The way Ron Hoime explains the features of a glass-faced electric fireplace insert makes you smile, even if the explanations can run a little long. For 35 years, Hoime has been immersed in the home comfort industry as the owner of Sunrooms Plus in Grand Forks, a shop that designs, sells and services fireplaces (along with sunroom additions, hot tubs, outdoor furniture and a myriad of other comfort-based items). When he activates an electric fireplace with the swipe of his hand or dials the flames up to fire off in multiple colors, or turns on, off and on again the backlights of the unit, it’s just impossible not to smile.
Technology Has Found The Fire
Woodburning or pellet stoves no longer come with a headache of fire-starting fumes or ash removal. Hoime heats his entire shop with a motion activated pellet stove. A wood stove
featured in his shop offers a hands free start-up mode that eliminates fumes during the start-up process. New sealing techniques put on heat and nothing else. When gas or wood units are installed, Hoime’s team uses a piping system that removes air and draws air without compromising the temperature or air quality of the dwelling.
Electric units provide style and function. Remotely controlled, the inserts put out usable warmth with a look that can be modern or near-authentic.
The Perks Of Comfort
When he’s not installing a sunroom or helping design a fireplace setup, Hoime is looking for, working on or thinking about antiques and cars. In front of his shop, he considers the old Willy’s Jeep a staple piece signifying where his store is at. In the back shop, he frequently parks or stores his current car projects. On summer nights, you’ll probably find him at a car show showing off one of his Dodge vehicles.
Hoime knows his products, that is clear, but when he talks about them and displays their high-tech functions and mood-enhancement qualities, you can’t help but feed off his positive energy. You realize that at some point in the conversation and demonstration, he has moved beyond trying to sell you a new unit and is instead just genuinely enamored by the features of fire. His energy alters your mood, sort of like fires always do. By the time you realize the unit he’s been showing you is only a foot away and has been on full-blast for ten minutes, you don’t even care that you are sweating in a building that has the air conditioning running. Hoime’s rundown of flame heights, smartphone features and ease of operation abilities of the unit have most likely hijacked all your thoughts and senses and taken you to a dream state where you, your loved ones and the floating flames of the unit in front of you are cozy and happy. When Hoime finally halts his run-down and asks you, “What do you think?” all you really can do is smile.
Forget The Basic Brick
Although basic brick stone fireplace surrounds are still attainable, the type and amount of materials used in new builds or retrofits today is amazing. Hoime and his team work with suppliers that can make and install new overlays to hide the old, gold fireplace faces popular in the 70s.
Hand-hammered (Hoime has met the maker that does the actual hammering) overlays offer a new look with an old-world feel.
Some surround material makers have turned to old wooden boats from Asia to provide a unique, wood-look feel to the area above the fireplace.
Mantles are a key component of most gas inserts and Hoime has a huge selection. Most choose a rustic, real chunk of hardwood these days.
To take a new look at an age-old, iconic feature nearly everyone would take or use if given the choice, we checked in with Hoime on what’s new and what’s available in the world of fireplaces. We left with a long list of things to write about, a big smile and a sense of comfort—sort of like the kind you get when you sit down in front of that fire and watch or listen to the flames after a long day. G
The Comfort of Family
Hoime and his wife, Cheryl, have been operating the store since 1982. Members of their family and long-time friends are, and have been, a part of the business since its inception.
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Photos by Russ Hons Photography
From Issue 5, 2019