By: Haylie Smart | Category: Home Improvement | Issue: November 2023
Jack Wills is the third generation to manage their family business and continue the legacy of helping homeowners live well in their spaces.
A Tulsa business that has stood the test of time, and truly knows what it means to create a legacy is Jack Wills Outdoor Living.
Started eighty-four years ago by Jack Wills Sr. in 1939, the family business focused on high-end indoor furniture and draperies. Described as a stylish designer by his grandson, Jack Wills III, Wills Sr. would create a vignette style living room in his showroom, which is commonplace now, but was unheard of back then.
"He was way ahead of his time," Wills said. When the visionary Jack Wills Jr. took over the business in 1969, he bravely shifted the focus to outdoor furniture, where at the time it was one of the first stores in the country to do this. In the 1980s, Wills Jr. added barbecue grills, fireplaces, play sets, and basketball hoops. Jack Wills III has continued the tradition of specializing in higher quality outdoor living.
Now that cooler weather has arrived, outdoor fireplaces are a hot item at their store located near 41st St. and Memorial. "Gas logs are by far our most popular. " Wills said of his different products. "People may not want to burn wood, or are tired of burning wood because of the mess. They want instant fire and instant heat, and they can get that with gas."
Wills is proud to carry Hargrove, one of the top manufacturers of gas logs, because it's located just down the road in Sand Springs.
"We carry a vast lineup of their product range because it's right here in Oklahoma, so we have a much better advantage than dealers in other states."
Of that product range is Osage Oak, River Oak, and Woodward Pine. Osage uses radiant riser technology that directs heat forward and into the room, creating heat output comparable to vent free fireplaces. The Osage is available in a size as small as 21" and as large as 36''. River includes a revolutionary molding process that captures all the detail you a expect from ceramic fiber, for maximum heat radiance. Ceramic fiber material gives much greater heating efficiency than other vented log sets. Lastly, Woodward possesses everything Osage and River does, but is by far the most realistic looking of the log sets. When it comes to luxury indoor gas fireplaces, Wills carries the popular brands Napoleon, Mendota, and Regency.
Though gas logs are the most popular, the electric fireplace is the fastest growing, beating out the traditional wood-burning fireplace. "It's really taken off because you can put them anywhere in the home." he said.
Another reason they're gaining in popularity is because of the user's creative control. The Regency Skope fireplace gives you the choice of three flame effects, an immersive down lighting, and the choice of thirteen different ember colors. It also comes with a remote that controls the flame options, fuel lighting, and temperature, as well as scheduling what days of the week and time of day you want the fireplace activated. It will even shut itself off when it detects a window has been opened to save power.
If you're more economical minded, the gas fireplace is better suited for you since there isn't any cost in purchasing split wood and your electric bill isn't affected. "We're very fortunate in Oklahoma to have a great natural gas supply and not have to worry about propane. Natural gas is the most efficient."
When it comes to service, the competitive Jack Wills beats any competitor hands down.
"We're definitely the number one source to give you the proper direction and proper fit, whether it's your existing fireplace, remodeling, or building a house." he said.
He shared the story about a father and daughter who had come in fully researched on the topic of vent free fireplaces and were ready to buy one on the spot. But thankfully, Wills knows everything there is to know about vent free fireplaces and noticed the father was carrying an oxygen tank. He told the daughter that was not the fireplace for them as vent free fireplaces are designed to pull oxygen out of the room, which would hurt her father. The woman had no idea since none of her online research revealed that, and she was incredibly grateful to Wills.
"We live in a self-research world and everybody is an expert in everything, but I think we give them the right expertise and proper guidance. We have really well-versed and educated people that have been in the industry for a long time here."
The most fulfilling aspect of owning and operating a business his grandfather started is something Wills doesn't expect because of the nature of the business-gratitude.
"It's fulfilling when a customer comes back and thanks me because a product they bought exceeded their expectations or lasted longer than they thought it would."
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