How Mountain Supply salvaged a customer appreciation event.  

A tankless water heater inside the Rheem display trailer kept the water in the dunk tank warm.


When Mountain Supply, Missoula, MT, arranged to have an 800-gallon carnival-style dunk tank at a customer appreciation event in September 2008, several company salespeople volunteered to get drenched if their patrons could hit the game’s target with a baseball. But on the day of the event, the temperature dropped to 40°F, and the volunteers were understandably rethinking their offers.

The game would have been halted had it not been for a Rheem tankless water heating display trailer that was also at the event.

A Rheem RTG-74 water heater, with a maximum flow rate of 7.4 gallons per minute, rapidly raised the 800-gallon dunk tank’s water temperature to about 74°F, saving the game and demonstrating the power of tankless water heating technology.

“We put the hose at the top, set the temperature range to the maximum, and it was pumping out some serious hot water,” said Jack Reed, operations manager at Mountain Supply.

The tankless water heater provided continuously heated water for about six hours, delivering a warm shower for whoever was sitting on the dunking platform, according to Bruce Cole, Rheem Northwest resource manager.

Mountain Supply Missoula outside salesperson Ryan Bann faces a possible dunking.

The performance of the tankless water heater in warming up the dunk tank served to educate installers as well as homeowners in attendance on the benefits of this type of product.

The event was the third in a series of week-long customer appreciation events that Mountain Supply has hosted annually for more than 20 years. Featuring a picnic/carnival atmosphere, the events typically include vendor displays, food, music and door prizes, drawing as many as 400 attendees.

The locally owned and operated distributor of plumbing supplies also operates branches in Bozeman and Billings, MT, serving customers in Montana, Idaho and northern Wyoming.  Mountain Supply has tankless water heater displays in all of its stores.

The installer base represents 70% of Mountain Supply’s business, but the company also opens its three showrooms to the public.

“I would say that better than 50% of our installers are talking about tankless with their customers,” Reed said. “Everyone likes to see the unit working. It’s one thing to talk about the concepts or show a brochure; it’s a whole different message to see it in action.”

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