Loveless Ash Company
Colleen and Mike Loveless are the owner/operators of Loveless Ash in Price. Colleen gave the presentation because Mike had to go elk hunting and Colleen promised she'd tell on him. Loveless explained that Mike was a diesel mechanic for Utah Power and Light and she was a mom. Mike thinks of things in the middle of the night and one morning he woke up and said let's go into business.
The Loveless' had a woodstove and cleaning out the stove was always a problem. Mike decided if he could develop a fire proof filter, you could vacuum the ashes out of the woodstove. He commenced to build a vacuum for Colleen and then his Mom said she also wanted one. The first drum had a 35 gallon capacity and that product through the years has evolved into a four gallon vacuum.
They attended the county fair that year, peddling the new vacuum. One man told them, "It's a good idea, but that's not the same vacuum you'll end up with. We sold 27 units that year and last year we sold 12,000 vacuums. We have a tiny niche market; with people who have wood burning stoves and fireplaces. It filled a need. Someone told Mike they wanted a drywall vacuum and he figured that out. You need to surround yourselves with people who know how to help you.
"He has also designed a vacuum for asbestos and lead removal. When Mike worked for Utah Power, the kids never saw their dad. We trained our kids to answer the phone with "Loveless Ash."
"We attended a trade show in Reno and you have to know the lingo. Someone questioned if we sold to dealers and we just thought we don't do drugs. There's a lot of work involved and a lot of trials and tribulations and crap you have to put up with in owning your own business. You put in 10 times more hours than a regular job. We now have independant sales teams that sell our products. There are 54 Hearth and Hardware stores in United States, Canada and Mexico and they all sell our vacuums and also our products are sold in 15 foreign countries.
"We wanted to do a wet/dry vacuum but it was $1 million for the tooling before we could get started and it would take a year to get the mold. Mike is impatient so the company in Taiwan shipped everything and it weighed 7,000 pounds. You just decide how to make things work. Mike won't take no for an answer. One man cautioned us that we were selling our product too cheap. 'If you go out of business, no one will ever get your product he told us.' I am here to make sure Mike doesn't spend all his money or give everything away.
"Owning our own business has enabled me to work side-by-side with my husband. It is the best thing we could ever do. We have good contacts, people and friends. There are people that now know there is a Price, Utah. We are currently constructing a new building and I didn't know all that goes into a building. We are proud of Loveless Ash and it's fun," said Colleen.
She said as a business grows it is somewhat like having someone tell you your baby is ugly, but we've found when the baby grows up it looks better.