Stopped by Hitzer Stove Company, in Berne Indiana yesterday and was given the shop tour by Dean Lehman.
I got to look at all their products and was told about the differences in each one. I alway's wondered why they built a batch fed stove when the hopper fed seem more user friendly. I was told many costomers use them for wood burners, but due to E.P.A. reg's Hitzer can't advertise them as dual fuel [wood/coal].
The Model 55 and 82 Heater have a uniqe down draft design that forces the exhaust gases back through the fire. I had paid little attention to the units and was impressed.
Was thinking about a 503 fireplace insert for my living room, but after learning more about them I might go with the 983 due to the larger fire box as a wood burner.
One thing that I ask Dean about was his employee's, they have NO turn over!!! Think about that during this day and time. Most of his employee's are Amish, and several are from the same family with 2-3 generations working there.
Also they don't have or need a shop foreman, most employee's are trained in all operations. Dean said, all he has to do is keep them supplied with materials and they just attack it and go, then he fills in where ever he is needed.
I like my Alaska Stoker just fine, but the wife like's the idea of a stove not needing electricity, so I will definitly have a Hitzer in my future, if nothing more than a backup.
P.S. If you go to visit,stop at the "West side Restaurant" just North of Berne, in Decatur, IN. and try the Cod Fish Dinner. Outstanding! But would be better with Beer!