Fast Burn


Mark Powers knows how quickly a business can take off. Tired of using conventional fire grates, Powers designed a dual-tiered grate that enhanced air flow, produced more heat, and offered a removable ash pan.

Flash forward two years and, with a patent in hand, Powers set up a booth in March at the Hearth, Patio, and Barbeque Expo in Orlando, Fla. “Here we are, a brand-new company, and all I was looking to do was create some brand awareness,” says Powers, CEO of Custom Fire Grates in Troy.

“The next thing you know we wind up winning a Vesta Award, which goes to the most innovative product at the show (hearth accessories). I couldn’t believe it when they called my name.”

Unprepared for the sudden rush of orders, Powers, also CEO of 118id, a Web design and mobile app company in Troy, returned from the show and quickly upgraded the company’s website, finalized delivery channels, and began offering a 32-inch grate (final price to be determined).

“With the ash pan, we can create more heat,” he says. “Normally, it takes a while for a room to warm up because the heat is dissipating into the surrounding brick or stone. The pan is a repository for the heat.”

Knowing that not everyone uses a wood fire, Powers is launching a fire grate for gas later this year. Another model, due out next year, will be equipped with a thermoelectric generator. With a fire, the generator will power two small fans.

“We’ll also offer an electric outlet so you can power your phone, a laptop computer, or a radio,” Powers says. “We figure that a four-hour fire will produce between 12 and 15 hours of electricity.”  db

— R.J. King