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How much do you depend on your wholesaler for technical advice?

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DanHolohan
DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568

Just curious. Does your wholesaler do sizing and system design for you? I know it was like that back in the day, but is it still? And if so, to what degree?

Retired and loving it.

Comments

  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 864
    edited March 2023
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    We do not rely on any wholesaler for sizing or system design.

    When I started in the business back in the 1980's the local supplier had a very knowledgeable member named Jack. Jack likely designed the heating systems for about half the houses in my are that were built in the 1960's and 1970's. Jack never undersized a boiler or a heat emitter (cast iron radiators in the 1960's and hwbb in the 1970's). As Jack aged he taught a few other of the staff his methods that he likely learned in college in the late 1950's. I went to IBR residential sizing school around 1988. When I compared what Jack suggested for a new house we were about start to what I just learned in school I was amazed. The HWBB and the boiler were literally twice the size of what I came up with. Fast forward to today, I secretly wish I used Jack's method at my own house as my HWBB is too small (short) to fully take advantage of my condensing boiler.

    Thankfully I learned a lot about circulator pumps from the reps, books, Siggy and of course @DanHolohan . Since B&G practically "owned" the pump business in my area I made sure I paid extra attention at your seminars when you spoke about pumps (and ferris wheels and milk jugs, and…). As a result, we can and do size our pumps for years. As a matter of fact, that same supply house that Jack retired from back in the 1990's occasionally calls us for help with pump sizing.

    EdTheHeaterMan
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,041
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    Sorry @DanHolohan. This sounds like an early April fool's joke. Maybe I am shopping at the wrong places. Once up on the time, the guy behind the counter had extensive field experience and knowledge. Certainly not anymore. At least where I am shopping.

    unclejohn
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,244
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    Supply houses can't even come up with a part number anymore much less dispense advice about how to specfiy, install, or repair something. I go to the reps mostly. I feel like I'm constantly on the phone with Wales-Darby, Rathe, Wallace-Eannace, and Thermco.

    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    STEVEusaPA
  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 1,105
    edited March 2023
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    I work at a wholesaler. Almost all I do every day is system design, manual J, and technical assistance. job quoting basically just rolls itself into one of those primary functions. Our market is a bit strange in that we do not have any local manufacturer reps. I do see in larger markets the "Buy-Sell" reps are dominant and seem to fill the role that wholesalers of the past used to fill, many wholesalers in those areas are just retail outlets and not much more than that.

  • dko
    dko Member Posts: 644
    edited March 2023
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    O/T

  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,658
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    Most local supply houses will assist in design and have staff trained to do so, Of course they expect the sale if providing design. Very few are trained to use proprietary radiant software, and I notice disparity in manifold temps and ports specified. Only a few contractors use the software and unfortunately, systems are compromised. I had the fortunate experience in being associated with a supply house staffed with hydronic and steam experts…Lin Patterson and Ed Collins…you serviced the account, Dan.

    The best system design includes a loop layout and cad drawings of the system. Most contractors can't provide this data because of cost, time, or lack of skillset. I wonder why there is such a lack of competency, but the answer is clear…shortage of skilled labor and cost driven systems. I consult with the manufacturer for technical questions when required. The local Viessmann wholesaler is very competent with all info needed.

  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
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    Paul, Lin and Ed were the guys I had in mind when I asked the question. Thanks.

    Retired and loving it.
    Paul Pollets
  • Karl Reynolds
    Karl Reynolds Member Posts: 63
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    Speaking as a Wholesaler here. I am relied upon daily to help size pumps, boiler, water heaters, heat exchangers, etc. I average 3-4 takeoffs per week for small commercial and large residential (multiple boilers, water heaters, and pumps, trophy homes in Aspen and Vail). But I look around me at the Gen whatevers and their lack of wanting to learn anything is disturbing. It's so much easier to tell a customer "go see Scott or Karl" and then get back to surfing the web between customers. When I started thirty plus years ago, product knowledge training was mandatory. Anybody remeber "The College of Product Knowledge"? It was a few pages down from Dan's column in the "Supply House Times". I truly enjoy trouble shooting and helping others. I have always said, that if I didn't learn something new today, it wasn't worth coming to work.

    dko
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
    edited March 2023
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    https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20171003-proof-that-people-have-always-complained-about-young-adults

    In these pictures from the 50s you can see the helpful youth of yesteryear ready and eager to help you size your pumps and boilers 🤣

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,331
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    Never understood steam traps that well so somebody made my projects work. Was he the rep or the boiler room boss? I did know a bit about pumps and so did pump vendors but somehow incorrect ones often were installed.

  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,956
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    In my relatively short career (15 years), I have dealt with maybe 15 different suppliers. Only 1 of which has ever provided any sort of design for us, and it was atrocious even to my newbie eyes. I do know there is one supplier in the area that most of the local guys use simply because they DO supply the designs, which they are incapable of doing themselves. It's disturbing to me that someone without the ability to design their own system can call themselves a contractor, but such is life.

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,919
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    Someone had to post it....

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    pecmsgGroundUpSolid_Fuel_Man
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
    edited March 2023
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    In the early days, first starting out, I needed assistance on a very large snowmelt job. It fell in my lap, and I had to hit the ground 🏃‍♂️ running. After two days of delays and dead end phone calls, and getting Jerked around, I turned to HH. I think you, Dano, said..."ME (Mark Eatherton-Colorado Madman) was who I needed. Within days, I had a design, material list and plan. Mark made Me and Triple Crown look like a Snowmelt Pro...Through my association with Heating Help and Dan, I was VERY fortunate to meet the BEST in the business. In the beginning, and till this day, I eagerly followed the Holohan Wagon Train to Success. I met and hung out with John Hazen White with Dan, got to know the Brilliant Dave Holdorf Taco trainer and whiz, The Great teacher,, John Barba, Timmie Mc Elwaine, Noel Murdough, Steamhead & Gordo, Gerry Goll& Steve Pajek, Dan Foley, Rich Mc Grath, Clammy, Ken & Scott Secor, ME, Johnny NY, Alex The Wire Nut, Ellen & Hot 🔥 Rod, Steve Ebel, Captain CO, Jim Davis. Rudy Leatherman Bacharach, Bill Wolfe, Honeywell, Tom Bucher Brookhaven National Labs, Kevin Beckett, Woody Tunstall, Through Dave Holdorf, I recently met Matt Gritman great Rep for Navien & Roth, Larry Weingarten Mr Water Heater, Paul Pollets & Alan California Radiant Guys, Judy Garber,, Alan Mercurio and countless others. I feel so blessed to know the Rock Stars of our Industry. Dan Holohan is AS important to Our Industry as Billy Joel is to Rock 🎸 and Roll. I feel we have Ringo's All Star Band here..The Best in the business. No need to really go much outside this circle. Any guidance I ever got from The Elite Pros here turned out to be 100% true and worked out. There are exceptions though, Jake Greenwood, and the Boys from Venco, Don and James Rathe from Rathe Sales, Tim Doran, Ken Renwick, and a few very smart and helpful others, have been great, spot on resources. Between these folks, Dan, his books and sage advice and having the pleasure of learning heating from RS English & Jimmy The Gent Burke..best all around heating guy on the 🏝 Island...I always found the answers mad Dog

  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
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    Thanks, Matt, but I'm asking about wholesalesers and contractors' dependence on them nowadays. Or not.

    Retired and loving it.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
    edited March 2023
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    DYes, I believe I addressed that and the answer is with a very few exceptions, NO! If a young person is just breaking in to the business, they will get them flying straight, but beyond that point, most of us who are installing, spec'ing, and supervising installs & repairs everyday, the knowledge they are giving you is often lacking, not very insightful (cookie cutter) info. Almost all are really nice caring folks. A handful go way beyond that. for me, and they are Golden. 2. Most of the best and latest information is gleaned in a gathering Place like this with people who are in The Field, actially installing (not theorizing)designing, supervising the hands on installation of these very products. The best testing lab and most accurate results emanate from here. There is also less Rah Rah product cheerleading that you often get from a Wholesaler or rep. Mad Dog

    Larry Weingarten
  • Tim_D
    Tim_D Member Posts: 129
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    An adjunct to Dans question. If a distributor was to offer exceptional in house technical support to include a robust training program (yes, I consider training to be a form of technical support. Pre-emptive technical support if you will) would you be more likely to patronize them? Would you pay a few pennies more for their products? Does an outside sales guy that is willing to get in the boiler room with you for equipment selection advice, troubleshooting, etc. add value? Is there still a place for the "trusted advisor" in our industry our have we gone nearly full on Home Depot where price is in the drivers seat?

    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    Slant Fin was one such company. They showed contractors so much love via free classes, give aways. BBQ's that had to buy their products. Mad Dog

    Tim_D
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,008
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    Let's look at this from the other direction. How many of us have had suppliers call US for technical advice/consulting?

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Mad Dog_2Dan FoleyTim_Ddelta T
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,244
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    I get this from time to time. Most recently from a supplier asking for advice he could pass on to his "brother-in-law" but i'm pretty sure it was to help put a competitor of mine.

    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    Mad Dog_2ethicalpaul
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
    edited March 2023
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    Not cool, Johnny NY. I'd do that ONCE for him. Most everyone (some really do value our time as Tradesmen and offer to pay but I usually don't take it for a minor thing because I appreciate the respect) wants Free advice. A bit here and there is fine, but this is how we pay our bills. They get paid at their job. Mad Dog

  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,331
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    In my day Lennox jobbers & manufacturer were same company so its contractors could do best job even if other equipment was better than Lennox.

    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    Huh? Come again? Mad

  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    Couldn't say it better Robert mad Dog

  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 506
    edited March 2023
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    The wholesalers I deal with do have heating system designers on staff and they are extremely helpful for my small enterprise.

    When I first got into plumbing & heating ( late 60's ) the supply house would always perform the heat loss for projects & specify all equipment. I do remember baseboard heat covering every inch of exterior walls and I thought this was normal & needed at the time. I discovered that most boilers & baseboard heat installs were oversized after learning heat loss calcs at IBR school in the late 70's. Supply houses wanted to boost sales, I guess, and no one ever complained about lack of comfort. How interesting that in many cases, what was extra baseboard at the time turned into the ideal amount of baseboard to allow mod con boilers to operate effectively & efficiently now.

    I still use system design services by wholesalers. I'm able to tweak their equipment specs to suit my taste for particular bits & pieces; their work reduces mine. And if / when I'm awarded a job, I purchase most of the materials from the design team.

  • John Mills_5
    John Mills_5 Member Posts: 952
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    We will ever so often need advice from our main forced air etc. suppliers but that's our main product so we are pretty well versed in it. Boilers, on the other hand, we often take advantage of our boiler supplier's vast experience and he'll come to the job if we have a problem. We took out a Burnham streamer piped like gravity hot water and did it right. Looked great and customer was thrilled with how fast and how evenly it heated. He came buy and gave the installers some pointers.
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,244
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    We will ever so often need advice from our main forced air etc. suppliers but that's our main product so we are pretty well versed in it. Boilers, on the other hand, we often take advantage of our boiler supplier's vast experience and he'll come to the job if we have a problem. We took out a Burnham streamer piped like gravity hot water and did it right. Looked great and customer was thrilled with how fast and how evenly it heated. He came buy and gave the installers some pointers.


    My father always told me, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    Mad Dog_2STEAM DOCTORRusty2PC7060