Adrian Tamminga, a dedicated and ambitious entrepreneur, is the driving force behind Iron Embers, a premium outdoor fire pit manufacturer based in Guelph, Ontario.
Born into a family with a manufacturing business in their backyard, Adrian learned the value of hard work from an early age. His passion for entrepreneurship was ignited when he and his two older brothers started a small fire pit business using surplus materials from their parents’ shop.
Adrian Tamminga’s journey with Iron Embers began with a simple backyard project. He, his dad, and his brothers built the first fire pit together over a couple of Saturdays when the welding machines were free. That fire pit is still in use today, and they fire it up every time their family gets together during the summer!
Their dad is a bit of an innovator, and together they came up with a few unique designs. They started out by taking a few fire pit designs to a local farmers market, where they picked up a few store locations whose owners were at the market.
From there, they received consistent repeat orders every summer, which kept them going. Over the years, they refined their designs and picked up more and more store locations.
Growing up with a welding shop in the backyard was definitely a unique upbringing for Adrian. He often worked on Saturday mornings, cleaning up the shop or doing yard work. At the time, it was hard work, but looking back, Adrian is grateful for the values his parents instilled in him. Building a company over the course of 10 years was a slow process, but perseverance paid off.
Iron Embers took a real turn when COVID-19 began. The demand for outdoor products skyrocketed, and since they already had a full-time staff, a few store locations, and a decent online presence, they were well-equipped to take advantage of it.
Growing from a few employees to 30 over the course of 16 months was incredible. Success and failures accompanied them along the way, and it was such an incredible learning experience for Adrian. The increased volumes allowed them to move to a new shop and outfit it with the equipment they needed, like a new paint booth, parts washer, and a dozen welding cells.
Managing people and drama was the most difficult part of growing for Adrian. Moving so quickly, they made some good hires and some not so great ones. One of Adrian’s best decisions was hiring a top-notch HR manager to handle it all for him so they could focus on production and finances. He learned the most by making mistakes, though, and he doesn’t regret the rapid growth for a second.
Adrian and his team have a very hands-on approach to innovation. They develop changes quickly, and since they’re still a small business, integrating those system or product changes throughout the business typically is quick and risk-free. It wasn’t until after the COVID-19 boom that Adrian had time to try networking. He’s had a ton of success since then, though, as things slowed down.
Keeping the team pulling in the same direction is tough for Adrian, and learning how to have effective meetings is even tougher! They are a tight-knit bunch, and one of the most important things to do to keep it that way is to provide honest feedback. Anyone is welcome to tell anyone else what’s bothering them, so it doesn’t get under their skin and drive the team apart over time.
Adrian believes that a successful week, month, or year is made up of successful days. They start with an overall plan, and as long as their daily tasks are chipping away at the larger project, they’ll get there eventually.
Adrian’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs starts with emphasizing the importance of perseverance. They will inevitably encounter failures, but embracing the lessons from each setback and pressing onward is what truly builds success.
He encourages entrepreneurs to take a hands-on approach and be willing to do things themselves. While it may be tempting to seek quick wins by outsourcing to agencies, there is immense value in learning the ins and outs of their business firsthand.
Investing personally in their people is also crucial for entrepreneurs. Building genuine connections with their team members fosters a strong sense of loyalty and dedication. However, it’s essential to strike a balance; they
shouldn’t hesitate too long to cut ties if there’s a person that’s holding them back. A company should never be held captive by an employee.
Adrian always remembers to take the time to celebrate achievements, both big and small. Recognizing milestones and victories not only boosts morale but also helps maintain motivation and drive within the team.
As he reflects on his journey with Iron Embers, it’s evident that the incredible and rewarding experiences have shaped Adrian Tamminga as an entrepreneur and brought their team together. From its humble beginnings as a backyard project to its current status as a thriving business, Iron Embers stands as a testament to the unwavering dedication of Adrian and his team.
Sharing his story, Adrian hopes to inspire and motivate other entrepreneurs to pursue their passions and achieve success. Remember, the road to success is paved with perseverance and hard work, and as long as they keep learning from their experiences and pushing forward, they too can turn their dreams into reality.