It was 1976. The Arabs had a chokehold on oil. Energy prices were rising. And no one knew what the future held.
County agent Jerome Hardy had moved back to his hometown in 1970 to pursue his farming and cattle interests. To cut costs he decided to put a heater vent in his fireplace; but, wife, Margaret vetoed the idea. She didn’t want wood trash, smoke and ashes tracked through the house.
So, Jerome tried a different approach. He began tinkering with the idea of putting the heating unit outside and moving the heat to where it was needed. After a lot of trial and error, brainstorming and improvising, his idea began to take shape.
Jerome’s initial effort was encouraging and his enthusiasm was shared by neighbor, cousin and fellow cattle farmer Bobby Smith. They put units in their homes. Both families enjoyed an immediate and dramatic decrease in heating costs and liked the fire outside, making it safer, cleaner, and easier to service.
It wasn’t long before neighbors and friends became interested and inquired about having one for their own use.
Jerome and Bobby looked after the farms and tended their cattle, but continued to tinker and experiment with the heater. By 1978, Jerome had changed the design, taking it in a new direction and raising its productivity potential to new levels.