Thomas Harman | CEO of Balsam Hill

Our Delightful Castle Peak Pine

Our Balsam Hill Castle Peak Pine Tree

It’s our busy time of year, and as we prepare for our peak season, it can be easy to forget why we do what we do.  In the midst of all the busy-ness, I had a truly refreshing experience yesterday.

A media publication contacted us and asked if they could run a story about Balsam Hill, to which we happily obliged.  They asked to do a photo shoot with me and one of our trees in a home setting, and since we are so busy, I asked a friend to set up and decorate a tree for the photo shoot.  I arrived after all the decorating was done, and found a gorgeously decorated Castle Peak Pine awaiting.

My friend and her daughter were beaming, they were so thrilled with how great the tree looked.  It was the first time they’d set up a Balsam Hill tree, and they bashfully admitted to me that they had always had fresh Christmas trees, but after setting up the Castle Peak Pine, they were pretty much convinced to buy a Balsam Hill tree.

Yet the real surprise for me was just remembering how beautiful the Castle Peak Pine really is.  In all honesty, I don’t think I had ever fully appreciated its beauty.  It’s not like I hadn’t seen it before, I designed it and in fact had been working on it for over two years.  But most of the time, I have seen it in our R&D facility, without decorations, and without the charm and comfort of seeing it in a warm, inviting home.

The Castle Peak Pine is one that took a long time to develop: I wanted to introduce a tree similar to our Aspen Silver Fir, one that was all True Needle, and that had quite a bit of space in between each branch.  This allows for an open look and also for ornaments (especially larger ones) to be beautifully displayed.  However, in contrast to the Aspen Silver Fir, I wanted to have a tree that had a warmer color palette as well as spruce needle tips instead of fir.

While my favorite trees are ones that exactly mimic nature (such as our BH Noble Fir or BH Fraser Fir), there are only so many natural tree species that make great Christmas trees, so we also design trees that are guided by nature, such as this one.

Inspired by the Engelmann Spruce and other beautiful conifers around Colorado Springs, Castle Pines, and other communities in the Eastern foothills of the Colorado Rockies, our team set out to develop this beautiful tree.  For the first year of development, we code named it the Nebraska Pine.  (I’m not sure why, but it was memorable…in part because we kept coming back to make minor tweaks this tree.)  Call me picky, but it took a long time until we had the tree just right.

The challenge with an open tree like the Castle Peak Pine is that it needs to have enough branch density so that the light strings are concealed, but not too much density that all the nooks and crannies that are so naturally great for ornaments get filled in.  And of course, the tree needs a realistic faux trunk since there is not a dense inner thicket of branches to cover up the tree’s center pole like many of our trees.

After many iterations, our team perfected the Castle Peak Pine and we achieved what I think is the perfect balance of needle tips; needle shape; needle, stem, and bark color; a gorgeous tree shape; and the right amount of lights.   Ultimately we decided to introduce the Castle Peak Pine with our Candlelight TM LEDs – their warm glow accentuates the gentle, warm colors of this tree beautifully.

Back to the present – walking into this photo shoot I was just astounded with the beauty of the Castle Peak Pine.  It looked so real, so natural…the handmade branches had been fluffed perfectly so that it looked just like a farm grown Christmas tree with natural variances in how each branch tip fell.  It was so stunning that I surprised myself!

About the Author
Thomas is as an operator and investor in consumer brands and consumer Internet companies. Since founding ecommerce retailer Balsam Hill, Thomas has launched several other national brands under the Balsam Brands umbrella including pool retailer Backyard Ocean. Prior to founding Balsam Brands, Thomas ran a contract manufacturing company, worked in consumer products marketing, business development, and as a management consultant.