A Successful Transition after a Very Rocky Start

Shawn Griffin had worked for Upper Valley Stove Co. for six years when Bruce Hennessey, the owner and  founder of the business some twenty years before, started talking about retiring and moving back to his native Canada. Shawn thought that he knew enough about the business - and had enough equity in his home for the necessary funds - to jump into negotiations to acquire it.

So, with the help of SCORE counselor Fred Thomas, who had worked with Bruce over the years, was actually a customer of the store, and had developed a comfortable relationship with Shawn, Shawn was able to pull off the deal and became the sole owner on January 1, 2007.  Fred helped Shawn with some financial modeling and tested his ability to handle the debt. Subsequent to the deal, Fred has helped Shawn with monthly mentoring and as a business advisor.

However, on a fateful day just one month into his ownership of the business, Shawn thought that he may have made a very big mistake. Carol Dunn, Shawn’s only employee, who had been with the company for many years and knew everything there was to know about the business, was killed in a horrendous, three fatality vehicle accident. Not only did Shawn lose a very good friend and a very key employee, he lost the company’s only truck. But, Shawn has an amazing network of family and friends and they all rallied around him in his obvious hour of need.

The Upper Valley Stove team now includes Shawn’s brother Eric Griffin, Dale Whitney, and Amanda Pero. But, the business would hardly be the success it is without Gordon Pero and his son Dave Pero as well as family members Ernest, George, and Larry Griffin, and good friend Phil Masterson who all volunteer in the evenings and on the weekends do whatever needs be done.

With Shawn’s strong work ethic and his desire to build a business that sons Brett, 9,  and Derek, 7,  might take over some day (“After they attend college,” said Shawn), Upper Valley Stove is already the largest pellet stove installer and pellet supplier in the Upper Valley. And, Upper Valley Stove is one of the top 30 distributors nationwide out of the over 800 dealers of Harman Stoves.

Shawn, who was born in Claremont,  raised in Lebanon, and married Heather Merrihew, a local girl, is committed to the upper valley and to keeping his friends and neighbors warm and comfortable in the long Northeast winters.

“We back up our products and our carefully chosen suppliers back us up,” said Shawn explaining one of the main reasons for his level of success. “Our plan is to keep serving customers in about a 45 mile radius of our store in Lebanon,” said Shawn. “That way we can provide the level of service that our customers demand.”

If your interested in learning more about having a pellet stove installed in your home or place of business, you can reach Shawn at Upper Valley Stove (located at 254 Dartmouth College Highway (Route 4) in Lebanon just off I-89, Exit 17) or you can call him at 603-448-4300 or e-mail him at shawn@uppervalleystove.com. To really get a sense of what Upper Valley Stove is all about, you should also check out their website at www.uppervalleystove.com.