The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association introduced a new vendor in its Professional Product Line Oct. 5 at its convention in Chicago amid talk that PHCC members should get tough with wholesalers and manufacturers.
"We're being told by wholesalers and manufacturers that no one is buying the product," PPL Committee Chairman Don Morin told PHCC members. "I challenge you to talk to your wholesalers and demand the product. Manufacturers owe us assistance."
Morin conceded that the pro line, which was introduced at a PHCC convention three years ago in Philadelphia, is not as successful at this point as he had hoped. Products in the pro line carry the PHCC logo and are available exclusively through supply houses. The products are intended to combat the proliferation of brand-name items now available at home centers.
"The program is just as viable as it was three years ago," Morin insisted. "Wholesalers don't realize they are large dinosaurs who might go away. The PPL is a win/win. We're providing a product that can only be sold by wholesalers. If we market the program properly, I think it's a benefit to them. Like us, they're looking for every angle to fight Home Depot."
The program has been hindered by the inability of some manufacturers to integrate PPL items into their regular product lines, Morin said. Further, a few vendors have not used their influence with wholesalers to insist that supply houses carry the PPL items, he said.
Several wholesalers are reluctant to embrace the program because they mistakenly believe they will be adding redundant products to their shelves, Morin said. In fact, PPL products from manufacturers such as Bradford White and Delta Faucet replace similar items in their regular product line, he said.
PHCC hopes to jumpstart the program by hiring a full-time staff person by the end of November to work on the pro line exclusively, Morin said. In the past, different staff members have handled PPL among their other duties.
"It's always been the ugly stepsister," Morin said. "I'm really excited about having a full-time person on board."
The staff member will develop two new programs -- one each for wholesalers and contractors -- to promote the pro line. In the works is a printed marketing piece that will explain the program to contractors, wholesalers and consumers. The piece also will give manufacturers the opportunity to discuss their products. Plans for an ambitious cable TV advertising program have been shelved temporarily, Morin said.
"We thought we'd be wasting our time with cable TV until we got the contractors and wholesalers on board first," he said.
The newest PPL addition is a battery-operated back-up sump pump from Glentronics. The Pro Series 2200 pump is controlled by a computer, which monitors the battery, pump and secondary system automatically. The product should be available in the spring of 2001.
The product has been designed exclusively for the PPL, said Alan Schulman, president of Glentronics.
New PHCC President Mike Kastner welcomed Glentronics to the PPL.
"Contractors need to have confidence and pride in the products and the PPL," Kastner said.
Kastner added that the PHCC board of directors has made a firm commitment to the PPL. He noted that the pro line was exhibited last year at 35 trade shows and conventions.
Morin added: "The PPL committee is not giving up in any way. We're going to go in new directions and become more demanding."