Pictures at an Exhibition Should be Forbidden

The 2008 AHR Expo has come and gone. The lingering impression I have from it is foreign visitors and digital cameras. It is time again for the organizers to clamp down on the use of cameras to lift (I won’t use the word “steal”) ideas (many of them patented) from other manufacturers. The purpose of the expo needs to be refocused on exhibiting products to prospective customers, and not to supply a nearly unlimited source of ideas, developed many times at great cost, to a minority group of copy cats armed with digital cameras.

It is more than a source of irritation that our friendly, open-door policy should be misused by countries with a history of nonenforcement of patent violations and intellectual property rights. I am reminded of the story (read it in Business Week) of a car developed by General Motors (GM) in Korea to be manufactured in China. Before the car could be brought to market by GM, it had been copied and was already being manufactured by a Chinese company who had lifted the plans. If I remember correctly, much of the engineering for the South Korean-produced car was accomplished in China.

Free trade is a great thing. It is unfortunate that not all countries interpret the rules the same way.

Francis Franck
VP Sales
Texas Furnace LLC

Distributors and Contractors in the Real World

First, let me say that I enjoy Mike Murphy’s opinion columns and read them every week. He has some very good insights into the HVAC world.

Murphy’s recent column “Brand Loyalty Up the Chain” [Jan. 14] inspired me to respond. His “New Glossary” was interesting, but I am writing to screw with the glossary. Here in Louisville, Ky., there are 25-plus distributor/wholesalers. Many more than one will sell to technicians and moonlighters. Some will sell to end users.

Kentucky has an HVAC licensing law. It does not prohibit the sale of HVAC components or equipment to anyone. Industry groups and associations have tried to have legislation enacted to require that individuals wishing to purchase HVAC equipment have a valid Kentucky Masters license. To date, our efforts have been blocked by lobbyists for the big box stores and legislators. I appreciate the differentiation you make between contractor/dealer and distributor/wholesaler. The differences are subtle but very real. I have worked for both a distributor and a wholesaler. I too, see more dealers becoming contractors. Most of the time it is not because it makes them more profit and better business people. Usually it’s because they take the easy (cheaper) route. Unfortunately, this doesn’t benefit their business or their customers very much.

Keep up the good work.

Ken Schrader
ACCA Greater Louisville
Crestwood, Ky.

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Publication date:02/25/2008