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'Made in USA' Stove Maker Growing with New Product Lines, Partnerships
A worker polishes metal at Buck Stove. The family owned and operated company, located in the rural mountains of Western North Carolina, is innovating and growing its business by adding new technologies and product lines. Photo courtesy of Buck Stove.
SPRUCE PINE, N.C.— Four decades ago, business partners Robert Bailey and Alvin Barrier were selling gasoline, appliances, and bologna sandwiches from a small country store in the mountains of western North Carolina when they decided to take a chance.
Asheville businessman Carrol Buckner approached them with the idea of selling the new wood-burning stove he’d invented called the “Regular Buck.” Buckner thought the stove, equipped with a three-speed motor, was just the thing for people seeking alternatives to oil and gas heat during the energy crisis of the 1970s. Bailey and Barrier agreed.
“We used that first stove as a floor model in our store, and within days we had sold it and had more orders than we knew what to do with,” said Bailey, president and sole owner of Buck Stove Corporation—now known as New Buck Corporation—since 1984. “A few months later, we converted the store into a manufacturing facility and began making the stoves. We were selling them faster than we could get them off the finishing line. Since then, we’ve never looked back.”
Today, Buck Stove is a brand synonymous with high-quality American-made products and superior customer service. The company employs 130 workers at its 300,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on 80 acres in the mountain town of Spruce Pine, located just a few miles from the original site of the country store. There, workers handcraft Buck Stove’s signature wood- and gas-fueled stoves, as well as lines of outdoor casual living furniture and accessories, and decorative door hardware. Every step of the manufacturing process—from inception and design, through laser technology, fabrication, assembly and finishing, to packaging and shipping—is done under one roof.
Buck Stove is the parent company of Tri-State Powder Coating and Fabrication, a custom powder coating and fabrication business located in the same New Buck Manufacturing facility in Spruce Pine. Operating with Buck Stove’s commitment to unmatched quality, Tri-State provides everything from full design services to sheet metal cutting (by CNC machine, plasma cutter, or metal cutting press), bending, welding, riveting, grinding, cleaning, polishing, and full powder coating.
Now, in the face of increasing competition from overseas and stiffening regulations at home, Buck Stove is innovating and growing its business by adding new manufacturing technologies and product lines. “We are a stove company, first and foremost,” said Claudia Bailey Honeycutt, Buck Stove’s sales and marketing director. “But we know that in order to continue growing and thriving, we always need to be looking for ways to diversify what we do.”
Through its solid reputation for quality craftsmanship and service, Buck Stove has forged relationships with many like-minded national brands in recent years. The company has partnered with renowned North Carolina artist Bob Timberlake and Greensboro-based Earthstone to produce a new line of outdoor living products made from recycled materials. The collection includes furniture constructed of recycled poly-resin, charcoal and wood-fired grills, chimineas and firepits, and is being sold factory-direct to the consumer.
In early 2014, Buck Stove began manufacturing wood pellet stoves for competitor St. Croix after the company shut down its own manufacturing operations in Waco, Nebraska.
“With far more parts and components, pellet stoves are more complex to manufacture than wood or gas stoves,” said Claudia Bailey Honeycutt, Buck Stove sales and marketing director, in a statement. “At Buck Stove, we pride ourselves on building a quality product. Our outstanding crew is working very hard to ensure that the stoves we build for another brand are just as good as our own.”
State-of-the-art equipment was purchased and 20 people were added to the workforce specifically to build pellet stoves. Fabrication hours alone nearly doubled to produce the numerous parts in each pellet stove.
“It has required an enormous amount of work from both companies to make this a seamless transition,” said Honeycutt.
With the Timberlake and St. Croix collaborations, Buck Stove is adding 30 to 50 new jobs in the next three years and investing more than $1 million in improvements and upgrades to the existing manufacturing facility.
Buck Stove is also working with Schumacher Homes, providing indoor and outdoor accessories for the Earnhardt Collection, a series of home plans designed by former NASCAR driver Kerry Earnhardt and his wife, Rene. The company also manufactures decorative door hardware and metal furnishings for clients Panera Bread, Carriage House Door Company, and Disney Theme Parks.
“We are thrilled to be working alongside these respected brands, but it wouldn’t be possible without our highly-skilled workforce,” said Honeycutt. “We are very proud of the dedication and heart they bring into the workplace every day.”
Buck Stove is a top employer in Mitchell County, but one of only a few manufacturers remaining in area. The county lost approximately 2,000 manufacturing jobs between 2002 and 2006. Today, the local economy is composed predominantly of jobs in education, health, government, mining, and retail.
The company remains committed to providing secure, well-paying jobs and products proudly made in Mitchell County.
“We are family here,” said Honeycutt. “We have deep roots in Mitchell County and are honored to be able to play such an important role in our community.”
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