Put a Shrimp on Which Barbie?
It’s high season for outdoor cooking, and anyone interested in dropping another shrimp onto the barbie—and wondering which barbie to choose—would do well to chat with Wes Ehlers.
“Last night, I used this to make smoked burgers with sautéed red onion, bacon, gorgonzola cheese and arugula,” he says, gesturing to a wheeled Smokepro Camp Chef pellet smoker. Ehlers proceeds to demonstrate how the smoker, based on designs for pellet stoves, works. On the left, a bin holds wood pellets that come in nine flavors: choose from hickory apple, mesquite, alder, and cherry, to name a few choices. An optional gas burner on the right allows him to sear his burgers. A temperature probe fits inside and show the meat temperature on an outside display.
Zach Ryan jumps in and says, “All three of us took one of these home to try, and my gas grill hasn’t been used since! I made eggs on mine last night.”
The “three” he’s referring to are brothers Wes and Matt Ehlers, and Zach Ryan, the owners of the True North Hearth & Home in Glenwood Springs. After moving to Glenwood in 2007, Wes worked for a fireplace firm, first doing installation, then management and sales. In January 2015, he decided to partner up in business with younger brother Matt Ehlers and long-time friend Zach Ryan, who had been his college roommate.
They held the showroom’s grand opening—a party for 250 featuring eight shoulders of smoked pork—in April.
In addition to the pellet smoker, the new showroom contains all the components needed for full outdoor kitchens. These include Twin Eagle, Delta Heat and Napoleon kitchen components that range from freestanding carts to modular gas grills, and ovens and outdoor cabinetry sleekly sparkling in brushed steel. It also contains a wide variety of hot tubs and 19 custom-designed fireplaces.
Surprisingly enough, given that the outdoor temperature is hovering in the upper 80’s, those 19 fireplaces—which range from traditional hearth and stone designs to a sleek, modern Ortal three-sided glass box set into white brick—are getting a lot of attention. Ehlers notes that summer is prime-time for construction.
Between them, the trio can provide anything a homeowner might need for an outdoor kitchen or a spa: from “builder box” fireplaces to “one-off” custom-built and certified fireplaces, from budget hot tubs to luxury spas and swim spas, from charcoal grill carts to beautiful custom-built outdoor kitchens.
Zach, the first of the trio to relocate here from Minnesota, brings to the showroom 20 years of experience in the fireplace business and another 15 in hot tubs. Wes studied construction management in college. His construction experience ranges from framing houses to structural steel and installing fireplaces. Brother Matt, who worked in construction back in Minnesota, is the project manager for all of True North’s installations.
Asked what’s new and nifty in hot tubs, Ryan is quick to show off a large Cal Tub spa filled with sparkling clear water. “This is a saltwater tub,” he says. “It’s not saltwater like in the ocean—it doesn’t leave you smelling or feeling salty.” Because the tub electronically produces bromine from a salt powder, the salt, which has a natural sanitizing effect, is 20 times less concentrated than in ocean water. There’s no taste at all. But because of salt’s sanitizing effect, salt-water tubs need no chlorine, unlike fresh water tubs. The water needs one change a year, not three.
Ryan proudly points out that the showroom exclusively carries Cal Spas because of their quality. They are wholly made in the U.S., and in California, which has the nation’s highest energy and manufacturing quality standards. True North not only carries hydrotherapy spas ranging in size from 7 to 11 feet square, they also offer swim spas that allow bathers to swim laps in place.
Asked what in the showroom they’re most proud of, Wes replies, “I like the fact we put it together ourselves. Our big idea is to work with homeowners. We already have a lot of experience working with contractors and architects, and they already know what they want. But homeowners need to see the choices. We had to really push ourselves to come up with ideas for all those fireplaces! The showroom is here to give people new ideas.”
You can see some those ideas at 120 Midland Avenue, #210, in Glenwood Springs or visit True North’s website at TrueNorthFireplaces.com.