Experience with plumbing supply house

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by SteveW, Sep 21, 2006.

  1. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Just dropped into my local Ferguson's -- been there a total of 3 times and always impressed by their inventory of otherwise hard-to-find plumbing parts.

    Each time I've been there, though, I feel like I have a "kick me" sign on my back. They always have about 5 young people taking orders, never very busy when I've been there, but still act like I'm really bothering them by buying something there.

    Is this attitude something I get because I'm not in the trade?

    Has anyone else seen this?
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I hate Ferguson's.

    I will only go there if ther is no other way to get the part. They have been consistantly 30% higher than every other supply house I use. All the other supply houses are within 3-5% of each other on average with a few items maybe 10% higher.

    I can't stand them.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2006
  3. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Well, I feel a little better, not being the only one.

    Funny how some operations do have a "culture" -- either of notably good, or bad, service. (On the good side, my family and I went to a local Applebee's last weekend. The young folks working there hold the door open when they see you coming, and actually thank you for your business on the way out.)

    Didn't know about the HD connection - interesting!

    Also the pricing - I was so happy to find my 2-handle, 2-outlet compression stop that it didn't register until I got home that $14.75 might be a tad high for one valve!
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,226
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Fergy

    At least it looks like they are charging you retail prices. That is about what I would have chargd you.
  5. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Ferguson

    The things that ticks me off is they know me by name and they will continualy charge me high rates unless I say so and so only charges me X # $$$ for the same thing, why are you so high. Then they will go into the puter and say how about if I charge you this amount. Which is always just a little higher than the compeditor.

    They play games and I cant stand it. They have lost my buisness and I am a cash acct. so they never had to wait for my $$$$.
  6. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    That explains why a Ferguson's counter man told me to take my business to HD when I asked the price of a stop valve I was going to buy. Next time instead of just walking out I'll say no, but I'll try Lowe's.
  7. OldPete

    OldPete DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    186
    Location:
    NJ
    Huh? What did I miss?
  8. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
  9. Steve W.....

    Steve, what you are feeling when you go into any supply
    house is probably something more like desperation, despair, and jealously all rolled into one...

    they work behind these counters and know down to the penny what
    they are going to make this week,
    ---I think that its a very bleak future for many of those guys.......

    and they know that you make more in one day than they will make in a week, and sometimes in a month...

    So , just immagine having to say "can I help you sir" to every
    "dumb ass plumber" that walks into the place with an atitude and half their butts hanging out of thier pants.

    That would get real old ----- real fast.--- if you know what I mean...


    I always try to be very jovial and very civil to the poor bastards,
    and I seem to get much , much better service for it....


    I have become best buddies with lots of the guys I see every day.

    and occasionally I have given a couple of the guys some $50-$100
    gift certificates to restraunts for turning me on to fantastic deals that had just become available....

    and they have turned me on to some fantastic deals in the past that their company was ready to unload...

    like 200 Delta 1500 + 1700 complete brass valve bodies out of the box for $1000.00.
    I still have a bunch of them laying around.....

    I felt so gratgeful I gave the guy a $100 gift certificate for that bargain.


    and another fellow called me when one of their branch offices found 50 "old style" bradford white 40 gallon gas heaters for $139 each. I got them all...before anyone else even knew about them.

    and they keep an eye out for me for other deals that might arise...

    and I bribe them well for it..
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2006
  10. chefwong

    chefwong New Member

    Messages:
    710
    Location:
    District of Columbia
    My experiance has been that prices out of a plumbing shop if you don't have a house account is quite a bit higher than normal retail....

    I'm a avid DIY'er and the electrical and lumber supply shops that I deal are great. Just short of copper and pvc where the local borgs carry, the only time I visit the local plumbing supply shop is when I need a oddball flare fitting, etc.

    Just recently, I searched high and lo and not a single major supply shop carried a 17AWG DW tailpiece. I tried a internet merchant who had no quibble special ordering me one - so I ended up ordering 4.....I've got 3 in the garage now as spares ;-)

    The same goes goes for angle stops. I personally like the Dahl ones cause it comes in a zillion configurations. I mail order these as well. The prices do end up a lil more since I pay for shipping BUT the prices on the items themselves are in-line with retail or slightly lower than retail pricing.
  11. OldPete

    OldPete DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    186
    Location:
    NJ
    Chef -- you're right on the money. My neighbor owns a plumbing supply house and I finally managed to get the nerve and go to him for some help on a few things... he's really nice fella. The moral of the story? He gives me a trade-account and the prices are good, but no better than the best I can get on the net. PEX fitting are a classic example of this. I got a trade-quote of $30(ish) dollars for 100' 1/2 AquaPex from him, I can get it on the net, shipped to my door for the same price. I have to order $300 to get free ship, but when I do a job it is often that much, plus I like to stock certain things. Things that don't move, I throw on **** and make a couple bucks on.

    The days where the places think they are "doing me a favor" by selling to me are coming to a close. The big-box and the internet is taking care of that. Thank God. I have a TON of respect for tradesmen, but when they feel they need to be protected from the "weekend warriors" -- well, that is just pathetic.

    That's just my 2 cents. ;)

    Pete
  12. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Pete, your 2 cents is right on the money, imho. There's been a vicious cycle of high prices for simple jobs leading to more DIY interest, leading to fewer simple jobs for the skilled tradesman, who has to charge higher prices to cover expenses, let alone make the living he deserves. Scam artists lowball jobs, give the legitimate tradesman a bad name, to the point where I, for one, am scared to death to call a "pro" plumber without an ironclad reference. Even with such, the last one I tried to hire simply never showed up and never responded the messages left.

    I have friend who's a retired executive now running a small handyman business out of a trailer. He does a whole gamut of work, charges what he thinks the client can pay (which for some is zero), has a lot of fun, and covers his expenses. A lot of less-well-off working people and retirees depend on folks like him, where in the past (my past, anyway) "real" plumbers, electricians, etc., could do these little jobs and charge similarly. Since they no longer can, or will, they lose the little jobs, and don't get the word-of-mouth support that might get them the big ones.

    It's not just the trades; other areas are similarly affeected. Medicine is starting to be affected by the same factors -- the Internet, DIYers armed with a huge array of OTC medicines, and walk-in clinics staffed by nurses. There's no such thing as a doctor-patient relationship any more, as doctors are forced to see 30 to 45 patients a day to make ends meet. Medicare is about to lower approved fees by 5%, medicare/caid fraud is widespread, and the quality of care is in the toilet. Which may be good for plumbers.

    Where are the 1950s when we need them?
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