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Looking for a Few Good Manufacturers

April 4, 2011
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Mike Murphy

MechanicalXchangeSM is a cooperative effort between HVAC mechanical contractors and industry vendors, including equipment manufacturers, software companies, controls companies, and other business services. The NEWS has been involved with the event since it began in 2005 with 13 major mechanicals and 13 vendors from around the country. The next year a few more joined including the largest mechanical contractor in Mexico. From those early beginnings, the event has shaped up to become one of the premier gatherings for strategic discussions within the HVAC industry. This is not some pie-in-the-sky, think-tank group - this is about real projects, real dollars, and real success.

So, if you haven’t guessed, you’ve just gotten yourself about one-third of the way into a commercial for the Xchange event. However, this is not a strong-arm sales pitch - in fact, the 2011 event scheduled for September 25-28, in Park City, Utah, is closed to new contractors. However, there is still room for a few good vendors.

BIG POTATOES

An interesting facet of this strategic event is that it actually works best with a limited number of participants. We’ve found that about 25 contractors and 25 vendors is an optimum operating number, and the contractor contingent is locked up for this year. Lest you think this is a small meeting - it’s not. Contractor attendees come from a list of the Top 100 mechanical contractors in North America. Typically, the purchasing power of the group exceeds $3.2 billion annually, and has been as great as more than $6 billion. Small potatoes it’s not.

So, what comes from exclusive, one-on-one strategic meetings between industry titans? Interesting stuff. For example: One major manufacturer that came with the express purpose of floating the idea of a new product for a specific niche health care market actually found a contractor to provide the service network for the entire Western United States for an unrelated product line.

Another example: A contractor that builds its own line of products for the banking industry found additional distribution through a new association with a manufacturing company with an even wider distribution network and similar need.

MORE MEAT

Eighty percent of the vendors are involved in the equipment side of the business. At the MechanicalXchange, there are, of course, the typical discussions one might expect regarding projects on the books, and projects on the way. These days, all parties to a construction project - contractors, reps, and manufacturers - are interested in anything from a “little” $250,000 project upwards to the “big” stuff. However, as one California contractor said, “Sure, we’re looking for an advantage on our current project list, but the Xchange isn’t really about that. We are really looking for business relationships that will take us two or three years down the road, and beyond. This isn’t about quick hits for anybody.”

Two long-time attendees captured the purpose of the Xchange very succinctly:

“The MechanicalXchange offers a unique approach to finding new vendor partners who fit our strategic initiatives and support our role as an industry leader. It produces results.”
- Jim Wharton, Vice President of Operations, LINC Network

“At every MechanicalXchange meeting we come away with new strategic partners and specific initiatives that improve our bottom line.”
- Jeff Philabaum, President, Hill York

MEAL FIT FOR A KING

Often has it been said that in business, as in all things, it’s not what you know but who you know. The connections that have been developed, and the reconnections that have been strengthened during the six years of the MechanicalXchange event, have served the HVACR industry quite well.

Recent years have been a tough go for some; if it’s time to hit the road again in search of new or better relationships with the key decision-makers all in one place - then all roads lead to Park City, Utah.

Visit www.mechanicalxchange.com for more information, or call Mike Murphy at 248-244-6446.

Publication date: 04/04/2011
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