Promote Your Company

I’ve had 30 years in the HVAC contracting business and in all those years I can’t think of any manufacturer who would have been successful without the local contractors who went out to the homes of America and sold their products. We all went out and worked hard to build our businesses, and along the way we built theirs, too.

Now, we are rewarded with Carrier and Trane selling to the likes of Sears and other “home centers” and Lennox who just plain became a contractor.

Well, we let it happen to ourselves by thinking that brand loyalty was important. Remember when we all wanted to be known as the Lennox dealer or the Carrier or Trane dealer? We promoted those brand names more than our own in most of the advertising we ran.

The problem is that we didn’t keep up with what was going on in the industry. We now find that we are no longer as important to those manufacturers as we were in the early days of residential central heating and cooling sales. OK, what do we do about it? Let them know how we feel. The best way to do that is by not advertising their products on our trucks, phone books, or anywhere else. Yes, you might lose some advertising money but you may just gain some customers.

You see, if you advertise a product they can get at a home store or at Sears, you may just be telling your customers they can get a second opinion on the same products you sell.

Promote yourself and your company. The customer still has to rely on someone to install and service their heating and cooling system, and who better than a company that is focused on just one thing?

Let’s face it — there are many great brands out there to choose from. You can have your choice of any product line today because they will all sell to anyone.

So, become the expert that you really are and make choices based on what’s best for you and your customer, not on what just one “brand” has to offer. Explore the market and take the same approach the manufacturers have by promoting yourself directly to your customer. I think everyone would be surprised at what opportunities are available to those who no longer choose to be labeled with a manufacturer’s brand name.

James D. Maidlow, Vice President, Lehman’s Mechanical, Anderson, IN

Right To The Point

Just had a chance to read your Oct. 28, 2002 issue. I could not agree more with Thomas Scarangello’s letter [“Carrier-Sears Partnership”] in your Feedback section.

I am also a loyal, dedicated Carrier dealer with 25 years’ experience. All of Mr. Scarangello’s comments relating to Carrier’s “commitment” to their loyal dealer base, proper installation of the “box,” and being the Sears low-bidder “pickup truck” contractor are right to the point.

Carrier and Sears — like selling a Lexus to a person who wants a Yugo!

Dennis G. Morgan, Modern Aire, Inc., Havre, MT

Proving Yourself

I’m writing in response to the letter sent by Rick Lackey, Independence, MO [“Certification Price Tag,” Oct. 28]. Perhaps there is something wrong with the way he is marketing himself. I attended trade school also, and graduated with a 3.9 average. The school had a job placement program. I picked the interview I wanted to go on; it was only one I went on. I didn’t exactly get the starting money I wanted, but through negotiation, we came to an agreement that after 90 days, if they were happy and I was happy, my wage would go to a preset amount. I worked for this company until I got my journeyman’s license.

Then I went to a full-service mechanical contractor, with basically the same agreement. At both of these jobs, even though I graduated at the top of my class, I still had to start from the ground up. Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention I am female and a single mother.

If you are willing to accept the fact that even with all your certification, licenses, top of your class, the whole nine yards, you must start at the bottom and prove yourself to someone in the field, you can succeed. If you do get in a good company, most will either reimburse you for license fees or just outright pay them. After all, it benefits the company to have properly certified employees.

Laura Matzke, Berkeley Springs, WV

Publication date: 11/18/2002