Sears, Roebuck and Co, will begin selling Carrier heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and products in 2003 after signing a three-year agreement. The ability to offer Kenmore and Carrier products at Sears through one of the nation’s largest HVAC sales organizations further strengthens its position in the market, according to a company spokesperson. “Sears is pleased to be the only retail destination for Kenmore and Carrier heating and cooling products, which are renowned for their quality, features and innovation,” says Mark Good, executive vice president and general manager for Sears’ Product Repair Services business. “The agreement is another way Sears is providing our customers with the products and services that meet their changing needs.” The Carrier brand will benefit from an increase in exposure achieved through Sears’ newspaper inserts, plus credit card inserts, direct mail, in-store displays, Internet exposure and television and Yellow Pages advertising. “The retail channel is a growing market for the heating and cooling industry, and we’re pleased to partner our Carrier brand exclusively with Sears, the leading retail home services provider,” says Geraud Darnis, president, Carrier Corporation. “This is an exciting partnership, bringing together two industry leaders with a history of innovation and customer satisfaction. It is a natural fit.” The Carrier agreement will take effect January 1, 2003. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Carrier’s Frank Hartman, vice president, residential sales and marketing, says, “I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind is, ‘Why did Carrier decide to do this?’” Hartman announced at a public press conference that after studying the market the company decided to make a commitment to the retail distribution channel. “Many Carrier dealers commented that they see opportunities as a result of this partnership,” Hartman says. Sears did not comment on the reason for dropping The Trane Company product from their stores after a three-year relationship with the Tyler, TX-based company. Kevin Callahan, Sears, vice president of sales for contractor and product repair services, also stated that the Kenmore original equipment manufacturing relationship with Goodman Mfg., Houston, TX is being evaluated. Sears offers more than 25 different homeowner services, from PC repair to window blind repair to HVAC installation and repair. HVAC contractors perform nearly 100% of new installations for Sears. The installing contractors provide the first year warranty. Sears employees take over the repair or service work after the first year. Extended warranty plans are available from the retailing giant. By January 1, 2003, Sears will employ 90 field installation managers who will supervise quality and workmanship. Currently, there are 550 Sears HVAC salespeople. The company would not comment on the number of contractors who provide sub-contracting services. Sears operates two HVAC test markets: Dallas, TX and Baltimore, MD. In these markets, Sears employees actually perform about 50% of new installation work. According to Nick Bridges, Sears director of training for product repair services, Sears plans to create a competency-based certification for direct employees. “We will create something that is more demanding than what NATE (North American Technician Excellence) requires.” The company does not require HVAC installation sub-contractors to be NATE-certified. (Some HVAC manufacturers have displayed interest in gradually requiring NATE certification for contractors installing and servicing their equipment.) This means that Sears will likely not require HVAC contractors, installing Carrier equipment, to have either the NATE or the Sears certification because they’re not Sears employees. Sears is the only retailer that services all major brands of HVAC equipment, regardless of where they are purchased. Customers can call 800/4-MY-HOME (800/469-4663) or visit www.sears.com to schedule an appointment with a Sears specialist to learn more about their heating and cooling options.