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Big Ornage recruiting techs

John R. Hall
John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
Home Depot is now looking to open up their own HVAC service department. The company has been seeking out interviews with service techs. Maybe the step after that would be to have plumbing and electrical service departments. Kinda makes you think about where all of this will lead to -- or not lead to.

Sorry, that's "orange."

Comments

  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
    It was only a matter of time


    Sears has had them forever.

    I imagine Lowe's will be next.

    Curious to find out how many techs from companies participating with the Trane/HD program jump ship.

    Might not make for good relations?

    Mark H

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  • Jeff Lawrence_24
    Jeff Lawrence_24 Member Posts: 593
    Several years ago

    Home Depot purchased Apex Supply in Atlanta. Apex Supply was a home grown HVAC/Plumbing wholesaler who was also the local Trane distributor. That occured not long before HD started offering installation sales through the stores. Coincidence? Maybe or maybe not.

    Recently, I received a letter from Apex and Home Depot saying that the name 'Apex Supply' is going away because the name is being changed to Home Depot Supply. You call my local branch, they answer the phone "Home Depot Supply/ Apex Showroom."

    Personally, I try to not purchase anything except for lumber and building materials from HD. I also don't offer Trane equipment for much the same reason. Maybe I'm missing the boat.

    Jeff

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  • Nron_9
    Nron_9 Member Posts: 237
    HD

    the box stores only have one thing in mind and that is to be the lowest cost and that means the lowest pay , you never see a lawyer services sold this way , they take pride in there abilities as we should . Nron
  • Ken_8
    Ken_8 Member Posts: 1,640
    Oh contrare...

    The HD is into making money. At 36 bucks a share - near the all time high, I'd suggest they are rather good at it!

    I am amazed at how well they pay their staff as well.

    And lawyers also know how to make money. Many work for free than take 1/3 of the settlement out of proceeds.

    So much for generalizations.

    HD is also there when I need them. That being after 4:30 in the afternoon, Saturdays and Sundays.

    Perhaps that is why we see all those plumbing, heating and A/C huys there lined up on Saturday morning?

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  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
    Availability

    I know a contractor in a rural area who actually leased space in his shop to a distributor. If anyone, including his competitors needed parts at odd hours, he'd be available to them. It's different there because of the rural market and the fact that most contractors know each other and trust and respect one another. But it seems to be a good way to make an extra buck.
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    Why Trane may Regret going with Home Depot

    For some reason I don't think I'd ever go with HD for anything other than bits and pieces I need from time to time. More often than not, their wares are built around the lowest common denominator.

    Personally, I believe the Trane affiliation is one of desperation. Trane has been sliding in the residential market for years. Now it appears that they're going for HD as a means of increasing their consumer awareness and exposure. It might work... but I doubt it. After all, the customer segment that HD typically targets can usually be found in the Goodman camp.

    And there's the rub: Had HD, Lowes, and Sears secured a Goodman license, then the bottom end of the market may have been pretty much sown up by now. However, Goodman didn't need HD and the other big box stores the way Trane does. Going further, I would consider selling via HD to be a liability rather than an asset... I have seen them behave in the most despicable ways with former clients of mine... good riddance is what I say!

    So, if the business articles I read about HD and the other big box stores and my personal experiences on the supply side are correct, Trane may in fact be shoveling itself a grave with this partnership.

    Were I an independant contractor, I would take offense to a supplier trying to get an extra 6-10% out of my profit margin by having calls referred to me via HD (at least, IIRC, that's what one of the guys at HVAC-Talk claimed HD takes). That extra profit has to be taken out somewhere... or added to the bill. Either would make my business less competitive.

    No one says that business life is not interesting. It will be fun to look back in ten years and see which brand strategy worked: The Goodman "I'm the lowest-cost producer", the Lennox "I'll buy distribution", the Trane "please believe my ads about product superiority", or the Carrier "I'll come up with proprietary systems to keep all non-Carrier techs out".

    My current bet is on Goodman... folks in the US tend make decisions on the up-front cost, most of the internals are made by the same companies regardless of brand anyway, and there is awfully little differentiation as far as a homeowner can tell. Hopefully, most homeowners will appreciate the reality that the most important brand decision they can make is the installer.
  • Ken_8
    Ken_8 Member Posts: 1,640
    Bet he didn't learn that

    trick from the SR!

    That's the kind of stuff that makes this place unique.

    Truly new ideas.

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  • Ken C.
    Ken C. Member Posts: 267


    Even HD lumber is crap.
  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
    Competition? So what

    I was driving through Fort Worth with a contractor a few years ago and we went by an HD. There was a new building going up right across the street from it. My friend said, "Oh yeah, that's the new Lowes."

    There's plenty of customers to go around, obviously.
  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
    I bet

    that if you stand on the roof of any HD, you can see a Lowes.

    Mark H

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  • heatboy
    heatboy Member Posts: 1,468
    Do you think...........

    stores like HD and Lowes are becoming more popular because...........

    a. There are more people becoming DIYers because they want to do it themselves?

    b. They are trying to save money on menial tasks and pay the professionals for the advanced stuff?

    c. They want to feel the pride of having done it themselves?

    d. The buying public looks upon us in the trades as completely unprofessional (for the most part with justification) and feel they can do the work as well as we can?

    e. All of the above?

    f. None of the above?

    g. Is it just marketing on behalf of the box stores to make the general public believe they are actually saving money?

    How many of us offer the same products the box stores do? If you do, why?

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    heatboy



    The Radiant Whisperer





    "The laws of physics will outweigh the laws of ecomomics every time."
  • S Ebels
    S Ebels Member Posts: 2,322
    HD Lumber

    I'll agree with that. We had one open up 3 years ago locally. They had some outrageous pricing on dimension lumber then and it's still very competitive. As of this date however, I know of no builders who are buying more than bits and pieces during "off" hours from the HD. They all say that the grade of lumber being sold there is substandard to say the least.
  • Tombig_2
    Tombig_2 Member Posts: 231
    HD

    I walked past a Trane XL near the checkout with a table set up next to it with some paperwork. The boy at the table looked liked the squeaky voiced teenager on the Simpsons. If I had a minute I would have peppered him with questions. I paid for my sandpaper and stain and left.

    I get better pricing at ALL my various suppliers be it sheet metal, electrical, etc. The only good pricing they have is only on the bulkest of material. Screw 'em.

    BTW, I have two separate HVAC suppliers who will open up 24/7 (for a fee of course)
  • Josh M.
    Josh M. Member Posts: 360


    I personnally refuse to shop at large home improvement stores. They sell for cheaper because they pay minimal amounts to their employees. Did you know that only 5 years ago there were 30,000 local hardware stores. Now there are 14,000. Makes you wonder what will happen to wages for hvac techs. HD will certainly not pay well.
  • S Ebels
    S Ebels Member Posts: 2,322
    Answers

    Our hardware supplier (Do-It Best) has done volumes of research on HD/Lowes and the like. The number one reason people shop there is the perceived value. Note the word PERCEIVED in that sentence. Look the word up in a dictionary. HD/Lowes do a fantastic job of identifying and pricing cost sensitive products. BUT!!! Watch out on the rest of the stuff. Example: 1/2" mpt X 1/2" flare 90* ell, Selling price at our store $2.39 with a 45% margin. Selling price at the HD is $3.89. Our respective costs are within pennies. Who is screwing whom?

    The number two reason is convienience. They have gobs of stuff under one roof and are open much longer hours than a typical hardware store.

    When asked, over 80% of their customers say they do not go to HD/Lowe's for advice. They feel the personnel have limited expertise. (Go figure) They are trying to correct that by holding all the seminars and stuff you see advertised.

    I have to agree with D also. Sad to say..........

    A, B and C are true but to a much more limited extent than one would think.

    G. See the paragraph above regard the price on the fitting.
  • Tombig_2
    Tombig_2 Member Posts: 231
    Hardware Stores

    > I personnally refuse to shop at large home

    > improvement stores. They sell for cheaper because

    > they pay minimal amounts to their employees. Did

    > you know that only 5 years ago there were 30,000

    > local hardware stores. Now there are 14,000.

    > Makes you wonder what will happen to wages for

    > hvac techs. HD will certainly not pay well.



  • Don Walsh
    Don Walsh Member Posts: 131
    \"Evil Orange\" and the \"Blue Box\"

    This is my take on the state of the industry as it relates to your questions.

    A+B. I feel most people are becoming DIYer's out of necessity. This is caused in some small part by a markedly lower level of disposable income as compared to what it was 10-15 years ago; and more importantly, it is almost impossible for the homeowner to find anyone qualified that is willing to do the smaller low profit jobs.

    C. Yes, they are feeling pride in their accomplishments, but the pride is usually in the appreciation of the finished project not so much in the actual labor of the task. Some do indeed wish to learn the correct method of doing the task, and then relish in the experience of performing it, but I personally think that if most of them had they been able to contract it out, would have done so.

    D. Absolutely, the buying public looks upon the trades "in general" as a quasi-evil group of charlatans that are only trying to take their hard earned bucks for slip shod and sub-standard work. Regretably this is far too often a true perception on their part. We as an industry allow it to continue with virtually no action on our part. Anyone with a pick-up truck and a bag of mish-mashed tools can call himself a tradesman. They show up in grungy looking clothes, AC/DC or Black Sabbath tee shirts, hand lettered signs (by a 5th grader, maybe) on the truck if any signs are there at all. They have a tendency to WOW the customer with BS and a low price, and when it doesn't work after it is installed, the entire fraternity of ours becomes further sullied. We, by our indifference allow this farce to perpetuate itself upon our industry.

    The very suppliers that we try to protect, by bemoaning the activity of the Home Depots of this world, are the same suppliers who will sell their wares to anyone with cash in hand. In my local area, all but one of the 12 suppliers to the mechanical trades will sell to anyone. The lone exception is R E Michel Co., who maintains a "wholesale to the trade only" policy.

    Those of us who consider ourselves as "professionals" in this arena, are guilty of allowing the fly-by-nighters and bootjacks to exist. We do not insist and lobby for restrictive legislation regarding the sale and installation of the products of our trade. Heavy fines and penalties for the miscreants, and serious licensing requirements for all practicioners of our trade. Why not insist on mandatory re-testing every two years for all who would call themselves "contractor?" Are we afraid that we might not pass the test? If so, then maybe we shouldn't be plying this trade either.

    The day that Trane products became available at my local HD was the very same day we took down the sign from the building, and have refused to install or service their products (unless it is a customer that we installed it for)
    When asked why I no longer deal or service Trane, I just tell them that if they (Trane) are so in need of selling product, that they would spurn longstanding relationships, with the very contractors that created their market share, to join hands with a discount garden/lumber/hardware shop , then Trane is no longer a product that I feel I can represent with pride.

    G. Is it marketing? Not in my opinion. They out buy and undercut the local companies until the small merchants are forced to close the doors. They are impressive retailers; massive displays, 16' high racks of back stock, all you could ever need under one roof! But at the expense of the local merchants and the community of businesses that once were the very heart of "your home town" Now they are gone, you are locked into the Big Box mentality. The interpersonal relationship with the familiar clerk at the hardware or at the paint shop is now just a memory. The quality of small town life has been diminished for the sake of expediency and mass merchandising. Yuck! No Thank You!

    This rant could go on for many, many pages, but I'll give it a rest for now. I only can take so many spikes in the blood pressure at one time!


    Grumpy

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  • Tombig_2
    Tombig_2 Member Posts: 231
    Hardware Stores


    I love the old mom and pop HW stores. Few left but the smart ones at least affiliate themselves with a chain so they have some purchase clout. I only use HW stores when it's convenient for a quick purchase. I love it when I walk into an old neighborhood store on the off chance they might have some oddball fitting and after digging around in the basement some old timer comes up with a 2x1x1 CIT or a 1&1/2 rad. valve. I'll pay double it's worth just for the 'coolness' of them having it.




  • I think this site has a lot of members that teach the home owners about value and they make a good living off of it, as well as they should! This type of work practice is the only way to keep this trade alive. Yes we will always need hvac but if value and comfort/a good end product is shot to hell befor the work is ever done then we see things like Home Depot. If that says any thing to you, it should tell you to inform the custermors and give them more than the bottom line junk garbage because thats what they really want.
  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
    New homes still going up

    The news about the rise in new home construction last month was encouraging. It also made me think. The homes going up around our community are in the $300-$500K range. I doubt that too many of these homeowners and the people they resell the homes to are serious DIYers. The systems and equipment that you guys design and install will still be bought by these homeowners. Many will still cruise the aisles of HD and Lowes, looking for that nice ceiling fan, light fixture or riding mower.

    The people who are good at designing, installing and servicing will always have their niche as long as these big homes keep going up.
  • Jeff Lawrence_24
    Jeff Lawrence_24 Member Posts: 593
    How I wish

    This were true.

    Here in the south, we have all kinds of people that LOVE HD and some of the remodelers I do regular work for buy most of thier stuff from HD.

    I think HD has started a lot of remodelers into the trade. One family I was working with told me their 'remodeler' was letting them buy the material at HD and they were paying him by the hour directly. As part of my presentation, I showed them a copy of my insurance certificate and happened to ask if their 'remodeler' was insured. They didn't have a clue (and I found out later he wasn't).

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  • Jeff Lawrence_24
    Jeff Lawrence_24 Member Posts: 593
    All time High?

    Right.

    Back when Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus were at the helm of the good ship HD, the stock was running in the high $50's to low $60's. The corporate charter stated that when the stock would hit (I think)$65, the stock would 2 for 1 split.

    Now that Bob Nardelli, a GE reject, has taken over, the stock is no where near that high.

    JMHO.

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  • Jeff Lawrence_24
    Jeff Lawrence_24 Member Posts: 593
    John

    One of the remodelers I work for told me that the local HD was soliciting for the lumber packages for new homes and large remodel jobs. They even would deliver free if the order was over a certain dollar amount.

    I too refuse to deal with Trane because of thier offerings through HD.

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  • Darin Cook
    Darin Cook Member Posts: 20
    They are convenient though

    There is only one reason why the big boxes are everywhere, people want them and spend their money at them. Sometimes it is amazing how many there are in one area. You have to wonder how many of them an area can support. But if it is after hours or on a weekend and you need a part they are open. They seem to have more specialty fittings than the regular supply house. Some of our supply houses do not stock electrical supplies, HD does. If I am building a pump panel they have everything I need there. We do alot of custom homes and even if our customers knew how to do the craft, they do not have the time. They have businesses or jobs that are demanding like our own. I think that our "regular" supply houses need to look at what is working for the big boxes, what people like about them and incorporate into use. Things such as buying a short piece of pipe, threading and cutting pipe, renting tools and many other things that seem small but add up in a big way. In our area, even training by our suppliers has dropped almost to nonexistent. If people want to do little things around the house to save money, let them. Lets face it, it can be costly to have little jobs done around the house. Most of the charge by the contractor for that type of work is cost of operation not the cost of the part. The big boxes are not going away but then again neither are we.
  • Nron_9
    Nron_9 Member Posts: 237
    The look

    D. I think the term your looking for is "Soup kitchen". Not meaning to demean the homeless. So much for pride.
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    HD is not the only company headed by a \"GE reject\".

    ...whatever "reject" means. Sometimes, people leave for all the right reasons.

    In 2000, Arthur D. Little was already in trouble when Lorenzo Lamadrid took over. From what I could tell, the pace of deterioration accelerated from there. Starting with his alleged pay package of 500K/year and the golden parachute that would have placed the company in bankruptcy, Lorenzo was viewed by many with some skepticism. Two years later, ADL went bankrupt.

    I still don't get why folks think that a GE pedigree is something to brag about. Just because they had a phenomenal run in the past does not indicate particular brilliance for everyone that works there. Oh well, off to work.
  • Ken_8
    Ken_8 Member Posts: 1,640
    Come on now...

    No one looks past the past 20 minutes to judge a stock.

    And in the last 20 minutes (make that a year), HD has been going up. Up. and then Up some more.

    Everyone knows the $60. was a fluke of unfounded enthusiasm.

    Right? (:-o)

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  • Jeff Lawrence_24
    Jeff Lawrence_24 Member Posts: 593
    Jack Welch

    Jack took a successful company and turned it into a mega successful company. If you were a higher up that Jack Welch had touched, you were almost golden.

    Nardelli of HD has never done what Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus did. Blank and Marcus would get out around the floor help and customers of HD and find out how the first line was doing. Nardelli came to a local store and his security people swept the employees and customers out of the aisle he wanted to use to get to the store managers office. He supposedly never spoke or even looked around as he walked through the store.

    This man knows business, but does he know people?

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  • jim lockard
    jim lockard Member Posts: 1,059
    Stand on

    the roof of McDonald's and you can see another fast food joint. Same deal
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    Big boxes, Wal-martyers, etc

    Price for the most part drives consumers to these stores.

    The catch 22 is, to provide "everyday low prices" the bulk of the "Wal" products being sold are made off shore. So in the quest for the lowest possible price we lose manufacturing jobs and businesses.

    Consumers get lowest price in exchange for loosing their factory jobs! Can't have it both ways.

    Heck the software support lines are now staffed by workers in India. Even H&R Block is off shoring their data input labor these days. So $100 an hour for a local CPA prepared T&M tax return, or 59.95 for a H&R prepared return, hmmm

    hot rod

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  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
    Agreed


    but I also like to believe that the "pioneer spirit" is still alive in America. I agree that most folks are "trying to save a buc", but I think you would agree that many just like the idea of "going it alone".

    I also agree that the quest for "cheap" parts or services is a double edged sword, be careful of what you wish for!

    If I ever figure out how to balance the issue, I'll write a book about it.

    Of course, it will probably be printed by a foreign company with paper and ink produced by another foreign company!

    Mark H

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  • jim lockard
    jim lockard Member Posts: 1,059
    Lets See

    Who is going to fix these Trane's may get awfully cold waiting for the orange box.
  • joel_10
    joel_10 Member Posts: 1
    where???

    where is HD looking for techs ihaven't heard of that in my are yet?!!
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    Plumbing 3-4-9

    I saw a commercial of a guy talking to a cardboard cutout to resemble some 17 year old kid ,above the cut outs head was a light and there was a speaker to listen to answers and a pick up mike like at taco bell:)) Guy says hello dummy has some box response...guy says hes looking to get some plumbing parts and the dummy says oh that would be aile 8 in Lumber dept.:))) ok im ready to lash up the small thermonuclear devise I've read Book 3 and 4 and skipped straight to9! in the plumbing dept! And i attended the Special valve installation class for 1/2"threaded rising stems:))I'm ready! ... I Can Do This! oki ...So, someone is going to install for home depot in your area? surely you cannot see the benifit of life safety issues arising...being psychologically Threatened by your neighbours remodeling project:) I smell Law suits :)We can only guess the amount of fresh new lawyers vying for the chance to collect on mental cruelty and sever tramatization bought about by someone shooting the gypcrete on the ceiling:) with a 45:))) or some guy undershooting the boiler temerature gauge:))) Hey It says so right Here on page 29:)in this chapter on overshooting temerature on boiler.! it makess Perfect sence!To reduce pressure and overshooting temperatures.. Shoot it Right smack dab in the middle..or :))) put a 45 on the elbow and shoot the drain pipe away from the boiler!:))))) i'M Sorry:( i am probably way outside the box on this subject....:)) nah:))I can honestly say ThatI can see some mindless cretin going out to the boiler room with his 45 to see how this plumbing trick is supposed to work!:))so if you get any calls about where to shoot the drain .. Be C A R E F U L:)))
  • Jeff Lawrence_24
    Jeff Lawrence_24 Member Posts: 593
    The installers

    HD does not do the installations. They subcontract the installation out to privately held companies. The companies are supposed to be responsible for the reapir work.

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  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    Yup

    However, the installers are allegedly supposed to pay HD a finders fee from 6-10% of the job. I don't know about you, but that would get my blood going. By its own admission, Trane isn't exactly the lowest-cost provider in the industry, therefore they're not the ones who can afford a lot of extra markup.

    Were I a Trane installer before, I would have considered the alternatives the day Trane got into the corporate bed with HD. The strategy still does not make sense to me. Here we have what purportedly is a premium product being sold in a cut-rate store... Like selling Bugatti Veyrons at the VW dealership (well, not quite, but close).
  • Ken_8
    Ken_8 Member Posts: 1,640
    Think so?

    Many contractors have a 6-10% budget for marketing, advertising, commissioned salesmen, and other such nonsense. 6% for a pre-screened "pre-qualified" buyer is dirt cheap. Since HD is the prime and your the sub - kiss collection problems goodbye. As long as the job's done right, your paycheck comes from the HD, or with their obligation of payment assurance.

    There are a bunch of reasons their sub-contracting program stinks, but 6-10% finders fee is not one of them.

    Once you become a HD contractor, their huge ad campaigns and mailers and stop-in sales counters are YOUR agents. It is difficult to grasp the concepts, but like most educated capitalists, they do know how to make money - and apparently, the contractors line up to get into their programs.

    Most of the time the subs cannot handle the referal load and do make some decent bread.

    One of my sons is a master carpenter, saw entrance doors as a niche he liked. They approached him. He crunched the numbers and realized the income for a 20 hr. week doing the sub gig would bring in an aditional ~60K a year. He tried it out for 6 months and then booked a huge home addition job with his own sources and never did another door for them. He had no time and moved on to even bigger and better things.

    Intersting stuff.

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  • Darin Cook
    Darin Cook Member Posts: 20
    Companies doing the installing

    In my area all of the companies participating with HD were already Trane users. One of those companies is the largest HVAC contractor in the northeast. That company is actually owned by Lennox. Strange mix heh? The one thing I see though, is that the booths are never manned. That I believe is because HD wants the sales rep there something like 15-20 hrs a month. In the mind of a commissioned saleman that does'nt sound too good. The other thing is that these companies are well known and leave business cards out for all to grab. Why would any one bother to use HD as the go between. It should be pretty self evident that the cost will be higher going through HD. You will have to cover that big old cut of the pie that HD wants. If any thing goes wrong with the install HD wants nothing to do with it, they of course are listed as additionally insured on your liability and comp. I believe that if a person calls up at some point in the future (year or so) after contacting HD for a quote, HD still gets there cut. IMHO HD is great for grabbing the occasional convenient part or tool. You have to agree the tool section there is awesome. If someone thinks that they are going to make a fortune with doing installs for HD, they are in for a rude awaking. You would not even really be working for yourself. You would just be feeding off of HD scraps. How many times have you gotten the call that someone tried to fix something themselves? Then they end up calling you any way and normally say " I should have called you guys to begin with". For a solid, honest, legit, and knowlegable contractor, believe me the work will come to you.
  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
    So far

    I've heard they are doing it in Kansas City
  • S Ebels
    S Ebels Member Posts: 2,322
    HD techs

    Yes, they might find a few decent ones. Generally speaking though, having techs and having "good" techs are two completely different things. I doubt very nuch that "good" techs will want to work for HD. They need a little more "room to roam" than what they will find at HD or any other box store.
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