A breakthrough into the US market for Dublin-based stove fan manufacturer IQ Design, has been triggered by a US distributor’s realisation that winter is coming.
“It’s hard to get people to spend money on this type of product in the summer but business picks up as winter approaches,” says IQ’s sales and marketing manager Brian Byrne.
The deal with the US distributor was signed last week and the first shipment of stove fans is going out this week.
Launched on the market in 2013, IQ’s thermal stove fan is now being sold through distributors in the UK, Scandinavia, Germany, Holland and France and to hardware stores in Ireland.
In 2016, IQ plans to develop sales in the US and expand into Korea, Japan and Australia.
The company’s “SmartFan” is a self-powered device which improves heat circulation from solid fuel burning stoves.
“It has a thermoelectric generation module which uses the heat of the stove to power the fan to propel hot air around the room. It improves energy efficiency and can reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%” says Mr Byrne.
Set up by chief executive Gearóid Byrne in 2011, the company started out as a design company but the development of a stove fan by the design team prompted the company to move into manufacturing as well.
In the stove fan space, dominated by one large Canadian manufacturer, IQ spied an opportunity to provide some competition with an innovative new bilateral stove fan.
“We started with the UK in August 2013 because it is accessible, English speaking and was already a good market for stove fans,” said Mr Byrne.
IQ now has two UK distributors and sells to more than 200 stores there.
The next target was Scandinavia, an even larger market for stove fans, which has a high number of holiday log cabins without electricity. Mr Byrne estimates there are 400,000 of these in Norway and the same number in Finland.
“Scandinavia is our largest market, followed by Germany and the UK and we also have sales in Holland and France. More than 90% of sales are exports and our products are now available on both Amazon and eBay.”
Selling stove fans directly to Woodie’s in Ireland since 2013, the company also signed with an Irish distributor which supplies hardware stores.
Products include a large stove fan retailing at €155 and a mini at €110.
IQ participated in Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up programme in 2014 and secured some matched investment used for expansion. It now employs seven staff at a 5,000 sq ft facility in Dublin’s Millennium Business Park.
While stove fans are the company’s main product, it also sells LoftLifters for attic insulation and chimney balloons and is continuing to work on research and development.
Development of another highly innovative product, a thermal lamp is now at an advanced stage and the company is preparing for a launch early next year.
“This is a device with a thermal electric module which can use the heat from a lighted candle to produce 20 times the light of the candle and become a lamp,” said Mr Byrne.
Given the growth in demand worldwide for products which improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, IQ sees scope to develop sales globally.
Mr Byrne says the company is geared up to grow sales by 25% a year for the next few years. IQ aims to have five major products within a few years, and to include one which sells in the summer as well as the winter.
“In five years’ time, we are targeting a turnover of €5m and expect by then to have increased our staff size by 10,” he says.
Trish Dromey on IQ, a company involved in developing energy efficient products for a growing global market
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved