Go with Edwards! Here's why:
Friendly and Customer-Centered: Sometimes you can just feel when a business model is based on customer service. My first encounter with Edwards was five years ago when I bought a house with an aging gas fireplace. I called the nearest retailer (Acme) looking for someone to give that unit a checkup before lighting it, but they sternly informed me that they only service units they sell and could not recommend an outside technician. Next I called Edwards. They were a lot more friendly and helpfully recommended someone terrific who got me up and running. That was the day I decided on Edwards for my future needs, and I'm very happy I did!
Knowledgeable: This might be the most important thing. Edwards has the experience (and willingness) to make sure your needs are met. I live in a log home. I wanted a gas fireplace that would keep me warm during a power outage, and I wanted to vent it through the logs. Crazy, right? Nope. Megan and Jay knew exactly what to do and had done it before! I'm also a careful research shopper. Edwards supported my quest for knowledge, but I quickly learned that Megan knows best. They answered detailed questions about my specific model as though it's the only thing they do.
Brands: Before you walk into the showroom, Edwards has already made some choices for you in terms of the brands they offer. This isn't trivial. Those choices are based on more than 40 years installing and servicing their own work. I got a Valor gas log fireplace. Valor specializes in units that pump out tons of heat without using a fan, so they work great off-grid or in a power outage. Acme doesn't carry anything like that.
No Sales Pressure: These folks are great listeners. If that expensive add-on technology isn't useful for your needs, they will say so. This is the self-supporting value of a customer-centered model. They have plenty of business and loyal customers, so there's no need to upsell any of them (us!). In my case, both Megan and Jay helped me make smart choices, not unnecessarily expensive ones.
Professional: Edwards has spectacular communication, great organization, and rock-solid scheduling. Working with them was easy and seamless.
Tips: (1) Start in the summer. (2) Visit the showroom. Computer screens aren't a great way to compare sizes and shapes or fire profiles. If you didn't heed tip #1, make an appointment with a sales rep. for your visit. (3) What? Fire profile? There are some gorgeous options out there, and I'm talking about plain old logs, not just beds of glass and whatnot. I didn't expect to love my fire so much. It's worth seeing them in person. (4) Megan knows best. So long as you tell her what you need and want, she has the best answers and ideas. Photos can help. (5) Take the time to wait on experienced contractors, and take all the recommendations from Edwards that you can get. Did I mention starting in the summer? (6) I bought my stone from Edwards, and that was a breeze. I highly recommend that plan if you're using stone.
My new fireplace does not replace the old one that started my relationship with Edwards, so I'm already dreaming of my next project. Thanks, Edwards!