Choosing manufacturers that support plumbing contractors
The plumbing industry is rapidly changing due to improvements in technology which have made products and materials that are easier to install. One of the first major changes to the plumbing industry was the introduction of ABS drain lines. The process required to install ABS when compared to Cast Iron, which was the only other material available, is significant. Suddenly it no longer required special skills or tools to install a drain line. Cast Iron quickly because a thing of the past for residential and light commercial applications.
Another breakthrough in the plumbing industry which had a major impact was the introduction of polybutylene tubing or what is now referred to as PEX. This new method of installing water lines quickly became popular in residential applications due to the ease of installation. Material cost are also much lower than copper, which today is higher than ever. The new product made water line installations easier and also required fewer tools and less experience.
Shark Bite fittings might have had one of the biggest impacts to the residential service industry. Most professional plumbers don’t use Shark Bite type connections due to the risk of failure. However, many homeowners make their own repairs using these simple plumbing connections which require no tools or experience.
Home Centers are also have had their impact on the plumbing industry. Home Depot accredits much of their success to the training that they provide for specific departments such as plumbing. They are targeting customers who typically would not be able to complete the repair without hiring a plumber. Not only do they have all of the parts you would need but they will also tell you how to do it, even if they don’t really know what they’re talking about. Their share of the industry has grown steadily since 1989.
Whether you like it or not the industry has changed, you must adapt or get left behind. Pex supply lines, PVC drains, and even shark bites all have their place in the plumbing industry.
Choose your products wisely
I have always done everything I can do avoid entering a Home Center to purchase plumbing supplies or materials. This is especially important for major products such as water heaters, garbage disposals, fixtures, bathtubs, toilets, and sinks. Plumbing manufacturers that choose to supply to Home Centers usually give a lower price to the box stores then they do a plumbing supply wholesaler.
In order to run a successful service plumbing company you need to be able to markup the materials that you are required to purchase, inventory, and warranty. When you purchase these items from a home center, you are paying the exact same price as the general public. When you consider the 10% military discount and all of the coupons they offer, contractors usually pay more at these stores.
How do the home centers expect you to be able to markup your products that you supply? The answer is simple, they just don’t care. They would rather serve the general public than the average homeowner, who will often need training and have a much higher return rate on the products they buy.
There are a few manufacturers that step up to the plate and only supply their products to professional plumbing suppliers. Here is a list of the most plumber friendly manufacturers.
Gerber – Faucets & Toilets
Bradford White – Water Heaters
In-Sink-Erator – Garbage Disposals
If you have any manufactures that you would like to add to the list please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.