Every Forno Bravo oven (other than the Artigiano) is made in our own factory in Marina, CA (Northern California). I am extremely proud of our manufacturing team and their commitment to high quality, American-based manufacturing. Over the past three years we have continually added new manufacturing personnel, capacity, capability, equipment, and experise. In terms of we pure real estate, we have tripled our footprint in a little more than two years. We have made thousands of really great pizza ovens.
Beyond the basic numbers, such as square feet and head count, we have also developed a large number of “softer” assets. We have improved our refractory technology by introducing the new, third generation of FB Castable (you can read more about that here), the material we use to cast our oven domes and vents (that is made using raw materials manufactured in the American midwest), and we have developed a great deal of technology and expertise that no one will ever see—in the equipment, molds and processes that we use to physically manufacture our products. We are constantly improving the way we cast our products, resulting in smoother surfaces, sharper edges, fewer air pockets, and oven pieces that fit together tightly and accurately (and don’t have unattractive grinder marks).
Plus, we do all of our wonderful finish stucco work, paint and glazes, and all of own metal work in house, and the craftsmanship of our stands and enclosures is excellent. Just beautiful.
Many of our ovens are tested to UL and NSF standards, and our factory is inspected by the Intertek Testing Laboratories on a regular basis. Also, we work hard to be a good corporate citizen, and we provide our employees with medical insurance and accrued Personal Time Off (PTO). There has been a great deal of attention in the media over the decline of the U.S. manufacturing base, and of course small manufacturers like Forno Bravo are dwarfed by losses in the heavy industrial manufacturing sectors, but every bit helps.
One reason I want to share this is that, in general, I believe in business transparency. In the Internet age, I think a higher degree of transparency is the right strategy for businesses and it is better for our customers and community members. After all, Forno Bravo is the company that published the free Pompeii Oven eBook—to take the mystery out of pizza ovens and wood-fired cooking. How many companies would go out of their way to show you how to not buy their product? haha. In the days before Forno Bravo and the Pompeii eBook, pizza ovens were extremely expensive in the U.S. and it was very difficult to build a real brick oven in your backyard. I experienced it first hand. I am equally proud of the role that Forno Bravo have played in shedding light on the pizza oven market and helping drive costs down and sales volumes up.
I am also writing this post on a more practical level. We have a couple of small competitors in the market who seem to think that it is in their best interest to spread mis-information on Forno Bravo. If you have talked with other pizza oven companies recently, you will know who they are, and you know that they will tell you that the Forno Bravo ovens are made in China. Now I am a really competitive guy (heck, I am a nationally ranked marathon runner) and I really like winning—but I don’t think lying is the right way to win. It’s like cheating in sports, and at some point you get caught. It’s also pretty offensive to our production manager and our team. So, the next time someone tells you that Forno Bravo ovens are made in China, you should tell them that they should be ashamed of themselves.
I also think about it this way; if some of our competitors are willing to lie to you about my company and where we manufacture our products, what else are they willing to not tell you the truth about?
But I don’t want to end this post on a sour note. We have come a far way since Forno Bravo was founded eight years ago, and the real winner has been you—the consumer. We have significantly increased the quality and lowered the cost of modular pizza oven kits, we have introduced new assembled oven designs, ovens on wheels and ovens that you can set up without any tools, and we are on the verge of introducing an oven that two guys can bring to a party. It’s been a great ride and we are just getting started.
More choices, lower prices and better quality. That sounds like a good market dynamic to me.