Imagine that. A manufacturer actually listened to a few contractors. What’s next? Engineers and architects exchanging ideas and thoughts and agreeing on concepts before a building is constructed?

There is hope, especially since Carrier Corporation listened long and often to nine contractors before recently introducing its next-generation WeatherMaker® 8000 gas furnace.

At least five of the chosen nine contractors were on hand at the official launch, held August 2 in Indianapolis, IN. All five were prepared to testify before the attending trade press that each did, indeed, speak up regarding the making of the company’s 80% AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) product — and that Carrier did, indeed, incorporate most of its installation and servicing “wants” into the compact finale.

“In addition to products, I sell man hours,” testified Tim Cropp, vice president of Cropp-Metcalfe (Fairfax, VA). “The installation and service flexibility of the new WeatherMaker 8000 means that my technicians can get the job done more efficiently. That means my business is more profitable, and my customers are satisfied because they have a better performing furnace up and running much quicker.”

Fellow contractors Rich Dykstra (president, D.M. Dykstra & Company, Chicago, IL), Reve Porter (president, Reve Porter Inc., Indianapolis, IN), Don Reece (president, Reece Heating & Cooling, Kansas City, MO), and Phil Favret (vice president, Favret Company, Columbus, OH) concurred with Cropp.

“When we stated our concerns and what we wanted to see, they [Carrier] didn’t say it couldn’t be done,” said Reece. “They kept working at it. And they got it right.”


Carrier aptly dubbed their appointed contractor helpers “Partners in Development” (though some joked they would prefer to be known as “The A-Team”). Formed in 1998, this team was called in by Carrier to help it design innovative new configurations and components for its new gas furnace to simplify installation and service.

From the initial meeting with Carrier engineers, management, and administrators nearly four years ago, Reece knew the manufacturer was serious about what the contractors and dealers had to say.

“Working on past equipment, it wasn’t necessarily technically friendly,” said Reece, whose firm is heavy in new construction. “I just wanted to make sure that whatever was developed, that it was easy to install and it could be put in several locations in a home — without a lot of knuckle-busting.”

It wasn’t until perhaps the second meeting that Porter’s somewhat skeptical eyes opened.

“That’s when I saw that some of the suggestions we did make were actually put into place,” said Porter. “That was what sold me. If you saw the original design to what it is now … Well, there was a lot of input into getting to where it is now. Yes, they listened.”


Thanks to contractor and dealer input, there are plenty of technological advances, like the newly designed vent elbow.

How far did these contractors go to get their point across? One contractor (who shall remain anonymous) went so far as to sit on one of the early prototypes to see how durable it was. He maintained that a tech just might want to rest his body on the unit during the course of installation or service.

Well, it didn’t pass the “butt test,” as Porter jokingly called it. By just sitting on the unit, the heaviest member of the Partners in Development team put a dent in it.

Yeah, Carrier fixed that problem, too.

A more thorough examination of Carrier’s new WeatherMaker 8000 gas furnace, along with other companies’ new products for the 2001 residential and light commercial heating season, will be featured in The News’ September 30 “Heating Showcase” issue.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 08/12/2002