07: Revolutionizing Outdoor Comfort with Tyson Traeger of Wood Pellet Products


In this episode of The Vox Verba Podcast, we sit down with Tyson Traeger, the visionary behind Wood Pellet Products. Discover how Tyson's quest to enjoy the outdoors without the cold led to the creation of a pioneering company. With a commitment to American manufacturing and a focus on innovation, Wood Pellet Products is warming bodies and hearts, too. Dive into Tyson's story, the challenges faced, and the triumphs celebrated as we explore what it means to innovate in the realm of outdoor heating and cooking truly.



00:00 - Introduction to Wood Pellet Products and Tyson Traeger
01:34 - The Mission: Comfortable Outdoor Experiences
06:09 - The Significance of Being American-Made
09:27 - Innovation and Adversity
14:07 - Quality and Smoke-Free Products
23:09 - Customer Testimonials and Satisfaction
25:22 - Introducing Calvin: A Unique Addition to the Family
27:23 - Closing Thoughts and Advice


  • Wood Pellet Products Website
  • Timber Stoves and Rad Outdoor Cooking: The revolutionary products by Wood Pellet Products.
  • National Hardware Show: Where Wood Pellet Products received the Rising Star Award.

episode transcript

Andrya (00:00.917)
Welcome back to Vox Verba, where we spotlight the human stories behind innovative organizations. Today, we are diving deep with Tyson Traeger of Wood Pellet Products, a company at the forefront of the American revival in manufacturing, particularly in the heating, heater, really, and cooking sectors. Tyson, it's so great to have you with us today. I'm really excited to start and to share with you today.

Could you tell us a bit about you and what Wood Pellet Products is all about?

Tyson Traeger (00:34.846)
Of course, very nice to meet you and thank you for having me on. There's a lot that surrounds Wood Pellet Products. The name will tell you a little bit about what we do, but the business started in 2010 and it is a way for me to enjoy myself and the people I'm with outdoors without being cold.

That was the mission of the business. I just from the age of, you know, riding your bike outside growing up, I've always had poor circulation in my hands. High school sports outdoors and it hurts. Now I have a daughter who's experiencing the same thing. So it's a way for me to allow me to be outside. And that's what I'm passionate about. I love being outdoors.

Andrya (01:34.101)
That's awesome. From the core of being able to spend time in nature and at the heart of being outdoors, but comfortably.

Tyson Traeger (01:45.214)
yourself comfortable outside and that is the ambient temperature. Coming from Oregon, it's pretty natural to be cold and wet and this product probably wouldn't have came to fruition outside of this state, maybe Washington state for another one. But...

You know, growing up in this environment where it's cool and cold, I like to use the temperature of 60 degrees is when we get cold and when that sun goes down and we just don't have that light that's helping us stay warm, that effect of the fire on us, it makes us feel like we're standing out in the sun. And so it's an advantage to extending that day past the sunlight. And that's what we want to do. I think most of us want to hang out outside.

it's dark but we want to still be warm.

Andrya (02:39.957)
Get more out of the day.

Tyson Traeger (02:41.886)
Yeah, yeah, extending the day, that's the whole point. I spend a lot of my time now as a family man running around.

kids to sports and doing the yard work mostly. But I do have an extensive side of joy in the development side of the business. So I balance a lot between family and work. But I think that's what drives and helps drive the innovation. And that's what's been a motivating factor for me, majorly.

in driving this business where it needs to go, it's needing to support people. That also has a lot to do with the American side of manufacturing and what it means to make products here.

Andrya (03:30.549)
Definitely, I'm glad you brought that up. I'm curious, innovation has such deep roots. Could you share a bit about how the spirit of innovation runs in your family and how that's influenced wood pellet products?

Tyson Traeger (03:47.454)
I think that that's a blessing that I was given growing up in a small town that has allowed faith to be a big part of what you want to do, you have to believe in. And so, you know, this small town community has given me that advantage. I think of understanding that...

You do have to trust things outside of your own intuitions and a lot of times just go for it. And this business would not be where...

at if we didn't just go for it. And I think that's a lot of what has to do with spirit in the company and the people that are raising the company. I take a lot of pride in my employees. I treat them as kindly and as well as I can because I've run the rat race. I've been...

not just a business owner, I've been many employees of many businesses. I've done a lot of different jobs. And I think that experience through my lifetime of trying all these different things to, in the end, find out, right, what are we supposed to be doing? It's the hardest question we all get to ask ourselves. And that's what's so fun to me is like, I get to preach to my employees that,

If you get more experience, you'll have a better understanding of where you need to be going and what you're supposed to be doing. And that's why I talk a lot about common sense in my business. And that's why a lot of my product is very simple, very.

Tyson Traeger (05:39.198)
easy to use and everybody can use it and everybody can understand it. So that's all relative to how you treat people. And I think that's one of the greatest things about making a product in America is you get to have those guys right next to you. You get to build them up and then they get to feed you the ideas that you need them to help support the intellectual growth of the business. You just don't get that.

outside of developing a product outside of your shop. You have to have those things inside of your own shop. And it's why our business is soaring right now because our innovation is just awesome right now. I have a brand new product sitting out there that we just developed. We're on the final turn of it right now. We're releasing it in a couple of weeks. It will blow the water out of the whole cooking world because it's taking innovation

and it's not taking other people's ideas, it's taking our own ideas. And we're developing this and we get to show the world that look, innovation is not done. Just because technology has advanced and we think that everything can work for us, we want to say, well, no, go use your hands because unless you know how to turn that screw, good luck understanding that piece of machinery.

And so there's a lot missing from our world right now of manufacturing when it gets out of our hands. We need to have that stuff in our house, understanding that it comes from the brains of the people assembling a product, building a product, designing a product, putting it in a box. There's so much variable with.

the whole process of manufacturing that unless you're doing it all inside one roof, you're not gonna be able to innovate further faster. And that's what we do. We innovate really quick and we get to put that thing in a box. And so the customer gets to get that top notch innovation way faster.

Andrya (07:51.669)
Thank you for sharing that. I find it fascinating. You guys have been in business for quite a while and been doing this, serving customers' needs all over and manufacturing out of the United States. But in recent times, even this morning, I saw an article about American manufacturing's resurgence and a big focus on American manufacturing this year. But this has been a focus of you guys from the beginning.

So you spoke a little bit about simplicity, quality. I'm curious, how do those interact with the choice to be American made?

Tyson Traeger (08:33.022)
It's definitive. There's no way that I can make a design change on my product when it's being manufactured outside of my warehouse. That design change needs to go to the engineer who then programs it to go into CAD and be cut out for the next round. If we're manufacturing for the masses even,

we're not going to be able to produce innovative product for years because of the process that it takes to be able to allow that quick turnaround time. That's why small American manufacturing businesses are so important, because you have to survive. And survival means that you have to innovate. And the innovation is going to come when you most need the best.

the progress. And that's what we get. We've seen the progress come from the highest points of adversity. So I have these sayings that innovation comes from adversity. If you don't have the problem, you don't have the answer. And we've gone through, I don't know if you've seen where we've come from, but our building burned to the ground two years ago. We lost everything.

Being able to come back from that after being in business for 10 years, that is simply just being able to innovate. It wasn't hard for me to understand that we were going to go back to work the next day. It was simply a problem that we needed to solve and find a way to get through it. And look at us today. We are just soaring. And you know, business -wise, it's so neat to be in a position that...

When you get your guys to believe that we can get out of anything, and believe me, when they see, when your employees see your business burn to the ground, and they're looking at the leader saying, what do we do? They want to run, they want to pull the covers over and hide, but that never happened. And it didn't need to happen because we have something that people need. It's a product that deserves to be

Tyson Traeger (10:48.51)
in the public, for people, everybody gets cold. We have a way of fixing that. So it's really been neat for us to be able to use the whole analogy of adversity and innovation and it's so true. And I think if you were making this product outside of this country, you would have none of that and you would have zero innovation.

Andrya (11:10.261)
Yeah, I mean, it makes total sense, especially when you think about the speed required to go to market and to really serve customers' needs. When you look at what sets your products apart, and specifically when we talk about innovation, like the patents and the things that are very different about your product, let's talk a little bit about what's the significance of those in your industry.

Tyson Traeger (11:39.838)
Let's talk about the products. The two brands that Woodpellet products has is Timber Stoves and Rad Outdoor Cooking. And these two brands are compiled on the universal ability of cooking with wood pellets.

Andrya (11:42.197)

Tyson Traeger (12:03.038)
What I've been able to do is create these appliances that have eliminated the use or need for mechanical or moving parts, which in all pellet appliances, whether it's a pellet stove or a pellet barbecue, they all need electricity in order to power the equipment that's driving the auger motor, fans, control board with fuses.

You've got a lot of variables there that in my experience, I grew up in a world around pellet barbecues and pellet stoves that both required all of this mechanic. And when you're a young buck growing up in an industry like this, a lot of times they put you in front of customers and customer service.

because that's just the job where you get to learn the most, right? You get the oddball questions, you get to understand every aspect of the business when you're in customer service. And for me, that drove me crazy because I was spending my time as a young kid who really aspired to be out in the shop, welding and innovating, and I was doing business and stuff coming out of college. But what that taught me was that that...

That's the hardest part of business is dealing with customers. And that when I took what I knew from being around this industry, that was a major factor of my going into creating my own product. From the gate, I eliminated all of that stuff. I was actually intending to invent a gravity fed fire pit.

When I was creating this product that I had envisioned and dreamed about, and I kept on working night in, night out on it, it was so tough because when you're dreaming of a product...

Tyson Traeger (14:07.23)
When you have it entered into that new era of what you're trying to drum up, you just don't know anything, right? So it's just, you just got to try it and see what happens. And that's, that's where I was at. I was coming up with a fire pit in doing that. I learned that I needed to create airflow for the product. When I,

put a stack on that fire pit, it creates, just like a chimney does inside a house, a draft. And so once I had applied that stovepipe, just visually it told me, look, you got a patio heater. Stop building a fire pit and work on a patio heater. And so that's what I did. And here we are, we're 13 years later, still making the greatest patio heater on earth, I think. And...

We have now new products. So those are timber stoves and we have three of those, little timber, big timber and Revere patio heater. And then now we're introducing rad outdoor cooking, which again is a whole new concept to how people can cook outdoors. We have two appliances that go on the pellet burner.

So the pellet burner is a device that I've created that doesn't use any electricity. So two cooking appliances can interchange on top of the pellet burner. Right now we have the griddle and the pizza oven. So a really neat way to introduce product to the world where we know we can guarantee them it's going to work. We know that it's going to cook food easily. One of the best advantages that

there is to cooking good food is indirect cooking. And what that means is there's not direct temperature from the flame touching the food. There's a baffle in place. And so our product, all of our products work with.

Tyson Traeger (16:01.438)
radiant heat only. So that means that the whole process of cooking, everything that you're doing is not interacting with the flame. It's only being touched by radiant heat, just like in your convection oven. It's not convection, it's radiant. So it cooks a little different, but fairly identical to how a convection oven works inside the pizza oven. And then the griddle is self -explanatory. It's a great appliance for us. Because it doesn't use electricity, being able to take this thing,

and use it at the park outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping, RV. We have such a huge world we get to introduce this whole product line to. So we're really excited about Rad Outdoor Cooking. It's such a...

It's a full cycle for me. The best thing that I'm bringing forward, I think, that really brings my roots to the table with this is the temperature regulation on our oven is a low, medium, high temperature setting.

and people in the industry will understand what that means when I tell them that. But this does not have any electronics, it's all done by airflow. So it's such a neat way to understand.

how this product works by watching it work. You don't have to guess how the product is working. This, you get to watch work. You see how much fuel you have left. You get to time out your burn. It's just a really simple, easy to use product line. And I think that's along the same regard of the patio heaters. That's the whole concept is we don't have time to run the rat race. We want to go home and enjoy ourselves, do what we need to do.

Tyson Traeger (17:50.878)
and get on with our lives. Unfortunately, that's just how it is. But in that lifestyle that we're living, things need to work. Things need to be easy to use, and they need to be dependable. And dependable for a long time. And that's the quality that you're going to get from an American -made product. So we can combine all that stuff into one rad outdoor cooking and one timber stoves. So it's good.

Andrya (18:17.301)
Thank you for sharing that with me. How incredible that you guys are expanding your product line and you spent some time with your products before the show today and I know you guys had cooking type accessories but this is a standalone product that sounds like it allows you to do outdoor living, outdoor cooking all year round no matter the season.

I know that in my household, we're talking about cooking outdoors now. I'll have to make sure my husband listens to this episode because I live in Florida and we also say below 60 is cold.

Tyson Traeger (18:55.55)
No, it's the common denominator for all people. It just, we know that we're supposed to be around fire. I can't give you an explanation, but in all of us, there's a little trigger that makes us stare at that thing. And it's the same for my development with this company. I have a passion through and through for that fire and to be able to work on making not just a firework, but the best fire.

We take a lot of pride in our product working well. And that means burning clean. There's zero smoke in any of our products. And people, they just don't understand how we do it. They think we have a fan, and we don't.

It's that we've put this product through the test, through the wringer time and time again. And you do that by manufacturing it yourself. And that's testament to the whole process as well. But it's the outdoor lifestyle is not going away. We all want to get outside. We all want to cook for people. So this whole wood pellet products lineup allows people to depend on quality products, work all the time.

continue to be that quality that they expect over the duration of our business.

Andrya (20:15.989)
You know, I've seen how Woodpallet Products has led the industry and I'm curious, are there any awards or ways that you guys have been recognized?

Tyson Traeger (20:28.926)
shirt. We go and do like the National Hardware Show. We do the Hark! Patio Barbecue Show. We've got the Retailer Choice Awards for the big and griddle. Rising Star Award this last year at the National Hardware Show, which was cool.

Andrya (20:47.381)
Wow, okay, congratulations. So you said the Rising Star Award for the National Hardware Show. And you also mentioned, I didn't quite catch it, it was a griddle award or griddle show?

Tyson Traeger (21:00.478)
Yeah, so for the griddle, so our patio heater right now accepts the griddle. So you can actually apply the griddle onto this patio heater. It's a very unique application, but people love it. You have the heat, why not use it, right? So yes, the innovation for that won us an award that was the Retailer's Choice Award at the Harp Patio and Barbecue.

And then we got the Editor Choice Award from again the National Hardware Show. So dual awards at that show.

Andrya (21:34.261)

Tyson Traeger (21:38.462)
A couple years ago, we received the Community Award for Business of the Year in Mount Angel. So, you know, showing our support to our town. The best award for me is, in all honesty, when I come in the morning and I get to say hello to my employees and when they leave, I get to say goodbye. But they do like to share things with me because they know I care about them and they care about me. Today, I received a really...

message from one of my employees who said that it's not the innovation, it's the leadership. And for an employee to say that to you, he was just talking. He was just telling me that he wanted to make this on a shirt. And so it's that love that we have for each other that we understand we're in this for the long haul. We're doing things the right way, and people are going to want to see what we have to offer.

Andrya (22:37.781)
couldn't agree more. I'm so glad that you talked about other types of awards. You know, there's not just industry recognition. There's not just shows and those kind of things. But hearing from your employees and your customers, I'd love to hear about a time, you know, think back to a time where you felt really proud of a conversation or kind of feedback that you got.

from a customer about your products. Could you share that with me?

Tyson Traeger (23:08.606)
Yeah, there's a lot of them, but there's definitely one that I think me and all of my employees will remember. So we get testimonials all the time. People send us clips and videos of them loving their product, and we love that. And one day, I'm welding. I work in the shop with the rest of my guys. Most of my day is spent in production. I like to do that.

and I noticed a lot of people were standing behind me so I turned around.

And they were all looking at me. So there's probably 10 employees looking at me. My wife, who also works in this business, is holding a phone and she walks up to me and she says, you have to watch this. And it was a video testimonial from one of my customers. He was sitting in a wheelchair and he was telling us about his experience being able to enjoy his daughter being raised at a young age. She was two years old. She is

two years old, and he has multiple sclerosis. And the only way that he was able to enjoy his daughter outside was from our stove. There was not a dry eye in the shop. I'm getting a little teary now just thinking it's so fresh. This is a very new testimonial for us. But you know, it just...

defines what we're doing. We need to enjoy the outdoors and if we just, you know, if we could share that testimonial with the world, it would be great, but I don't want to do that. It's such a touching thing that it was the most rewarding thing as a business owner. I don't think I could ever have been rewarded better than hearing that testimonial.

Andrya (24:43.125)
but so beautiful.

Andrya (24:56.789)
Thank you for sharing it with me.

Well, okay, so I'm looking back through our list today and we have covered so much ground. Thank you for spending this time with me. I do have a closing question. So, you know, I've been following your brand for a while. I've been seeing you guys on social media and I'm curious, who is Calvin?

Tyson Traeger (25:21.758)
Calvin, yep, it's been fun having Calvin in the business. Derek and I, my brother, who's a big part of this business, were filming up in the woods one day, and we thought we heard something, and behind us, we both saw him, was a Sasquatch. And we only caught a glimpse of him running away.

but we noticed that he stopped at the timber stove that we were filming and he got himself warm and he took off. So at that point, we shared the video with friends and family and we went about our business. A few weeks later, Calvin,

ends up coming and joins in on a family outing. And we have the introduction of Calvin because he befriended us and my family and we knew nothing more to invite him into our Timberstove's family. He now works for us and we are continuing to educate Calvin but we are also continuing to learn from Calvin. So Calvin is part of our family.

Andrya (26:45.301)
What an incredible story. I'm astonished but also thankful that you guys brought Calvin into the family to bring joy into my life. And I just want to make sure that Calvin knows that he's appreciated.

Tyson Traeger (27:04.574)
Calvin he's gonna be around for a while.

Andrya (27:08.373)
Thank you, Dyson. Listen, I'm going to close it up today. Before I do, is there anything that I may have missed? Any closing statement you'd like to share with anyone listening about Wood Pellet products or about your business journey?

Tyson Traeger (27:23.166)

It's such a ride. It's such a hard thing to do is steer the ship of a small business in this country and make manufacturing a top priority for you. People are going to knock you on that. But when you know you're doing the right thing and the people behind you support you and oftentimes you do not get that support. You will not get that support until people love and demand your product. But if you believe in your

product and you know that it deserves to be seen you need to battle on and if I have any testament to this business it's don't give up just keep going as my dad would date would say slow down enjoy it but you do have to work hard you have to go have fast really fast and you have to believe you have to have that faith.

Andrya (28:21.237)
Thank you for sharing that. It's been an enlightening conversation today talking about the innovation of wood pellet products and the key elements that underscore your commitment to quality, as well as your unique features. And what I'm most excited in today's conversation is new product rollout. So please keep me up to date. I'll keep the audience up to date. To our listeners, thank you for listening today. You can find out more about wood pellet products by going to woodpelletproducts .com.

look at their Timber Stove line as well as watch for that upcoming product release for Rad Outdoor Cooking. And that is today's episode. Keep in touch and goodbye for now.