Get to know our owner, Chris, and learn a little about his background! See why he chose this line of business and why he enjoys what he does. Catch a glimpse into the outdoor lives of those who keep Fireside Expressions up to date and full of all the trendiest must-haves for your outdoor living space!
Without him, Fireside Expressions would not 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!
Chris 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 as 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 team 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: 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 outdoor 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 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!
Judy has a passion for all things pretty, including flower arranging, our unique copper water fountains, and lavish Swiss castles. She also has the biggest collection of cute flip-flops that any of us have ever seen! 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!
Dan: Operations Manager
Dan is obsessed with outdoor living, making him the perfect guy to help Chris and Judy make sure that everything is running smoothly here at Fireside Expressions! We rely on Dan for a lot of things: conversing with our manufacturers, helping us develop new product lines, and making sure that our customers are getting the best value when it comes to investing in their outdoor living spaces. He always has an interesting story to tell and is a true leader here in our little office. We always look to him for advice...and politely look away when he tries to lure us in with one of his famous fish stories.
Dan is a proud husband and dedicated father of two. He is equally proud to be a Pennsylvania resident, and we can't think of a more dedicated hunter and fisherman. He's hooked on fly fishing - we're hooked on his battered perch fillets! Now, if we could only keep him from storing his bait in the mini-fridge in his office...
Holly: Sales Department Manager
Holly is a true outdoor guru, which is why she's such an important member of our team! If you have questions about getting the right product for your backyard living space, she can find the perfect alfresco feature to make your landscape stand out above the rest. Holly helped us out once before and really cultivated our sales division. After a brief hiatus somewhere out in the wilderness, she's back with reinforcements (her daughter, Taylor, has also joined Fireside Expressions)! We are happy that she has returned as our Sales Department Manager, and look forward to being inspired by her.
Holly is a family oriented person that loves doting on her husband, kids, and granddaughter! She can often be found cooking a scrumptious meal on her barbeque grill, walking through Allegheny National Forest, or tending her immaculate garden...which now contains an overflow of spuds that wouldn't fit in Judy's potato patch!
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 exactly how much 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, Dana is a connoisseur in the field! 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.
Taylor: Outdoor Living Sales Diva
If anyone can tell you all about the latest trends in outdoor living, it's Taylor. From fire bowls to water fountains, and from the biggest outdoor fireplaces right down to the smallest 3 inch valve key, this girl knows her stuff! Her melodious voice and genuine personality make her a customer favorite - they often ask for her by name! Born and raised right here in Northwestern PA, Taylor loves helping people create the backyard of their dreams no matter where they live.
This new mom has a busy schedule! Between work and cleaning up after her sweet baby girl - a lot - Taylor is also a student. And...she's learning how to be a roller derby jammer! Most days she can be found at the playground with her daughter, enjoying sunshine and giggles. However, on occasion we have seen her at the city park rollerblading with her fiancé...he's nice enough to let her practice hip checks and C-blocks on him.
Jen: SEO Creative Content Writer & Editor
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 and new Gordon Setter puppy, 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.
Mary: Social Media Guru & Website Assistant
Mary is our go-to gal when it comes to social media posts (especially Pinterest) and debuting products for Fireside Expressions! She has this charismatic sense for what looks and sounds trendy, and rightly so! Mary attended college for fashion and holds a Master's degree in business. She creates her own clothing designs and has directed four different fashion shows over the past few years! This cultured world traveler has been to all the European and Latin American hotspots you can imagine, and we love that she has chosen to bring her talents to us! Mary knows best which outdoor living products will create a sensation that you (our customers) will love!
In her spare time, Mary can be found updating her new home in the latest décor or watching B-movies with her fiancé...although they've never actually seen the ending to one because they enjoy talking so much. Mary loves good times at the beach and aspires to live in Paris someday. She also tells us she loves kayaking and trekking through the woods. That being said, we are still trying to figure out how long it will take her to get to France that way...
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 patrolling 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 frisbee!