Honest, reliable, polite, neat…we expect a lot of our employees. Each has to be someone we look forward to seeing every day. Someone who is a welcome presence in our house, because they have to be a welcome presence in your house. However, our standards do not stop there. We are responsible for the warmth of fire in your house, and our team must have the ability, knowledge, and caring attitude needed to ensure your family’s enjoyment and safety. We don’t just hand over our truck keys, send a person out, and say “see what you can do.” The first step for a new hire is training while assisting one of our seasoned, certified techs. For a skilled new employee – with strong analytical, tool, and people skills – we can instill our ethic in a matter of months. For younger, less experienced helpers, teaching to our standards may take years.
Although we can get a pretty good handle on employees’ skills and knowledge by working with them, we also require that our installers and sweeps study for and gain the appropriate certifications. The key industry certifications come from the National Fireplace Institute (NFI) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). NFI offers certification in Wood, Gas, and Pellet installation. The course covers code requirements and best safety practices for planning, installing, and maintaining hearth systems. Passing a rigorous final exam is required to achieve certification. Taking additional classes annually is a requirement for maintaining certification. We are currently the only hearth dealer in Virginia with a Master Hearth Professional – one who has been certified in all three areas.
The CSIA offers a week-long, hands-on course with a final exam to achieve certification. The candidates learn sweeping and inspection of chimney systems, equipment operation, health and safety considerations, and they receive step-by-step instruction in codes, clearances, standards and practices. At the end, an exam ensures the new sweep deserves certification.
Our employees: another key component to help you “Bask in the Warmth.”
Kim Kepchar, Owner, NFI-Certified Master Hearth Professional, CSIA-Certified Sweep
Kim has over 25 years of experience in the chimney business, and is one of only two certified Master Hearth Professionals (NFI certification in wood, gas, and pellet appliances) in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Madison Morrison, Sales Associate
When Madison is not exploring Virginia with her son and boyfriend, she is building her knowledge as a Maternal Support Practitioner and guiding Wooden Suns customers through various hearth and patio projects and installations. In between the day-to-day, she often daydreams of growing her homestead to accommodate the many fur family members that are sure to join (stay tuned!).
Taylor Wyatt, Office Assistant
In her non-Wooden Sun life, Taylor loves to paint, cook, and wrangle her two ornery dogs. She loves the outdoors, enjoying kayaking, fishing, and particularly crabbing.
Blake Hunter, Head Mason, CSIA-Certified Sweep, NFI-certified Wood Specialist, NFI-certified Gas Specialist
Blake learned masonry at his father’s construction company, and joined our team in 2010. Blake is a father, husband, musician/music producer, creative design/builder with stone/sound, who enjoys coming together with people to create beautiful spaces both in and outside their homes.
Beth Molmen, Staff Writer and Content Manager, NFI-certified Gas Specialist
After graduating from the University of Virgina, Beth bounced around Charlottesville for a few years before joining the Wooden Sun team in 2013. When not writing Wooden Sun’s blog entries, she enjoys gardening, knitting, and singing in her church choir.
Josh Thornhill, Warehouse Manager and NFI-certified Gas Service Specialist
When he is not managing the Wooden Sun warehouse or performing gas service in the field, Josh enjoys the outdoors as much as possible. Whether it is kayaking, camping, four wheeling, shooting, or working on his antique cars, there is always an adventure or project in play. Oh–and his German Shepherd Gunner always makes it an adventure!
Becca Reed, Scheduler and Office Manager
When she’s not scheduling service calls or keeping the office organized (no small task!), Becca likes to spend her free time enjoying the great outdoors. Boats, adventures, and long walks on the beach — there’s certainly never a dull moment!
Forrest Walker, Assistant Sweep
When he’s not helping out in the field or around the showroom, or studying to become an engineer, Forrest can often be found exploring with friends, whether it’s an old abandoned factory, or a fantasy world they’ve created.