Taking a break in the action at the Nordyne distributor meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, are from left to right, Doug Jones, Nordyne vice president of sales; Ken Babin and Lee Bradfield, both from Coburns Supply Company of Beaumont, Texas; and Drew Fitzgerald, Nordyne vice president of marketing. (Click on the image for an enlarged view.)

LOS CABOS, MEXICO - Nordyne invited their Westinghouse, Tappan, and Frigidaire distributors ‘south of the border' to focus their attention on the value of brand marketing in the new 13 SEER world. During the three days of meetings, the attendees were given a report on the transition to the 13 SEER marketplace by Dave LaGrand, president of Nordyne; suggestions on how to help dealers to meet changes in the market by Doug Jones, vice president of sales and some ways to help dealers sell the brand first by Drew Fitzgerald, vice president of marketing. In keeping with the theme of the meeting, the company changed the name of Los Cabos to "Brandville."

LaGrand gave an overview of the industry's transition to 13 SEER minimum efficiency products and characterized it as a series of choices. Unlike some other manufacturers, Nordyne chose to build 10 and 12 SEER equipment "to meet market demands for as long as we could," said LaGrand. The planned changeover to 13 SEER and higher-efficiency equipment took less than a week. Although the changeover worked well, the company experienced some significant shifts in market demand.

There were several surprises, according to LaGrand. "There was a surge in demand for heat pumps, industry shipments of 410A product exceeded 50 percent, and demand for 15 and 16 SEER products have been off the charts." Most importantly for Nordyne, demand for the new 23 SEER iQ Driveâ„¢ products has been well above the company's best projections.

Jones told the group, "As we move into the 13 SEER environment, we need to look ahead, not back to the way things used to be." He urged the distributors to be proactive in helping dealers. "Dealers are feeling the pressure to repair old, inefficient systems because of the perceived sticker shock of the new equipment." According to Jones, "Consumer financing is the key thing for the next several years" and he urged distributors to promote the company's fall consumer financing program which features 0 percent interest for 12 months for consumers at no cost to the dealer.

"The new sales environment created by the new 13 SEER minimum requirement has increased the need for brand marketing," according to Fitzgerald. He presented a case for selling the brand first. He said that powerful brands like Frigidaire, Tappan, and Westinghouse have an inherent value in the mind of the consumer, satisfy emotional needs, validate purchase decisions, command premium pricing, and most importantly provide differentiation for the dealer.

Distributor attendees also learned about new products and programs on the horizon. New product announcements for 2007 included a 95 percent AFUE furnace, 14 SEER packaged units, a new line of 7.5- and 10-ton split heat pumps, and air handlers for the light commercial market. The company announced a revitalized replacement parts initiative under the Partners Choice brand and distributors were shown a new software program that will enable dealers to go online to create consumer proposals using Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) data. The new proposal tool will also be able to project energy savings on a market-by-market basis.

LaGrand concluded his comments to the group by saying, "There is a rebirth in our industry because of 13 SEER and brand has never been more important, because consumers want to buy something they can trust."

For more information on Nordyne brands, visit www.nordyne.com.

Publication date: 11/13/2006