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A day in the life of a manufacturer’s rep (Part 2)

Feb. 15, 2018
The superhuman effort given by manufacturers rep Greg Gibbs each day.

Making the rounds with Rocky Mountain region rep Greg Gibbs, who works for Shamrock Sales Inc., our next job was deep in the Vail Village, at a resort hotel that had just recently replaced its boilers. This job had three good-sized boilers that were providing space heat and domestic hot water. Again, Greg dove in with both hands, all while talking the contractor through the recommended control settings for these boilers to ensure optimum efficiency and operation.

As we were leaving, Greg noticed that there was a snowmelt controller on the wall that was one of the product lines that Greg represents. He asked if it was working correctly, to which the contractor replied negatively. Greg began working on the control, and soon realized that it wasn’t a control problem, but more of an internet reception problem. The control was working perfectly, but its interface into the internet was not, and this weak WiFi was a condition beyond Greg’s control. He didn’t really need to ask the question about whether the device was working correctly, but that’s just how Greg rolls. If it’s there, and he represents it, he wants to make certain there are no unresolved issues, or onsite education that needs to be performed. He does this quite often, and it is very much appreciated by not only the contractors, but also by the manufacturers that Greg’s company represents.

After a quick and educational lunch with many of Greg’s wholesale and retail customers, we were off and running to the next problem job. This was a job inherited by one of Greg’s long-time customers, who had taken on a job that many other contractors had attempted to fix, but couldn’t. Snowmelt had been added to the job, which required an upgrade in the size of the boiler. It was an older style boiler of the line that Greg represents and it was out of warranty, but it’s a line that Greg represents, so he felt it was the right thing to do to meet with his customer and the homeowners to discuss the problems they were experiencing, and to make recommendations on how best to solve it.

The boiler was short cycling like a banshee, typical of a situation where one boiler is doing two jobs, and the most common job is the lesser of the two loads. He made some adjustments to the programmable controller, again talking the contractor through it as he made these adjustments, not only as a means of education, but also as a means of making sure that the contractor was fully onboard with the adjustments being made.

Again, before we left this job, Greg noted that they had installed an indirect tank that his company represented, and asked if there were any problems with it, to which the consumer replied, “Yes! The water is way too hot!” Greg looked at the tank temperature setting and found that it had inadvertently been turned as hot as it would go. He made an adjustment, and ran the hot water for a while to confirm proper operation. Again, not necessary on his part, but he did it to ensure that he had done everything possible to make sure that all parties concerned were happy with the situation.

The homeowners were elated, and, in fact, asked the contractor if he could help their building co-owners with some hydronic radiant floor problems they were having. In this case, not only was the most important customer (the consumer) made happy, but the installing contractor came away with some free advice from one of the industry’s best, and picked up an additional job in the process. A win, win, win situation.

From there, we went to visit with a contractor who was in the middle of installing one of the largest residential hydronic heating systems I’ve ever personally seen, and I’ve have seen some big systems. This house, when viewed from the street side, didn’t really appear to be all that big, until you stepped inside, and realized that it had five floors of conditioned space below it.

The home was built on the face of a cliff, and at the very bottom of the cliff, where the “yard” was to be located, they were constructing a swimming pool like none you have ever seen. This pool had a glass bottom, that sat 20 feet off the ground, with access from the second level. Directly beneath it, there will be a fire pit, along with a full deck of party entertainment, all snow-melted. I counted at least eight boilers on this job, along with numerous storage tanks, and a full complement of hydronic accoutrements. This is one of those houses that hydronic dreams are made of, and Greg has been involved since its inception, providing advice to the engineers and mechanics involved with its design and construction.

The last job of the day, ended up being with one of the students we’d begun our day with at Vail Valley contractor PSI. He was new to the company, and needed some information on boiler set up and control programming, as well as a quick tutorial on fine-tuning combustion settings for Vail’s gas supply and altitude. To quote Greg, “We’ve shown the manufacturers of these appliances things that happen with altitude and variable energy content gas that they never in their wildest dreams thought were possible…”

When we were done, the technician was grateful and well-educated, and will know how and what to do should this situation arise again in the future.

By the time we got back to my vehicle, we had chewed through a 12-hour day, which is typical for people like Greg, and he wasn’t done. I am certain that he had to file reports with the different manufacturers as well as his employer, showing them what he’d done and what he’d found in the field, and what actions needed to be taken moving forward to address the situations seen in the field. Although most people know Greg as a great human being, he’s almost superhuman with all that he does on a daily basis, representing the manufacturers and helping out everyone along the way, including wholesalers, contractors and consumers. Thanks for the great work, Greg! It was an honor and a privilege spending a day with you in the field.

Read the first part of this column here.

Mark Eatherton material, in print and online, is protected by Copyright 2018. Any reuse of this material (print or electronic) must first have the express written permission of Mark Eatherton and CONTRACTOR magazine. Please contact via email at [email protected].

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