Lloyd and Anthea Milton of Mukilteo were in the market for a gas freestanding stove. After browsing at Rich’s Lynnwood showroom, they narrowed their choices to two models, but they couldn’t decide which they liked best.So they registered for the free tour of Travis Industries (manufacturer of Avalon, Lopi, and Fireplace Xtrordinair brands).
When Lloyd and Anthea walked through the door of Travis Industries, they were immediately impressed with the “friendly, family feeling.”
“The gentleman who led the tour (Travis Industries president, Kurt Rumens) has so much passion for the product,” says Lloyd. “He has an enlightened view about how to run a factory.”
Lloyd would know; he’s been in manufacturing all his life, first at Rolls-Royce and now at Boeing. “I’m trying to coerce some of managers at Boeing to tour the Travis factory,” says Lloyd. “It’s a wonderful example of a lean factory layout.”
In fact, Travis Industries’ Mukilteo plant is located on the site of a former Boeing factory. Lloyd likes the way the factory is laid out neatly and efficiently. “Everything is under one roof, so they can really streamline operations, and everyone can understand each other’s job.”
The work environment is very clean, adds Lloyd. “There were no noxious smells and no rubbish anywhere. You can tell people take pride in working there.”
He noticed how management takes great care to create an ergonomically-friendly work environment (they structure their equipment to lessen wear and tear on one’s body). Lloyd also noted that workers aren’t just funneled onto an assembly line, but that management accesses each person’s strengths and puts them in jobs that utilize those strengths.
“[Kurt] is looking for the best in his people, not just someone to do a job. Anyone is welcome to come forward with a new idea – not just the design department or certain engineers.”
Halfway through the tour, Lloyd and Anthea pinpointed which stove they wanted, and asked Kurt, “When can we have it?”
They’d been wavering over whether to buy a stove with a fan. After learning about the latest technology during the tour and listening to the whisper-quiet stove fans, they opted to go with a fan. They chose an enamel finish over cast iron because “it’s easier to keep clean.”
Lloyd and Anthea say they came away from the Travis House of Fire tour asking each other, “When can we afford another stove?”
Their new Avalon will be installed this week, and they’re already brainstorming adding a second stove to another room in their home.
“This tour put the icing on the cake,” says Lloyd. “It helped us decide exactly which features we wanted on our stove. I’d recommend the tour to anybody who wants to buy a stove – or just see the factory.”
“To see the quality on the build… these are the people we want to work with,” says Lloyd. From now on, “We won’t go anywhere else.”
Take advantage of more opportunities to tour Travis Industries:
- Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
- Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
- Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
The tour is from 9-11:30 a.m.
Pre-registration is required and you must show the registration e-mail and ID at the door. When you register online, put "Rich's blog" in the space that asks, "How Did You Hear About the House of Fire Factory Tour?"
More tour highlights: