Since high school, Keith D’Angelo has always enjoyed creating things through welding and sculpting. So, when he saw people having a good time around the fire pits in their backyards, he jumped on an opportunity to create a unique version of these neat devices.
In November 2016, he and his father, Terry, formally launched Colorado Custom Fire Pits, LLC in Denver, Colorado. The two work out of a welding shop in the area and handle the business side of the venture right from home.
“We sculpt custom fire pits that are completely made out of steel,” Keith D’Angelo explains. “With these fire pits, there is no mess, no ash to clean up, and the fire danger is extremely low. Plus, we offer a superior product at a cheaper price than what you would find elsewhere.”
The fire pits are powered by either natural gas or propane. Instead of dealing with real logs for a fire, the D’Angelos create lifelike log sets, pinecones, and twigs made out of steel. But they’ve had customers who can’t even tell the difference.
In terms of customization, the company offers circular, rectangle, and square fire pits with various options on log sets and aesthetics. It takes the entrepreneurial duo at least 100 hours to handcraft a custom fire pit.
“It is a very time-consuming process, but we want it to be just what the customer wants,” he says. “Our turnaround time is only about two weeks.”
While D’Angelo labors away on steel in the shop, he is also working on earning a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver.
Enjoyment to Self-Employment
According to D’Angelo, he and his dad get the most reward from self-employment upon seeing the reactions of their customers.
“When I see someone’s face and the smile they have when I deliver their fire pit, it really means a lot. It is also nice to see something you’ve spent so much time working on come to life in the end. But the process of creating these products is a lot of fun, even though it is a lot of work.”
He adds that the main goal behind the fire pits is to help customers make fond memories of sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, and just relaxing in a rustic-inducing environment.
Competing in the Small Business Sphere
Small business owners in all fields are up against some form of competition. While there are other companies out there that create and sell fire pits, the customization that the D’Angelos offer is what sets them apart from the rest of the pack.
“We spend a lot of time on the aesthetics of each product,” he says. “They also look so real but are totally made of steel, so it’s very unique.”
In terms of demographics of their customers, they generally target families and individuals who are 40 and older.
Marketing a Small Business
The company has a website – www.coloradocustomfirepits.com. The father-and-son business partners have also used word-of-mouth strategies to simply tell others about their venture. In addition, they’ve implemented search engine optimization (SEO) techniques on their website, and they’re looking into using some third-party distributors to help them get more products into the hands of eager customers.
Challenges to Being Your Own Boss
D’Angelo admits that self-employment has its fair share of challenges.
“I would say putting together the business plan is the most important and most challenging part of all this,” he says. “We have to determine how to get our products out there, narrow down our target audience, and the countless other factors involved. The product is already in place, and we know exactly how to build it. The difficult thing is everything else that goes along with having a business.”
He adds that if you have what it takes and what people want, entrepreneurship can be exciting.
“Just go for it,” he advises. “If you have a product or service that you feel strongly enough about, then you should give it a shot.”
Experience as 1-800Accountant Clients
The D’Angelos are satisfied clients of 1-800Accountant.
“I really like the concept of the services, and everyone has been helpful,” Keith D’Angelo says.