Products Are Not Commodities

We at York UPG must correct a statement that appeared in the June 28 cover story ("Another Kind of Makeover"); it is under the subheading, "Yes, It's A Commodity." York UPG's products are not commodities.

The first sentence in paragraph six of that section states: "York executives have stated openly that residential HVAC products ... are a commodity." While it is true that many residential HVAC products may be perceived as a commodity, this is not true of the current offerings from York UPG.

We agree that contractors, to be successful in today's retail selling environment, have to bring a complete value package to the table, so that their service and product offering is not viewed as a commodity. And we have acknowledged that there are some people in the industry who fear that the 13-SEER minimum efficiency standard will tend to commoditize our industry's products. We at York do not share this fear or hold that view.

In fact, we see the opposite scenario: that contractors can use the new minimum efficiency standard as the opportunity to stop "selling on SEER" and begin selling a value package that includes premium products that are clearly differentiated and offer benefits beyond high efficiency (i.e., environmentally friendly refrigerants, extremely quiet operation, dramatically improved aesthetics, and even a choice of color). In other words, do not let a minimum efficiency standard be the maximum value you offer.

Commodity HVAC manufacturers do not, for example, offer a choice of color in outdoor condensing units, such as we do with our Affinity Series. They do not offer the many features that differentiate our products from theirs.

The investment, development, commitment, market planning, communications, everything we've done so far over the past five years, have resulted in York UPG bringing our most innovative and differentiated residential product line to market - and by that I mean the most innovative and differentiated ever in York's 130-year history in this industry.

Doug Widenmann
Senior Director, Marketing
York Unitary Products Group
Norman, Okla.

The Value Of A Good Employee

I just read Dan Brett's "You Can't Buy Employee Loyalty" letter (June 28 issue), and I could not agree with him more. I have been in this business since 1978 and have consulted with over 800 HVAC companies so far. Dan is dead on when he said that our co-workers are the most important thing at work.

Many owners look at it quite differently, however. Many owners look at the "help" as a necessary evil. I hear comments like, "This would be a great business if it wasn't for my people."

I often ask my clients if they would trade one customer for one good employee. They look puzzled at first, but then I ask them which is easier to replace, a customer or a good employee? Then they get it. There is not one customer that is worth more to your company than one good employee.

I see many dealers who say they can't find good people. I see it differently. I see that there are not that many good companies to work for to be the real problem. You can pay top dollar and still be a jerk to work for. It isn't all about the money! Like Dan said, "Employee loyalty can never be purchased."

Andy Holt
Profit Strategies Inc.
Midland, Ga.

Keep The Good Advice Coming

I have enjoyed reading Mr. Nicholson's articles [in the series titled "Money Talks"] over the past few months. As a supplier to the commercial, industrial, and residential HVAC industry, I am always interested in articles that may help my customers. His articles provide some solid advice for the contractor.

Harley D. Reed, Jr.
Commercial Sales Manager
Varidigm Corp.
Plymouth, Minn.

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Publication date: 07/19/2004