History of Bare's Stove & Spa
1978, Livingston native Montie Bare started in the stove business installing LaStoves that were being sold by Owenhouse Hardware Store. In May of 1980 he opened his first retail store: “Bare’s Stove Cove and Grizzly Irrigation” in a 450 sq. ft. space in the 200 block of North 7th Avenue. His first line of stoves was Blaze King wood stoves, which were being manufactured locally by Merlin Hickman and Merv Lefferts at their Fort Ellis shop. In 1981 Montie added a unique looking stove, a Lopi™, which had the clear ceramic glass with an air wash – a real innovation at the time.
Montie soon expanded to the adjoining space doubling in size to a whopping 900 sq. ft. Three years later, again bursting at the seams, Bare’s moved further North on 7th Avenue to the North Gate Shopping Center by Van’s IGA. In 1984, Montie started carrying hot tubs while maintaining the stove and irrigation services. Montie changed the name of the store to Bare’s Stove & Spa. He tried a few lines of spas before discovering Sundance Spas™ in 1986. In 1990, Montie sold Grizzly Irrigation.
In 1996, Montie and wife Kathi broke ground for their current location, 301 Evergreen Drive. Bare’s Stove & Spa opened the doors to their new 3,000 sq. ft. showroom in April of 1997.
Over the years, the Bares have seen many changes in the spa and stove industries. Gone are the local stove manufacturers. Many companies have merged or been bought out by large companies. Spas have become more sophisticated, more efficient and much easier to maintain. Gas stoves and fireplaces have taken a larger share of the market. Pellet stoves have evolved from the Collins Hopper, an added on to a wood stove unit, invented by Loren Collins of Bozeman, to the modern stoves of today. The efficiency of stoves and fireplaces, along with the over all appearance, have improved dramatically.
We feel very fortunate be this areas exclusive dealers and a small part of the extraordinary growth Sundance Spas™ and Travis Industries’ Lopi™, Fireplace Xtrodinair™ and Avalon™ stoves and fireplaces. Having been with both of these great companies for so long gives us the unique advantage of having long term relationships with these companies and their wonderful employees.
The idea for Sundance Spas™ was developed by three Navy Seals while serving in Viet Nam: Ron Clark, Charlie Johnson, and Galvin Barlett. They opened their first manufacturing plant in 1979 and soon became leaders and innovators in the spa industry. The original founders have all retired. Jonathan Clark, who started with the company in 1980, is still the president. Bozeman native, and former Bare’s salesman, James Schrage is the National Sales Trainer.
Sundance Spas™ is the largest international manufacturer of portable hot tubs with a worldwide network of independent dealers spanning the globe. Ron Clark explained the process of entering the international market: “We (USA) have been trading for 300 years – these people have been at it for 3,000 years.” Attending annual Sundance Spas™ Dealer Conferences has afforded the Bares a unique opportunity to meet people from all over the world.
Travis Industries House of Fire™ – Manufacturers of Lopi™, Avalon™ & Fireplace Xtrodinair™
In 1977, Kurt Rumens first began selling stoves to supplement his income as a rock musician. In 1979, he created the Lopi™ Wood Stove and began building them in his garage. From its humble beginnings, Lopi™ has grown to be a leader in the U.S. hearth products industry. In 1984, Lopi™ became the first company in the U.S. to develop an EPA-certified, non-catalytic wood stove. In 1988, Travis Garske purchased both the Lopi™ and Avalon™ lines, renaming the company Travis Industries, Inc. In 1992, with Kurt at the helm, Travis Industries acquired Fireplace Xtrodinair™.
Today, Travis Industries is the largest, privately-owned wood, pellet and gas stove, insert and fireplace company in America. Travis Industries encompasses four high-quality brands: Fireplace Xtrordinair™, Avalon™, Lopi™ and the Tempest Torch™. These brands are available exclusively from a network of more than 1,200 authorized retailers throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and China. All products are manufactured in the United States within an 11-acre facility, called the House of Fire, employing up to 600 employees.
Kurt has never strayed far from his musician roots. He and his band, the “Flues Brothers,” often entertain at dealer conferences.