When he began working for a fireplace company in the late 1970s, 20 year old Preston Meyer had no idea he would spend the rest of his life in the fireplace business. Somehow he resonated at a deep level with the primal aspect of fire, and the value of a fireplace in a home.
His first fireplace job was at International Fireplace where he started as a labourer in the yard. When International closed down in the 80’s, Preston moved on to be a salesman for ECCO Fireplaces and eventually he took over the ECCO showroom and renamed the company “Fireplace Specialties Ltd.” A good negotiator, he obtained a distribution agreement with Regency Fireplace products and became one of Canada’s top two distributors.
Preston was an innovator. He saw opportunities and had the courage to go after them. He was a visionary who saw where the fireplace industry was going and he followed his instincts to bring many unique products into the Calgary marketplace.
In mid 1993 with the Calgary economy struggling, Preston wisely asked the help of his brother Lanny who came on board bringing skills, resources and business savvy to help manage the company’s finances. Together with a lot of hard work and grit, they pulled the company through the downturn and set their sights on successfully growing the business now named Hearth & Home Fireplace Specialties Ltd.
In 2011, Preston could see the potential to parlay the company’s reputation for quality custom fireplaces into Calgary’s expanding Home Renovation market. So Hearth & Home created the renovations division. What Preston created, nurtured and has passed on is an award-winning family company which now applies the expertise and passion he developed for custom fireplaces to custom renovations.
Preston was never one to seek the limelight or take all the credit. He was more interested in making sure his employees were treated well, and that his customers were not just satisfied but truly pleased with the work done by Hearth & Home. His focus was on quality service with quality products, and that sense of quality emanated from his character. Many of the company’s employees were with Preston for decades, evidence that he not only offered loyalty to them, he earned their loyalty too. Preston enabled one employee to get a work permit to move to Canada in order to start a home, a family and a job at Hearth & Home.
Hearth & Home owes its original “heart” to Preston Meyer, and thanks to his vision and experience, the company will continue to put the heart and the hearth into homes in Calgary. But like any man, his life is measured not only by what he did but by who he was while doing it. He was kind, generous, caring, loyal and he had a soft spot. He would tear up at Christmas parties while thanking his employees. A father of four, Preston put his family ahead of work so that he was never owned by the business.
Music played a major role in Preston’s life and in his family. He earned the nickname “Ringo” for his drumming prowess, and at one time, he played in several popular local bands. Preston could be spotted drumming with his hands on a table or desk or somewhere in the shop, just tapping into that deep and joyful energy.
Whenever he was around, he would invite employees for lunch or dinner, and Preston would pick up the tab. He was not above wandering into the shop at Hearth & Home and picking up a paint brush or a spray can if there was painting to do.
A warm, friendly people person, Preston always made time for others and gave to everyone around him before himself. He was generous to the core, affectionate, and a man with a host of life-long friends and long term employees. He was also known and regarded with esteem in the fireplace industry.
Preston fought cancer the last few years of his life, and his battle ended in June, 2017. Many would say that his passing at age 60 was much too early. But Preston lived every day of his life to the fullest, and what he has left behind is a loving family, a thriving business, and a legacy of character, integrity and strength. Preston always was – and he will remain – the “heart” in Hearth & Home.