Voppichler Stove Fitting & Oven Manufacturing

Image

Fireplace, stove and hearth have formed the heart of a house for centuries. Fitting a stove is an art that only few can master — and even fewer learn to master today. Demand for this form of heating, however, has remained high; there has not been one single day that he had been out of work, says senior tiler and stove fitter Ewald Voppichler, who founded the family business 30 years ago. Through his son, the future of the business — and knowledge transfer — is secured: After being trained as an engine builder and automation engineer, Simon Voppichler also learned stove-fitting.
In 2018, he turned the company into a limited partnership, with his father and himself as partners. After completing the Austrian equivalent of the A levels, Simon’s younger brother will join the family business as well, starting as an apprentice. Motivated and inspired by his multi-faceted, interesting and sometimes demanding work, Simon Voppichler wishes to spread his love for his profession and clear it of its dirty work image. Being a member of Werkraum Bregenzerwald and actively participating in career orientation classes at the Werkaumschule clearly is a great way to accomplish this.

The workshop is located right next to the family’s home and garden. An architect planned and designed the modern buildings and their layout 30 years ago. Back then, this was pretty unique for a small, local business like this one, and it is the expression of an interest in artistic design and thought-out organisation. In the 250 m² company building, every single step of the workflow has its designated space — from customer service in the showroom/meeting room to works preparation with detailed planning on the computer to mechanical locksmith work in the workshop itself. In former days, a stove was set on site. Today, stoves are also prefabricated in the workshop to allow for more flexible workflows. This is also where the company’s innovative potential lies, and sooner or later it will require an expansion of the workshop.Having home and workshop in close proximity is rather common for craftspeople in the Bregenzerwald. In many cases, this leads to children becoming familiar with what their parents do from an early age. In Ewald Voppichler’s case this meant that “the children have spent more time in the workshop than in their sandpit. They have known about stoves forever. They practically inherited that knowledge.”
In their first year as business partners, father and son worked hand in hand on each step of every assignment to enable full knowledge transfer. Moreover, every order is carefully
documented in a binder. For this purpose, the Voppichlers also hire graphic designers and professional photographers, a reflection of their high-quality standards on every level and in every detail.

Mechanical locksmith work like sawing, milling, welding and lathing take place in the workshop, tiled stoves are set on site.

A Kachelofen (German for tiled stove) is called such when ceramic tiles are used for storing (and releasing) heat inside a stove. Today, the outside may also consist of new materials like steel, loam or stone. They are the visual representation of a complex interior of fireboxes and tunnels lined with firebricks. Each stove is made to meet the specific requirements of its future location and owner. At the beginning of every new order stands an assessment of the stove’s environmental impact (efficiency, pollutant emissions) based on a system provided by the Austrian Guild of Stove Fitters. Having a stove is not luxurious or wasteful, explains Voppichler. The problem are gas, electric or oil-fired heating systems, they are the ones that use up non-renewable sources of energy. When all the details are planned out and the doors (for feeding and cleaning) are prepared, it’s the tile maker’s turn. The Voppichler family has been relying on the high-quality tiles of a small ceramics workshop nearby for years. Ewald Voppichler designed many of his stoves himself, and he likes them to be beautiful, yet simple and always in accordance with the architecture surrounding them. His son Simon shares this approach.

A custom Kachelofen with cooking and baking chamber, standing in the living room and to be fired from the kitchen, requires about 250 hours of work. Only after a trial firing run and about 30 to 40 small fires for drying-out, the stove is ready to use, ready to warm a house through heating season.
The stove-fitting members of the Voppichler family have the knowledge and skill to tame an elemental force like fire – and to put it to use in tile-, steel- or stone-covered stoves and fireplaces.