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Rebranding Continued from page 42

mid-2011 launch of the super efficient hybrid electric water heater, followed by a full suite of new designs in the coming years and months. At the AHR Expo 2011 in February, we unveiled the

new Rheem tagline, “The New Degree of Comfort,” which will impact how we interact with customers at every level. “The New Degree of Comfort” signifies the Rheem commitment to bringing innovative, energy effi- cient technologies, including integrated air and water solutions, to homeowners. Another element of our rebranding initiative is a newly resigned Rheem website, which went live in mid- February. The website is highly visual in nature and pro- vides several intuitive and interactive features under a new Homeowners tab. This section includes a revamped Local Contractor feature, which enables consumers to search nearby contractors by products installed and services pro- vided, such as financing, rebates, online HVAC system selection program and water heating authorized service providers. The section also features a Rebate Center, which automatically populates with appropriate local rebate opportunities. Rheem is the first water heating and HVAC manufacturer to feature localized rebate opportuni- ties on its website; other manufacturers link to an external site for consumers to search. PE: How long has this been in the works? Peel: Rheem has been planning and actively working

on our rebranding initiative for nearly five years, with an accelerated effort over the past 18 months. This important undertaking represents the largest period of capital invest- ment in Rheem history and was done to create significant advantages for plumbing and HVAC contractors and homeowners for years to come. PE: Was the economy any cause for concern? Did the economy alter business objectives? Jones: During the past few years, the U.S. and global economies changed dramatically, and, as a result, the water heating and HVAC industries underwent significant changes. In these industries, the successful businesses overhauled the way they operate in order to make it through the most significant economic correction period since the Great Depression. These businesses took mea- sures such as aggressive cost management, productivity improvement and reorganizing operations for greater effi- ciency and reduced waste. At Rheem, we took those exact steps, but, at the same time, we recognized the opportuni- ty to go beyond these fundamental tactics and invested heavily in innovation. We took a close look at the basics of our business — research and product development, manufacturing operations, product design, sales, distribu- tion and marketing — and made substantial enhancements to every area. This ultimately positioned Rheem to be a stronger, more united, technologically advanced company poised for growth. PE: Our audience is plumbing and the “wet” side of heating. With the introduction of the electronic-based systems, and the integration of air/heat pump technolo- gy, how does it affect plumbers, if at all (ease of use, training, etc.)? Peel: Over the past few years, Rheem has placed a con-

Page 44/Plumbing Engineer

siderable emphasis on new product development. A big change for Rheem, and for the industry, is bringing elec- tronic controls into what has traditionally been a mechan- ical industry. Typically, air conditioning systems have included elec-

tronic control systems, but water heating systems have not. Because Rheem is unique in that we have decades of water heating and air conditioning technological exper- tise, we have a unique opportunity to help plumbers rec- ognize the benefits of integrated electronic controls and integrated air and water systems. Rheem is developing integrated electrical controls that will bridge across our vast and diverse water heating, heating and cooling, pool and spa heating product lines. It is our belief that the introduction of electronics to our plumbing customers will: • provide unprecedented benefits to their customers,

leading to improved profitability; • provide differentiation from their competition; • improve the ease of installation, reducing call backs;

and • make our products easier to use and realize maximum performance benefits. PE: How important is educating the contractor/whole-

saler who, in turn, educates the consumer? How is your relationship with the contractor/wholesaler, and does it change moving forward? Peel:An increasing number of consumers are preparing

for major purchases by combing the Internet for informa- tion and doing comparison shopping before contacting local sales and service providers. Armed with information, consumers select contractors whom they judge to be informed and up to date to help them make their water heating and heating and cooling purchase decisions. Moving forward, consumers are likely to quickly dis-

miss those whom they deem to be out of touch or unin- formed in favor of contractors who demonstrate that they have the expertise that brings value and trust to the trans- action. So, it’s important that Rheem assists contractors and wholesalers in staying on top of their game by mak- ing information available 24/7 and by offering focused and convenient training courses. It is important that our contractor/wholesaler customers adapt their business models to this reality and to the evolution of products that cross traditional boundaries (e.g., hybrid systems). In terms of training, Rheem employs full-time training coordinators in our Montgomery, Ala., manufacturing facility that specifically offer ongoing tankless water heat- ing training. Although tankless water heaters have been used worldwide for more than 50 years, consumers in the United States are just starting to learn more about the attractive benefits of tankless technology. One of the most important things that Rheem offers in the education process is explaining how tankless water heaters function, particularly emphasizing what makes them efficient options for consumers. Our relationship with contractors and wholesalers has

always been collaborative, and we’re in a great position to be an even more integral resource for them in the future.

Continued on page 46 April 2011

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