Duncan Syme, who co-founded Vermont Castings, the company that turned wood stoves into a major heating source in America after the first Oil Embargo, has passed away. Here’s a quick note about him, which says he also made a wood-fired Zamboni (!!!).

A detailed history of founding the company and creating a then-new generation of wood stoves can be read here. A snippet:

Like many in Vermont, Syme can’t afford the skyrocketing price of oil, so he burns wood, lots of wood. What if? … What if you took the combustion technology from one of these airtight, efficient Scandinavian stoves and put it in the skin of the more traditionally-styled Franklin stove? He broaches the idea with Howell who, from his background in financial analysis, knows that the country’s problems with imported oil will not be solved soon. Count him in.

The Defiant woodstove, named both for its ability to defy the cold of winter and as testament to a legendary defender of America’s Cup, made its debut in 1976 and their fledgling company, Vermont Castings, prospered. So, for a while, did every other woodstove company in the country. When the inevitable industry consolidation occurred in the early 1980s Vermont Castings, fueled by innovative design and engineering, fanatical attention to manufacturing quality, and uncompromising customer service, was able to maintain its momentum while competitors slid back. By the mid-80s, Vermont Castings had become the worldwide leader in its category.

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