Earlier this year, Supply House Times headed down to Ashland City, Tennessee, to visit A. O. Smith’s residential water-heater facility where it chatted with Vice President of Marketing David Chisolm and Senior Manager, Commercial New Product Development Matt Schulz. Chisolm and Schulz talked about A. O. Smith’s push into smart technology, its relationship with distributors, emphasis on training and what’s next on the horizon for the manufacturer.
DC: One of our interests is centered around heat-pump water-heating technologies. This continues to gain momentum to the point we are seeing rebates upward of $750 for installation of a heat-pump water heater from utilities to end users. Our efforts have been about educating our channel partners to the existence of these rebate programs so they can utilize that information in their selling efforts. One of the biggest barriers with this technology is upfront cost. An end user wakes up in the morning and they are not planning on spending money on a water heater, but they took a cold shower and now that’s No. 1 on the list. This type of purchase typically isn’t something you are thinking about today or the day before. You are looking for the quickest and most cost-effective way to get back into hot water, so in that environment trying to sell an alternate energy-efficient technology is a challenge. The rebate dollars are there to offset that upfront cost.