Des Moines, Iowa-based Plumb Supply, a 16-branch wholesaler, says it has increased sales of its water heaters by participating in Ruud's multi-faceted Plumbers Pride program.

"Acceptance has been good," said Jim Foth, secretary and vice president/information systems. He said Plumb Supply switched the single water heater line it carries to Ruud this past summer.

To support the new line, Plumb Supply elected to take advantage of Ruud's Plumbers Pride program that was introduced last April, designed to bolster the professional image of the contractor with a range of marketing tools.

The program includes a vehicle identification program that uses the Plumbers Pride icon and a red, white and blue "Doing It Right" logo; caps, shirts and jackets bearing the icon and logo; and four different consumer advertising campaigns to generate new business.

Foth said the Plumbers Pride apparel and the local advertising program have been popular with his contractor customers.

Plumb Supply also is offering Better Living Unlimited, a frequent buyer program, through Ruud. It enables contractors to earn points with every Ruud product purchased from Plumb Supply through June 30, 2003. Purchases of better-grade and commercial water heaters bring extra points. The points can be redeemed for travel and merchandise awards.

"We have more than 50 dealers signed up and continue to get more," Foth said. "We've had a good response. The attractive and professional-looking materials supporting the program are a key factor in its success."

John Templeton, vice president/sales and marketing for Plumb Supply; Frank Curtis, manager of corporate services; and Foth performed the cooking chores at 16 cookouts held at each of the wholesaler's branches this summer.

"We served more than 1,500 people at these cookouts," Foth said. "We cooked more than 4,000 hamburgers and 2,500 bratwursts. These cookouts enabled us to renew old relationships and visit with customers. We drove our trailer with the Plumbers Pride icon to each cookout and brought water heaters to display."

Caption: Plumb Supply drove a trailer bearing the Plumbers Pride icon and logo to cookouts and other events this summer.