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Today Ted speaks with David Rentfrow, the owner of The Firebird, a leading New Mexico stove, fireplace, and irrigation supplier.

The company was founded in 1977 with a mission to provide self-sufficient home heating systems, starting with a single brand of wood stove out of the founders’ garage. Not long after their initial success, The Firebird began offering drip irrigation components for watering landscaping, lawns, and gardens.

With his forward-thinking “what if?” approach to business, in a short span of time, David’s leadership at The Fireplace resulted in a remodel of the company’s showroom (that had never been touched since being built in 1966) and the reevaluation and expansion of its classic product line.

the-firebird-interior-exterior-finishings-outdoor-living-build-magazine-santa-fe-4
The FirebirdSanta Fe, NM

This approach also shaped the company’s culture into what it is today. David explains how he has cultivated a customer-centric environment within The Fireplace of today. For example, he invites builders in the Northern New Mexico market to stop by their new showroom not only to see the products but to feel their new attitude.

Listen in as David shares his journey from corporate America to entrepreneurship in an industry he previously had known nothing about, what it’s like to do business with his only son, his biggest takeaways from his mentors, and why he believes that the American Dream is a reality for everyone as it is for him and his family.

Topics Discussed

  • [02:57] David’s corporate background and what brought him to Santa Fe
  • [11:41] Lessons that David brought from corporate America into The Fireplace
  • [17:08] Working around supply chain issues and communicating these to clients
  • [19:35] How the market in Santa Fe has evolved over 25 years
  • [24:12] The old Firebird versus the new Firebird
  • [26:35] Training the Firebird staff to look beyond price
  • [31:14] David on mentorship
  • [38:12] David’s vision for The Firebrand
  • [43:39] How David learned the ins-and-outs of the hearth and irrigation industries
  • [45:57] The moment David realized that life and business is going great
  • [51:43] Lessons around taking risks that David intends to pass on to his son
  • [58:24] The American Dream according to David

Connect with Guest

Key Quotes from Episode

  • My approach to pretty much everything is to ask, “What if…?”
  • The universal truth is, it doesn’t matter what the business is. If you treat customers the way you would want to be treated as a customer, you’re going to win the day.
  • When you’re working with individuals and you’re not sure that they should be part of your team or are capable of being part of your team, your first approach should be to rehabilitate versus terminate. So, really give people a chance.
  • You can be a small company anywhere in the United States, but geography no longer limits you in any way, shape, or form.
  • One of the things that I’ve seen very successful people do throughout my life and certainly my career in corporate America, is having the courage to take chances when others would not.

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