Several years ago, while on vacation at Disney World, I was struck by the variety of "brick" and "stone" surfaces created with cast concrete. My partner, Keith Knickerbocker, and I wondered whether it would be possible to use this method to manufacture a good-looking precast fireplace and chimney system that could be delivered to job sites in sections and erected with a crane.

We were sure there would be a ready market for such a product. In his 20 years as a general contractor, Keith had experienced the expensive delays that can occur when the mason is running behind schedule. This has caused many builders in our part of southern New England to exchange traditional masonry for "zero-clearance" manufactured...

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