Where do all excess, obsolete, or hard-to-find parts go — to the “excess, obsolete, and hard-to-find” parts cemetery? Into a landfill in some sparsely populated county? Into cyberspace?

If you answered cyberspace, you’re correct.

Say you need a heat exchanger from a discontinued line of furnaces and your customer is in a no-heat situation. The obvious answer is to quote them on a new furnace, but what if they don’t have the money, can’t qualify for a loan, or actually like their old furnace? What do you do?

Don’t fret. Just call your local vendor and ask him if he is linked to the “warehouse.” It’s not the parts warehouse you can send a service truck to. It’s a warehouse in cyberspace.

I’m talking about the HVAC/R Warehouse®, the new Web site launched by the Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Wholesalers International (ARWI). It’s going to give vendors a new weapon in the war to bring products to contractors more quickly and efficiently.

Obsolete inventory

“It [the Web site] started out as an extension of our obsolete and excess inventory system,” said Jim McMullen, ARWI’s director of information services. “We have expanded the program to include other parts, too.”

The Web site, which is a free service to ARWI members, allows distributors to list parts in their own inventories. The goal of this strategy is to clear out parts that don’t sell, and give other distributors an easier means of buying hard-to-find parts.

“It keeps the distributor from having to call around to other members,” McMullen explained. “That way, he may be able to find the part from a non-competitor in his territory.”

The Web site has a number of product categories to browse through. Prices and quantities are listed. Although it cannot be accessed by hvac contractors, it is a valuable tool for vendors who want to attract new business.

“I can see vendors using this as a marketing tool,” said McMullen. “We have not seen any similar systems in the marketplace — at least none that have been brought to our attention.”

How the hvacr contractor benefits

McMullen said the new service will be beneficial to both distributors and their contractor customers.

If a contractor has trouble finding a part for his customer, the wait for a replacement can now be reduced dramatically, and the whole situation becomes win-win.

“One hand will feed the other,” he said.

The web site should be full and complete within a few months, according to McMullen. But he added that ARWI will continue to add product categories as necessary. For now, a lot of people are very happy with what they see.

“We’ve had good feedback from our distributor members and from our board of directors,” he said. Contractors who want more information about the HVAC/R Warehouse are encouraged to talk with their vendors. Non-member distributors can access the site by contacting the ARWI at 561-338-3495. Of course, members can visit the “Warehouse” at www.arwi.org.