Breeo Archive: A Bump in the Road
Here at Breeo Headquarters, you can find Breeo Co-Founder, Jonathan Miller, going in and out of meetings, discussing product development, and sharing brand strategy. If he’s not talking about new ways to improve the company, there’s a good chance you might hear him telling stories from his hunting trips in the tundra, surviving in the bush of Canada, or experiences from the early days of Breeo.
In this article of the Breeo Archive Series, Jonathan shares about a close call from the Rethinking Fire Tour, what he learned from the incident, and how he moved forward.
In 2015, four years after the first smokeless fire pit was made, Jonathan decided to embark on a two-year journey across North America with the purpose of spreading the word about the Breeo smokeless fire pit. They called the endeavor the “Rethinking Fire Tour”.
After selling their apartment and spending six weeks in Europe, Jon and his wife returned to Lancaster, PA, and began the tour in their new home, a 17-foot Casita Travel Trailer. They started along the East Coast first, visiting dealers and working on building the brand.
“That Spring of 2015 was the first time that Breeo really got traction in the marketplace, and we really started having a lot more success with expanding the dealer network. I think it was April of that year, Janessa and I were driving up through North-Western PA towards a dealer...”
Jonathan went on to share how he had installed an attachment on the back of the camper carrying supplies, a Green Egg MiniMax, and of course, a Breeo Fire Pit.
“So I had a lot of weight on the back of the camper and at the time I didn’t know much about tongue weight and how important it is for towing. So we were going down a hill and the trailer started to wiggle. It was a two-lane highway, luckily no one was coming the other direction. So when the vehicle braked, the trailer started swinging back and forth. It swung out into the oncoming lane and flipped the trailer over which then flipped over the Subaru. So both vehicles were on their side and were swinging in a half circle. Somehow, when we hit the mountain, both vehicles went upright again. So when it’s all done, we were in the same lane we were driving in, facing the other direction, upright...but both vehicles had been on their side, which I still don’t quite know how that happened.”
Luckily, Jon and his wife were unharmed. The local fire department came out and took them to a nearby town where they stayed the next few days as they got the Subaru fixed.
Jon remembered the condition of the items on the back of the camper. “Interestingly, the Breeo on the back flew off, obviously, and got a small dent. The green egg, which is a high quality product but is ceramic and not steel, also flew off and literally exploded. I found three small, 2 or 3-inch pieces of the green egg, the rest I guess had just gone into the trees beside the road because it exploded.”
Even though the accident could’ve been much worse, Jonathan realized this was a crucial moment in the history of Breeo, “This was very pivotal for us because it was very early on in starting Breeo. I had no other form of income, and we were living in a camper. Now the camper was smashed and we had only just gotten started with the Rethinking Fire Tour. I feel like this would’ve been a point where the opportunity to give up would’ve made sense but we didn’t.
We went back to Lancaster, parked it behind the shop at Breeo, and for the next month or two, I would work and fiberglass the camper. One of the back upper corners of the camper was totally caved in, so I had to build in some structure with wood because it didn’t have enough structural support.”
After a couple months of juggling the new company and repairing their home-on-wheels, Jon and his wife were able to hit the road once again and resume the tour. They headed to the west coast and spent the next 2 and a half years living in their Casita, but we’ll save those stories for another time.
To wrap things up, Jonathan added one more thing.
“So, the moral of the story,” Jonathan concluded, “is if you do something new, there may be shenanigans, but keep going.”