ST. LOUIS - After a year of rapid and challenging realignment of manufacturing processes, and now dealing with regulations regarding higher efficiencies and a new refrigerant, Nordyne president and CEO David LaGrand is predicting a bright future for the company's distributors and dealers.

"We are better prepared for the future," he told an audience of Westinghouse, Tappan, and Frigidaire wholesalers at the 2004 Residential and Light Commercial Distributors Meeting.

"We are ready to take your business and ours to the next level."

The forecast came following a 10-month "investment phase" in which a plant in St. Louis was closed, a facility in Dyersburg, Tenn. was acquired, and major changes were made in the Poplar Bluff and Boonville/Tipton, Mo. manufacturing sites. LaGrand said that in all, 80 percent of Nordyne's production space was moved or reconfigured.

He noted that the company is adding significantly to its finished goods warehouse space in Poplar Bluff for faster product shipment. The result of all the moves, he said, adds greatly to the company's capacity. Nordyne currently builds all of its products in the United States.

The future, LaGrand noted, includes the rapid development of 13-SEER-and-higher equipment to meet new mandates for efficiency. In the same light, he said Nordyne will continue to introduce more products with R-410A refrigerant.

By 2006, he continued, wholesalers and dealers will have a choice in most high-volume product categories of equipment designed for use with that HFC refrigerant.

Production of R-410A equipment will continue to ramp up until it reaches 100 percent by 2010, when manufacturers will no longer be able to produce equipment using HCFC-22.

Nordyne will continue to use the two-step distribution process and will not sell to so-called "big box" retail stores.

"We sell to independent distributors who sell to independent contractors," he said. Through it all, "our vision remains the same: to be the preferred heating-cooling manufacturer by exceeding customer expectations."

The Power Factor

The theme of the conference was "I've Got The Power." Much attention was paid to the Westinghouse, Frigidaire, and Tappan brand names.

"People see value in brands," said Drew Fitzgerald, vice president of marketing, Residential and Light Commercial. "There is power in brand names. You must believe in the power of your brand. Your dealer has to become the brand."

Doug Jones, vice president of sales, Residential and Light Commercial, said the company will continue to work with distributors to improve contractors' selling skills and provide a better understanding of the product line.

"Dealers now realize that they are retailers themselves," he said. "They sell to end users."

Jones said the low-price, big box issue should not be a detriment. Dealers "need to differentiate themselves from their competition and we can help them do that. If price is the only way we buy, why are there Rolexes, Lexus, and the like?

"Remember, people see value in brands and you've got that in Westinghouse, Tappan, and Frigidaire."


Product managers Marc Delaurent and Matt Lattanzi reviewed product plans, including the lineup for Frigidaire, Tappan, and Westinghouse as the market faces the 2006 minimum energy efficiency change to 13 SEER, and the 2010 refrigerant change.

Nordyne introduced Comfort Plus, an exclusive consumer finance program available to Frigidaire, Tappan, and Westinghouse dealers. The program includes benefits from 12 to 36 equal-payment/no-interest promotions, as well three- to 12-month no-payment/deferred-interest programs.

The new Frigidaire, Tappan, and Westinghouse zoning systems were introduced. Mark Votaw of Arzel Zoning discussed the advantages of these systems, designed for new as well as retrofit applications.

Distributors were also encouraged to get involved in the hiring and retention of qualified people in the industry. Mike Mayberry of HVAC Agent noted that his company, a Nordyne Strategic Partner, has developed a system to help screen people interested in jobs in the industry.

Publication date: 12/13/2004