Minden entrepreneur believes Fire Puck next hot thing | nnbw.com

Minden entrepreneur believes Fire Puck next hot thing

Rob Sabo

Developers of a matchless fire starter hope to see widespread inception of their product as it begins to hit outdoor retail stores throughout the year.

Minden-based Glacier Ice Development has been refining the Fire Puck for more than five years, president Denis Niemeyer says. The company struck a deal with Leach Logistics of Sparks to fine-tune the firestarter, and Leach expects to begin production and distribution in early June.

Greg Leach, president of Leach Logistics, says the Fire Puck could reach sales of 4 million units in just a few years, while Niemeyer says sales of 500,000 to 1 million units a month aren’t too farfetched.

The Fire Puck already has landed on shelves at Sportsman’s Warehouse, and the principals hope to place the item in general merchandiser and apparel retailer Canadian Tire, which operates hundreds of stores in Canada. Glacier Ice Development has hired a brokerage firm that is working on placing the item in Costco Wholesale Canada, Cabelas and REI as well.

“We have a really seasoned network of product reps, they are already entrenched, and they are all excited about it,” Niemeyer says. “We are expecting to do some pretty nice numbers.”

The Fire Puck contains a proprietary blend of eight materials and starts through use of a striker on top. It burns about three minutes at 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit and can withstand winds in excess of 35 miles per hour. The item retails for around $3.

The Fire Puck contains about 65 percent organic materials, Niemeyer adds.

“There is a whole array of things we put in that product to make burn the way it does, and it is not all chemicals.”

Leach, who took a partnership in the venture, spent about 18 months in research and development of the Fire Puck, which will be manufactured and distributed from the company’s location in Sparks. Leach Logistics is a third-party packager of food products, spices and similar items, but the prospect of owning a piece of a product proved attractive, Leach says.

“We have never owned a product that we have produced. Glacier Ice came to us, and through conversations we got pretty excited about the product. I have used them in the middle of winter, and this winter was a good example. It is just a nice little unit.”

Niemeyer says Glacier Ice Development was in negotiations with an East Coast company to produce the Fire Puck, but Glacier Ice ultimately was enticed by the proximity of a local toll manufacturer.

Leach expects to go into full production in a few weeks and will hire 14 employees to handle production and distribution. Leach has had difficulty finding automated equipment that can blend and package the materials, so for now he plans on using the newly hired labor for production needs.

In addition to a $500,000 capital investment for new production equipment, Leach Logistics will take on 30,000 to 40,000 square feet for warehousing and distribution purposes.

“I feel pretty confident that this product is going to be a winner,” Leach says.

Leach also hopes to place the Fire Puck with pre-bundled packages of firewood sold at stores and other places, as well as in barbecue outlets. Niemeyer says that though the product has been a long time in development, it still won’t be in full production until 2012.

“We are looking at next year before we get everything all automated and things are running smoothly,” he says.