Diversifying for profit

In the almost 20 years that I have been doing this magazine it always amazes me, when talking to contractors, that they are into so many things. Every business is somewhat different as every owner finds different things to offer depending on community needs and the different skill sets of their employees.

Early in my days with the magazine I remember talking to a plumbing contractor about his van, which was a particularly heavy-duty model. When I asked why he needed such big heavy van he said, “Well, I carry drywall a lot.” It turned out he was offering a complete bath and kitchen design and renovation service. He had taken his business far beyond the plumbing. As time went on, I learned that was not all that unusual.

Heating contractors do air conditioning, of course, and many also install fireplaces, barbecues and any other gas appliance. Never mind all the different forms of heating.

If you’re in a high tech trade like commercial refrigeration, it may make sense to specialize. If you’re in residential, perhaps in a smaller community, then you want to offer the widest variety of services possible.

We talked about the changes in tools last month. Those changes along with new materials and practices – different pipe joining methods for example – have made it easier to move into a new area because the required skill level is not so high. Obviously, you still need the necessary trade licenses. I think most contractors, when hiring, do try to cover all the bases.

The most important thing is just always keeping your eye open for new opportunities. A customer may call with a problem that’s a little outside your area of expertise, but it may make sense to branch out into that line of work rather than passing it along to a competitor. Maybe you don’t do drain cleaning, for example, but it could be a lucrative new service.

Trade shows are always good for picking up new ideas about products and practices to expand your offering.

One of the struggles today is for the contractor to keep ahead of the customer in an age where everyone has the Internet. You need to be the expert so that you can offer options to your customers. Product training and knowledge takes time, but it pays off in the end with a more informed sales approach.

Knowing what’s out there along with the ability to quickly adjust to new trends and needs for your customers will ultimately result in more business. And that’s always a good thing!


CIPH celebrates in Ottawa; Trump top of mind for many
The Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH) held its 85th Annual Business Conference in Ottawa June 25-27 with 286 delegates and companions attending – including 44 new delegates...Full Story
Refrigerant disposal levies increase
Contractors may have noticed an increase in the cost of disposing of HCFC and HFC refrigerants. On July 1, Refrigerant Management Canada (RMC) increased the levies following a review of current and future disposal costs...Full Story
RoadShow seminars announced
The Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating has announced the seminar topics and speakers for its RoadShow trade show series, which travels across the country this fall...Full Story
Industry gears up for CMPX 2018
Organizers are gearing up for Canada’s national mechanical industry show. Scheduled for March 21-23, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building, booth space at CMPX 2018 is rapidly selling out...Full Story
Housing starts up in 2017
Housing starts in Canada continue to increase, reports the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). There were 217,550 new home starts in July, compared to 215,175 units in June. (This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.)..Full Story

High efficiency boiler
An award winner in the MCEE 2017 New Product Competition in Montreal, the Viessmann Vitocrossal 300, CA3 commercial condensing boiler features rated inputs of 3500 MBH to 6000 MBH, making it ideal for commercial and light industrial applications...more

Large tankless DHW units
The EZ Tankless Series from Noritz are designed to simplify the replacement of large residential water heaters...more

High efficiency water heater
The new Polaris high efficiency condensing gas water heater from A.O. Smith operates at up to 96 percent thermal efficiency, installs easily and pairs with recirculating systems or domestic space heating...more

Chilled water air handler
The Rebel from Daikin Applied provides a customizable chilled water solution for a complete single-sourced system...more

Lead-free brass valves
Uponor has launched its re-engineered ProPEX lead-free (LF) brass valves for residential plumbing applications...more

HRAI Annual Meeting & Conference
AUG. 16 - 18th, 2017

Hilton Quebec, Quebec City.
Please call 1-800-267-2231, or visit

CIPHEX Roadshow
SEPT. 21st, 2017

Holiday Inn St. John’s, Portugal Cove Road, St. John’s, Nfld.
or call Elizabeth McCullough at 1-800-639-2474 for more information.

Canadian Hydronics Conference
OCT. 16 - 17th, 2017

Marriott Resort Edmonton River Cree, Edmonton. Visit or call 1-800-639-2474 for more information. Delta Ottawa City Centre, Ottawa, Ont.,

Current Issue
Plumbing & HVAC!
  • Uncertainty in U.S. puts damper on industry
  • Addressing today's skill requirements
  • Mechanical integrity in refrigeration systems
  • How to get and keep new customers
March 2016
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