OLATHE, Kan. - Major HVAC system manufacturers get contractor input from their own dealer base, which they can use for product focus groups. Where do component manufacturers turn for contractor input?

Grundfos Pumps Co. is looking to increase input from quality HVAC and plumbing contractors by becoming an industry partner in Quality Service Contractors (QSC). QSC, founded in 1994, is an international association that serves plumbing, heating, and cooling contractors, offering members state-of-the-art technical and business management training. QSC functions as a self-supporting business unit of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors - National Association.

"Our market products are typically premium priced," said Clint Andrews, segment business specialist-HVAC, Grundfos Pumps. "It's not just a throw-it-in, throw-it-out-the-door product." The company makes significant investments of time and money to develop new technology and better products.

Events such as QSC’s Power Meetings offer manufacturers plenty of contractor input.

Manufacturer's Benefits

Having contact with high-quality contractors is key, said Andrews. "We now belong to PHCC, and that keeps us in front of our market. Our customers in the West are mainly plumbing contractors, and our customers in the East do a lot of hydronic heating."

According to Andrews, "We're looking for a couple of things. There's product input, but really, we're looking for the contractors' marketability. We want to use the plumbing-heating contractor's brand to pull us through to the sale. They get the call when somebody has a water problem."

As an industry partner, Grundfos representatives will be able to attend QSC Power Meetings, which are held twice a year, to market their product line. These meetings are designed to help contractors at all levels in the industry maximize their productivity.

"With other industry partners, [Grundfos] will be able to come to QSC for focus groups, for product development input," said Charlie Wallace, executive director of QSC.

"These meetings are an unprecedented networking experience, providing attendees with the opportunity to meet, speak, and share knowledge with proven industry leaders," said Wallace. "Power Meetings also provide contractors with the opportunity to view the newest and most innovative products, such as those from Grundfos Pumps."

Component manufacturers like Grundfos Pumps can gain valuable product insight by joining contractor organizations such as QSC. Products like this pump valve often evolve as a result of direct contractor input. For its part, QSC values the input of its industry partners.

Contractor Benefits

Of course, Grundfos plans to contribute to the knowledge base of the QSC membership, once the company determines what kind of information that membership would like to receive.

"We value the opportunity to educate this outstanding group of decision-makers about the advances being made in pump technology," said Andrews. That will probably include technical seminars, either live or as online Web seminars ("Webinars").

These kinds of product and service training opportunities "keep our contractor-members up to date with what's new in the industry," said Wallace.

"It's important to have associates who manufacture quality products; our members are the best of the best. They need to know about products to help them get quality results."

Moreover, "Grundfos is a company that does sell to contractors and not in a retail chain," Wallace pointed out. "It's important for HVAC and plumbing contractors to have something to set them apart."

Perhaps it is time for contractors, wholesalers, and manufacturers to come together more closely in their association activities. "We look at them [industry partners] the same as our contractors. We want them to be successful.

"We [QSC] look to the industry partners to be an additional benefit to our contractor members and not just as a revenue stream for QSC. We do act upon whatever industry issues they bring to us." Industry partners have representation on the QSC board.

For Grundfos, Andrews predicts "more direct contact with quality contractors, and better relationships."

Publication date: 04/19/2004