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Rumors that Weil-McLain had discussed the possibility of selling their boilers through the retailer were addressed in a recent letter from Grussing to all Weil-McLain distributors and contractors.
“Our industry has been full of rumors regarding the sale of Weil-McLain boilers by Home Depot,” wrote Grussing. “In fact, we held very preliminary discussions with Home Depot’s At-Home Services division in March and again in July. No deal was ever made. In recent weeks, we have heard strong concern from many distributors, contractors, and customers.
“Your valued input has caused us to evaluate our options and make a choice. Please be advised that effective [Nov. 21, 2002], Weil-McLain has terminated all discussions with Home Depot.
“We have chosen to remain loyal to the distributors, contractors, and customers that have made Weil-McLain the No. 1 brand of boilers.”
Setting The Record Straight“There was so much inaccurate information out there,” said Grussing during a recent interview with The News. “We heard from everyone, and no one seemed to have the right story. Some of the stories were ridiculous, so we felt we needed to set the record straight.
“We never had a deal with Home Depot. We talked about concepts.
“People’s passions were stirred up. It was clear that we could lose business if we didn’t do something about this. Our customers were passionate about the subject, and we decided then and there to pull the plug on the whole thing.”
Some of the speculation was stirred by a Trane Comfort Specialist in Connecticut who used his local Home Depot store to advertise the fact that he also sold and installed Weil-McLain boilers. Trane does have a relationship with Home Depot in which Trane Comfort Specialists are given sales leads generated from Home Depot in-store displays, but the contractor was not authorized to promote his ties to Weil-McLain. “He decided on his own, without any support from us, that he was going to piggyback his Trane/Home Depot deal and also put boilers on display,” Grussing stated.
While Grussing pointed out that the Trane/Home Depot relationship is positive for some contractors, he maintains that Weil McLain’s existing relationships with contractors and distributors is the best way to satisfy the company’s customers.
“We told Home Depot from the very beginning that any discussions we had would have to include our existing distribution base and be contractor-based,” he said. “We didn’t want Home Depot to sell our boilers direct, and we wanted them to use our qualified contractors.”
In summation, Grussing stated, “This has become a real distraction that didn’t need to be. We are in the middle of our heating season and we are trying to service our customers.
“We have a great new product that we want to market,” he said, referring to the company’s Ultra Boiler. “We have our initial product run almost sold out. We have product coming off the line now. We are really excited about it.
“Let’s set the record straight and get on with life.”
Publication date: 01/20/2003