SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The 2005 Top Gun Maytag Distributor Meeting began with a welcome dinner including video screens showing fighter pilots taking off on dangerous missions and a look-alike Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis mingling amongst the Maytag distributors.

Maytag used the Top Gun theme to recognize the company's distributors, stating that they are the best in the HVAC industry, just as the pilots who attend Top Gun school are the best in their field. Various speakers emphasized how attending distributors could develop their skills in order to build a first-class "squadron" of Maytag Top Gun dealers in their territories.

The event worked as distributors were pumped up and ready to go after the three-day meeting.

Nordyne CEO Dave LaGrand addressed the audience and set the tone for the third annual Maytag distributor meeting.

Charting A Course

In his opening address, Dave LaGrand, chief executive officer, Nordyne, noted that Maytag distributors are focused individuals on a mission and that "we all want to be Top Guns in the field."

To do that, he stated that distributors need to be committed to the Maytag brand, because customers have known and trusted that brand for over a century.

"If you think about it, customers want to deal with a franchise, because it's a sure promise of performance," said LaGrand.

"For example, McDonald's is always the same from town to town. Dealers have to have a different attitude in order to take on the powerful image of Maytag."

His speech was illustrated by video clips of successful Maytag dealers, such as Bill Counts, AirOne, Little Rock, Ark., who stated, "I used to sell a box, now I'm selling an icon." Counts added that he's dramatically increased his sales ever since switching from another brand to Maytag.

Doug Jones, vice president, sales - residential and light commercial, Nordyne, spoke to the audience about the correlation between Top Gun and Maytag. Both entities, he noted, depend on quality, reliability, and dependability. "We select quality people who can be counted on during tough times and who work as a team - just like Top Gun."

Jones pointed out some of the distributors' challenges including having correct inventory, value-added local programs, local knowledge, and brand commitment.

Dealer issues typically involve technical issues (e.g., NATE, skills), business issues, sales and marketing, and personnel. Dealers who typically do well with the Maytag brand are those who "get it," meaning they know that many customers:

  • Are wary of the purchase.

  • Don't understand HVAC systems.

  • Don't recognize trade brands.

  • Have never had indoor air quality (IAQ)/energy-efficient systems explained or sold to them.

    "Customers recognize and trust Maytag," noted Jones. "Maytag gives dealers more opportunities to engage the customer, to obtain a higher close ratio, and to have the satisfaction of a job well done."

    Doug Jones (far left) and Drew Fitzgerald (far right) of Nordyne talk about Maytag opportunities with Dale Supply Co. CEO Kent Kendrick (middle left) and Dale Supply’s president, Ron Dyer (middle right).

    Nuts And Bolts

    In a speech, Drew Fitzgerald, vice president-marketing, Nordyne, pointed out that the number of Maytag dealers has increased by about 50 percent over the last year. In addition, Maytag has introduced 79 new products including 34 split systems and heat pumps, 23 furnaces, 20 package units, and two air handlers.

    Matt Lattanzi, product manager of furnaces and package equipment, went into more detail regarding some of these new products. "Over the last year we have increased the product depth of our M1000/M1010 short furnace line," he stated. "We now offer a variety of compact gas furnaces for smaller spaces."

    Marc DeLaurent, product manager of split systems, touched on some of the hot issues in the industry right now, including the 13 SEER mandate, the 2010 HCFC ban, and Asian competition. He noted that Maytag's new "good, better, best," approach would help dealers and distributors tackle these issues head on.

    Maytag has made numerous improvements and introduced many new products in its good (M1000), better (M1000S) and best (M1010) lines.

    "We've improved the look of the M1000 condenser, and the M1010 condenser now includes the QuietPlus sound package, which consists of an acoustical sound blanket and the swept wing fan blade," noted DeLaurent.

    The 2005 Top Gun Maytag Distributor Meeting took place at the elegant Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa.

    Roundtable Wrap-Up

    The second day of the conference focused on the many IAQ products that Nordyne offers, including UV lights, HEPA filtration, electronic air cleaners (EACs), media air cleaners, 1-inch EACs, ERVs/HRVs, and humidifiers. Zoning comfort systems and thermostats were also discussed.

    Francine Fitzgerald, manager-parts sales, noted that all Maytag branded products offer a 10-year parts warranty when sold with Maytag unitary equipment.

    These IAQ offerings are seen as still more opportunities for Maytag dealers to differentiate themselves from the competition and increase their profit per installation.

    Also on the second day, several announcements were made regarding upcoming Maytag commercials set to run this fall. Various Maytag marketing partners were introduced, and these entities will be key in helping distributors and dealers with advice and actual program implementation.

    Several role-playing sessions rounded out the day and allowed the distributors to practice some of Maytag's programs in action.

    The last day of the conference started with an inspiring round of dealer presentations and testimonials. Two Maytag dealers, Kevin West, West Installations Co., Springfield, Ohio, and Tim Evans, Evans Mechanical, Redding, Calif., also fielded questions from the distributors. As Evans noted, "When my first truck rolled out of the garage with the logo, I realized, ‘I have Maytag on my truck.' It's exciting."

    The day ended with lively roundtable discussions, which were designed to get everyone involved. Topics included training, best practices, dealer presentations, and suggestions for Nordyne.

    Distributors commented on the dealer presentations, stating that the dealer-distributor relationship is key and that the distributor needs to find the right dealers to offer Maytag equipment.

    The training roundtable discussion included issues of dealer and brand training. The emphasis was on how to get the dealers to start selling the Maytag brand versus a unit's various features and benefits.

    One distributor noted, "We need to train the dealers so they are excited about the equipment. Maybe that's done through a quarterly meeting."

    It was evident that the distributors were excited about the Maytag brand, as they seemed eager to implement many of the new strategies they learned at the Top Gun meeting.

    Publication date: 03/21/2005