Selling to One and All and Feeling the Impact

I read John R. Hall's article "Contractors Use Big Box Stores" [Oct. 9]. How about all those wholesalers (I use that term loosely these days) who sell to contractors and the general public, i.e., our end users?

We are an HVAC sales and service company with our emphasis on commercial/industrial service and retrofit. A large part of our business is apartment complexes. One company in our area sells directly to the properties at only slightly more than what they sell to us for. (We refuse to shop there due to this practice.) If your customer could buy the part for sometimes less than you can, don't you think they will? If your business makes its money off selling parts, won't you feel the impact? We sure do.

We don't make money off our labor rate. That covers wages and overhead. We make money off selling parts on a job. But too many of our customers now buy direct and cut us out completely. So we had to increase our labor rate on jobs where the customer supplies the parts. Still, it doesn't help much.

And while we are still loyal to the major wholesalers, we sometimes wonder why. Even our best wholesalers have been known to sell to the end users and do nothing about it when we bring it to their attention.

If the supply houses feel the need to sell to just anybody, then the markup they provide should be more than what the buyer would pay getting it through a licensed contractor. And the so-called wholesalers should require the buyers to have a contractor's license, but many don't.

If contractors are buying at Home Depot and Lowe's, maybe it's justified. Why waste drive time and labor rates to go get a fitting when Home Depot is around the corner? We try to offer the best service and pricing we can to our customers. We don't screw them by driving all over creation to find a $1 part. If the wholesalers want our loyalty, they need to reciprocate. Otherwise, the contractor will soon be a thing of the past.

Paula Pellegrin
Office Manager
Choice Mechanical, Inc.
Denver, Colo.

Staying Out of the Dog House

[Editor's note: This letter is in response to Mike Murphy's editorial "Losing the Thermostat Wars," Sept. 25.]

If I put a 15°F setback on my stat, yeah, I'd save 10 percent on my heating bill ($86 per year), but my $1,500 dog Spencer (see picture at right) would be shivering for four months, contract some "designer" flu, and cost me $500 in vet bills. At the same time, it'd cost me about $2,000 a month in alimony because Michelle [my wife] would throw me out. Then I'd have to get an apartment and then incur another $100 a month in heating.

In my opinion, we need to look at Energy Star not as one product over another, but as a lifestyle. Here are some ideas:

1. Get a smaller car that gets 10 mpg better fuel economy.

2. Get on the budget plan with your gas/electric company. (It's a free loan.)

3. Turn off the lights when not needed.

4. Unplug rarely used TVs (saves the standby mode electricity).

5. Get rid of the beer fridge in the garage. (I'm working on that one.)

6. Get rid of the deep freezer in the basement. (We drive by Kroger's 40 times a week.)

7. Hang dry clothes.

8. Lobby your employer to telecommute one day a week.

9. Pay bills by the Net (save the stamps).

10. Burn your soapbox for the fuel.

John Hesch
Sr. Design Engineer
Invensys Climate Controls Americas
Plain City, Ohio

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Publication date: 10/30/2006