Contractors are increasing looking to suppliers for innovative solutions that increase efficiency and reduce costs
While it is common for wholesalers, retailers, and distributors to stock and push only the more common water well drilling and pump installation products year after year, contractors are increasingly requesting newer, more innovative solutions that cut their costs and reduce the time they spend on each job. These items are available for a select group of manufacturers and can often give those that carry them a competitive advantage.
The complexity in a domestic water well system begins with the myriad parts needed to integrate the well, pump, water storage tank, all the pipes and fittings, and the water distribution line to where it is utilized. Yet having to stock multiple sizes and brands to fit pump-specific applications can also multiply the number of inventory SKUs that must be carried as well as costs.
Now a growing number of wholesalers and distributors are responding by offering domestic water well innovations that can not only cut required inventory but also simplify installation. Proactive wholesalers following such an approach are gaining a market edge with parts and accessories that enable faster installs, leading to more jobs completed.
“When wholesalers stock water well parts that make contractors more productive, contractors seek them out,” says Danny Ahrens, owner of Florida-based Water Products Marketing, a supplier of water well equipment to distributors and contractors. “Such innovation today is helping contractors install the parts more efficiently, cost-effectively, and improving quality. That gives distributors and their contractors a competitive advantage.”
While some contractors tend to use the same standard parts and accessories that perhaps their mentors or fathers did, too often this approach can become a rut that limits their work efficiency and business success. Finding and trying more effective parts is now dramatically cutting their installation times, among other benefits. This has lead to more and more contractors searching out distributors and wholesalers that can help them increase their bottom lines.
For distributors, stocking these innovative parts not only improves the efficiency of their customers, who are increasingly asking for a wider range of options, it can dramatically cut their own inventory as well.
As an example, instead of tying up inventory with a traditional control box and pressure switch, the wires running between them, and fitting all the connections in an undersized case, wholesalers and their contractors could be utilizing a Control Switch. This device combines a 3-wire control box (with start capacitor, relay, run capacitor, and a wire terminal strip) and a pressure switch into one easier to inventory and install device.
The device, by Merrill Manufacturing, an Iowa-based water well/water system accessory manufacturer for the domestic, residential market, eliminates the need for a control box entirely.
“Instead of a standard pressure switch and control box, wholesalers and installers are finding that Merrill’s control switch can act like a junction box,” says Ahrens, who has been involved with more than 50 field installations with the device, some operating more than 9 years.
Because the control switch works universally with all brands of motors, as well as works with 3-wire pumps from 1/2 HP to 1-1/2 HP, there is no need to inventory or match a control box to each size of pump. This also reduces the inventory of replacement parts that contractors must bring to the jobsite.
“Traditional control boxes are motor specific, so have to be matched to run properly,” says Ahrens. “With the control switch, however, wholesalers can significantly cut inventory and contractors can travel light because it works with any domestic or foreign motor.”
According to Ahrens, the control switch design also makes contractors more productive, and the installation less likely to suffer quality-related issues. The device, for instance, offers an extra large case for easy wiring, heavy brass wire connections that can hold #4 wire, and a heavy-duty pressure switch for longer life.
“The design reduces the amount of required connections — including conduit, fittings, washers, and lock washers — by half,” explains Ahrens. “This speeds installation up to 50 percent, allowing installers to take on more jobs. It also extends service life, minimizes time-wasting nuisance calls, and eliminates issues related to start capacitors and relays.”
Another key area where many wholesalers and their contractors require a full range of equipment options is in hydrant selection, due to significant variations in local climate, code and other factors. However, improvements in domestic water well devices are occurring here as well.
“To meet current Michigan code, we needed state-approved hydrants that do not drain back because these are no longer accepted,” says Chuck Garvie, a project manager at Brad Malley Well Drilling, a Michigan-based well drilling contractor and pump installer.
In this category of non-drain back hydrants, which help to meet municipal water codes and protect the underground well water supply, are devices with other useful features.
Garvie, for instance, selected a removable, sanitary yard hydrant called the Hide-Drant by Merrill. The company has one of the industry’s largest, most complete line of products to meet state or local well codes, with 24 series of yard hydrants, eight series of pitless products in all types, as well as splice kits, insert fittings, tank tees, and a full range of other water system accessories.
“The Hide-Drant meets Michigan state, municipal, and residential code,” says Garvie. “It is easy to install with no need for a double check backflow preventer or secondary line to be run with it. With a riser made of steel and a stainless steel connection, we have had virtually no callbacks. I installed one in my home and it still works well after 12 years with no problems.”
Since the sanitary yard hydrant’s insides are removable, users can easily connect one to the closest installed base for safe, convenient placement.
“At wells for RVs, campsites, or cabins, when people leave in the fall they can remove it to avoid freeze risk,” says Garvie. “At vacation properties, it can be removed to prevent vandals from running water in the owner’s absence, or it can be removed for easier mowing and then replaced.”
For colder climates where all-year access to well water is required, additional innovations are available.
Nick Nawcewicz, a plumber at D&D Mechanical in North Dakota, for instance, has enjoyed success with the Any Temp Heated Hydrant. The device provides frost proof water service with a self-regulating heating cable that keeps water flowing, and drains itself below the frost line when shut off. It is often installed in mobile and manufactured homes, as well as livestock waterers in cold regions.
While some electrically powered heating cables in the industry are submerged below the water line and not grounded, the device’s heating cables are grounded and not placed under the water line.
“We have found that the Any Temp Heated Hydrant succeeds anywhere heated well water is needed year-round,” says Nawcewicz. “The heated cables are kept dry outside of the pipe, so they are easy to install, replace, and do not have to be dug up. They are grounded and essentially trouble free. I have never had one trip out from ground faults.”
A few additional innovations that may pay off for wholesalers and their contractors include: pitless adaptors and easy to install pitless kits; extra-long, electrical heat shrink tubing with a sealant and adhesive inside; stainless steel connectors at a price lower than no-lead brass; self-lubricating hydrant plungers that last over 1 million cycles; and variable speed pumps that vary depending on water demand.
For wholesalers needing to cost-effectively help their contractors meet well codes and stay competitive, providing access to more innovative well parts and accessories can further streamline the installation process. Paying attention to some of the smaller details in system design and product selection can help to optimize quality as well.
For more info, visit www.merrillmfg.com; call 800-831-6962 Toll Free in USA & Canada; Fax 800-269-3569; or write to Merrill Manufacturing at PO Box 392, 315 Flindt Drive, Storm Lake, Iowa (USA) 50588-0392.