Mueller Industries: Committed to Integration, Innovation
In 1917, the modern HVAC and refrigeration industry was just getting started...and so was Mueller Industries. Founded in Port Huron, Mich., the company quickly began to build an understanding of this emerging market's needs, and as the market grew and changed, so did the company.
From forged brass fittings to the pioneering of solder-type copper fittings to the invention of nitrogenized ACR copper tube, Mueller Industries has developed many industry firsts. With operations now located throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, and Great Britain, many Mueller Industries' products and brands have become standards in the HVAC and refrigeration industry.
BROAD AND EXPANDING PRODUCT OFFERINGMueller Industries offers a wide array of HVAC and refrigeration products under the legacy brand Streamline®, as well as various other products under such brands as Southland and ProLine. According to Brad Barksdale, national sales manager - HVACR, "Our Streamline refrigeration products are trusted and respected for optimum system performance and enhanced serviceability. These valves and protection devices are compatible with the newest refrigerants and oils and are known around the world for their reliability, consistent quality, and flawless operation over a wide range of high operating temperatures and pressures."
Barksdale has spent his entire professional career in the flow control industry and is passionate about the company's products and customers' needs. "We provide distributors with expanding product innovations. Our engineers and operations are always busy incorporating the latest industry advancements and performance features, as well as developing unique proprietary technologies."
The company recently added a multi-split/VRF package that includes UL-listed valves packaged with form-fitting insulation. The combined offering is designed to provide ease of installation to the contractor. To complement the new valve line, the company offers a broad line of mini-split line sets with various custom options. According to Barksdale, this line set customization is an important service differentiator, as the company can provide contractors with numerous options for specialized sizes, lengths, insulations, bends, wire, ends, and connections.
"There are a number of line sets companies trying to compete in the market by purchasing copper tube from wherever they can find and from the lowest bidder," noted Barksdale. "We are proud of our legacy in producing the industry's best copper tube and fittings right here in the USA. Our unique vertical integration allows us the ability to control quality from start to finish. We leverage our many years of metallurgy and manufacturing experience with every Streamline copper product we make, including our line sets."
The company has also expanded its offering of protection devices with the introduction of accumulators and receivers. "This fall we will introduce a new line of Drymaster(r) filter drier cores and replaceable shells compatible with all CFC, HCFC, and HFC refrigerants and oils," said Mary Ruth Yates, business development manager. Additionally, the company plans to expand its sight glass offering later in 2012.
COMMITMENT TO THE MARKETDespite the company's diverse offerings, it is clear that Mueller Industries is focused on the overall HVACR market. "Whether it's providing every day system components such as copper tube, fittings, and refrigeration valves or providing leading OEMs with complex engineered solutions, Mueller Industries continues to show a long-standing commitment to understanding and meeting the needs of the HVACR market," states Roscoe Bufkin, director of marketing.
The company's professional staff allows products to be tested at its extensive in-house lab facilities to demonstrate how they meet and exceed specific third-party requirements. And when engineers and designers need to know about using copper and brass products in unique and especially demanding HVACR applications, they can get personalized technical support.
"Beyond our commitment to our distribution partners, the company is committed to being a resource for HVAC and refrigeration equipment manufacturers, system designers, and installing contractors," said Dr. Charles Stout, PE, head of research and development. Dr. Stout has been on a mission to educate system designers with published articles and speaking engagements, and along with other employees, he is driving efforts at ASHRAE, ASTM, and ASME to update standards and design guides in support of modern refrigerants like R-410A and sub-critical CO2.
Thanks to years of research and testing, the company recently achieved another industry first by having its Streamline refrigeration copper tube, copper fittings, and line sets UL recognized to 700 psi operating pressures. Customers appreciate this third-party certification, as well as the company's 10-year warranty on these products in HVACR applications, said Chris Mueller, director of copper systems marketing. "This is simply a matter of understanding the market and listening to our customers. They asked for support in qualifying copper products for use with higher pressure refrigerants. We delivered."
To further support contractors and design engineers, Streamline copper fittings are available on the company's website in a variety of 2-D and 3-D formats. To support future needs, REVIT Building Information Modeling (BIM) models will also be available shortly. "As designers and installers move into more advanced technologies - be it with tools, equipment, or refrigerants - we plan to be a reliable partner," stated Mueller.
COMMITMENT TO THE CHANNELMueller Industries' commitment to wholesale distribution excellence reaches deep into the company and is reinforced every day, through its employees. "Our employees are well-trained and work as a team. We view our customers as partners, and we are driven to providing the best products and customer service to help them be the best," said Devin Malone, supply chain manager - HVACR.
Having an average of 13 years of experience with the company, Mueller Industries' factory direct sales force is an active and visible part of the service commitment. Each sales person is dedicated to the HVACR channel and receives continuous training on products, services, and industry trends. They perform both local sales and marketing activities and are aligned to quickly serve customer needs.
Internally, customers are supported by a dedicated customer service representative (CSR) and additionally backed by an HVACR channel management team. Empowered to make the customer's experience hassle-free and enjoyable, the CSRs work from a centralized service center at the company's headquarters in Memphis, Tenn. "We want to develop a relationship with our customers at every level, and our dedicated CSRs make this happen by listening, understanding, and responding to each individual wholesaler's needs," said Malone.
Mueller Industries also offers customers a host of B2B solutions and innovative fulfillment features to help support various critical areas of business. "Our company understands that wholesale distributors look for vendors that can not only provide them with a wide array of customer preferred, high quality products, but can also bring them support, business efficiency and operational savings. In today's environment, more than ever, details count," said Bufkin.
As Malone noted, "We have been able to work directly with customers to develop features and technologies that bring greater efficiency to their business processes." One such technology is an assisted inventory management program known as LINK. "LINK simplifies the inventory and order management process to lower transaction costs and improve response times ... without taking inventory control away from the wholesaler."
The company's supply chain network is geographically vast and is designed to be customer responsive by utilizing multiple points of strategic distribution and fully integrated inventory visibility. "For our customers, this means we have the right inventory in the right places to ensure orders are serviced quickly and completely," said Malone. "Continuous improvement is more than a motto around here. Though we're proud of our current service metrics, we never stop measuring. We never stop working on what it takes to make our customers successful."