Manufacturer Hosts Plant Tours
SIDNEY, Ohio - Greg Dickerson walked in, sat down, and prepared himself for his first Emerson Product Managers’ Meeting at the Emerson Climate Technologies facility in Sidney, Ohio. The branch counter sales and Emerson Technical Specialist from Refrigeration Supplies Distributor in Roseville, Calif., was ready for whatever Bob Labbett and his team had to offer.
Equally ready was Kevin Parsley, vice president and sales director at ACR Supply Co., Durham, N.C. He couldn’t put an exact number on how many of these meetings he had attended, but estimated it had been around 15.
Despite their different levels of experience with the meeting, each was ready to interact with the company’s engineers as well as their fellow distributors in attendance. Labbett, vice president of Marketing, Distribution Services, Emerson Climate Technologies, kicked off the meeting welcoming attendees. With the meeting underway, participants were engaged with product information and remained involved in learning and networking throughout the conference.
PROGRAM SUMMARYEmerson Climate Technologies meets once a year with the product managers of its Authorized Full Line and Authorized Copeland wholesalers.
“The overall goal of the Product Manager Meeting is to arm attendees with key information about any new products that are launching or to provide updates on existing products and programs,” said Labbett. “These are more technical sessions providing a detailed overview of the product’s design, features, and performance attributes as well as guidance on installation and service.”
In addition to products, the company also discusses other topics that are relevant to product management such as competitive insights, pricing, merchandising, and upcoming promotions or marketing campaigns.
A highlight of this year’s meetings came with the manufacturing and laboratory tours taken by attendees. Looking out from behind industrial safety glasses, groups were given guided tours of the Condensing Unit Plant, Copeland Scroll Plant, and the Solutions Center.
“Learning about new products and being introduced to the market pertaining to existing products is a great benefit,” said Dickerson. “The most enjoyable part of attending this year’s meeting was the factory tours. To see how a condensing unit is assembled and how the scroll compressor is built is a pretty cool event.”
Like Dickerson, many of the attendees raved about the plant tours; some wished they could spend more time in each facility.
“Coming to the plant is something that should be done on a more frequent basis,” noted Parsley. “Things have changed a lot since my last visit to Sydney, Ohio.”
COMMUNICATION OPPORTUNITIESOne thing Parsley said has changed is Emerson Climate Technologies’ efforts to further communicate information to its customers.
“Emerson’s effort to communicate not in its own language but directly to the wholesale distribution channel in a way that can be easily understood has been refreshing,” he explained. “I enjoyed listening to other attendees’ comments and being able to have positive conversations that led to solutions for different issues that arise.”
Interaction was not limited to distributors as they sat listening and working through different business items. Labbett and his team encouraged attendees to provide constructive feedback to some of the product decisions that Emerson Climate Technologies was making. It was emphasized that the distributors’ feedback would be considered as development and changes were made in the near and distant future. Those presenting created what could be described as a cooperative learning atmosphere as opposed to strictly an informational download.
PRODUCT PRESENTATIONSProducts discussed included CoreSense™, ZPK3 to ZPK5 scroll transitions, XJ condensing units, Copeland™ products, FFAP, electronic unit controllers, pricing programs, rebate programs, and more.
Matthew Neidlinger, manager of Marketing and Planning, Compressor Electronics, Emerson Climate Technologies, was one of the first to present. He covered different products and aspects of the Copeland scroll platform. During his presentation, Neidlinger explained that the company is looking for wholesaler support on its CoreSense and CoreSense Protection lines.
Other product managers presented information on specific product and accessory topics as well. The following are some key points raised during the product and learning sessions:
• Digital Retrofit Kits are a good solution for varying demands and problem jobs.
• Counter Intelligence is an online wholesaler portal that guides counterpersons to the right items and add-ons for new products as well as replacements.
• Copeland Performance Alert™ Refrigeration Diagnostics can be applied to almost all Copeland-brand refrigeration products.
WRAPPING UP“Overall, I thought the meeting was good,” said Jeff Warren, manager, Refrigeration Market, Crescent Parts and Equipment, St. Louis. “It provided a lot of good, pertinent information and the lab and plant tours were great. I am looking forward to going again.”
Labbett stated early in the meetings that he hoped this event would help wholesaler customers feel comfortable with new product transitions and electronics. He expressed his openness on receiving feedback from attendees and emphasized the importance of continuing to build relationships and open lines of communication. He closed the meetings in much the same manner, leaving the door open for continued education and conversation.
SIDEBAR: Industry Panel Offers Advice
Report Actionable Data
“I think that a big issue is the lack of data transparency in the industry and the lack of actionable data for wholesalers to use. Tying this back to the manufacturer/distributor relationship, there is a real lack of data for quantifying those relationships, for quantifying performance in those relationships, and for getting some standard definitions of performance in those relationships. You know it’s not going to be an egalitarian system. There’s going to be winners and losers, but those that perform, grow, and can prove it should get a monetary benefit and should get market advantages over those who don’t. We’re going to have to get the data driven solutions for quantifying the value that both channel partners are bringing to the market every day. We have to have a better way of targeting those resources going forward.”
- Talbot Gee, executive vice president and COO, HARDI
Get Involved in Political Process
“I would encourage you to get involved in the political process. I mean you just can’t sit back and let others, like Talbot and myself on Capitol Hill, to go up there and champion your cause. What we need behind us is a very strong army. You are far more effective in getting your message across than we are as lobbyists for the industry. Take some action, get involved. Ask to call a congressman or a senator. Write a letter, something. This whole process works when we collectively do it together.”
- Paul Stalknecht, president, Air Conditioning Contractors of America
Speak Up and Participate
“I think one of the things I have observed in attending EPA hearings and DOE hearings is that what’s written into the law has an impact on small manufacturers, distributors, and businesses and it has to be considered by the regulators when they’re writing new regulations. And, you know what? There are very few of them in the room when this happens. They don’t hear from us, they don’t hear from you. A good example of this was the regulations that they were writing for walk-in coolers. There was just nobody there representing the little guy effectively. Don’t feel that you are not going to be listened to. You will be listened to.”
- Warren Beeton, vice president of engineering, Emerson Climate Technologies
“My call to action for wholesalers would be to continue your education and training efforts. I implore that you continue to do that and if you can, expand on those efforts by partnering with industry associations. You don’t have to go at it alone. You don’t have to develop that content for your customers alone. There are a lot of resources available to you to handle that. Promote NATE certification to your customers, offer prep classes for them, and offer continuing education to keep that certification current.”
- Mark Lowry, executive vice president, RSES