The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
26 Feb 1977, Sat • Page 9
An unlikely combination of factors the energy shortage, Old Order Mennonites and a return to rural living has proved to be a $200,000-a-year boon to a firm here. That’s how much Findlay Foundry Ltd. expects to make this year from the sale of wood-burning stoves. The company’s decision to revive the Findlay stove marks the return of a familiar item in Canadian homes for more than 100 years.
Findlay’s started manufacturing the stove in the fall of. 1975, realizing the energy shortage would create a market. At the same time a hardware store in Elmira, near Kitchener, was being beseiged with requests for cook stoves from Old Order Mennonites living in the area. Old Order Mennonites shun the modern world. They don’t use automobiles, electricity or modern appliances. Cook stoves were getting harder to find. Store owner Tom Hendrick and Findlay Foundry got together to build an improved version of the Findlay Oval cook stove, first produced in 1908.
The first 50 Ovals have already been sold and another 50 are being manufactured. An unlikely combination of factors the energy shortage, Old Order Mennonites and a return to rural living has proved to be a $200,000-a-year boon to a firm here. That’s how much Findlay Foundry Ltd. expects to make this year from the sale of wood-burning stoves. The company’s decision to revive the Findlay stove marks the return of a familiar item in Canadian homes for more than 100 years.
Findlay has also revived three box stoves, excellent sources of auxiliary heat. But they do not have the , control necessary in a cooking stove like the Oval. The firm now makes 20 to 30 box stoves a week, selling for between $118 and $179 each. The Oval stove is made principally of cast metal, less likely to rust than sheet metal. The casting is done at Findlay Foundry, while the sheet metal parts are made and assembled with the castings at the Mr. Hendrick’s Elmira Stove Works. Wood burning stoves are still a small part of Findlay’s operations, says Mac Eagle, company vice-president and general manager. Increased production is possible if the trend to energy-saving and back-to-the-land continues
Bob Russell and David Bell
The Carleton Place firm, formerly Findlay’s Ltd., was one of several foundries to stop making the stoves in the 1960s. Demand had fallen off because of consumers’ preference for labor-saving and energy-hungry appliances. . The return to stove production is the culmination of a complex chain of events beginning in 1965 when Corporation d’Expansion Financiere (Corpex), a Montreal-based conglomerate, bought the 107-year-old Findlay operation.
The new owner, Corpex subsidiary Belanger-Tap-pan Inc., was more interested in the sheet-metal side of the business and allowed the foundry to become obsolete. In 1972 the plant closed, leaving about 200 Carleton Place residents out of work. Providing employment was one of the reasons Findlay Foundry Ltd. was formed under new management and located in the town’s industrial park.
The company inherited the old wood-stove patterns from Belanger-Tappan but did not resurrect them until 1975. Findlay Foundry’s first major contract and still a major part of the business was casting parts for International Harvester Co. of Canada Ltd. “The wood-stove business was originally started to fill a hole,” says Mr. Eagle. Findlay Foundry bad inherited about 600 patterns, but the company could not rely on these alone because of a lack of detailed information.
“We had to go out and buy an old, second-hand stove and tear it down,” says Mr. Eagle. “Only then were we able to obtain the necessary references and designs.” The first six months were spent experimenting. For example, the old stoves had not been very efficient so the foundry corrected this by sealing them properly. Findlay Foundry is preparing to put out a smaller cook stove this spring. The Findlay Norway, to be made of cast metal and manufactured by the foundry alone. Whether Findlay’s will introduce more new designs depends on” how long the market lasts.
Supplying a new pattern costs between $20,000 and $30,000. , However, the patterns are not being wasted. The company has found casting replacement parts for old Findlay stoves can be lucrative. “People who had bought an old Findlay stove at an auction for $20 often find the stoves need repairs before they can be used,” says Mr. Eagle. “If we have the pattern, we can make the part that is needed. We are now carrying stocks of these parts and shipping them all over North America.
These old stoves are increasing in value since owners have realized they can find parts for them.” The company receives inquiries about stoves from all over the world, including one letter from Ghana. Strong competition comes from Taiwan and the U.S., but that hasn’t stopped Findlay Foundry from trying to crack U.S. markets. Mr. Eagle recently returned from a trade mission there. Only 15 per cent of the 50 employees work on the production of wood stoves. In addition to casting parts for farm machinery, the firm manufactures cast-iron dampers for stove pipes, pump bodies, castings for electric motors and laps, used in the making of spectacles. Findlay’s is also starting to cast parts for a manufacturer of wood-burning furnaces. : –