SAP BrandVoice: USSC Grills Taps 150 Years Of Innovation To Sear The Competition

With a deep background in cooking and pellet-fired products, United States Stove Company is expanding its product line to include wood pellet grills and smokers.

Even though the United States Stove Company (USSC) has been “keeping America warm for 150 years” with an innovative portfolio of stoves, furnaces and portable heating devices, the South Pittsburg, Tennessee company isn’t resting on its laurels. Instead, USSC is tapping into its rich history of innovation to bring a new line of pellet grills to market.

“We’ve always been looking to develop that next product, one that stays true to our roots while allowing us to evolve as a company,” said August S.L. Jones, President of USSC.

Jones said USSC started developing and honing pellet technology in the 80s and early 90s when the tech was first introduced.

“We grabbed ahold of it and are now the most dominant, high-volume producer of wood pellet fired products in all of North America,” said Jones who also said USSC exports to Europe. Thanks to its deep background in cooking and pellet-fired products, USSC started to think about its next product line: wood pellet grills and smokers.

“We thought, why not combine the two? It’s a no-brainer,” said Jones.  

In response, Jones launched USSC Grills, a new division dedicated to the development of the wood pellet grill market. In many ways, this launch brings the 150-year-old, family-owned company full circle: one of the USSC’s original innovations was the Hasty Baker stove, a wood-burning appliance that was used in the home for both heating and cooking.

Searing the competition

For the uninitiated, the wood pellet grill industry still makes up a small percentage of overall grill sales but is quickly becoming a crowded space. How can USSC compete in a crowded marketplace dominated by established brand names like Traeger, Yoder and Green Mountain Grills? Jones said it all comes down to innovation.

“Obviously anytime you look at a new category or market, there’s an evaluation process, looking at sales figures, the competition to see what they have and more importantly, what they don’t have. We did our due diligence to make a calculated assessment of where we’re going to go with these products, how we develop them and what’s going to separate us from the competition.”

For example, USSC has a patented searing station for our medium and large grills, a true advantage that other pellet grill manufacturers do not have.

“As most pellet grill fans already know, grilling on a wood pellet grill brings an element to the table that previously never existed,” said Jones. “It locks in flavor and the searing station will separate us from the pack.”

Jones also avoided the typical ‘barrel style’ grill that sits on four legs with a smokestack by making USSC grills with thicker steel and a more modern look.

“From listening to a lot of consumers and buyers who are national retailers, we knew we had to be different,” said Jones. “Anyone can jump into a business and offer a commodity style product. We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to introduce something sleek with clean lines that utilizes brand equity. It brings an advantage with respect to performance.”

But Jones is the first to admit the early USSC Grill prototypes didn’t exactly knock it out of the park as the development process became more of an evolution of trial and error before their engineering and sales teams were satisfied they created something special that still honors company heritage.

“We want to make sure we’re carrying through on our brand equity,” said Jones. “It has to resonate with the consumer so that its clear to them that our product is better than the competition.”