency cast-iron wood stoves could bring some energy independence to folks willing to cut, stack, store and age their heating fuel. In 1980 I was joined by my future business partner John Miner.
I soon learned that many of our customers were unfamiliar with the nature of wood heat and discovered that our real job was to inform them of how these products could be safely installed and operated. (Wood & Energy by Jay Shelton). The need for reliable information presented in an understandable fashion has shaped our philosophy ever since.
As more and more stoves came into use through the ‘80’s it was apparent that wood smoke and particulates from improper combustion were contributing to unhealthy air in our Emerald City. As a result, woodstove manufacturers developed cleaner burning technology and we saw the evolution of gas-fired stoves and fireplaces. Today, you can see the evidence of this technology in a broad selection of products with both fuel choices. (product shots?)
In the early days, the business was highly seasonal with stove sales and installations concentrated heavily in the months from September to March. In 1982 we opened a 2nd location in Kirkland. In 1986 we added barbecues to our product selection and moved our Kirkland store to Woodinville.
Most recently we move our Seattle store from Ballard Avenue to Leary Way in Ballard or as we like to call it; “Freelard” (between Ballard and Fremont) in September of 2011. The following year (August of 2012) we were pushed out of our Woodinville location by the ever-expanding “Napa North” wine-tasting area. Unable to find a suitable re-location and
influenced by the busy “season,” we elected to consolidate our business in the newer Leary Way location.
With our new larger facility we are able to display more product and with our talented installation, estimating and service crews we are still able to work from Vashon Island to
Bellevue and Mercer Island to Mukilteo. (pic of install truck).
A condensed history like this makes me feel a bit underwhelmed by what we have accomplished over the years. However, from 2 people in 1979 we now number 25 and believe that more growth is in our future. I hope this wasn’t too boring for you. My goal is to share more of our insights and experiences with you as this blog continues.