We meet some of the team at Kernow Fires, to learn a bit more about the people behind this inspiring independent company.
It’s always nice to put a face to a name. In fact, it’s all the more important in these days of increasing computer automation, where the only conversation you get out of a trip to the supermarket is a polite pre-recorded request to “please remove your item from the bagging area”. Ultimately, despite the convenience of online shopping, phone apps for every conceivable need, and self-check-out tills, it’s people that make all the difference in creating an experience, one that is tailored to you – nothing beats that personal touch that only humans can provide.
So, as I arrive at Kernow Fires’ showroom in Wadebridge, it’s a relief to receive a friendly welcome from all the team, followed by a personalised guided tour of the impressive showroom. The first thing I notice is the warmth emanating from one of the stoves, accompanied by the nostalgic, heart-warming aroma of burning wood – not an overpowering, in-your-face sensation, just a light and gentle background note that adds to the ambiance of the room, along with the gentle chatter from the team and customers.
As Kelly shows me around, I notice how the showroom has been cleverly designed to feel like you literally have stepped into someone’s sitting room – you can see that the intention is not simply to display the stoves themselves in isolation, but present the bigger picture. It’s extremely effective. I’m introduced to Managing Director Simon, who explains the ethos. “You don’t just want a row of stoves – context is everything. So that’s why we put everything into perspective of how it could look when installed in a home.”
The attention to detail in the high-end stoves is truly incredible – some include drop shadows to create hidden vents. Many are forged out of a single piece of metal to create a seamless finish, whether with sharp edges or smooth curves. Other neat touches include soft close features, options for plenty of aesthetic customisation, and stoves perfect to create a chic Scandinavian look.
After a quick tour, I’m introduced to Office Manager Rae, the self-confessed problemsolver. Rae not only provides technical support; she deals with anything that needs a decision, identifying problems and finding out the solution (if she doesn’t have the answer to hand). “It’s a bit like detective work,” she says.
Rae is affable and instantly warming – just like the showroom she is responsible for. She has broad and wide-ranging product knowledge, and talks passionately about the company and products. One wonders which stove she would choose in her own house. “I love the ‘Rais’ – the quality is second to none, it burns beautifully, all the little details come together to make it something special.”
Rae works across both locations, here in Wadebridge and the other showroom in Pool, Redruth, having been with the company for three years. I’m keen to discover from Rae the best bit about coming to work at Kernow Fires. Rae answers without hesitation. “Dealing with customers and people – I know it probably sounds like a cliché but it’s so true!” She continues: “Simon is always thinking of new things to do, but we all have a big impact and he is open to ideas from the team. We work well together, and always know how to lift each other up when we need it. We’re very serious about what we do, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously – that’s the best way to be in any business!”
It’s clear that Rae’s not afraid to get stuck in and do the work. “Rae’s like a swan,” says Kelly, “she always looks composed and graceful on the outside, but there’s a lot of work going on, behind the scenes.” Typically self-effacing, Rae interjects: “No, more like a duck!” she laughs. The rapport among the team is infectious; you can tell they have a lot of fun, while knowing their trade inside out.
In any business with people at its heart, downtime is equally important. Rae’s favourite beach is Gwithian and Godrevy. “It’s never too populated, and there are great places to eat nearby – I love to eat anywhere with a view.” Rae loves walks with the dog, to places like Maenporth. “You can’t be bored in Cornwall!” she says. Rae is just one of the many bubbly, knowledgeable members of the Kernow Fires team and I wish I had more time to get to know everyone. As I leave, I find myself drifting off to the thought of my own dream woodburner that I hope to install one day. When I finally do, I know exactly where I’ll be headed. My first, and only, stop will be to the friendly, professional but fun team at Kernow Fires – the ideal choice to help design my dream fireplace.