Small Town American Manufacturing (The cost of quality)

From time to time, I get asked or see on social media why I should spend twice as much for your stove when I can get one that will heat my hot room for half of the cost?  Often you can say the same thing for the type of wood on the walls (Cedar versus Pine) in your sauna or nearly every other product you can buy.

Is a Kuuma sauna stove for everyone (probably not)?  Many stoves (wood, electric, infrared) can indeed get your hot room to 200 degrees if desired.  Do I think that the heat is the same?  No.  Just ask any of our customers who have used other brands of stoves what they think about their Kuuma heat vs. the competition.  They rave about the Kuuma, and it’s something that I  never get tired of hearing.  We recently had a newer sauna-preneaur use a Kuuma for the first time, and they couldn’t believe the heat and how well it maintained the hot room temperature compared to his mass-produced model.  Many people who have never felt great heat won’t know the difference and are happy that their sauna makes them sweat.  So if you think breaking a sweat is all that matters to a true and authentic sauna experience, then go ahead and save your money and purchase a less expensive (hopefully American-made) brand.

Could a Kuuma be made cheaper? – sure, but it wouldn’t provide the same longevity or operate as efficiently – AND IT WOULDN’T BE A KUUMA.  Our sauna stove is designed to provide great heat for 20+ years of daily use. Quality materials are a must to do that, and my family has always taken this approach, now more than ever.  It’s also now more difficult than ever to obtain quality materials – and you don’t get these materials without paying a premium for them.  I doubt another sauna stove manufacturer in the United States makes (500+) sauna stoves per year with a lower gross profit per stove (gross profit factors in our materials and labor cost). On our small stove, just the stainless steel baffle and smoke collar are over $250.  These are a huge reason our Kuuma stoves burn so well and last so long.  But note that these two parts on a Kuuma stove likely cost more than the entire material cost for many of our competitor’s stoves.  At Lamppa, we don’t take shortcuts to reduce costs.  It’s just not how we operate.

We manufacture our stoves by hand in Tower, MN.  After seeing the recent story on 60 Minutes about the importing crisis in our country, supporting and manufacturing American-made goods is more important than ever.  Will it cost more to do so?  Yes. But it provides jobs in our communities, and the money stays closer to home.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen what the Amazons, Walmarts, etc., have done to many small communities over the past 20 years.  Being a savvy technology user, I’m part of the problem because finding something cheaper was always fun until everyone did it. Now I see the result as many small local businesses and manufacturers go out of business as they can not compete with cheaper products from Asia.  Some of it was greed-based because many local businesses would buy a product for $5 and turn around to sell as-is for $30, which pushed many people to the online option in the first place.  I’m truly sorry for the small business owners who did things the right way and didn’t survive.  I’ve noticed many people going out of their way to support American-made goods the past few years, and I want to say Thank You!

I’m not interested in running a company if we can’t do it the right way.  We have 20 employees and pay every single one of them a good wage.  We are attempting to add health insurance starting in 2022 and also provide a GREAT and SAFE work environment.  We try to provide excellent customer service and focus on being as responsive as possible when you reach out to us.  We are by no means perfect and make plenty of mistakes, some of which I couldn’t even make up, but it’s not for lack of effort.  We’ve tripled in size the past few years while still focusing on producing quality, not cutting corners to line our pockets. Here at Lamppa, we recognize that we probably won’t appeal to everyone.  That’s  O.K.  We also continually say that we’d rather lose a sale than end up with an unhappy customer – and we live this motto.  As a result, we make every effort never to oversell our product and spend extra time discussing customer applications to ensure that they are making informed decisions.  We never try to upsell, but we want people to be happy, so we let them know if we feel they might be making a design mistake.  If you can buy something imported (see the price they sell for over there) or through a distributor at a lower price, then I’ll tell you the quality of materials used.  I don’t want to rant, but I want to get factual information and numbers out there, so consumers can make an educated decision comparing apples to apples.  Ours is 400 lbs of American steel.  We’ve also developed the Kuuma Vapor-Fire, which cleanest burning and most efficient EPA Phase 2 certified wood furnace available, so burning wood is what we know!

Sincerely,

Garrett Lamppa (4th Generation)

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