By TAYLOR HARTZ
It took the staff at Dean’s Stove and Spa nearly 20 minutes to convince owner Dean Michanczyk to leave the showroom floor for a short interview. First, Michanczyk needed to make sure that his fireplace customer, a Southington resident, understood all the details of her home heating options.
This hands-on style of management, focused on customer service and team-work, is a prime of example of why Dean’s Stove and Spa has been named the Retailer of the Year in Hearth and Home magazine’s annual Vesta Awards.
Dean’s is the only retailer to have been voted into the top-five for all three years of the award. The banners strung along the main showroom proudly display that in 2015, they won again.
“We have the largest display of hearth products in the country, and it’s nice to have it in little downtown Plantsville,” said the owner after he let one of his 34 passionate staff members take over the sale.
Michanczyk, who opened a small shop across the street in 1979 with the idea of helping people heat their homes more efficiently, has grown his business into a top destination for buyers across New England.
Customers come to Plantsville from neighboring states all year long to view the 18,000 square feet of showrooms that display more than 75 different burning models.
Their showrooms offer a visual of fireplaces, accessories, pellet stoves and home spas, while their 40,000 square feet of warehouse space ensures that Dean’s will never run out of fuel for their customers.
“It’s got that ‘wow’ factor” said Michanczyk, who described their latest location expansion, at 120 West Main St., as a dream come true. “We wanted to create a destination” he said—which is exactly what he and his wife have accomplished.
In 2010, the couple decided to gut and rebuild the space that once held Southington’s original YMCA and open The Hearthstone Pub. The space at Dean’s now includes a full restaurant and bar decorated, of course, with 16 fireplaces.
This new feature has helped make the retailer even more popular, while consumers have benefited greatly from the business combination.
Michancyzk said that since their unique products bring traveling customers, the idea for a pub was geared toward providing their consumers with a place to relax and think about their options before finalizing a purchase.
“They can go over there to have a bite to eat, let everything soak in, and come back with their questions,” said Michanczyk of the restaurant, which demonstrates the same team-focused business style.
Employee Kaylee Lada started working as a server at The Hearthstone pub in 2013 and continues to be a part of the team at Dean’s today, now working across the lot on the sales floor. When Lada decided to leave the food service industry, she was welcomed over to the sales division at Dean’s Stove and Spa. “Ever since I started, it’s really been a team effort,” said Lada.
Thrilled that Dean’s has received the Vesta Award, Lada credited the honor with the equality on the sales floor. Lada explained that a major benefit of working with Dean’s sales team is that the staff is always comfortable turning to one another, and to Michancyzk directly, with any questions – “we can always count on Dean,” she said.
The Vesta Awards were created in 2005 by Hearth and Home magazine to encourage innovation in product design. Michancyzk’s business was chosen as the top retailer after a panel of industry specialists, salesmen and designers judged the business’ visual merchandising, marketing, design and installation services, employee training and customer service to find that the best example of a unique, outstanding hearth sales experience was right here in Plantsville.