Joe Ochal could never have predicted going into the chimney business. While studying for his microbiology undergraduate at Temple University and earning his master’s degree at Thomas Jefferson University, he had every intention of spending his career in the sciences.
To fund his studies, he worked for his uncle’s fireplace showroom business part-time. His friends dubbed him ‘The Chimney Scientist’ when he would show up to the lab or class dirty from chimney cleanings.
By day, he studied and performed experiments, but in the mornings before class and in the evenings after study groups, he earned money for books and other expenses by cleaning local chimneys and fixing fireplaces.
Little did he know that his part-time job would become a full-time passion, and he would eventually name his business The Chimney Scientists.
Ochal fell in love with the chimney business, wood stoves, and fires for several reasons. First, they’re affordable and work well. They radiate heat and can be used for cooking, but even beyond that, he loves the charming atmosphere created by a roaring fire in a stunning chimney.
Today, The Chimney Scientist — along with a staff of 20 — serves clients throughout the 5 county Philadelphia area, performing chimney and fireplace repairs, inspections, cleanings, maintenance, and enhancements.
“I eventually want to serve clients across the US. It’s not so much about growing my business, but about employing good people and creating a truly customer-oriented business,” he said.
Recalling His Childhood
As a kid, Ochal enjoyed spending time with his uncle. Both at the showroom and in his home, coal and wood stoves would be burning regularly, which led to his enthusiasm for the industry.
“I love home heating, the smells, the fire, the crackles — and freedom and independence from the oil and electric companies,” said Ochal. “Wood stoves are personal for me as we had one when I was younger. That is why I got into wood burning. I’m hooked on the business of it too.”
And lest you think he’s outgrown the family tradition of gathering around a cozy fireplace, he said, “I love radiant heat; it’s like sitting out in the sun. I’m just crazy about it. I’ve got fire pits, wood stoves; you name it. It’s out of control! I also like to buy and test multiple products like different types of fire grates, pokers, kindling choppers, axes, fire pits, and fire starters in my spare time to have that first hand knowledge for my customers of any ancillary products that will create a more enhanced fire experience for them.”
A Certified Expert
Ochal holds multiple hearth and chimney industry certifications from the Chimney Safety Institute of America for both installing and maintaining fireplace products.
He started The Chimney Scientists based on a solid set of core values. His large team of kind-hearted professionals works together to bring customers the best quality service possible and comprehensive scientific education on their chimneys and fireplaces.
Though he readily admits that he prefers a chimney brush to a lab bench these days, Ochal still gets his scientific fix and uses his top-notch education. He says that his science background applies in many ways to the business of burning better, cleaner, and more scientifically efficient fires.
When he starts the process with a new client, he asks them about their lifestyle: Are they looking for wood-burning or gas? Do they imagine sitting by the fireside and enjoying the crackling sounds and smoky scent, or would they rather flip a switch and avoid the mess? And do they want the fireplace for warmth or ambiance? are among the queries his team asks.
Once he learns what a client needs and wants, his team employs high-tech cameras and tools to inspect chimneys from various angles and for various purposes to ascertain repair needs and safety measures.
Doing Good, Being Green
Ochal is also a passionate climate advocate. He has put his scientific knowledge to use by creating and funding Afrilab medical diagnostics, Valley Forge Watershed Association’s water quality testing program. He is also a board member of the association.
On the county level, he donates time and funds to Dawn’s Place, Brandywine Valley SPCA, Natural Lands, and the Komen Foundation.
At the international level, Ochal works with global charities and chimney industry leaders on research projects regarding wood burning and moisture content testing that will significantly practically reduce particulate emissions. The Firewood Project is his own initiative working toward reduced emissions from wood burning.
With this specialized and passionate background, we’ll be sure to call up Ochal and The Chimney Scientists with all of our Montgomery County fireplace, chimney, and wood-burning needs.
About Joe Ochal and Chimney Scientists
Joe Ochal is the Founder of The Chimney Scientists, serving the Philadelphia area. The Chimney Scientists is a full-service chimney and fireplace company that provides chimney and fireplace repairs, inspections, and cleanings, as well as historical restorations. To find out more about chimney repairs, please visit https://chimneyscientists.com/