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Contractor Relationships Key at Panasonic

Contractor Relationships Key at Panasonic

In 1990, it launched the world's first Compact Scroll Compressor-equipped air conditioner and, two years later, developed the world's smallest outdoor air conditioning unit. Today, Panasonic carries a complete HVAC product line of ductless single-zone splits and mini-splits, its ECO-I VRF systems, controls and accessories.

Panasonic is a brand that continues to resonate among many consumers as a recognizable, trusted name in consumer goods. Can Panasonic make its name as recognizable among HVAC contractors and dealers for its HVAC products?

A Panasonic HVAC rooftop installation.

That's been the goal of the Panasonic Heating & Air Conditioning Group since the company acquired Sanyo Electric four years ago. Sanyo's HVAC operation was one of the first units that became incorporated into Panasonic following the acquisition in 2011.

Combining Sanyo's HVAC business into Panasonic was seen as a way to bring together the engineering and manufacturing capabilities of each business while leveraging Sanyo's robust HVAC business in North America with Panasonic's strong sales and distribution network. Since then, Panasonic has been able to broaden its product portfolio with its residential and commercial heating and cooling systems.
 

As Panasonic develops this technology, they're continually working with their partners throughout the distribution channel, especially contractors, to develop new tools that enhance their business and provide a modern-day solution to customers.

Rebranding Sanyo HVAC products to Panasonic has had its challenges, says Malcolm Persaud, the senior product planning and development manager for the Heating & Solutions Group. Sanyo had a strong presence in the U.S. market. Its products were first introduced to the U.S. market in 1983, and they had built a reputation for wall-mounted ductless before growing into a full line of HVAC equipment.

Ground-level Panasonic HVAC installation.

Panasonic's presence in the U.S. was more focused around its consumer markets.

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"One of the questions I get asked today is 'I didn't realize that Panasonic made air conditioners,'" Persaud says. "We talk about consumer electronic items. We don’t think of Panasonic as an industrial manufacturer."

Panasonic has invested heavily in advertising and marketing at the contractor level.

In fact, Panasonic has been in the HVAC business since 1958 when it started production and sales of its Home Cooler products. In 1990, it launched the world's first Compact Scroll Compressor-equipped air conditioner and, two years later, developed the world's smallest outdoor air conditioning unit. Today, Panasonic carries a complete HVAC product line of ductless single-zone splits and mini-splits, its ECO-I VRF systems, controls and accessories.

Panasonic has invested heavily in advertising and marketing at the contractor level. They recognize that the contractor is where the point of sale occurs and there's a lot of competition for which manufacturer the contractor will ultimately recommend to the end user.

Persaud uses the example of the homeowner who wants to add a mini-spilt system to a bonus room.

Malcolm Persaud: "We want to sell the contractor on Panasonic."

"The contractor will recommend a 9,000 BTU system and that contractor can sell you Mitsubishi, Daikin, LG, Samsung or Panasonic," Persaud says. "He can sell you any one of these and they can do exactly the same job. What we want to do is sell the contractor on Panasonic.

Panasonic HVAC control system.

“One of the strengths that Panasonic has is the ease of installation and the quality of the product,” added Persaud. “Like anything else, we all have our comfort zones — we like to do the things that we can do well. In the case of contractors, they gravitate towards HVAC products that they can quickly install and that are easy to service."

Panasonic has relied on its network of distributors around the country to help them with insights into contractors. Their annual distributor and manufacturing representative council meetings allows Panasonic to listen to the voice of the customer, letting the manufacturer know how they're doing on everything from marketing and contractor outreach to new products.

As Panasonic continues to build awareness of its HVAC products, it is leveraging a new dealer contractor rewards program to promote the brand in the minds of its customers.

 

As Panasonic continues to build awareness of its HVAC products, it is leveraging a new dealer contractor rewards program to promote the brand in the minds of its customers.

The Panasonic HVAC Dealer Rewards Program was launched April 1t, 2015 and it is designed to strengthen relationships with its network of dealers and contractors by offering perks to authorized mini split dealers and contractors.

Under the program, Panasonic Certified Contractor Dealers accumulate points for every eligible HVAC product they sell and install. Points vary by product. For example, if a contractor puts in a 9,000 BTU system that would be 10 points that translates to 10 dollars into their account. Points can then be redeemed for a reloadable gift card.

“We truly appreciate the loyalty our dealers have to our brand and our products,” says Persaud. “We’ve made it a simple process for our dealers to earn the rewards they deserve and this program gives us an opportunity to show our appreciation in a meaningful way.”

Panasonic Exterios E wall-mounted indoor heat pump with ECONAVI technology (top), paired with the EXTERIOS E outdoor unit with Inverter Technology.

At the 2015 AHR Expo, Panasonic launched the Exterios E, a new addition to its Exterios E HVAC series. The Exterios E combines two of its leading innovations, its breakthrough Inverter and ECONAVI technologies, to ensure consistent high performance in all weather conditions and providing a new level of comfort and energy savings for homeowners.

Persaud notes the Exterios HVAC collection features the Exterios XE and Exterios E Systems that include sensors that sense when people are in the room and then automatically adjusts the temperature setting for optimum operation. The system will also sense if a person is giving off more heat — through, for example, exercising — and adjust the temperature accordingly. When the room is unoccupied, the absence detection feature switches to a slightly less powerful cooling mode.

Understanding that keeping energy costs down is critical in selling an air conditioning system, the Exterios collection uses Panasonic's breakthrough Inverter Technology to enable the change of power supply frequency, providing each model with flexible operation while using less electricity.

In this system, the inverter constantly adjusts the compressor rotation speed to provide optimum performance at all times. Once the set temperature is reached, the inverter continues to operate with minimum power to avoid unnecessary electricity consumption. This extremely precise operation enables quick cooling or heating while also reducing power consumption.

Product development today, Persaud says, is all about communication with devices, including HVAC systems. Being able to turn off the air conditioning system using a smart phone as you head to the airport or turning it on as you head home — it’s an added convenience for the end-user.

As Panasonic develops this technology, they're continually working with their partners throughout the distribution channel, especially contractors, to develop new tools that enhance their business and provide a modern-day solution to customers.

"We want to make sure our customers know that Panasonic understands the trend and direction the business is going and we are going to provide solutions to meet these changes," says Persaud.

Michael Maynard is a contributing editor based in Providence, RI. He writes frequently on HVACR, construction and architecture issues. Contact him at [email protected]

 

 

 

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