About Us

Chris: founder of Fireside Expressions

Meet Our Founder – Chris!

Without him, Fireside Expressions wouldn’t be what it is today! His 50 plus years of substantial experience in the fire industry has paved the way to owning a business that is dedicated to offering premier products and sensational customer service! With thousands of satisfied customers and a name well-known and trusted among so many contractors, Chris deserves a special spotlight on his amazing story!

1950s Kachelofen tile wood stoveChris grew up in palatial Kusnacht, Switzerland, a quaint town nestled at the base of the Swiss Alps along pristine Lake Zurich. He often helped collect fire wood for the family’s only heat source, a 1950s Kachelofen tile wood stove. In the 1970s, Chris became a machine apprentice, learning to fabricate mechanical parts from scratch. Within 11 years, he was laying the foundation for his fireplace business!

Ruegg Cheminee, a leading fireplace manufacturer in Switzerland, wisely added Chris to their company Chris's hometown - Kusnacht, Switzerland, as seen from Lake Zurichas a CAD designer in 1989. He explored other realms of the fireplace industry, creating and testing stoves and fireplaces to assess their quality, safety, and efficiency. By 1996, Ruegg expanded to Somerville, NJ, and chartered the name Ruegg Fireplaces, Inc. Eager for a new adventure with promising opportunities, Chris bravely came to the United States with the company. He quickly learned a few things right off the bat: the English language, American fireplace engineering, and exceptional customer service. It wasn't long before people realized that Chris had an effortless knack for installing new fire features and safely modernizing old heat sources.

Things happened very fast by the end of the 1990s. Chris had met and married his lovely wife, Judy, when he learned the company that had brought him to this chapter in his life was heading back to Europe. A choice had to be made…stay in America, or go back to Switzerland. Perhaps his loyal customers and friends helped Chris make that difficult decision. Call after call came in, needing Chris and Judy to help with heat renovations and so much more. Before they knew it, the $200 they had invested into “just helping” people had turned into a successful, blossoming business that Chris and Judy proudly named CJ’s! Shortly after the year 2000, FireplaceEnclosures.com and an 1800 square foot space were allowing them to create and market fireplaces and accessories. However, with so much of their time spent traveling between New Jersey and Warren, Pennsylvania (where family resided), another decision had to be made.

By 2005, Chris and Judy had a permanent home for their business at 21701 Route 6 in Warren, PA! The building soon boasted a 2000+ square foot showroom, as well as a courtyard area for customers to view their outdoor line which has become the heart and soul of Fireside Expressions. To date, we have proudly partnered with many well-known American manufacturers to bring you only the highest quality outdoor fire features and accessories that our country has to offer!

With over 30 years of knowledge and experience combined, our founder and group of local employees are an elite group of dedicated professionals who put you, our valued customer, first! We will only offer American-made, superior products from trusted wholesalers and manufacturers. Our vast collection of outdoor fire features, ignition systems, fire glass, fire pit ring kits, and even safety screens and protective covers will outfit your needs in every way you can imagine! Here at Fireside Expressions, we are concerned about your opinions, specifications, and safety. We'll handle your project with care and enthusiasm! Allow us to spark some ideas and help you accomplish your outdoor design. (By the way - we love getting before and after pictures from our happy customers!)

From Chris and Judy and all of us here at Fireside Expressions, thank you for visiting us online! We look forward to helping you turn your outdoor living space into a showroom of your very own! 

Chris's mother in front of the family's Kachelofen wood tile stove!
Chris's mother stands next to the family's Kachelofen tile wood stove in Switzerland.

 

Chris - Our founder & owner!
Chris: Founder & Co-Owner

While most of us only dream of hiking through parts of Western Europe, Chris lived it! Born and raised among the gorgeous Alpine vistas of Switzerland, he quickly became an expert on tending a fire and maintaining the family's wood stove. With decades of experience and dedication to the fireplace industry, Chris brought his rugged good looks and expertise to America in 1996, where he created fireplaces and stoves that boasted quality, safety, and energy efficiency. This only led to an expanded line of fantastic fire products that has made Fireside Expressions a name so many customers and contractors know and trust!

Whenever Chris takes to the hiking trails here in Northwestern Pennsylvania, he makes sure to fill his backpack with potatoes. Lots and lots of potatoes! Seriously, what could be better than roasting a foil-wrapped tater to perfection on some hot campfire coals, and then savoring every warm, buttery bite as you relax underneath the starlit night? We'd ask Chris, but his mouth is full....

Judy - founder & co-owner
Judy: Founder & Co-Owner

Judy is married to our potato-loving founder, and she is our head "surveyor" here at Fireside Expressions. She has the greenest thumb of anyone we know, which is a good thing, since she takes care of the payroll and other important paperwork! Judy loves visits from her grandson, Mini-Mike, and she can be found sharing "chips" at lunchtime with her grand-puppy, Violet. Known for her cleverness and pretty smile, Judy brings sunshine to our days with her quick-witted sense of humor and flowery compliments!

We're pretty sure when she's not here that Judy can be found either preparing for or tending to her garden, which is always full of roses....and potatoes! 

 

Dana - Sales Manager
Dana: Sales & Outdoor Fire Feature Expert

Dana loves all things outdoors, which is why she's an important member of our sales team here at Fireside Expressions! Whether you're wondering how many BTUs our 30 inch burner rings can deliver or the amount of fire glass you'll need for that brand new concrete fire bowl, Dana can get you an answer as fast as her Harley Davidson can peel down Route 6! And speaking of fire bowls, Dana is a fire connoisseur! She especially enjoys hosting her annual celebration of family and friends gathered around the backyard bonfire to ring in the New Year. No one knows how to light up the night better than Dana!

When the conditions are right, Dana and her family love riding their 4-wheelers across the Allegheny Mountain terrain! You may also find her being walked by her dogs, a Great Dane and a German Shepherd.

 

Lindsay - Sales & Lead Designer
Lindsay: Sales, Lead Design & Outdoor Fire Feature Tech

You would understand why Lindsay is the type of person who likes to kick back and actually relax around the campfire if you saw her list of duties here at Fireside Expressions! This gal is constantly on the go between taking orders, adding new content to the sites, talking to our customers on the phone, creating cool graphic designs, and listening to boy bands from the 90s. (Wait, really?) We rely on her help for so many things, and as the lead designer of the Fireside Expressions' site, she certainly deserves some peace and quiet around the fire now and then!

Would you believe us if we told you that Lindsay is also a busy wife, mom, and student? Don't worry - she takes her husband, adorable daughter, and pets with her when she escapes to the great outdoors armed with hot dogs and marshmallows. We expect her back any day now. 

 

Derek - Programmer
Derek: Programmer

Derek is a true genius when it comes to all things computer related. In fact, none of us are exactly sure how he performs the coding and programming for Fireside Expressions - all we know is that he is AWESOME at it! Between all the typing and clicking away that he does at his desk surrounded by computer screens full of binary code, div-tags, CSS spans, and JavaScript, you can see why Derek is so vital to our online operations!!! And speaking of "java," nobody is a better judge of flavor than this hard worker!

Between being our programmer and Daddy to his two little cuties at home, Derek is a devoted DIY home renovator. Honestly, we're not sure that he sleeps...ever! Which is why we got him a hammock. So now when he's not working with codes and boards and storybooks, he can chill out and rest a bit. Right, Derek? Derek?

 

Jen - Content Writer
Jen: Content Writer

When you read Jen's work, you would guess that she graduated summa cum laude from the school of Merriam-Webster's Thesaurus. Honestly, who knew there were so many words for unique, fire, and beautiful? That's why we leave the perpetual product describing to her! Not only does she have a way with words, but she is a scholar when it comes to punctuation! (Somebody once put a comma in where a semicolon should have gone...her punctuation lesson is still up on our office whiteboard...)

Jen, her husband, and their two super cute kids are an outdoorsy kind of family! Along with their two German Shepherds, they all love camping in the Kinzua Dam area, catching dinner from a pontoon boat at Pymatuning Reservoir, or trekking through the Allegheny wilderness looking for choice edible mushrooms! On warm summer nights, you might spot all of them around the fire while Jen audibly corrects the grammatical errors she found on the set up instructions for the tent.

Mike & Violet - Shipping & Receiving & Furry Mascot
Mike & Violet: Shipping & Receiving & Fluffy Mascot

Mike and Violet have some big shoes to fill here at our warehouse! They keep the coal furnace going in the winter so that everyone in the office is warm and cozy. They prepare orders for shipping and take care of all our incoming reserves. Violet also spends part of her day patroling the office, making sure that everyone is happy and smiling! They certainly are a dynamic-duo, and you won't find one without the other, but we'll let you guess which one is the "fluffy mascot!" 

Mike can also be found outside our building making sure the parking lot is plowed and safe to amble across in the winter, or keeping up with the green grass during the "off-season" (that's what we call spring through fall here in the Great Lakes region). Of course, Violet can be seen outside with Mike, enjoying the outdoors no matter the weather or time of year! 

When Mike and Violet aren't at Fireside Expressions, you can bet they are doting on Mike's kids (including Mini-Mike!), taking advantage of a softball game, or a playing a round of fetch!