Danfoss Sets its Eye on the Wholesaler Market

Sept. 19, 2016
Danfoss sets its eye on the wholesaler market by ensuring it has the right people with the right competencies supported by the right product portfolio; plus, the company is investing in contractor-focused products. Danfoss has been able to leverage success in the OEM market to create more universal products for the wholesale and contractor market. And Danfoss is helping prepare the HVACR industry to meet emerging challenges.

Danfoss is one of the world's leading suppliers of innovative energy-efficiency solutions, serving markets around the world as diverse as water and wastewater, food processing and transportation, and oil and gas, as well as the commercial and residential HVACR markets. For more than 80 years, Danfoss has been focused on finding new and better ways to meet customer needs – from developing an expansion valve to regulate refrigeration systems to engineering the world's first mass-produced frequency converters for the speed control of electric motors.

Best Practices

Since 2006, Danfoss has hosted its EnVisioneering Symposia Series – a program designed to convene and facilitate an ongoing dialogue among a broad stakeholder group, including representatives from industry, the policy community, and thought leaders in research and development. The Symposia Series explores emerging trends and challenges impacting industry – from efficient energy use in the commercial buildings sector to the impact of refrigerants in the cold chain.

In June 2016, Danfoss hosted its "Tomorrow's Buildings: New Driving Forces" symposium, which discussed government response to new carbon reduction and energy-efficiency targets, steps to a new building-energy world and criteria to guide the transformation. Participants addressed the need for grid modernization and changes in the building delivery system, as well as performance standards, benchmarking and best practices.

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Headquartered in Denmark, Danfoss first entered the North American market almost 60 years ago with a focus on serving OEMs with a robust portfolio of reliable products and deep application expertise. Today it is investing in growing its business with the wholesale distributor market by bringing similar attention to high-quality, tailored solutions and people in a way that meets the specific and unique needs of HVACR wholesalers and contractors.

"Our business is built on our ability to deliver reliable, quality products supported by knowledgeable application support," says Joel Eggart, Danfoss director of sales for the after-market segment. "Our global footprint, deep application experience and comprehensive product portfolio make us well-positioned to serve OEMs. Now we are making significant investments to serve wholesalers and contractors with a commitment to being easy to do business with.

"This means we're focused on ensuring that we have more than just people on the street – we want to have the right people with the right competencies supported by the right product portfolio to serve this market." Eggart explains that Danfoss currently serves more than 800 wholesale locations in North America.

Investing in Contractor-focused Products
For the OEM market, several Danfoss innovations have been recognized for outstanding innovation. Just recently, at the 2016 AHR Expo, four Danfoss products received Honorable Mentions in different categories of the Innovation Awards program: its DSH scroll compressors with Intermediate Discharge Valves; AB-QM™ pressure independent control valves; VLT® DriveMotor; and NovoCon® S digital actuator. These products share common characteristics, including the contribution to energy savings, improvement in comfort and boosting overall system efficiency.

Danfoss sales trainers, like Andrew McWeeney, work with local wholesalers and contractors to ensure they have the tools necessary to succeed.

"Danfoss has a long history of engineering innovative solutions," says Eggart. "Our success in this awards program is proof of that – in fact, we've now been recognized 23 times over the program's history."

Eggart explains that Danfoss has been able to leverage this success in the OEM market to create more universal products for the wholesale and contractor market. For example, Danfoss has for years been a leader in ice producing equipment. Recently, it developed a universal thermostatic expansion valve specifically for ice machines to ensure that technicians could apply the proper fix and quickly put a machine back into production.

"The universal TXV is an example of product designed with wholesalers' and contractors' needs in mind," Eggart says. "It's a win for the wholesaler because it minimizes stock, a win for the contractor because they can be sure they have the right solution available on the first trip, and a win for the end user who is back up and running quickly."

"Our global footprint, deep application experience and comprehensive product portfolio make us well-positioned to serve OEMs. Now we are making significant investments to serve wholesalers and contractors with a commitment to being easy to do business with."

–Joel Eggart

Danfoss has since produced a similar universal thermostatic expansion valve for the residential air-conditioning market, and is continuing to evaluate its product line to deliver the right solutions for contractors and installers. It is making a deliberate effort to add products that are easy to understand and install while still providing real value. Today, there are close to 50 product lines in Danfoss' after-market portfolio.

Eggart explains, "We have also committed to local stock and availability to ensure that we have what our customers need on the shelf – and to becoming more visible and engaged in local markets."

A Team Dedicated to Distributors and Contractors
Danfoss recognized that first it had to have the right people to support wholesalers and contractors, and, over the past several years, has increased its investment in its number of "sales trainers" – the team responsible for working in the field and making sure that wholesalers and contractors have all the tools they need to succeed.

"Our sales trainers have a wide range of technical competencies and are our experts in the field. They spend time with wholesalers to train staff on Danfoss products, and also engage directly with contractors and technical schools," says Eggart. They can be spotted in branded company vehicles across the country.

"This team is also focused on helping the HVACR industry develop the next generation of technicians," Eggart explains. "Fifty percent of today's contractors are preparing for retirement, and we see this workforce gap as one of the industry's critical issues. We believe that advancing the industry requires us to start at the technical school level and prepare and train them to work with the newest and emerging technologies and under a complex regulatory landscape."

Last November, Danfoss was recognized by AHRI for making the most visits – 83 – to technical schools in 2015. This was the culmination of the Chairman's Challenge put forth at the beginning of the year by AHRI Chairman Ed Purvis to member companies to visit schools with HVACR programs to promote careers in the industry and the Rees Scholarship Program, which provides financial assistance to qualified HVACR students.

Danfoss at a Glance
CEO: Niels B. Christiansen
Local Management: John Galyen, President, North America
Global Employees: 23,400
Reach: Sales to more than 100 countries
Factories: 61 in 20 countries
North America Locations: 19
Revenues: $6 billion USD
Major Product Lines:

With deep roots in engineering, Danfoss provides innovative technologies and solutions that do more with less today, and stands ready with a broad portfolio and expertise to meet the world's growing challenges in infrastructure, a safe food supply, energy efficiency, and low-GWP, climate-friendly solutions, including:

  • Electronic and thermostatic expansion valves
  • Pressure and temperature controls
  • Compressors for air conditioning and refrigeration
  • Oil-free magnetic bearing centrifugal compressors
  • Heat exchangers
  • Electronic controllers
  • Line components for industrial refrigeration
  • High pressure pumps
  • Variable frequency drives
  • Pressure independent control valves
  • Radiator thermostats
  • Undefloor electric heating systems
Year Founded: 1933

Preparing Industry to Meet Challenges
From the workforce gap to refrigerant and energy-efficiency regulations and standards, Danfoss is prepared to help the HVACR industry meet emerging challenges through training, a comprehensive product portfolio and global application expertise.

"Danfoss offers an industry-leading portfolio for low-GWP refrigerants," Eggart says. "As a global company, we are able to build off our experience in parts of the world where environmental and energy regulations are stricter. For example, we now have more than 7,000 installations of CO2 refrigeration systems worldwide, which gives us the knowledge necessary to enable more U.S. customers to make the switch."

Danfoss Sales Trainer Kevin Blizzard stands next to the red and white Danfoss branded vehicle he uses to visit wholesalers, contractors and technical schools.

On the energy-efficiency front, Danfoss innovations such as Turbocor ® compressors are helping to dramatically improve energy efficiency in buildings and factories. In fact, in 2014, the U.S. General Services Administration's Green Proving Ground program evaluated chillers with Danfoss Turbocor® technology and found that the use of these variable speed, oil-free, magnetic bearing compressors resulted in energy savings of 42 percent.

"This year, we are taking this commitment to innovative technology and application expertise and launching the first U.S.-based Danfoss Application Development Center," says Eggart. "The ADC, which is being built in Tallahassee, Florida, adjacent to the facility where we engineer and manufacture Turbocor® compressors, will provide valuable testing capacity for air-conditioning OEMs. This investment will enable us to help customers meet low-GWP refrigerant targets and high energy-efficiency levels and accelerate this next-generation of HVACR equipment."

Eggart explains that the ADC will open in phases, with the first test chamber scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of this year; the third and final chambers are scheduled to open in April 2017.

In 2015, Danfoss established a contractor council – a voice of the contractor program – that is helping it to continuously refine how it serves this important market channel. "Our industry is facing unprecedented changes – from regulations and new, smarter technologies to a workforce shortage," comments Eggart. Danfoss is committed to helping the industry – OEMs, wholesalers, and contractors – prepare for the future ahead.

Michael Maynard is a freelance writer based in Providence, RI who writes on topics related to HVAC, construction and architecture. He can be reached at [email protected].