The moment for David Rentfrow came when he was hiking with his then twenty-year-old son, Sage, on Tesuque Peak. His son, who had planned to go to college in Missouri, turned to the west, looked at the sun coming down over the Jemez Mountains and said, “Dad, I’m moving here.”
The moment was an epiphany not just for Sage, but for David as well. After a long career working for a Fortune 500 company, David was ready to start a new career — but this time with his son at his side. And a career not in his hometown of St. Louis, but in Santa Fe, a place he had fallen in love with some twenty years earlier.
“My son and I are ridiculously close,” says David. “He’s my best friend, and the thought of being able to work with him every day really motivated me on this journey. I wanted to look for a new business that we could do together, a sustainable business for the family and a business that could grow and he could eventually take over.”
After much research, the business David decided to purchase with his wife and their son was The Firebird. The Firebird specializes in hearths, landscaping irrigation and outdoor living: fireplaces, hearth accessories, fire pits, stoves, barbecue grills, rain barrels, drip systems and more. David says that when he really started thinking about it, he realized The Firebird transacts business related to three of the four elements — water, fire and earth. To David, the forty-four-year-old brand, with such a strong reputation not just in Santa Fe, but throughout Northern New Mexico, was the perfect fit. And the perfect antidote to retiring.
“With my type of personality, retirement was never in the cards,” says David. “It’s now been four months since we acquired The Firebird, and we are having a blast. We are learning, growing and changing the business. We are now doing an extensive remodel of the showroom and rethinking key elements of the business.”
“If you live in Northern New Mexico, you probably have one to three fire features in your home, both indoor and outdoor,” says David. “And we are fortunate in Northern New Mexico to have twelve months of potential outdoor living. And if you want to grow anything in your yard besides a juniper or piñon tree, you need an irrigation system as well. So, we like to tell people that we sell the essentials for life in Northern New Mexico — fire and water.”
All of this is a welcome change for David. Along with incorporating his entire family into the new business, he has been able to live and work full-time in the city that captured his heart two decades ago.
“I grew up in Southern California,” says David, “and we would drive through New Mexico often, but usually Albuquerque. Then, about twenty-seven years ago I was invited to Santa Fe to do a presentation to a group of lawyers, and the city just instantly clicked with me. When I brought my wife here for the first time, she felt the same way, so we’ve been spending two weeks a year here for the last twenty years.”
David also jumped right into charitable volunteer service. He serves on the Board of Directors for The Horse Shelter, Northern New Mexico’s largest horse rescue facility. The Santa Fe nonprofit provides a sanctuary for abandoned, abused and neglected horses from throughout the state, rehabilitates them and, whenever possible, adopts them out to safe environments.
“Growing up in the Mojave Desert, I was always attracted to mountains and open spaces and that is something that Santa Fe has as well,” says David. “Additionally, there is a richness to the history and culture here that you can’t find anywhere else. To me, there is nothing else like it in the United States when it comes to its depth and richness of history. Kiva fireplaces, adobe walls. We fell in love with it all.”
Joshua Rose is currently a Senior Vice President at the Santa Fe Art Auction, responsible for Native Art and Fine Art. Previously, he spent the last 15 years as the editor of American Art Collector, Western Art Collector, Native American Art Magazine and American Fine Art Magazine. He currently resides in Santa Fe and Phoenix, Arizona.