Leroy Hite knew hard work from an early age. Born and raised in a rural suburb of Chattanooga, TN, he grew up helping maintain the family’s acre of land and managing the woodpile. Leroy recalls splitting his first tree by hand with a wedge and hammer when he was just eleven years old.
Growing up, he had a love for building the perfect fire, but as an adult, Leroy couldn’t find great firewood anywhere – so he decided to do it himself. Fast forward nearly a decade and his company, Cutting Edge Firewood, is a first-of-its-kind purveyor of cooking wood and firewood delivered right to your door.
Read on to learn about how Leroy built an industry disruptor and the growth ahead for Cutting Edge Firewood.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started.
From my childhood to now, I have always loved building a fire. Fire is raw, beautiful and engages people in a very primal way. Even in college, I created a firewood company as part of my school’s entrepreneurial program. I am passionate about building the perfect fire and I was destined to work in this industry.
How did you come up with the company name?
Cutting Edge has a double meaning. There is the literal meaning of cutting edge of a saw or ax chopping firewood, but also the company stands on the cutting edge in leadership and in disrupting the industry.
How long have you been in business?
I started Cutting Edge in 2013.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by all people that stand up for what’s right, even in the face of opposition. I am also inspired by anyone in power that helps those that are defenseless. I really love that Cutting Edge is providing experiences to our employees and to our customers. Growth and success for our employees and memories for our customers.
What is your mission statement?
Cutting Edge provides the best firewood available. Period. Our passion is to create fires and make memorable experiences.
Tell us about your products and customers. How have they evolved?
Cutting Edge offers unmatched firewood and cooking wood (wood fired pizza ovens, grills and smokers). We put our wood through a special drying process, and then we hand pick it and package the wood in beautiful boxes. With Saltbox, customers can order boxes of our firewood in cherry, hickory and oak varieties. Each box contains everything you need to make 2-4 beautiful fires. Saltbox customers can also order our cooking wood boxes in chunks, cuts or splits in cherry, hickory, oak, maple, pecan, and apple varieties. We offer wood for all sizes of wood fired pizza ovens as well. We have racks and other specialty sizes of firewood on our website too.
What is your personal favorite product that you sell?
This is almost like asking if I have a favorite child! For our firewood, I really love cherry for shorter fires because it smells so amazing. For longer fires, I love our hickory because it burns the hottest and fits perfectly with some of our specialty longer burning products (See Extended Burn Hickory and Uncut Rounds). For cooking wood, I like oak chunks as the base heat source and then cherry splits to add flavor profile. In a pizza oven, I like pecan for its mild, nutty aroma.
Did you always know you wanted to own your own business?
Yes – ever since I started an earlier company when I was a junior in college.
What has been the biggest challenge of running a business?
Since Cutting Edge has completely disrupted the firewood industry, everything we do, we are the first company to do it. So, what we didn’t know, we have learned going 100 mph. I now have a senior team that advises me and provides both short- and long-term goal planning.
What has been the best and/or most surprising moment?
2020 culminated a lot of good moments for Cutting Edge. We went national with our shipping, our cooking wood products really took off, we are now able to offer same-day box delivery in some key markets and we became better known with a very loyal customer base in our hometown of Atlanta.
Do you have any regrets?
I have lots of regrets, but I look at them more as lessons. I just never want to make the same mistake twice. I use them to fuel my passion.
Our biggest successes to date include our unique delivery artisan service that exceeds our customer expectations; our ability to ship quality product nationwide; our expansion into cooking wood and our same-day box delivery in key markets.
What is a quote that you live by?
I can’t pick just one – but there is common theme with these favorite quotes of mine. I share quotes and inspiration with my employees and encourage them to share theirs with our team as well.
“Hard work spotlights the character of people. Some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all. – Sam Ewing
“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” -- Estee Lauder
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do” – Carl Jung
How did you find Saltbox?
The founder of Saltbox, Tyler Scriven, is a longtime customer of Cutting Edge Firewood
What are you most excited about in the Seattle area?
Giving Seattle residents the option for same day box delivery.
What can we do to make your experience with us better?
Keep innovating! We pride ourselves on being leaders within our space and love working with companies that do the same. Working with Saltbox has opened up a lot of doors for us in Seattle that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. We look forward to going into future locations with Saltbox.
Check out more about Leroy and shop all of Cutting Edge Firewood's products on their website.
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