February 6, 2023

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Startup Spotlight: Local firewood delivery service Llamawood aims to be the ‘Uber for firewood’ | Business News

Startup business enterprise founder Hunter Guerin likes to say he has a passion for fire.

When he and his spouse moved from Washington, D.C., to the Richmond location in 2020, they received a household with a fire and an outdoor fire pit. A mechanical engineer by teaching, Hunter Guerin even designed a wood-fired pizza oven at their dwelling.

“I am obsessed with hearth, which is 1 purpose I began a firewood small business,” Guerin explained. “I was attempting to get firewood, but it can be tricky to locate a responsible offer.”

“It was just so really hard to discover constant suppliers who could produce dried, seasoned or kiln-dried wood,” he said. “I have lived in Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia and D.C., and that issue has adopted me all over everywhere.”

“I wished to make purchasing great firewood genuinely quick,” he reported.

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So Guerin started Llamawood, an on line market at llamawood.com wherever owners and business house owners can get kiln-dried firewood for supply on demand from customers, alongside with mulch.

“It is sort of like Uber for firewood,” Guerin mentioned.

“Llamawood is a two-sided market,” he reported. “We have suppliers, and we have consumers. We call it a managed marketplace since customers acquire from Llamawood and then people work opportunities get posted out to a supplier board, and the suppliers fundamentally choose which kinds they want to do.”

Considering that Guerin started the startup organization last yr, buyers making use of the Llamawood marketplace have involved house owners in the Richmond place as effectively as enterprises that use firewood for cooking.

One particular customer is Cocodrilo, a Latin-themed restaurant on Grove Avenue that utilizes wooden-fired ovens to cook dinner these dishes as citrus rooster, lobster enchilada, steak and duck.

“We require to have top quality wood each individual working day here,” reported co-operator and chef Brandon MacConnell. “Without high-quality wooden, we are up the creek ahead of we get started.”

By making use of the Llamawood services, the restaurant has been able to make certain it gets a reliable offer of excellent wooden, he claimed. The restaurant goes via about 2,000 pounds of wood a 7 days.

“We are predominantly utilizing white oak now, but from time to time we get distinctive blends in. It is enjoyment to experiment and get diverse flavors,” MacConnell said.

Cocodrilo obtained a shipping a short while ago from 5 Star Firewood, a relatives-owned firewood supplier that has a wood processing garden in Midland that produces kiln-dried and packaged firewood.

“Llamawood gives us a whole lot of sources to get more orders and not have to do a lot of advertising and marketing,” claimed Daniel Papuga, who manages functions for the organization owned by his family members. “It takes on a ton of the administrative perform we would normally have to do communicating with shoppers. It facilitates that procedure for us at minor price tag. We distribute a large amount right here in Richmond and also in the Washington, D.C., area.”

Guerin mentioned he has 15 suppliers in the network now.

“One of my primary reasons was to assist shoppers find dried firewood, but after I started building up this community and performing with these modest-business owners, I grew to become similarly passionate about encouraging these companies grow,” he explained. “The market place demands help on equally sides, so I hope Llamawood is capable to assistance a large amount of modest businesses in Virginia.”

Hearth pit and wood-fired oven product sales have greater in the course of the pandemic, Guerin reported.

“We have noticed an uptick in sales considering the fact that the commence of the pandemic,” mentioned Miles Clarkson, founder and operator of Burly Fireplace Pits, a area fireplace pit maker. “Many of our merchants noticed their fire pit and grill enterprise double or even triple above the previous couple years.

“Everyone started shelling out much more time nearer to home and invested their time enjoying their outdoor dwelling room with household and pals — frequently, all-around a fireplace pit,” Clarkson claimed.

Guerin has a degree in mechanical engineering, and he worked as an engineer for 10 yrs prior to becoming a member of a startup business in Washington, D.C., that delivers on-need production for suppliers. “I saw how much efficiency it brought to that field,” he said.

“We definitely just fell in adore with Richmond,” Guerin said of his family’s transfer. “My spouse and I were each doing the job remotely for firms in D.C. It was a life conclusion and nothing at all else, and it has been a blessing.”

“I was talking to some people listed here in Richmond about how I could use the expertise I developed doing work in engineering and on-line marketplaces alongside with my enthusiasm for firewood,” he stated.

“I turned ingrained in the Richmond startup DNA,” he explained.

Llamawood was a member of the spring 2022 cohort of Lighthouse Labs, a Richmond-centered nonprofit that gives mentoring, organization improvement training, and fairness-free of charge dollars investments to startup corporations.

“It was fascinating to perform with Hunter during his time with Lighthouse Labs. His enthusiasm for Llamawood and the Richmond neighborhood is contagious,” mentioned Glenna Croy, one particular of his mentors at Lighthouse Labs. “It was incredible to see Hunter’s devotion to the shopper expertise, regardless of whether it was a cafe ordering a number of cords of wood or a small family members stocking up on firewood for the summer, he would often make positive they had the optimum caliber of wooden delivered specifically on time … even if that meant him jogging out and delivering the wooden himself.”

At Lighthouse Labs Demo Working day, 9 corporations pitched their ideas to an audience of 150, and Llamawood gained the lover preferred.

As aspect of the prize, “I acquired to throw the 1st pitch at a Traveling Squirrels game from the Altoona Curves,” Guerin reported. “I [had] my daughter in the Ergo little one carrier. It was super entertaining.”

With Llamawood providing to restaurants, campgrounds and men and women in Richmond and areas throughout the condition, Guerin claimed, the business is continuing to prosper.