The Primo StoryIt all began with an American tourist and a turkey
George Samaras completed his tour of duty as a pharmacist in the Greek military in 1986. Soon after, he found his love for the sea and began racing sailboats and captaining a yacht for tourist excursions throughout the Greek Islands. In 1988, he met his future wife Kelley, an American who was vacationing with her family and had chartered Samaras' boat. George was taken with Kelley and they stayed in touch after she returned home. She eventually moved to Greece and later the two were married. After seven years together in Greece, the couple decided to take on their next adventure in the United States.
On one Thanksgiving Day, George's father-in-law introduced him to a kamado cooker. This is where George realized the amazing flavor and juiciness a ceramic cooker could give any food. He purchased his own and regularly cooked meals for his friends and family.
George loved these cookers so much that he would ship them to Greece for friends and family. Eventually, George had over 80 people in his homeland that wanted a kamado. He reached out to the manufacturer to see if he could start a distributorship in Greece, but they declined.
Not to be deterred, George saw a niche in the market and decided that he would make his own kamado cookers. Many people, including ceramic engineers, told him that it couldn't be done, but he pressed on and spent the next several years developing and testing his own formula for the refractory material to get the right blend.
That brings us to 1996, where George founded and established Primo Ceramic Grills. Samaras chose the name, "Primo" because it means "the best" in Italian. His first manufacturing facility was a 700 sq. ft. space he rented. Due to the limited space he could only make two grills at a time and he had to drive across town to a kiln to have them fired.
As his business began to pick up, George continued to strive towards the best possible ceramic grill on the market, while maintaining manufacturing in the United States. George's love for improvement and innovation led him to discover that an oval-shaped grill offered greater cooking versatility and efficiency than a round-shaped grill. The introduction of the patented oval-shaped grill in 2002 established Primo as a major manufacturer in the ceramic grill market.
Primo Ceramic Grills Today
Primo Ceramic Grills and Empire Comfort Systems share many of the same distributors and partners. Nick Bauer, Empire Comfort System's President, and George had built a relationship over many years at industry tradeshows. The two became fast friends and had many discussions on how Primo could be incorporated into the Empire family someday. In the fall of 2019, this became a reality as Primo Ceramic Grills was acquired by Empire Comfort Systems.
Empire Comfort Systems is a 4th generation family owned business that was established in 1932 and is a leading manufacturer of gas and wood heating appliances, as well as gas grills, with Broilmaster Premium Gas Grills previously being acquired by Empire Comfort Systems. Empire is dedicated to building on Primo's quality name that George established, by continuing to invest in product improvements and expand the offered accessories.
Today, Primo Ceramic Grills are manufactured in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and headquarter in Belleville, Illinois. You can find Primo Ceramic Grills in more than 24 countries around the world including, all of North America.