John R. Hall

Let’s face it; it is tough out there. Competition for the shrinking number of disposable dollars is making it hard for the average business owner to maintain any type of profit level, let alone keeping the staff busy and productive. I hate to pile on to the crappy news that we hear all of the time because it is downright discouraging and depressing. Listen to me; I’m already bumming myself out.

However, there are some things that put a smile on my face and make me chuckle despite the doom and gloom that we constantly are barraged with from the general media. One of those things is the carousel of new products that will make life easier and improve everyone’s quality of life. Just when you think you have heard of one of these latest “miracle tonics,” another one comes along that sends the general public into a buying frenzy.

If I mention the words Ionic Breeze do you get my drift?

THE LATEST TONICS

If you are a reader ofUSA Todayor listen to legendary Paul Harvey on the radio, which happen to be two of my favorite media outlets ( The NEWSbeing my favorite), you have heard of a couple of products which have a direct effect (or indirect effect, depending on your point of view) on the HVAC trade. These products are marketed to the public as means to achieving greater indoor comfort while saving lots of money on energy costs.

I want to preface my comments by saying that I have never used the products mentioned in this column, so I do not have an ax to grind with the manufacturers. However, I have heard your voices and know that many of you can pick up my slack, if you know what I mean.

The first product is the Amish Roll-n-Glow Electric Fireplace by Heat Surge (www.heatsurge.com). This is how the product is described: “The Roll-n-Glow Electric Fireplace with Amish-made solid wood mantel is the best and easiest way to: save money on gas bills by heating just the rooms you use the most, have a beautiful solid-wood mantel handmade by the Amish, the ambience of a real fire, and have the convenience to simply move your fireplace from room to room.”

Paul Harvey endorses the Roll-n-Glow and it is featured in full-page ads inUSA Today, which feature Amish workers, staged in their barns constructing the product. Ironically, it is Amish custom not to be photographed for commercial purposes because it is believed to be sinful by the Amish people. Just a thought.

The second product is the Reiker Room Conditioner Heating and Cooling Ceiling Fan (www.fanheatlight.com). The product is marketed with this description: “The Reiker Room Conditioner is a totally ductless system and is the first system to revolutionize zone heating. Because of its high levels of efficiency and resultant low cost of operation, no one with access to electricity should ever be cold again. It is the ideal energy saving product for heating your home, office, condo or mobile home. No more cold garages or basements.”

I saw their ad inUSA Todayand one contractor who also saw the ad told me, “The ceiling fan is just that: a ceiling fan with an electric heat coil. It will not provide any cooling, just move ambient air around.”

Both products are marketed to do what the HVAC products you sell, service, and install do.

GOOD OLD RELIABLE HVAC

I think I will still rely on my traditional HVAC system to heat and cool my home. Call me an old fuddy duddy without any adventuresome, pioneering spirit. I have been happy with the comfort that my HVAC contractor has brought into my home and I really don’t want to buy something from a faceless retailer off the Internet, despite the glowing recommendations by people who have used the products and are happy being spokespeople.

While I encourage healthy competition between innovative and customer/employee-focused HVAC contractors, I just can’t get my arms around the idea of mass-marketed products that seem to work the same as the ones I have relied on for years. I’m not saying that these products don’t do what they are advertised to do becauseUSA Todayand Paul Harvey would not publish or endorse the ads if the products did not do what the manufacturers said they would do.

I’ll leave the opinion making to you, our readers. That means I would like to hear your input. I have already heard from several contractors already and their comments have been interesting - and entertaining. I get a good chuckle during these “chuckle-less” times.

By the way, how is that Ionic Breeze working out for The Sharper Image these days?

Publication date:03/17/2008