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Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Foundation

Caleb Woodard

Caleb Woodard

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Foundation has long been recognized for its educational track, with a focus on National Fireplace Institute certification. In 2002, however, the foundation began adding courses related to the outdoor room concept.

Caleb Woodard, interim executive director of the HPBEF, said the additional courses were in response to demand as well as the merger of the Barbecue Industry Association and Hearth Products Association (now known as HPBA).

“In the past three years, we’ve really made the effort to produce a focused, systemic track that gives our retail members the support they need as they develop their outdoor room product and service offering,” Woodard said.

Attendance continues to grow in this course track, a sign Woodard said shows retailers are on their way to “becoming the premium outdoor room providers they have the potential to be.”

In the future, it is possible certification may be offered to retailers and dealers related to the outdoor room, but at present, too many variables and too many industries are linked to the outdoor living concept, which makes it difficult to focus in on credentials.

Attendance continues to grow in the Outdoor Living Room track the HPBEF offers.

Attendance continues to grow in the Outdoor Living Room track the HPBEF offers.

“Education must always respond to the need in the industry, and we definitely see this aspect of our industry growing,” Woodard said. “The outdoor room is here to stay and our members must be given the tools to succeed.”

In addition to NFI Certification and the Outdoor Living Room track, educational courses cover business management, sales and marketing and technical and safety issues.

Writer Laurie Rudd contributed to this story.

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