Honeywell Inc. and contractor consolidator Blue Dot Services announced a co-marketing alliance aimed at selling “complete home comfort systems.”

Steve Arnholt, director of marketing, residential products, Honeywell Home and Building Control (Minneapolis, MN), stated, “We’ve had discussions going with Blue Dot regarding some type of an alliance for many months, but regarding this strategic alliance, [it started] a couple months ago.” The agreement “just kind of fell out mutually.”

Said Marc Cannon, Blue Dot senior vice president (Sunrise, FL): “Honeywell wants consumers to have a trustworthy contractor to work with.”

Home comfort via the Internet

“They have very similar values to Honeywell,” noted Arnholt, “wanting to pursue . . . complete home comfort sales, which is a message we’ve been trying to get out to contractors for some time.”

Blue Dot will offer the manufacturer’s full line of home comfort accessories. The agreement states that Blue Dot will sell the products as standard.

The consolidator has put together a 30-sec TV spot that features Honeywell thermostats. It will air in eight markets next year.

And the impetus behind this move? Arnholt explained, “Both companies see the power of the Internet emerging in this industry, and I think that was one of the areas that all of a sudden sparked this interest in the alliance.”

Cannon concurred. “We want to make it easier for customers who shop over the Internet, too.” “One of the first things we decided to do was to link our Web sites, which we’ve done,” said Arnholt. “We’ve given them preferred positioning on our ‘Your Home Expert’ page.”

Contractor locator

“We have a contractor locator as part of our Your Home Expert site,” continued Arnholt. “It will include all 63 locations that Blue Dot has nationally. They won’t be exclusive, but they’ll get prominent positioning there.”

When a consumer enters his/her zip code into the contractor locator, a list of local contractors is provided. “These have typically been our Perfect Climate contractors as well as our 100% Club contractors,” Arnholt said. Blue Dot will now be part of the list.

The manufacturer said it also is interested in signing up other contractor groups and strong independent contractors.

When contractors are listed, Honeywell would like to be able to link to that contractor’s website. “It really is important, as we view the future, for contractors to have websites and to link them with manufacturers.”

Products that 'talk' to each other

The two companies have also agreed to promote new products aimed at the home systems market — communicating products.

“We are embedding communications capabilities into almost every product we are making,” said Arnholt. A number of introductions are expected in the first quarter of 2000.

Some Blue Dot locations already carry Honeywell products. By the first quarter, the rest are expected to be stocked.

Harry Friedman, general manager of N&M Heating & Cooling/Blue Dot (Sarasota, FL), noted that the alliance “shows we are headed in a good, calculated direction.

“I can’t see anything but good happening out of this.”