Its June 2017, the time when most dealers open their doors up to the retailers and showcase the new products coming to market. This year we decided to make the trip up to Jarrow (just outside Newcastle) for a long overdue visit to the Be Modern factory and warehouse.
If you are unfamiliar with Be Modern, they have been manufacturing fires and fireplaces for both the public and private sectors for over 50 years. During that time they have acquired many already well-established brands within the fireplace sector, such as Elgin & Hall from AGA, and more recently Broseley Stoves, giving them a wide and diverse product portfolio. As well as fires and fireplaces, Be Modern also make interior furniture and bathroom goods. Find out more about Be Modern here.
I was immediately struck by the sheer scale of the operation. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but considering Be Modern have traditionally offered inexpensive gas fires and micro-marble fireplaces, my expectations were not that high – reader, how wrong I was!
Upon arrival we met Kevin, who took time out of his busy schedule to show us around his factory and explain in detail the processes that he oversees. Starting with the flat sheets of marble that are moved in batches through the cutting machine five pieces at a time, before moving along the assembly line to be turned into various sections of the fireplace suite.
A basic fireplace suite is made from a hearth, surround, back panel and shelf. What gets glossed over though is the sheer amount of work that goes into making each individual component. Take the hearth, this is typically three risers sitting upon a flat sheet all glued together with precision. The the surround part, is made from three parts (two legs and a header) each of those are made from at least three components dependent on the model. I kept testing Kevin asking him what this obscure piece of marble was for and without fail time and time again he could name the model (I have no way of knowing if it was true, but he exuded the confidence of a man who knows his craft).
Moving throughout the factory, all items are scanned at every process for tracking so that not only do they know how many pieces are at any one stage they know exactly where they are and who has been working on them at any one time. From here they moved onto the assembly line where all of the individual components are assembled starting by attaching them to onto an MDF base board, which allows them to be easily moved on rollers throughout the factory but also providing fantastic protection against chipping. The hearth, back panel and shelf are all individually packaged before be shipped out of the factory and over to the warehouse (in a different building) ready for dispatching.
We said our goodbyes to Kevin and headed to the woodwork factory where we were met by another Kevin, and a Jimmy, who took us round their factory showing the ins and outs of exactly how their fireplaces and suites make it to the finished product. Nothing was off limits, no questions were left unanswered. There are so many moving parts, the entire factory was like a giant clockwork machine and all of the cogs had to enmesh perfectly for the system to work. We saw how the electric fuel beds are crafted from fibreglass moulds and painstakingly hand painted to get the more realistic effect possible. A real unsung talent to see the before and after work on some of the coal and log effect fuel beds.
We were also lucky enough to see the production of the newer British made Broseley Stoves, specifically the Evolution range including the Evolution 5, Desire and Ignite, not to mention the brand new balanced flue British made gas stove that will launch later this year, something that everyone was very excited to see come to market.
The terms “British Made” or “Made in Britain” are very popular right now, and rightly so, it carries an expectation of quality with it, however I often find myself looking at a product and wondering ‘is it really made in Britain, or are you just buying all of the parts from overseas and assembling it in Britain?’ I think unless you witness the process by visiting a factory and actually seeing that it is all made here in Britain and the work that goes into making every single stove, fire and fireplace that you fully appreciate it.
I came away with a new found appreciation for the men and women who work day in, day out to build these products and sometimes overnight to meet demand. I was surprised by the sheer scale on which these operations run, I had no idea how many products that Be Modern were manufacturing here in Britain, and the level of detail they put into each and every one. All of the staff that we met and spoke with were very polite and happy to explain what they were doing and how it fit in to the overall grand scheme of things.
There are some fantastic products already being made, and some truly awesome new fires and fireplaces in the pipeline that I am looking forward to ordering and displaying for the Fireplace Products showroom as soon as they are available. I am also pleased to say that we will start offering the wide selection of Be Modern fires and fireplaces on the Fireplace Products site in the very near future. Until then you can view the full range of Broseley wood, multi fuel, gas and electric stoves by clicking the image below, and you can trust that when they say “Made in Britain” they most definitely are.
So lastly a great big Fireplace-Products-Thank-You to everyone we met on our visit for taking the time out of their days to show us around.