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Wholesaler pet peeves

DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,532Member, Moderator, Administrator
Just curious. What gets under your skin these days when it comes to your local wholesalers?
Retired and loving it.
«1

Comments

  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 609Member
    - Counter people do not know their products.
    - Employees do not know how to offer recommendations.
    - Paying online on there sight can on some sights be troublesome.
    - Billing on line can be a hassle too.
    - When calling on the phone, you get a answering machine rather than a person.
    - They do not return phone calls.


  • kevinj_4kevinj_4 Posts: 77Member
    Well Dan, you asked at a good time!!!!!

    Orders written and pulled wrong by people who don't care.

    It has gotten to the point that you have to pull the order apart and check it carefully before you load up.

    Either the order taker writes it wrong or the guy pulling it gets the wrong stuff.

    I just spent a half hour at the counter today getting an order fixed.

    This behavior costs the contractor & the wholesaler big bucks.
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 4,936Member
    ^^ ^^ ^^ ^^
    This!
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Posts: 2,777Member
    Actually overall I found things seem to be getting better as far as interactions, knowledge, etc. Maybe they are feeling the heat from online competition.
    The problem that seems to be getting worse, is the very lean inventory at the locations with more inventory 'at the warehouse' and 'we can have it for you tomorrow'. That was the main reason I don’t even bother going to Graingers anymore.
    Fortunately, in my location, within 15 miles are 3 industrial parks that have pretty much all manufacturers and major supply houses. So a few calls before I go usually works.

    The one thing I would love to see, and surprised no one has done it yet would be a 'Uber Parts', something equivalent to Uber Eats, where you can get small parts you order picked up at a supply house and delivered to your job by a third party.
    Would be a huge timesaver to not have to pack up and burn an hour back and forth for an emergency.
    Supply houses will deliver large/big orders but seem to have no interest delivering small parts.
    Second option would be something like mechanics have for auto parts delivery.
    steve
  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Posts: 411Member
    Pretty much everything mentioned above. No knowledge of the parts they sell. Half the time they forget the order. The other half of the time they send the wrong part(s). I’ve been having trouble with this a lot here in DC.
    Never stop learning.
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 609Member
    I agree with @STEVEusaPA about the autoparts delivery idea. This has been mentioned here before. Would really like to see that. If only a wholesaler had the will to do it I think it would be a big hit.
  • GWGW Posts: 3,370Member
    edited March 21
    My “hugest” peeve- after the order (on the phone) I say “ok thanks Chuck” or some variation of word/gesture “thank you”. Some vendors’ employees are in the Stone Age; their employees end the conversation with “no problem”.

    So if two vendors have the same widget at the same price, I will for sure ignore the poor-communication vendor. Some vendors have a certain brand of stuff I work with so I’m stuck

    Second peeve yet much smaller:
    Me- “do you have bla bla”
    Vendor- “let’s take a look” (starts typing)———don’t you know anything without looking at your computer?
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    www.wilsonph.com
    [email protected]
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 609Member
    @GW They just don't know the products anymore.
    Maybe its that there is to much too know. Either way the issues are the same at three of the wholesalers that I use.

    And I get this more often than I would like.
    "I have 10 in stock in my bla bla location. I can have it here in 3 to 4 days."
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,486Member
    Some suppliers are really fantastic.

    One of the biggest (maybe it is the biggest ) electrical wholesaler in the country knows how to run a supply house.

    They have a decent amount of stock, but not as much as the old days. But if you call them before 5 pm and need something they don't have in stock they run their truck all night and will deliver it from their warehouse to the supply house by 6am.

    So you go in at 6am you sometimes have to prod the counter guy to go out back and dig through the delivery....but they do it.

    Pretty good service

    The biggest plumbing and heating supplier in the northeast....sucks. They sell EVERYTHING but won't have the widget you need. Always out of stock and and difficulty getting to THE guy that knows anything. Just order takers. They do have supply houses everywhere but may not have a run of the mill item when you need it.

    The opposite of my first example.

    There are still a few of the "old time" local suppliers that work hard for your business people you can establish a relationship with

    But they are dwindling and being bought up by the chains. Just like BIG BOX is running the hardware stores.

    My favorite supplier sells a HUGE amount of material on the largest construction jobs....they don't do a ton of "counter business" but going in their for a small order or a few fittings they take care of that just as well
  • Harvey RamerHarvey Ramer Posts: 2,185Member
    I would like to see the wholesalers pay their employees a little better. That would attract people that are looking to build a career rather than just hold a job.
    I would also like to see them charge more for parts and equipment. Enough to support a well stocked inventory and enable them to provide better service to their customers.
    Ramer Mechanical
    ramermechanical.com
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Harvey RamerHarvey Ramer Posts: 2,185Member
    I could further add that contractors don't choose to buy on the internet versus buying from wholesalers because of price. They choose it because of better service, convenience and parts availability.

    Supply House.com has phenomanol distribution. You can have almost anything the next day.
    Wholesalers could have a lot of business back if they had almost anything right now. That would be a huge advantage for them if they took it.

    We can have it tomorrow, are curse words to a contractors ears.

    On that note, contractors could also do a much better job of getting their material orders for jobs together. And when you make a purchase, don't bring items back through the wholesalers doors unless they were faulty or failed. If you ordered extra materials, save them and use them on a future job.
    Ramer Mechanical
    ramermechanical.com
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,486Member
    @Harvey Ramer said

    "On that note, contractors could also do a much better job of getting their material orders for jobs together. And when you make a purchase, don't bring items back through the wholesalers doors unless they were faulty or failed. If you ordered extra materials, save them and use them on a future job."

    That's good advise. Some contractors abuse the wholesalers.

    1. They don't order material in a timely fashion and would rather beat on the wholesaler .
    2. Buying too much material letting it sit on the job to long the material gets shop worn and then they want to return it

    I try to keep my material list consistint and try not to over order.

    If I do over order I try to return it as soon as I know I don't need it and return it in good condition.

    It's a two way street

  • clammyclammy Posts: 2,206Member
    My biggest complaint is the bigger p n h suppliers who now buy the smaller ones now stock about zip on oem parts ,they have no one who knows much bout anythingthat they sell and least of all there more money on just about everything they have from pipe to boilers. Now that fergerueson has brought Blackman I ll be driving some where else to pick up small basic things being they where in town now I ll just drive 20 minutes to pick up .to myself it seems all thechain supply carry everything that u can max on mark up just garbage n greed .when they stand at the counter over looking a empty the counter guys will lament that they remember when there would be a line now nothing .unfortunely by the time the ones in power figure it out they will be filing bankruptcy . I hate to order on line but on a lot of stuff you got no choice especially after you order at the supply house n they forget to order and then ask you sure u need it ,business is hard enough as it is then to put up with that bull it’s crazy .the educated counter guys of the past are like dinosaurs a exceint breed the same goes w guys who work hard do it right and are not afraid of getting dirty dying breeds .whats common is the total lack of quality and care I think the big supply house know how to sell to the sheep’s in wolves jackets plus in 1 or 2 years they restructure leaving some one else to hold that bag . It’s a sorry state this world is in that’s why I do what I do I answer to myself and my consciences . The hell w the rest of them when there all outta business because of e business as there completion they will have only they selves to blame .maybe from now on just have the HO order everything n when some wrong they yell at the supply house lol I know how that goes not good . The work n being in business is hard enough that when dealing w a supply house gets tough it’s timeto find a better supply house . I’m lucky I mostly deal w 2 unchained supply house when there gone I hope I ,m dead or at least I wish I was lol peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • ratioratio Posts: 1,913Member
    The delivery stuff was the biggest change I noticed when I came into this field from from the electric field. All the electric supply houses ran trucks, and if I ordered a box of 25 red wirenuts, it came on the milk truck the next day. If my salescritter screwed up an order, it came out that afternoon. Once I had him drive up with a 1000' reel of 12/3 MC cable on the back seat of his Impala—& pizza on the front seat!
  • clammyclammy Posts: 2,206Member
    I m very lucky one supply house I dealt will always run parts to the job need be the rest always say where to busy and then u go there and every bodies just hanging around . I don’t mind paying more when they do something for you like anything .my locale independence supply does bbq every Wendenday durning the summer and not just hot dogs I’m talking a whole spread and free classes durning the rest of the year. That’s more then any chain supply does in my parts. They even had rod hot out for a seminar on califee products .i think a lot has too do w the changing tides in houses and where the money goes in building new homes and renovations ,I m pretty sure that most house built spend more on kitchens then heating and ac since when u go to service it u wonder if it every worked properly from the get go and if the guy got payed lol but it all starts w the supply house for good or bad it’s a cycle n the bad will die and reform under a new rainbow offering the same bs peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • Steve MinnichSteve Minnich Posts: 2,267Member
    10 deep at the counter with only 1 behind the counter was always mine. Their philosophy should be "treat'm and street'm".
    Steve Minnich
    Tell me I can't, and I'll show you I can.
  • Robert O'BrienRobert O'Brien Posts: 3,084Member

    10 deep at the counter with only 1 behind the counter was always mine. Their philosophy should be "treat'm and street'm".

    Amen! A local wholesaler has their inside sales people at desks behind the counter, of course they don't wait on customers, so you have the pleasure of watching 10 people sit there chatting while you wait for what seems like forever. They see nothing wrong with this. If you're going to have employees who don't serve customers, hide them from view! Better yet, have the customer be everyones's job!
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,486Member
    One of the local suppliers that is good has their business hurt by the chains. Back in the day you would roll in their at 7:30 and there would be 10 or 12 waiting at the counter.

    One of the counter guys would pick up the phone and intercom the office "need help at the counter" The office would empty and about 4 of the salesmen would come out.

    Within 15 min everyone had their parts and were gone

    The good old days
  • MikeL_2MikeL_2 Posts: 177Member
    Calling on the phone and getting passed on to several recorded messages while waiting too long for a live contact, then, showing up in person at the wholesaler and while starting to place my order with a counter rep, they take a phone call.......
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Posts: 2,777Member
    MikeL_2 said:

    Calling on the phone and getting passed on to several recorded messages while waiting too long for a live contact, then, showing up in person at the wholesaler and while starting to place my order with a counter rep, they take a phone call.......

    It annoys me anywhere when I'm at the store (I drove there after all) and they take a phone call and leave me waiting.
    If it were my store, I'd say "I have someone in front of me. Give me your number and I'll call you back".

    At RE Michels near me, they always pick up the phone when it calls and immediately say "Can you hold?" and put them on hold to take care of the people at the counter.
    steve
  • SeanBeansSeanBeans Posts: 267Member
    Ordering a whole bunch of fittings on will call and then when you pick it up, they tell you they didn’t have some of the stuff!!!!!
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,798Member
    SeanBeans said:

    Ordering a whole bunch of fittings on will call and then when you pick it up, they tell you they didn’t have some of the stuff!!!!!

    Oh yes! There is one supply house in the Baltimore area which is notorious for that. No point in even going there unless you call first, and when you do, they're always out of at least two things. Then they wonder why we don't buy much from them.............

    Fortunately we have accounts at almost all the area supply houses.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • ratioratio Posts: 1,913Member
    Steamhead said:

    …they're always out of at least two things.…

    Heh. The nearest $bigbox store isn't immune from that. I've not once, since the store went in, purchased everything on my list. The only reason I still go there is because its literally a mile from the house. You'd think I'd learn.

  • LeonardLeonard Posts: 777Member
    edited March 21
    Bad parts......Don't buy much so could be 1 time thing....... but needed a B&G 100 circulator bearing assembly, had to wait 2 days for it to come in . Arrived seized up SOLID, as if welded together. Then being told it'll be 4 more days to get another one because it's a weekend. National chain too, and large city here.

    Box was so old and scuffed made me wonder how many times it had been shipped out to dealers and returned

    Went to different company with larger sales floor shelves ,walked out with it in 5 minutes.
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Posts: 816Member
    Same issues like the rest of the guys. Major supply house, but when you call, you will most likely get the message about "all of our associates are busy". There is only one guy usually answering any calls! Hire more people, and if they don't know what a san tee is, put them in training in the warehouse first. Or delivering.
    I have one real go-to guy from three different suppliers who is great at his job, but he used to be a plumber himself, so he knows his stuff. And, if something is wrong with the order, he takes care of it.
    You guys on the East coast have it much better than us because you are more likely to be able to get parts faster. My closest suppliers are 90 miles away, but at least they deliver here twice a week. But, if they are out of something that isn't sold a lot, like any new boiler parts, then it is a factory order, and it can take 1-2 weeks to get here. Unless I want to pay hot freight , which can be as much as $100 or more. When it is freezing out, you do not want to hear there are no parts available in the state.
    I also wish our suppliers would let us know when anything new comes out so we could know about it, and maybe buy it. I usually find out about most things from word of mouth from someone who has already seen it.
    Rick
  • unclejohnunclejohn Posts: 1,360Member
    Used to be about maybe 6 HVACsupply houses in the DC area. Refig supply at Barry Pl NW. DC. G & H supply Silver Spring Aireco in Crystal City Control Whole Salers off Bradock rd Also VA. One in Temple Hills another off RT 50. And they all had what you needed. Some would even bring what you needed to you. Not anymore. Standard answer is I can get .
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 4,936Member
    unclejohn said:

    Used to be about maybe 6 HVACsupply houses in the DC area. Refig supply at Barry Pl NW. DC. G & H supply Silver Spring Aireco in Crystal City Control Whole Salers off Bradock rd Also VA. One in Temple Hills another off RT 50. And they all had what you needed. Some would even bring what you needed to you. Not anymore. Standard answer is I can get .

    Add to those: Lyon Conklyn, AES (now Carrier Mid Atlantic), RE Michel, Sid Harvey's, Goodman Mfg., United Refrigeration.

    They all seem to have the generic parts, but not the OEM parts for the equipment they sell.

    When I started in this trade in 1971 doing commercial, Aireco in Crystal City, AES, and Boland Trane were about the only supply houses that I knew.

    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Posts: 411Member
    @Ironman I frequent the Aireco in Crystal City. I’ve had good service from them over the years.

    It’s next to impossible to find OEM or anything commercial related here in DC. I have good luck with oddball electrical stuff from Central Armature in NE DC. But other than that I just call the reps and have them check if anyone has parts I need.
    Never stop learning.
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 609Member
    Some of the made in china stuff is still showing up. Bad threads and fittings that split. After they split you look and there it is.
    CHINA engraved on the side.
  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 661Member
    I agree with almost everything said and I have few more to add. The first is the attitude of the counter people. Some wholesalers seem to attract the most miserable people in the world. Soft skills traing would go a long way.

    I would respect a person more if they said Hey I am not sure rather that guess at something and tell me the wrong thing.

    I wish they would work on getting my techs out the door faster. Instead they feed them coffee and donuts.

    Last thing is if you are selling equipment to me, please have the parts. We sold and installed a boiler for a neighbor. The two month old burner had a failed inducer on a Friday and it was not in stock and they said we could have it monday if I paid for overnight shipping and paid for the part and they would credit me once they verified the part was indeed bad.
    Thansk for allowing me to vent LOL
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
    Click here to buy Ray's books.
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 4,936Member
    Ray, your last point is also something we've had to deal with on more than one occasion too.

    Why should the contractor or homeowner have to pay overnight shipping for an in warranty part that the distributor should have had on the shelf?

    Then, because the supply house will sell to almost anyone breathing, however unqualified they may be, it suffers from those people returning parts in warranty that weren't bad because they don't know how to diagnose. That, in turn, causes the supply house to charge everyone for in warranty parts until the manufacturer confirms the parts are defective. Then you fight with the supply house for six months trying to get the credit they owe you.
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 661Member
    Here here @Ironman
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
    Click here to buy Ray's books.
  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 661Member
    One more thought A plumber friend said he does not want his plumbers going to the wholesale houses as competitors lurk there and offer a dollar an hour more to the techs walking in. I have never seen that but we do not do plumbing
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
    Click here to buy Ray's books.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,486Member
    No being able to get parts quickly for the "exotic" equipment. We have schools filled with buderus & viessmann commercial equipment

    the last year we had a metric Sundstrand pump flow in from France, they didn't have one in the states flexable fuel oil lines that we waited 6 weeks for.

    Are we supposed to mickey mouse these things and put American parts on and try to adapt??

    Why are these parts not in a us distribution center at the least?

    I blame the manufacturers.........no product support
  • GroundUpGroundUp Posts: 472Member



    The one thing I would love to see, and surprised no one has done it yet would be a 'Uber Parts', something equivalent to Uber Eats, where you can get small parts you order picked up at a supply house and delivered to your job by a third party.
    Would be a huge timesaver to not have to pack up and burn an hour back and forth for an emergency.
    Supply houses will deliver large/big orders but seem to have no interest delivering small parts.
    Second option would be something like mechanics have for auto parts delivery.

    They don't have it there? We've got a dozen wholesale houses around the Minneapolis area and can have anything delivered to the site on a 1 hour courier for cheaper than we can pay a gopher to pick it up. Like $2 a mile cheap.

    I have one place I prefer over others for most things because they have almost everything, and only 2 guys there I trust to take an order. I'll wait all day for one of them to answer the phone before I'll order from some other bum because none of them have a clue what anything is and it's ALWAYS wrong when it arrives. A will call is another story as I can inspect before I drive away and the counter guys are pretty decent at getting it fixed, but delivery of the wrong order really gets under my skin. Sometimes it's out of the question and I gotta run to wherever is close and grab something and typically the counter guy doesn't know what a 3/4" sweat ball valve is, almost better running to the big box and grabbing it myself.

    I think the worst part of going to the wholesale house is the doofuses that get in front of you in line with 4 pages of material and a picture of a pex adapter because they don't know what anything is, and waste 30 minutes of everybody's time because they're too dumb and irresponsible to call it in ahead of time. Like the people at the gas station that insist on scratching 20 lottery tickets without leaving the counter when there are 10 people behind them in line.

    When I do side work for myself, the nearest wholesale house is 45 miles from home and they only carry a few of everything so unless you get there first thing in the morning, you're not getting a full bag of 1" elbows- you're only getting 6. So from both a financial and time standpoint, I almost exclusively shop online or big box. Heck, even boilers are nowhere to be found within 5 hours unless I want a Navien. I've called around everywhere for Lochinvar, NTI, IBC, HTP, even Electro and there is literally never one even in the state- ALWAYS needs to be ordered in
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Posts: 1,432Member
    I've maintained that a good counter guy is one who has worked in the trade. Then they know the lingo and can think outside the box if need be. Get the parts you need to actually be able to get home and not be out all night working.

    I hate it when I send a helper to get parts and they come back with the wrong size etc. This is after I called in the order.
    Master electrician specialising in boiler and burner controls, multiple fuel systems, radiant system controls, building controls, and universal refrigeration tech.
  • hot_rodhot_rod Posts: 11,216Member

    I've maintained that a good counter guy is one who has worked in the trade. Then they know the lingo and can think outside the box if need be. Get the parts you need to actually be able to get home and not be out all night working.



    I hate it when I send a helper to get parts and they come back with the wrong size etc. This is after I called in the order.

    I agree with this especially with hydronics. Expecting any counter person to know every part and application for hydronic components from multiple manufacturers would be a challenge.
    Older experienced counter personal like to sell the same products they know and have sold for 20 years, hard to get them to look at or learn other brand or even model options.

    If you shop at Plbg and heating or Plbg, and HVAC the SKU numbers is quite large.

    In my travels across the USA and Canada, I find the smaller or single branch suppliers get a better handle on training and customer support.

    Counter turnover is a concern, many counter personal have been at multiple companies, from what I have seen in the last 11 years on the road. They shop for a better wage or working condition.

    Stock on the shelves?? It's all about the money and stock turns. Some wholesalers computer systems delete products that don't turn on a regular basis. And some wish to return those slow turns back to the manufacturer.

    Forecasting must be a big job also for wholesalers, I know it is on the manufacturing end.

    I think in todays economy you would be wise to have a number of suppliers including online. I like to be able to shop and place orders at 9- 10:00 PM and have it arrive a day or two later, that will be a tough (Amazon) model to beat as years go by.

    Reps and manufacturers are another source of product support, good, better and best like everything else.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,807Member
    I had great luck with Johnstone supply in finding an oven gas valve for a prehistoric stove, but only after I got the correct numbers from Tim McElwain, (thanks again!)—NBC

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/166403/1950-60-s-norge-gas-stove
  • KeenGreenKeenGreen Posts: 21Member
    I have been on the Wholesaler side of things for almost 30 yrs. I guess that I am almost a dinosaur? I absolutely feel the pain of what everyone is saying. I take pride in what I do, everyday.
    It is really tough to get the "new kids" working at the wholesalers to understand what they need to do on a daily basis. You know, they already know everything. There is no simple solution.
    What they need to do is get the stock levels up, pay better for countermen/women and set a bar that everyone needs to achieve. Management needs to take an active roll as well.
    Make sure that all staff meet or exceed the level that is required to be successful everyday. Always remember, no customers, no wholesalers. Treat them better than you want to be treated.
    and with respect.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,798Member
    KeenGreen said:

    It is really tough to get the "new kids" working at the wholesalers to understand what they need to do on a daily basis. You know, they already know everything. There is no simple solution.

    But you can start by telling them to leave their phones in the car. That way they won't be able to play with them.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
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