AMBLER, PA. — Throughout its proud history one thing is for sure at Bradford White — the contractor comes first. On a recent visit to Bradford White's corporate headquarters in Ambler, Pa., I learned firsthand the investment Bradford White is making toward product innovation, and contractor training and incentive programs. Equally important, Bradford White prides itself on being an American-owned company producing products here in the U.S.A.

“American-made is becoming much more important in a down economy,” said Bruce Carnevale, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “People are looking for jobs and Bradford White continues to invest in American jobs. In fact, we are going through a major plant expansion in our main facility in Middleville, Mich.”

The Middleville Plant is situated on 47.5 acres of property and encompasses more than 18 acres under roof and employs more than 1,100 production, transportation, engineering and office employees. The facility and staff produce an extensive line of residential, commercial and industrial water heating products for gas, electric and solar applications.

Product innovation

Bradford White is one of the most technologically advanced manufacturers of water heating, space heating, combination heating and water storage products. With its 800,000-sq.ft. manufacturing operation in Middleville, the company builds all of its products strictly for wholesale distribution.

“The fact that we go exclusively through wholesale distribution channels differentiates us from our competition,” said Carnevale. “Also, we differentiate our product through the product development process in which we try to give contractors features and benefits that they can use to help differentiate them and their services.”

John Mesenbrink (pictured right) interviews Bruce Carnevale, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Bradford White has focused on the engineering and development of an increasing number of energy efficient and eco-friendly water heating products, many of which are Energy Star rated. These have included high-efficiency gas and electric models, an extensive offering of solar models, indirect water heaters and both gas and electric tankless models. Bradford White also developed the eF Series of Ultra High Efficiency commercial and residential gas water heaters, as well as the Eco-Defender Safety System Ultra Low NOx line of residential water heaters. In 2009, Bradford White introduced the ICON System intelligent gas control followed closely in 2010 by the ICON System Accessory packages. Together, the microprocessor controlled ICON System and accessory packages provide up to a 36% increase in energy savings, as well as leak protection and operational programmability.

Training critical

Bradford White has invested in two major training centers. One is located at its Laars Heating Systems facility, Rochester, N.H., which is Bradford White's boiler company. The other, which Bradford White just opened in August, is ITEC, the International Technical Excellence Center in Middleville. These facilities have full video capabilities with 64-seat classroom area/stadium-style seating, training that features full live-fire labs with 5 million Btuh capabilities, and hands-on programs that allow contractors, wholesalers and reps to troubleshoot and repair the product, as if it were actually operating in the field.

“Training becomes more critical as the product evolves and as we head toward the EPA’s 2015 DOE energy standards that impact water heaters,” said Carnevale. “We’ve made a big investment and we feel it is critical to train the contractors and give them more intensive and better training as we move forward, and as the product becomes more complex.”

Incentives

Bradford White is getting ready to launch Bradford White Rewards, the contractor-focused incentive program specifically for its commercial product line. Bradford White Rewards is an exclusive incentive program for professional installers only. When contractors become a Rewards Member — every time they purchase a Bradford White commercial water heater — they'll earn points redeemable for a choice of rewards. Membership is free and the program is easy to use.

“The goal is to make it simple so the contractor doesn’t have to spend a lot time on the incentive program: they buy the product, submit the information online and get points right away,” said Carnevale. “They simply mail, fax or scan their invoices in from their wholesaler and we verify the information.”

Once registered, one automatically becomes a Rewards Member and can start earning points on any Bradford White commercial water heater purchased on or after Sept. 1, 2012. Contractors earn points by submitting purchases on the rewards website, then e-mail, fax or mail a copy of their purchase invoice for verification. Once purchases are verified, points earned will be added to an individual account. Visit www.bradfordwhiterewards.com to register to become a Rewards Member.

“The fact that Bradford White is an American-made, American-owned company, with high quality products and benefits that differentiate it from the retail side of the business, give Bradford White the clear advantage with contractors,” said Carnevale.

LEED Gold training center

Bradford White puts its money where its mouth is with its U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold ITEC building. In addition to creating a technical training center, Bradford White invested in the facility with green building designs and systems, while providing a format to coach and train real time with working systems. The complete sustainable design includes in-floor radiant throughout the new construction area; radiant baseboard heat in existing areas; 30+SEER variable refrigerant flow cooling systems for optimum comfort and control; and building air balance is monitored by a management system to maintain ideal air exchange rate and comfort level while reducing energy consumption.

Plus, the mechanical room, on the main level, is 4,000-sq.-ft. and showcases VFDs, heating boilers, pumps, heat exchangers and domestic hot water. The domestic hot water is supplied via solar thermal panels to indirect tanks, which are in a series with tankless gas heaters. In the event not enough solar energy is used, lab-generated hot water will then cycle the indirect heaters. If no lab heat is available, heating boilers can provide the hot water to indirect units. Photovoltaic energy will also be used on site, currently sized at 4kW with ability to grow to 20kW, and rainwater will be harvested to supplement graywater.