Startup organization founder Hunter Guerin likes to say he has a passion for hearth.
When he and his wife moved from Washington, D.C., to the Richmond location in 2020, they acquired a home with a hearth and an outdoor hearth pit. A mechanical engineer by schooling, Hunter Guerin even created a wooden-fired pizza oven at their property.
“I am obsessed with hearth, which is just one explanation I started a firewood business,” Guerin explained. “I was making an attempt to buy firewood, but it can be really hard to uncover a dependable source.”
“It was just so difficult to locate consistent suppliers who could produce dried, seasoned or kiln-dried wood,” he said. “I have lived in Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia and D.C., and that difficulty has followed me about everywhere.”
“I preferred to make obtaining fantastic firewood seriously straightforward,” he mentioned.
People today are also reading…
So Guerin established Llamawood, an on the internet marketplace at llamawood.com where by householders and enterprise owners can order kiln-dried firewood for supply on demand from customers, alongside with mulch.
“It is kind of like Uber for firewood,” Guerin mentioned.
“Llamawood is a two-sided market,” he mentioned. “We have suppliers, and we have customers. We contact it a managed market simply because consumers obtain from Llamawood and then individuals positions get posted out to a provider board, and the suppliers essentially opt for which ones they want to do.”
Given that Guerin founded the startup firm very last year, consumers employing the Llamawood marketplace have bundled homeowners in the Richmond space as perfectly as organizations that use firewood for cooking.
A single customer is Cocodrilo, a Latin-themed cafe on Grove Avenue that makes use of wooden-fired ovens to cook such dishes as citrus hen, lobster enchilada, steak and duck.
“We will need to have good quality wooden each and every working day here,” said co-owner and chef Brandon MacConnell. “Without top quality wooden, we are up the creek just before we start off.”
By applying the Llamawood support, the cafe has been ready to ensure it will get a consistent source of high-quality wooden, he mentioned. The cafe goes through about 2,000 lbs of wood a week.
“We are largely employing white oak now, but sometimes we get various blends in. It is exciting to experiment and get distinct flavors,” MacConnell explained.
Cocodrilo acquired a shipping and delivery not long ago from Five Star Firewood, a household-owned firewood supplier that has a wooden processing garden in Midland that provides kiln-dried and packaged firewood.
“Llamawood gives us a large amount of assets to get additional orders and not have to do a whole lot of promotion,” stated Daniel Papuga, who manages functions for the organization owned by his family members. “It requires on a ton of the administrative work we would normally have to do communicating with clients. It facilitates that method for us at little value. We distribute a good deal listed here in Richmond and also in the Washington, D.C., location.”
Guerin said he has 15 suppliers in the community now.
“One of my primary uses was to assist shoppers come across dried firewood, but the moment I began developing up this community and doing work with these tiny-business enterprise proprietors, I became similarly passionate about helping these corporations improve,” he explained. “The current market demands help on the two sides, so I hope Llamawood is able to aid a good deal of tiny corporations in Virginia.”
Fireplace pit and wood-fired oven profits have greater through the pandemic, Guerin stated.
“We have observed an uptick in gross sales since the commence of the pandemic,” explained Miles Clarkson, founder and owner of Burly Fire Pits, a regional hearth pit maker. “Many of our merchants noticed their fire pit and grill enterprise double or even triple around the earlier several decades.
“Everyone commenced expending extra time nearer to residence and expended their time experiencing their out of doors residing house with household and good friends — frequently, all around a fire pit,” Clarkson reported.
Guerin has a diploma in mechanical engineering, and he worked as an engineer for 10 yrs prior to signing up for a startup enterprise in Washington, D.C., that provides on-demand from customers manufacturing for suppliers. “I noticed how a lot performance it introduced to that business,” he stated.
“We really just fell in like with Richmond,” Guerin mentioned of his family’s go. “My wife and I were being both of those functioning remotely for organizations in D.C. It was a lifetime decision and practically nothing else, and it has been a blessing.”
“I was speaking to some people listed here in Richmond about how I could use the abilities I formulated doing the job in engineering and online marketplaces together with my enthusiasm for firewood,” he stated.
“I grew to become ingrained in the Richmond startup DNA,” he reported.
Llamawood was a member of the spring 2022 cohort of Lighthouse Labs, a Richmond-primarily based nonprofit that supplies mentoring, business advancement instruction, and fairness-no cost income investments to startup organizations.
“It was interesting to perform with Hunter throughout his time with Lighthouse Labs. His enthusiasm for Llamawood and the Richmond local community is contagious,” reported Glenna Croy, a person of his mentors at Lighthouse Labs. “It was amazing to see Hunter’s determination to the customer expertise, whether it was a restaurant ordering many cords of wooden or a little spouse and children stocking up on firewood for the summer, he would generally make absolutely sure they had the maximum caliber of wood delivered particularly on time … even if that intended him running out and delivering the wood himself.”
At Lighthouse Labs Demo Day, 9 businesses pitched their ideas to an viewers of 150, and Llamawood gained the fan favorite.
As aspect of the prize, “I obtained to toss the very first pitch at a Flying Squirrels recreation in opposition to the Altoona Curves,” Guerin explained. “I [had] my daughter in the Ergo toddler carrier. It was tremendous fun.”
With Llamawood providing to restaurants, campgrounds and men and women in Richmond and areas throughout the condition, Guerin mentioned, the business is continuing to thrive.