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Company History

Founded in 1980 as a small country store, Plow & Hearth® has grown into a leading retailer of products for home, hearth, yard and garden. Successfully marketing these products through all three major channels - catalog, internet and retail stores - Plow & Hearth has evolved over the past 30 years into a multi-million dollar retailer whose products cover indoor and outdoor rooms, gardens, pets, personal comfort and care, safety and emergencies, weather instruments, storage solutions and gifts.

The Early Years

In 1980, the husband-and-wife team of Peter and Peggy Rice, together with Michael Burns, founded Plow & Hearth as a small retail store amid the lush, rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Madison, Virginia. In an era when interest in alternative energy, family and self-reliant lifestyles was growing, Plow & Hearth opened its first "Essentials for Country Living" store. The building was solar powered and heated by a wood stove, and sold chainsaws, rototillers, wood stoves, country kitchen items, food preparation and preservation equipment, bird watching items, bulk seeds, lawn and garden tools and how-to books.

The Growth Years

Encouraged by the community's enthusiastic reception, the following year Plow & Hearth produced its first catalog, mailing 100,000 copies nationwide. Typical of a family-run start-up, Peggy Rice and her sister, Marty, filled the catalog orders from the old granary on the Rice's farm. The catalog successfully expanded operations beyond the Shenandoah Valley, and Plow & Hearth was profitable at the close of its first complete financial year. Within another year, catalog sales grew beyond the granary's capacity, and were moved to the back of the retail store.


To ensure that the rapid growth of the 1980s did not alter our responsive, family-friendly way of doing business, we instituted a Quality Improvement Process (QIP), which became a core part of the Plow & Hearth corporate culture. Quality initiatives were implemented throughout the company, with problem-solving teams as the cornerstones of our quality efforts. In 1994 Plow & Hearth was selected as a Finalist for the 1993 United States Senate Productivity and Quality Award (USSPQA) for the state of Virginia. The USSPQA is modeled after the nationally recognized Malcolm Baldridge quality awards and uses many of the same criteria for recognizing companies of outstanding quality. In 1995 the company was selected a USSPQA Medalist Winner, the highest award for quality bestowed upon an organization.