by Joel Davis
Radiant Fires of Fresno, California, is giving fabricators a new option to convert leftover stone into a new source of income.
The company manufactures high quality, mobile, gas fire pit tables with granite tops. “Basically, the end user is all of us, anybody who lives in an apartment, condo, or house that has an outdoor space can potentiality use one of our fire tables,” said Jeff Hanning, Radiant Fires President and CEO.
Radiant Fires offers eight different models ranging from coffee table height to 30-inch seating height to pub table height, ideal for standing or using with barstools. All have hidden casters underneath so they can easily be rolled from one spot on the patio to another.
“All the units are mobile,” Hanning said. “But we want each unit to look like it’s sitting on the ground.”
The units are designed to be fully self-contained and can hold a standard 20-pound propane tank, hidden behind a hinged door. They also can be directly connected to a natural gas or propane source.
Now, to give stone shops new options for products, Radiant Fires is offering fire table kits that only need a granite top to be installed to be ready to sell. “We thought that was pretty innovative,” Hanning said. “We could sell the units to granite fabricators who have a lot of remnants in the yard. As far as we know, we are the only ones who sell a compete kit. The only thing a fabricator has to do is cut out a piece of granite.”
The base units are manufactured completely in California. All the laser cutting of the metal framework, granite fabrication, powder coating, and final assembly is done in Fresno.
“We believe most fabricators will appreciate the quality — we’re using 14 gauge metal, heavy-duty casters and fittings, all created right here in central California,” Hanning said. “The only thing left to do is make the top out of a scrap, and you’re in business.”
Selling Radiant Fires products can give stone shops the ability to convert ubiquitous leftover granite pieces into profit. “The idea was looking at some commonality among all fabricators,” Hanning said. “We all think, ‘I wish I had a purpose for all that remnant material,’ but it starts to pile high, and we can’t figure out what to do with it.
“We all have really small pieces of stones we can’t do a whole lot with. Most of us really don’t want to throw that stuff away. Most of us save them forever. We’ve all got these huge remnant yards. We try to sell them for bedroom and bathroom vanities, but the pile never seems to go down. Our concept is: put one of these fire tables in the showroom and you’ll find a way to go through the remnants real quick.”
In Hanning’s case, manufacturing the complete units gives him a consistent use for the remnants. “I didn’t want to build a lot of round countertops that would be the wrong size and wrong color if you built them in advance,” he said.
The idea to begin selling the kits to fabrication shops came from a customer request. “We were at a show in Las Vegas and a lady from Washington said (the unit was) going to be too much to ship,” he said.
The customer asked if she could just buy the base unit and get a local stone shop to install the top. “Suddenly, the light bulb comes on – granite guys have granite,” Hanning said. “It occurred to us there would be a ready market. Fabricators have a lot of leftover materials. It saves on shipping cost.”
The design of the units gives fabricators room for flexibility in the size of remnants needed to complete the tables. “We will sell bases to granite fabricators, and they provide the granite top,” Hanning said. “Usually, it is going to take a 4-foot by 4-foot piece of remnant to do probably four out of the eight models. Others would take a 3-by-6. A 4-by-6 would be for the biggest one.”
Even the biggest table that has room for 10 chairs around it doesn’t require the use of all that much granite, Hanning said. “If you have half a slab left over, it will take care of any of the units we sell. The basic units are fairly narrow. It doesn’t have to have a large overhang. It is all completely customizable. We give them the specs and they can do as much overhang past the base as they want.”
Radiant Fires began developing new models as customers requested other sizes to suit their living conditions. “It migrated over the last few years, and we have a pretty decent stock of all the models we build in our two standard colors and are ready to take on the world,” Hanning said.
What’s next? Radiant Fires will continue to develop new models in response to the wishes of customers and experiment with the use of different types of stone.
The company continues to develop smaller models for use in limited spaces, Hanning said. “Every time we go to a show or interact with people, they will say, ‘Even your smallest one is too big for me.’”
One thing will stay constant: the quality, Hanning said. “We’re not going to ever do tile tops. We want everything to be made right here in Fresno and central California, so I’m not going to be running off to China to have these bases made to save $50 bucks.
“Probably the designs will change. Three months ago we didn’t have the concept of selling the bases to fabricators. That came to us one day. It’s hard to say what we’ll think of next.”
Hanning’s other business, Paragon Granite Inc., has been fabricating and installing granite, quartz and marble from slab for over 13 years and currently installs approximately 10 kitchens and various other projects per week under the name.
“My personal background is in architecture and construction as I built custom homes since 1984 before I started the granite fab business,” Hanning said. “I saw an opportunity to still be creative and work in the construction industry.”
Founded in 2001, Paragon currently has 20 full-time employees, some of whom it shares with Radiant Fires. “Out of the back 3,000 square feet of that building, we now manufacturer the Radiant Fire tops,” Hanning said. “We use Paragon to build all our granite tops right there in the same shop. It works really well.”
The origins of the Radiant Fires product came from the Hanning household itself. “Approximately seven years ago my wife Penny and I wanted to build a fire pit on our back patio but wanted it to be made out of something other than masonry, and we wanted it to be portable,” he said. “We hired a metal fabricator to build the first one out of angle iron and flat metal stock.
“We enjoyed this one for many years, still do, and had numerous people tell us that they believed if we were to build these commercially it would create a great addition to our granite business, and, voilà, RadiantFires.com was born. And as a nice side bonus, we now have very little remnant material cluttering up our yard.”
Visit www.radiantfires.com for more information on these innovative products.