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Contractor’s Corner: An Introduction

By Stan Walercyzk

The purpose of this brand new column is to show why contractors do most of their business with certain distributors, and that all distributors can improve their relationships and business with contractors. Pricing is often not the most important factor.

We are going to use this space each month to bring you stories through the eyes of the contractor. What really happens on the job and what really happens as they operate every day. The idea is this will be a learning experience for all readers, and we hope that you will take something from each column in the Contractor’s Corner.

For 24 years, I have been involved with distributors and contractors. Started working for a distributor, and after eleven years there, I worked four years for a lighting retrofit contractor. Those two jobs laid the foundation for creating Lighting Wizards, where I have been specifying energy efficient lighting projects, consulting for contractors and end-customers, presenting about 50 seminars a year, writing articles and white papers, etc. Although most of my experience is with lighting, most of that can easily translate to other products that contractors buy from distributors.

Distributor sales people, who are proactive, instead of being just order takers, can be a major advantage. For example, I heard numerous cases of distributors informing contractors of the production stoppage of most T12 lamps well before the June 30, 2012 deadline. This information allowed contractors to stock up on these lamps and/or inform end-customers that a retrofit with T8s and electronic ballasts would be very good. Some distributors informed their end-customers and recommended certain contractors to do the retrofit. For those not aware, production of basic grade T8s will cease the summer of 2014. This would be a very good opportunity for distributors to inform contractors and end-customers, so they have plenty of time to plan relamping or retrofits.

Education is also very important. For example, in the past contractors could run their businesses and also stay on top of lighting developments. But now lighting is evolving so rapidly, it is difficult for contractors to do both. I have seen that lighting has changed more in the last two years, than the previous 22, and the pace is getting faster.

In California, and other states often copy California, the large investment owned utilities have recently started an upstream rebate program for LED reflector lamps, including PAR38s that are approved by Energy Star. Although some distributors have already signed up, more can. Approved distributors can inform contractors, who can buy these LED lamps at a reduced price without having to do any rebate paperwork.

Also in California, distributors could help educate contractors about the relatively new comprehensive rebate program and the products that are good for it. If lighting, HVAC, motor controls, etc. are done together, there is an additional 20% rebate.

What will really make this a worthwhile column for everybody is for contractors across the country to contact me about how specific distributors really helped them out on specific projects or over the long haul. This can be for lighting and anything else. The purpose is to praise those distributors, and show how other distributors can learn from that. It will give contractors and distributors the chance to really make this column something special. You can email me at stan@lightingwizards.com or call 808-344-9685 in Hawaii, any time after 10 AM Pacific, 11AM Mountain, noon Central or 1 PM Eastern.

Stan Walerczyk, LC, CLEP, HCLC

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