Upper Valley woodstove company smokes the competition - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Upper Valley woodstove company smokes the competition

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The Woodstock Soapstone Company is red hot, on fire-- and now world famous, fresh off a first-place showing at the woodstove design challenge in Washington, D.C.

Reporter Adam Sullivan: You know you guys won?

Jason Guimaraes/Steel Fabricator: Yeah, that's a very good thing. We take pride in an American-built product.

Twelve different companies from as far away as New Zealand took part in the five-day challenge. The event, which is in its first year, was sponsored by the Alliance for Green Heat. The woodstoves were judged on efficiency, emissions, affordability, user-friendliness and innovation.

"Trying to further woodstove design so we have more efficient stoves, less polluting stoves and more innovation in the industry," said Lorin Day of the Woodstock Soapstone Company.

The competition comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is working to increase standards for wood-burning heat sources. The "Ideal Steel Hybrid," which is the prototype model that won the competition, has already been tested by the EPA with an efficiency rate of 82 percent. That's among the highest in the industry, combining several different re-burn technologies.

"Trying to squeeze all of the BTUs out and trying to get those BTUs into the home, so you are not losing it up the stack," Day said.

But the innovation doesn't end there. The company purchased a water jet this summer that allows customers to give their stoves a look of their own, your favorite pet, perhaps, or a nature scene.

"We wanted to make it fun, we wanted to make it pretty or wild, whatever you want," Day said. "We wanted to involve our customers. Since we are factory direct, we can easily do that. We can call out to them and say what do you want on your stove?"

On a good year, this company pumps out upward of 2,000 units. And those benefiting from their warmth can rest easy knowing they are among the best.

"This is only the beginning. There's more things to come for Woodstock Soapstone," Guimaraes said.

Along with bragging rights, they also received a $25,000 cash prize and the company will be written up in Popular Mechanics. Not bad for a business with just 25 employees.

The winning model is not on the market yet. It will eventually retail for about $2,000.

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