About Our Company

Joe lifting a Chambers.JPG
 
 

When witnessing his knowledge and enthusiasm for vintage stoves, clients inevitably ask founder Joe Oliver how he came to work on them. "Depends on if you believe in fate or circumstance", he'll open.  "Fate-wise, my mom and dad met working at the headquarters for People’s Gas Light and Coke in downtown Chicago. Then they moved to suburban Aurora and Naperville, where my dad, as well as relatives and family friends, worked for Northern Illinois Gas. My brother and I worked summers for the company during college.  You wouldn’t offend me by saying that I've got gas".

"As far as circumstance goes, 15 years ago, while stove shopping for our first home, my wife and I were dismayed by the poor quality and looks of modern stoves. No doubt we were influenced by our friends' gorgeous blue 1950 Chambers.  That friend found us an older white version, and, since I was never happy with any toy or mechanical possession until I tore it apart, I stripped our Chambers down to the floor in our basement.  From the burner castings to the broiler mechanism to the gas system, I was constantly amazed with the stove's simplicity, ingenuity, and quality".

"It took about 6 months of spare time to restore the thing and finally install it as the centerpiece of our new kitchen.  The visual impact of all that gleaming chrome and porcelain was astounding enough.  But then, my wife and I started to cook with it. Instead of a chore, it was interesting and fun. Especially impressive was it's ability to cook with the gas turned off in both the oven and ThermoWell. THAT seemed like magic! We were head-over-heels in love with the thing!"

Occasionally, visitors to their home would see the Chambers and connect Joe with owners of vintage stoves needing repair. That was the beginning of a side job that steadily grew into a full-time profession, serving thousands of diverse clients throughout Chicagoland, as well as nearby Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana.

The more stoves he works on, the more Joe is convinced that vintage stoves are an underestimated resource in minimizing carbon emissions.  He also feels that the enjoyment of cooking is greatly enhanced by the art and craftsmanship "Retro" stoves bring into our kitchens.

With Retro Stove & Gas Works, Joe strives to mentor young people whose learning/career paths tend toward manual crafts and the trades, nurturing the next generation of Retro Stove & Gas Works technicians. The staff encourages creative and intellectual curiosity, pride in ability and craftsmanship, and reverence for a useful and sustainable appliance whose design and construction represents the very best of American quality and ingenuity.