Can you envision a time when you won't make regular trips to the local supply warehouse to pick up parts or equipment?

Some contractors might say, "That has already happened in my business." Distributors and wholesalers make deliveries to their door, and sometimes even directly to jobsites.

OK, try this one on for size: Envision a time when electronically managed inventory will be tied from an end-user's building, through the contractor, and back to the distribution center. As an equipment failure occurs, the information is sent to the distributor and a truck is on its way to the contractor's place of business with a replacement item for restocking, perhaps before the service call is completed.

Of course, delivering one item at a time is not efficient. However, the concept of linking the inventory chain, from end user to manufacturer, isn't far-fetched. But critical first steps come before the giant leaps.

Emerson Climate Technologies announced its upcoming Authorized Full-Line Wholesaler concept to its wholesalers at a 2004 conference. The initial communication informed distributors of the transition to "Authorized Full-Line" distribution centers.

Since that initial announcement, 30 wholesale companies with 255 branch locations have signed up as an Emerson Authorized Full-Line Wholesaler. Mark Gibson, vice president and general manager of Emerson's distribution services, Sidney, Ohio, expects that branch count to double in the near future.

Gibson and his team officially launched the Emerson Full-Line Wholesaler program to the industry this month.

An Authorized Full-Line Wholesaler, under the Emerson Climate Technologies umbrella, will carry the complete line of Emerson products, including recommended inventory levels of Copeland, White-Rodgers, Browning, Flow Controls (formerly Alco) HVACR Motors, and Ventilation. Gibson said, "The trend is supply chain alignment whereby the entire chain is more efficient, providing value from the manufacturer to distributor to contractor to end user. There is a need in this industry for premier wholesalers to deliver this value."

System Communication

Emerson believes this means more than establishing a network of Emerson Full-Line Wholesalers. It's also about integrating technologies for better system communication. One example of this is Emerson's newly launched "Intelligent Store" solution, which gives supermarkets and convenience stores critical operating information about their stores' HVACR equipment, and drives a more coordinated response effort between the manufacturer, local wholesaler, and local contractor when equipment is in need of repair or maintenance.

Under the new Emerson scenario, products and services are bundled to make it easier for contractors to become more efficient in order to serve their customers better. The goal is not a new one. Wal-Mart may be the king of all one-stop shopping. The manufacturer bundles, the distribution center bundles, and, the retail outlet bundles. The customer gets whatever he or she wants, all in one location. It's happening the same way with HVAC businesses, according to Bob Labbett, Emerson vice president of marketing for distribution services.

"Customers today won't pay for redundancies in the channel. They can get multiple products from one location, and take advantage of transportation logistics from a single supply source. Emerson is one of the few companies positioned to offer such a full line of products and services for the facility, distribution, and contractor levels. And, we're continually looking at how integration will work throughout the channel, with more than 80 sales managers out there listening to market needs and getting industry feedback."

Labbett believes that a combination of products, services, merchandising, training, and branch support are going to be critical factors in the future of distribution.

Realizing the importance that the counterperson plays in the successful relationship with contractors, Emerson plans to help motivate contractors to frequent these Full-Line branch locations more often. "The contractor support that is available from our distribution network is unsurpassed. When customers get the opportunity to interact with the people behind our counters, they will certainly keep coming back," said Labbett.

To support the distributors in their efforts, Emerson not only has enhanced its training offerings, but will also be launching a dynamic packaging program. A blue band incorporating the Emerson Climate Technologies logo will identify the packaging for the complete family of products. Full-Line locations will also be sporting new signage, product displays, and some of the industry's most comprehensive training programs.

For more information about the Emerson Authorized Full-Line Wholesaler program, go to

Publication date: 10/24/2005