“You can’t sell from an empty wagon”, said Bob Nichols, the owner of Allied Refrigeration in Long Beach, CA told me when I was a young sales engineer at Johnson Controls. It was 1989 and I was blown away with this distributor’s high value, high service model. Bob passed in 2012, but his words stuck with me.
Thirty years later, as I get to make decisions with our leadership team about how to service customers, it is clear to me that being a hybrid manufactures rep and commercial HVAC distributor works. We increased our on-hand inventory over $1M as supply chain disruptions ran up the lead-times for products. It turned out to be a great idea to buffer longer lead-times with real on-hand products. We are selling more of nearly all of our products because we actually have it.
Who knew months ago that supply chains would be disrupted in HVAC the way we see today? It is not just HVAC. I ordered a replacement car last month for my leased car ending December 2021. The new car won’t arrive until December! Good timing.
Most of the factories we represent at ACI Mechanical and HVAC Sales are privately held, and had fewer product availability problems, than publicly held firms. In my opinion it is because private companies Like Loren Cook Co. and Price Industries are not afraid to have real inventory on hand. We stocked up on Gree Mini Splits and VRF last year, and it is paying off with customers buying our products, in part because we simply have the products on hand! We just sold out of all of our 50 foot line sets, just because we had them.
We like to follow the old saying “You cannot sell from an empty wagon”.