What is The Pelletstove Corner?

The pelletstove corner is a question and answer forum. It’s the place to go for free help with your pelletstove problems or questions. The pelletstove corner is the place to view images of what I do during a pelletstove cleaning and reconditioning. It is also a place to find tips and ideas regarding pelletstoves.  Also, I invite you to check out what my customers have to say about my work in the Guestbook. Originally, the forum was published in our local newspaper The Register-Guard here in Eugene, Oregon. Pelletstove owners were invited to ask questions regarding their pelletstove or pelletstoves in general. Each week a question was picked and published along with the answer.

This year we’re not doing the $5.00 off coupon. Instead, we’re sort of making you work for the additional discount by asking you to email us your email address with the subject line “Discount”. This way we can slowly move from snail mail to email, perhaps a newsletter is in the future or information about new pellets, or products.

The Pelletstove Corner is here for YOU.

Do you have a question regarding the repair or operation of your Pelletstove?

Have a question about pelletstoves in general?

This is the place to ask away. I will try to answer any and all questions in a timely and concise manner.

Why ask me a question? I’ve been in the hearth industry since 1984. Back then I owned a business called “The Fireman” in Marin County, California. Those were the days before pelletstoves. Back then I did chimney cleanings, woodstove installations, mortar repairs, and damper and cap installations. I did many coal to wood fireplace conversions in the old mansions of San Francisco. I saw my first pelletstove back in 1989 after my wife and I relocated to Eugene, Oregon. Back then there were few models available. Whitfield had this wedge shaped unit, Quadrafire had a one speed unit that had the first ignitor and ran on a thermostat (very ahead of its time) and Breckwell was just ramping up production of its P24 model. Craft Stoves had recently bought the patent on the Breckwell from Al Breckel and David Wells (hence the name) and they were being constructed on the premises. It was there at Craft Stoves I saw my first pelletstove and I have been working on pelletstoves since then. The first few years I had to also do other elements within the industry to pay the bills; chimney and woodstove work, running gas lines for the local gas company and installing gas burning equipment. But as my pelletstove customer base increased I slowly eliminated these other elements of my business and for many years now I have specialized in only pelletstoves. I do installation and repair but the majority of my work is annual cleaning and reconditioning. My business name is Claxton’s Inc. very original I know, but thats what it has evolved to from Claxtons Professional Chimney Service. I have 2,000 customers on my mailing list and I stay busy year round. I’ve had employees in the past but its expensive and very time consuming to train someone and a pain in the butt when they call in sick or start cutting corners. Anyway, I’ve worked on every pelletstove out there and most likely I’ll be able to answer most any question you throw my way.

JOURNAL ENTRIES:

February 24th. 2011 – I am sorry, as we speak I have my computer guy working feverishly to make it easier for my readers to communicate with me. The only forms that show up in my email, where I reply daily are the general and specific forms. People have been leaving messages all over the site interspersed with hundreds of spam. I don’t go “behind the screen” so to speak and dig through the comments left in various places and I am working to eliminate that option for my readers.

February 20th. 2011 – IF YOU WANT TO COMMUNICATE WITH ME YOU WILL HAVE TO USE ONE OF THE LINKS I HAVE PROVIDED ON THIS PAGE. IT’S THE “THIS IS THE PLACE TO ASK AWAY” LINK ABOVE. THERE ARE TWO FORMS AVAILABLE, ONE FOR GENERAL QUESTIONS AND THE OTHER FOR SPECIFIC QUESTIONS. FILL OUT AND SUBMIT THE FORM AND IT SHOWS UP IN MY EMAIL- THEN I WILL RESPOND.

IF YOU WANT TO LEAVE A COMMENT USE THE GUESTBOOK.

Thank you Mr. Lake for putting us on Angie’s List.

I’m looking forward to going to the HPBA convention, the yearly national meeting of the industry participants. This will be only the second time I’ve been to the convention. The first time was at least 15 years ago and it was in Reno. This year it’s in Salt Lake City so I should be hangover free and leave with money still in my wallet. I will be on the hunt for a new pellet stove manufacturer, one that blows me away with the quality, design, and looks of their products. A company that will provide a truly exclusive territory. A company that realizes that the correlation between a showy showroom and sales is a myth. The true correlation is between customer service plus a quality product and sales. I’ve done a lot of thinking on this matter; the key to a successful dealership, and this is what I believe to be true: the customer does not care if you have a million dollar showroom, as a matter of fact, I think the customer is often uneasy and distrustful about it, thinking about how their money is going not only to buy a stove but to pay for the overhead associated with a showy showroom.

The most successful dealership I’ve been associated with was The Pellet Center. They sold only one brand of stove and had an exclusive territory. They had a couple of burn models, nothing fancy, and the showroom was basically a warehouse where they stocked and sold pellets by the ton and bag, they also had a chop room where they made fiberglass pellet dispensers. The floor of the building was concrete and the smell of fiberglass resin was always in the air, there was an old carpet remnant on the floor, along with a few folding chairs in the “sales area”. Another interesting aspect of the business was that it allowed for the pellet customers to drive into and through the building. Often the customer never left their vehicle, just popped the trunk and they would throw in the bags of pellets. The owners knew they had the best product on the market at the time and had no qualms about sending customers looking for a lower priced stove off to the other dealers.

March 31st. 2010 - Ending the month with a big ad in the Register Guard (our local fish wrapper) I really hope it helps Welt Elements move into the retail pellet stove sales arena.

March 5th. 2010 – Ok. I’m a believer. I have finished my testing of the PACKSADDLE PELLETS and I am very satisfied and can honestly recommend them. They burn very very cleanly with no klinkers, little ash and my glass stays clean for quite awhile. They are a 100% douglas fir fiber. Packsaddle Pellets boast a 8350 BTU/lb. heating value with ash less than .25%, fines less than .05%, and a moisture content less than 5%. I have been a GoldenFire Pellet snob for years and years but that in the passed because the Packsaddle Pellets are as good as or better than any pellet I’ve burned. These pellets are manufactured by Frank Pellets, LLC located in Mill City, Oregon. Only one thing further worth mentioning; these pellets are a bit on the short side so you’ll want to trim down the feed rate. Shorter pellets run through the auger quicker because more of them fit in the space made available at the top of the auger flight.

February 19th, 2010 -This has been an incredible season and the last couple of months have been a exciting time for me. If you don’t know yet let me tell you now that I really like HARMAN pellet stoves. I have been recommending them for several years but the problem has always been that the local dealer generates a lot of negative customer feedback. So I have always been between a rock and the proverbial hard place. Another problem with the local dealer was that when I sent someone down to look at the Harman pellet stoves they would offer the first annual service for free- talk about biting the hand that feeds, annual servicing is my primary thing. Now understand, I was sending customers to them and never asking for a penny, the only request was to treat my customers fairly, and if a service problem arose to handle it in a prompt and professional manner. Still, I found it necessary to resolve customer service complaints myself, often because the customer thought it unreasonable to wait three weeks for repairs on a stove still within the warranty period- I agree 100%. It is unreasonable.

Anyway, I recommended Harman as a replacement pellet stove to a customer of mine several months ago. A few weeks later he called ready for his installation. He told me that he was “talking stoves” with his diesel fuel provider in Cottage Grove, “WELT ELEMENTS and learned Welt Elements has newly entered the pellet fuel and pellet stove industry and has Harman stoves available for sale. Brad, who is an owner of Welts expressed an interest in making a connection with me, and of course I was looking forward to meeting with him. We met a week or two after that first sale, in the meantime I had sent another customer  to him who bought a Harman over the phone. When we met he asked me what I expected of him. Very straightforward. I told him the only thing I expect is this- when I send someone down to you I expect you to treat them as precious, before, during, but most important, after the sale.

So far we have sold four stoves- not bad when you consider no showroom or burn unit. Brad has shown a deep concern for customer service as Welt Elements has been in the fuel business for over 40 years. They now sell Packsaddle Pellets, I am in the process of testing them in my stove as we speak, but so far I am very pleased, clean glass, low ash, and no clinkers. Next week Brad will have a burn unit, a Harman P 43 Freestanding Pellet Stove.

I have recently been trained by the Harman Field Service Engineer, am in possession of a Service Manuel, and the proud owner of a brand new Harman Diagnostic Display Monitor- Thanks to the generosity of Brad Welt and Welt Elements. So now customers have a choice in all things Harman; sales, service, and annual maintenance. And I have a dealer I feel comfortable recommending to my customers.

August 23rd, 2009.-I cannot believe its been since December of last year since I’ve added to this page. I am truly sorry. In the past eight months I’ve moved my site to another hosting company and back again to the original host. The move was really a nightmare and I’m glad to be back “home”. The other hosting site seems to have lost most of the Guestbook postings so PLEASE HELP ME REBUILD THIS PAGE. If you’ve already posted something in the Guestbook last year/season please go back and see if its still there. It most likely has been lost, I had 30-plus positive feedback letters there prior to the move back to my local host, now there are 6 -so there’s an 80% chance yours has been lost. I would be very grateful if you would help me rebuild the Guestbook. Annegret and I often invite first time callers to check out the website/blog to get an idea of what to expect when they hire us to recondition or repair their pellet stove. We mention the photo-journals to give an idea of how much room we’ll need in front of their stove to set-up our work area. And, we always suggest they peek at the Guestbook entries to get an idea of what our customers have to say about their experience. I actually think the Guestbook page is the most important element of the site from a generating business perspective and losing so much of its content really is painful.

I was really concerned about how the downturn in the economy was going to effect my business. I remember September 29th. 2008 vividly. I was at a customers home working on their Austroflamm freestanding pelletstove, their 50″ flatscreen was turned onto the business cable TV channel and the stock market had just shed 700 point. It was a fearful time for everyone. I am surviving through these difficult times due to the independent nature of my business. What I mean is that I am not dependent on a retail store to sell stoves for me to survive. Part of it is simple dumb luck; I don’t play well with the other kids in the sandbox-so to speak- I didn’t become an independent contractor to take orders from someone who is laboring under the misconception that I work for them. Over the years I have grown away from that type of relationship model towards a direct one-on-one relationship with my customers and it is due to that shift that I owe my continued success in these difficult times. And Annegret-of course.

We are now booking pelletstove reconditionings/cleanings for the month of October. The remainder of August is booked, and there are only a few slots in late September still available. Annegret will still be booking repair work with quick response time for “down stoves” as we swing into high gear during  the heating season which is fast approaching.

July 9th. 2008.- I have added the first slideshow over at the sister site. Its called Bridge St. Repair and if you want to see an example of a really crappy installation you should check it out. I had fun putting the slideshow together and I also enjoyed replacing the venting.

June 11th. 2008. -Here’s an update on whats going on with the website. Most recently I have started tinkering around with the iWeb application that came in the iLife ’08 package I bought for the family. It allows for a degree of creativity and “wow factor” I find lacking at this site. Although, this current application WordPress allows me to use something called FormBuilder which allows an idiot like me to easily create a form for my viewers to fill out and send to me. iWeb may provide a similar feature but I have yet to figure it out and “writing code” is beyond my skill level. Nevertheless I am able to create links between the two sites and I invite you to check out the sister site still in its infant stage.

Here’s a bit more history-
I started the pelletstove corner for several reasons. I wanted to publish some information regarding the fair and reasonable cost of parts and service in the hopes of helping pelletstove owners avoid getting ripped off. I wanted to show my community the knowledge I have accumulated these past twenty years and make available to my customers. The Pelletstove Corner was presented as “A weekly Q&A forum courtesy of Claxton’s Inc.” with the hope that I might find a local sponsor willing to simply pay the cost of continuing it past the original 16 week contract. I remain willing to do all the work and the sponsors name will replace mine. I will approach some local vendors next fall and see where it goes. I think The Pelletstove Corner remains a good tool to promote the industry in general.

I printed up all the ads and gave a copy to each of my customers along with their receipt after cleaning or repairing their pelletstove. Several times each week it was suggested I should have a website. Finally, the son of one of my customers took the initiative and put this thing together while I was working on their stove. I hope you find some useful information here. Because, like I say in one of the Q&A’s “Information is power and advice is always free.”