Archive for January 2012


Uponor Names New Canadian General Manager

Posted on January 27, 2012 by Joel Williams

Uponor North America has named Charlie Harte as general manager of Canada. Reporting to Bill Gray, vice president, Uponor Sales, Harte will be responsible for the sales and marketing leadership of the Uponor Canadian business, ensuring that sales targets and customer satisfaction levels are met.

“The Canadian market is extremely important to Uponor North America; we need a leader who will balance the unique needs of the market with the operational requirements of a global company,” Gray says. “After an extensive search, Charlie Harte is the perfect candidate, with the skills, experience and vision to lead the Canadian team to the next level.”

A results-oriented sales and marketing professional with a strong record of achievement in Canada and the U.S., Harte has a progressive history of sales and marketing success. He is a seasoned veteran in the home and commercial building markets, with 20 years of sales and marketing experience. Most recently, Harte was director of The Home Depot field sales, recruiting and new-business development with Techtronic Industries Canada, Inc.

Harte will be based in Uponor’s Mississauga, Ontario, office. He is a graduate of the University of Glamorgan with a degree in Marketing and Finance as well as a marketing management certificate from York University.



Case Study: Domestic water boosting system cuts energy use by 90%

Posted on January 25, 2012 by Joel Williams

The potential efficiencies of water boosting systems from Grundfos are highlighted in the January cover story of Plumbing Mechanical Engineer, which profiles one apartment building’s jaw-dropping energy savings achieved through variable speed pump technology.

In fact, talk about putting your money where your mouth is- this project’s contractor was so confident in the potential energy savings that he paid for the new system himself — all in an effort to convince building management to invest in the efficient technology.

The gamble paid off in spades.

An independent project audit vindicated the daring claim by documenting a 90 percent energy savings over a one-week period in September 2010, and a 26-month payback period.

Moreover, the drop in power consumption translates to an annual utility cost reduction of nearly $18,160. Total project savings are estimated at $275,000 over the average 15-year pump lifespan. Despite removing 70 HP from this system, the computerized control, demand-based performance of the new pumping station averages just 30 percent capacity.


Scrub-Free Outdoor Mildew and Mold Removal: New O’Reilly-DePalma Client

Posted on January 24, 2012 by Nora DePalma

As a composite deck cleaner, Wet & Forget is effective and simple to use, with no scrubbing.

Today, we are excited to announce a new client: Wet & Forget makes it so easy to remove mold, mildew, algae, and moss stains from outdoor surfaces without bleach, powerwashing or scrubbing.

Environmentally gentle, simply “wet it and forget it” on decks, patios, concrete, roofs and more. A trusted product in Australia and New Zealand for 30 years, Wet & Forget is now available nationally in the U.S. for the first time.

For media information-plus other amazing before and after photos-visit our media page for Wet & Forget.

To learn more about where to buy, visit the Wet & Forget store locator. You can also follow @wetandforget on Twitter and like Wet and Forget on Facebook.

The following YouTube video featuring Wet & Forget president Brett Perry is a great demonstration of how easy the product is to use. Brett is available for media interviews - just contact us to arrange.


American Standard Appoints Jay D. Gould President & Chief Executive Officer

Posted on January 20, 2012 by Nora DePalma

Bath & Kitchen Pro covered the recent appointment of Jay D. Gould as President and Chief Executive Officer of American Standard Brands. Before joining American Standard, Gould was President of the Home & Family Group of Newell Rubbermaid. Taking an innovative, consumer-driven approach to building demand, he significantly increased revenues for the company’s Levolor, Calphalon, Rubbermaid and Graco brands throughout the economic downturn.

“We are excited to have Jay take the helm of American Standard,” said Tom Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “He brings tremendous experience in enhancing companies’ leading market positions and creating value by leading with a focus on growth, innovation and brand development.”

The complete press release on Gould’s appointment can also be viewed in the American Standard online pressroom.


McDonalds Redesign: Think Presentation and Environment Don’t Matter?

Posted on January 16, 2012 by Heather McCune

Does design translate into improved sales and profitability? Next time you venture into one of its fast-food eateries, be prepared for a very different McDonald’s—a redesign that may just inspire you to rethink your order and your own approach to business.

According to USA Today, an ambitious $1 billion redesign is occurring under the Golden Arches. Gone are the garish red roofs, primary colors, plastic benches and tables, and the “get-in/get-out” feel of the country’s biggest fast-food franchise. In their place are wooden tables and chairs, comfortable faux-leather seating a la a certain coffee-shop chain with an outlet on every corner, and a color palette with much subtler hues. Outside, the makeover features an exterior heavy on earth tones and glass. Even the famed arches take on a more subtle shape.

The overall effect is a more modern look that the company hopes will appeal to more than just the moms and kids who currently fill most outlets.

Why invest in the environment? The redesigned test stores in Tampa recorded a double-digit sales increase. Moreover, the product mix ordered by customers changed as well, as they were more likely to try new menu items in the new venue.

Newer players in the fast-food business means McDonald’s must compete for discretionary dollars with more than just Burger King or Wendy’s. Outlets such as Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill target the same clientele while offering dining environments strikingly different from the old Micky D’s.

What type of environment influences who buys your products? When was the last time you walked the places that show and sell your wares? In today’s competitive marketplace, paying attention to “place” can do a lot to change what is sold. It also is time to rethink “place.” For McDonald’s, place is bricks and mortar buildings, but today the place where buyers view your product is just as likely to be a web site or a Facebook page. Wherever that intersection is for your product and your potential customer, it’s time to pay attention to that place.


Heather McCune was long-time editorial director and editor-in-chief of Professional Builder, Professional Remodeler, Custom Builder, Housing Giants, and, and previously served as editor of Supply House Times and Plumbing & Mechanical.


CES Loses Clout as New Products Launch Pad

Posted on January 9, 2012 by Nora DePalma

The New York Times reports that the monster Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is no longer the dominant launch pad for the hottest new gadgets.

In our industry, neither IBS, nor KBIS are the big launch pads for new products as they once were.

So do we even need trade shows? Our answer is yes, because trade shows bring people together. But does the model need to change in order to support this new raison d’etre for trade shows?  We report, you decide:

A really bad trade show.

Comments from designers in a private Facebook group:

Designer #1: I remember having this discussion at IBS last year with somebody from (a major building brand). She commented as we were walking the show floor that the median age at that show was 50 and she was right. Shows that do well recruit younger people and students and offer programming geared to the younger set. Some of the more traditional (and fading) shows just don’t do that and are content to be the equivalent of spring break for middle-aged people.

Designer #2:  The last few times I have been to KBIS, I was not impressed really. It was just the same ole same ole stuff. I have continued to attend these traditional shows in hopes of being impressed and continue to be disappointed. I want to be inspired and educated about products in a way that I get a personal connection. With those experiences it allows me to share my inspiration with my clients in a much more meaningful and informed way…I know in my business I feel like I need to be continually changing and evolving to keep current and to take my business to the next level. Needs to be some changes in the traditional trade show, for sure

Designer #3: I think a lot of American shows are still slow moving behemoths. Its a culture that has been around and working for 50 years….People want an experience - an adventure to remember. Pop up events. cross pollination. Imagination fire and ice. Energy that draws down deep and evokes our collective memories from the past that have a certain meaning.

“The show visitor/buyer used to be the ‘audience” based on the ‘if you show something cool, they will come,’” noted Veronika Miller of Modenus, founder of BlogTour, an innovative new model for brands to bring customers together. She continues:

“Trade shows are still important but organizers and exhibitors need to understand that what once was captive audience that was easily wowed…has likely seen the product prior to the show, thanks to something we like to call the “Internet” and may even have some brand/product knowledge already. This means the show has to transition from presentation to interaction and from demonstration to conversation.”

Does this sound like the death of trade shows? Hardly. This same Facebook group notes the power of European trade shows, echoing our POV after attending ISH last March.

Designer #1: All of the larger booths at shows such as ISH, IMM, Cersaie, Salone, etc., have cafes in them. Those booths invite people in to linger, have a cocktail or a snack or what have you and in the process of lingering, the lingerers become a captive audience. They also enjoy themselves and equate fun with the brand that treated them to a sandwich and a glass of wine.

Full disclosure: I worked on the KBIS brand during my tenure at NKBA and it’s a personal passion for me to get this show going again.

In the meantime, I’m going to check out Coverings this year.  Kitchen & bath designer and social media pro Paul Anater says to observe the mini villages set up by the Italian and Spanish trade consortia. The Italian pavilion is always set up around a large cafe and they serve breakfast and lunch. The Spanish pavilion is always set up around an amphitheater with seating for at least 50.  Paul notes that the ROI of these niceties is selling Italian and Spanish tile by the container full.

I’d also love to see more folks experience BlogTour. Check out the ROI on that.

Let there be fun!



How to Stage an Effective Media Tour: Part 2

Posted on January 6, 2012 by John OReilly

This entry is Part 2 of our look at the fundamentals of staging effective media tours. View Part 1 here. Below is a slideshow of images from a recent media tour for Uponor in Chicago.

Picture 1 of 12

Fundamental #2: Have something to show. Visual aids are a must and typically take the form of a PowerPoint presentation. I can hear you suppressing a yawn, but a slide show has solid practical value in holding the editors’ attention, while making what you say more concrete and therefore more memorable—especially if your slide show is part of your leave-behind. (More on that in a bit.)

In creating the PowerPoint or whatever tools you prefer, don’t shortchange the visual imagery. The editors may not read along as you move from slide to slide. But strong pictorial elements, especially of product components, cutaways, schematics, graphs, tables, flow charts and the like will help make your words resonate. And your audience won’t fail to appreciate the care you have taken in crafting your presentation.

The only communications aid better than an image or an illustration is the thing itself. If possible, bring actual products or components, so that the editors can see and touch that special new finish or unique functionality first-hand. The hands-on approach will generate more interest, more questions and more enthusiasm for whatever you are presenting.

On my most recent media tour, the client highlighted his company’s proprietary method for making pipe connections, which can seem a rather mundane affair when left solely to verbal descriptions. Step-by-step graphics are better, but how about actually making a connection right there in front of the editors? That’s what my client did, and his rather quick and simple demo made a solidly positive impression on each group of editors. When one asked to do a connection himself, it was easily one of the highlights of that session. What better way to persuade an editor of the value of your product or system?

Fundamental #3: Have something to leave behind. While building relationships is the primary benefit of a media tour, clients understandably expect a more tangible payoff in the form of actual publicity. The surest way to make that happen is to create a press kit dedicated solely to the meeting or media tour. Also, be sure to bring enough copies so that all attendees can have one if they wish.

This kit should contain press materials relating to your presentation, including news releases and photography of new and recently introduced products. But you might also want to include relevant case studies, white papers, product brochures, as well as your PowerPoint presentation and a corporate backgrounder that the editors can keep on file for future reference. Anything that adds to their understanding of your company and its mission is of potential interest.

That may sound like information overload, which is why I strongly recommend making the kit electronic: Editors will accept paper kits, but they love the easy portability and “file-ability” of a disc and, best of all, a flash drive. Do not miss this opportunity to impress the press. The fastest way to an editor’s heart—and to the pages of his or her publication—is to make the job of using your materials easier.

Fundamental #4: Find converging interests. Generating more publicity for the brand is at the top of the wish lists of most marketers, regardless of the state of the economy or the market. Meanwhile, editors find themselves constantly scrambling for information and ideas to meet the relentless content requirements of their proliferating communications outlets, print and online.

One of the best ways to discover where exactly your mutual interests converge is through a face-to-face dialogue with the editors. Trade shows and other venues offer numerous occasions for such meetings, but except for a tour of your own factory, none matches the effectiveness of a “deskside” get-together for building relationships and identifying ways to meet editor interests and needs.



How to Stage an Effective Media Tour: Part 1

Posted on January 5, 2012 by John OReilly

Recently, I completed one of my favorite activities as a public relations professional: a three-day “media tour,” in which I accompanied one of our manufacturer-clients in a series of face-to-face meetings with the editor staffs of roughly a dozen trade magazines at their Chicago-area offices.

As a former trade-pub editor myself, I enjoy connecting with my old colleagues on their home turf in a relaxed and friendly setting. (Meeting with trade and consumer media in other major publishing centers for our building and architectural products field, such as New York, Washington and Des Moines, is a lot of fun, too.)

But the true beneficiaries—and properly so—are our clients and the editors themselves, who use these occasions to gain a better understanding of one another’s interests and needs on their way to forging deeper and more productive relationships.

Each media-tour meeting, which typically runs sixty to ninety minutes, merits its own approach, depending on the editor, the client and the season. But there are certain fundamentals for any get-together that will ensure success both during the meeting and in its aftermath. Pay close attention to these basics and, when all is said and done, you’ll have zero doubts about the value of the experience.

Fundamental #1: Have something to say. It’s not enough to just show up and plop down for a little coffee and chit-chat: This isn’t a chance encounter at a trade show. Editors are routinely cordial to their guests, but they will expect the meeting to have a specific intent, enabling them to learn things they don’t already know. Without a worthwhile agenda, you’ll likely have a hard time even getting on their schedules.

Previewing a new product is a great way to anchor a media tour: An editor’s main mission is to report on “what’s new,” so your audience will welcome an in-depth look at your latest offering. This approach is also a great way to generate a quick and tangible payoff on your meeting in the form of coverage of your new product in an upcoming issue.

But editors are also on the prowl for content that is more general and not-so-brand-centric in scope. They need “big ideas” they can readily translate into feature stories, in line with their published editorial calendars.

So, in addition to announcing your newest product and what makes it so special, put all those messages in the context of the industry zeitgeist: Why this particular product at this particular time for this particular audience? What needs does it meet? How does it fit in with the general direction of the market? How does it differ from what came before?

What’s more, those questions need not be confined to a new product. Editors will generally welcome your POV on the overall industry (or at least your product category): where it’s been, where it’s headed and why, and how you are adjusting your strategies in response.

This type of big-picture presentation will deliver compelling ideas around which editors can build their own trends stories. And when they finally get around to writing such a story, guess whom they are most likely to contact for further insights and information?

Check back tomorrow for three more fundamental elements of a successful media tour, as well as a gallery of images from a recent tour for Uponor.


Uponor’s Radiant Ready 30E Selected as Best New Product

Posted on January 3, 2012 by Joel Williams

Editors at BUILDERnews Magazine awarded the Uponor Radiant Ready 30E its top prize in the Mechanical category in the publication’s annual “Best Products” competition.  The Radiant Ready 30E™ is a complete radiant mechanical room designed in a compact, preassembled, easy-to-install panel. The unit includes a boiler, manifold, pump,expansion tank, pressure-relief valve, isolation valves, thermostat and air vent.

National Kitchen and Bath Association Public Relations Society of America: Georgia Green Earth PR Network