TEMPE, Ariz. - The grand opening signs were up, the balloons were in place, and the lunch buffet was ready to go as Phoenix Wholesale recently opened the doors of its newest location in the Phoenix area. Contractors streamed through the squeaky clean 30,000-square-foot warehouse and 4,600-square-foot parts store, admiring the stacks of Ruud equipment and commenting on the diverse products that were available in the ProStock shop.

Owner Nick Formento, obviously proud of his spacious, new building, said there isn't any other facility like this one in the state. "We are a full-service independent firm that provides superior customer service. We are able to respond to customer needs and deal with issues at a local level. We truly are a one-stop shop for HVAC."

Owner Nick Formento (left) and his son, Nick Jr., are proud to say their company gives “superior service with a local flavor.”


Phoenix Wholesale was founded 25 years ago and is one of two companies that fall under the Nicholas Consolidated umbrella. Its sister company, Canyon Pipe, is a wholesaler for the plumbing trade. Phoenix Wholesale has five locations in cities around the state of Arizona, and the newest Tempe facility is the company's second HVAC-only location in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The new location was needed because business is booming, according to Phoenix Wholesale sales manager, Ron Vetsch. "We have a stand-alone HVAC branch up in north Phoenix, and we were also sharing a building with Canyon Pipe in the east side of town. Both Canyon Pipe and Phoenix Wholesale needed to expand, so we had to move out of the east side branch and make a second stand-alone HVAC location."

To that end, the company purchased a building in the Tempe area about three months ago and immediately started renovating the site to fit its needs. The 1-1/2 acres located behind the warehouse, which were previously full of weeds, have been paved over and fenced, and a laser beam security system has been installed. Work also began immediately on the new parts area, which was modeled after Ruud's ProStock concept.

Peter Garrow, district parts manager - replacement parts, Ruud, stated that the manufacturer sent a crew to set up everything, including all the shelving, in the new store. "The new Phoenix Wholesale branch is two to three times larger than a typical ProStock store, so we had our work cut out for us. We were sometimes working in the dark to finish the store before opening day."

Phoenix Wholesale became a Ruud distributor again in November 2005 - after a 7-year hiatus - and Vetsch is excited about the possibilities. "Ruud makes a great product - it's a quality product. We've already signed up well over 125 dealers around the state, so we're going gangbusters," said Vetsch. "We're hoping that our larger facility will increase our will-call business, as well as attract more dealers here that we can hopefully cultivate into equipment dealers."

Ruud's director of sales, Neal Cowne, said the manufacturer is happy to renew its relationship with Phoenix Wholesale, stating, "They're supporting the product line with the ProStock-style shop, and it looks terrific." Cowne also noted that Phoenix Wholesale has exciting plans that will make it even more attractive for contractors to do business with the distributor.

Phoenix Wholesale’s new parts shop was designed to Ruud’s ProStock specifications. The light and bright area features wide aisles and eye-catching displays.


Some of those plans include the building of another Phoenix Wholesale location in eastern Arizona by the end of the year, the hiring of a new training instructor, as well as construction of training facilities at the Tempe location. Lonnie Fredrickson, who until recently taught at a local HVAC training school, came on board before the grand opening and will oversee the implementation of an entire training program at Phoenix Wholesale.

"We're going to tear down walls and build a classroom, which will be our new training center," said Vetsch. "Lonnie will train our contractors and also provide more training for our people."

IAQ is one of the biggest areas in which training is needed, noted Vetsch, and he hopes to have classes available in the near future. "It seems that so many contractors are afraid of talking to their customers about IAQ. That's where it's our job to educate these guys better so they understand they're giving the customer what they want, and that's comfort and IAQ. It can be a hard sell."

No one is happier about the upcoming IAQ training classes than Jason Abajian, residential distributor representative, Honeywell. Abajian was on hand at the grand opening to demonstrate various Honeywell products.

"We have a terrific relationship with Phoenix Wholesale," noted Abajian. "In fact, we've seen their Honeywell sales grow by 400 percent, which is amazing. They have had a lot of growth with IAQ, and their training facility will only increase that growth. They are also centrally located and carry a ton of inventory, so people don't have to wait for the things they need."

John Anderson (left) and Neal Cowne (middle), both from Ruud, are very excited to do business once again with Phoenix Wholesale and its sales manager, Ron Vetsch (right).


Once the contractors, employees, and vendors had time to ooh and aah over the beautiful new facilities, it didn't take long for all of them to start talking about the relationships that have been forged with Phoenix Wholesale over the years.

Jeff Perkins of Conditioned Air Mechanical Services, Phoenix, originally joked that he only came to the grand opening for the food, but he said that he likes to work with Phoenix Wholesale for several reasons.

"They give great service. Whenever I need help, they get back in touch with me with the answer - usually within a few hours," he said. "Not to mention that I'm happy with the products they carry, and they're located very close to our main shop."

Vetsch noted that there is very little turnover at Phoenix Wholesale, which means they have a full staff of experienced salespeople. "I attribute that to the Formento family," said Vetsch. "They're very people-oriented, and they're just nice people. People like working here."

Mike Davidson, who originally worked alongside Willis Carrier, recently retired from Phoenix Wholesale, and he noted, "I've had a blast here. Nick Formento is the finest gentleman on Earth."

A sentiment echoed by many who had the pleasure to stop by this truly grand opening of the latest Phoenix Wholesale location.

Publication date: 05/22/2006