When Kurt Rumens began selling stoves in 1977 he never imagined that he would eventually establish one of the most recognized brands of wood, gas, and pellet burning fireplaces, stoves and inserts. He was an aspiring rock star who took the job to bring in steady income between gigs. As he traveled around to retailers peddling stoves, he developed a passion for efficient and aesthetic hearth designs.
Seeing the value of the feedback that he was given by retailers, he eventually drew up sketches of stoves that incorporated the best product improvement suggestions he had received. He sent these sketches to the manufacturer he worked for. When he received a curt letter in response suggesting that he focus on selling their products instead of improving them, he held onto his designs. In 1979, he launched the brand that would become known as Lopi out of a 120 square foot Ballard shop in Seattle, Washington.
Lopi quickly became a pioneer in the stove manufacturing industry. In 1980, they led the way by creating the pre-heated air wash system that self-cleans the glass doors on wood stoves and developed the clear ceramic glass that is now standardly used for stoves, inserts and fireplaces. Four years later, they developed the first EPA-certified, non-catalytic wood stove in the United States. The Lopi name is now associated with classic American style and high performance.
In 1985, Avalon emerged as another leading manufacturer of clean-burning stoves. They are widely recognized for crafting beautiful pellet, gas and wood burning stoves, inserts and fireplaces with naturalistic designs and styles.
Travis Garske saw the value of both of these companies in 1988 and brought them together under the title of Travis Industries. Recognizing the passion, knowledge and skills that Kurt Rumens, Travis kept him on as the president and general manager. For over 25 years, Travis and Kurt have continued to expand Travis Industries with a devotion to fostering a company culture that values innovation, pursues green initiatives and caters to the diversity of customers’ styles and tastes.
When Fireplace Xtrordinair emerged as the elite manufacturer of gas inserts and fireplaces, they saw the benefit of merging with them. In 1992, Fireplace Xtrordinair became a part of the Travis family. Fireplace Xtrordinair is now recognized as one of the finest brands of efficient, stylish gas and wood burning fireplaces and inserts that can be customized to complement a wide range of architectural styles.
The passion for innovation and design that led Kurt to found Lopi is what led Travis Industries to revolutionized torch design with the launch of Tempest Torch in 2007. This new brand was awarded the Best-In-Show Vesta Award honoring design, innovation and technology within the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Industry for their innovative torch design with a spinning, spiral-like flame. They are known for their hearth, patio and barbeque products that break the mold.
While Travis Industries has continued to expand their family, they have remained privately owned. Today, they are the largest, privately owned manufacturer of gas, pellet and wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces in America. Their four brands—Lopi, Avalon, Fireplace Xtrordinair and Tempest Torch—are manufactured in the United States and sold throughout North America, Australia and China. Just as Kurt was committed to meeting the needs of his first retail customers, all four of their brands are committed to meeting customers’ needs and leading the way in green initiatives.
Even though Kurt has established his career in the hearth industry, he is still passionate about rock music. His band, the “Flues Brothers,” often plays at conferences for their dealers.