“One of the main things that attracted me to this business, even back when I was just a 5-year-old making sales calls with my dad, was his emphasis on building long-term relationships so that it’s like we’re dealing with our friends,” Greg Pardue recalls during a recent interview - held shortly after Deery-Pardue & Associates, Inc. had been named pme’s Manufacturers Rep of the Year for 2009.
Dave Pardue, Greg’s dad, co-founded Deery-Pardue in 1973 with Bob Deery to represent Wade Drains. Dave began his career in 1963 as part of a sales trainee program for Wade Inc., which at the time was headquartered in Chicago. According to Greg, Reader’s Digest wrote about his dad as part of a feature story on that Wade sales training program.
Greg joined the company in 1989 as an inside sales person after working for a plumbing contractor and a wholesaler while a student at Eastern Illinois University. He moved to outside sales in the early ’90s. After Bob Deery retired and Deery-Pardue purchased M.A. Barr Enterprises in the mid-’90s, Greg helped his dad manage the company.
In Jan. 2004, following Dave Pardue’s retirement, Greg was officially named president, even though he’d been pretty much running the company for a few years prior to that. Then in June, Deery-Pardue merged with Stanzi-Simms Marketing, a manufacturers rep firm.
Dick Simms, one of the owners of Stanzi-Simms, is now both an outside sales person for Deery-Pardue and its coordinator for specifications - the company’s main point person with plumbing engineers.
“Helping engineers specify products and making sure products are properly sized for a project are an ongoing daily thing,” according to Simms. “Due to our longevity in the industry, there’s a certain amount of trust that’s there. Engineers know they can depend on us because we stand behind our recommendations and products.”
Engineer AppreciationLike many manufacturers reps, Deery-Pardue regularly visits with engineers, presents “lunch and learns” at engineering firms’ offices, and has their manufacturer clients give educational/technical seminars on products to the engineering community at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago. For the past 10 years they’ve also hosted an annual “engineer appreciation” holiday luncheon at a banquet facility in downtown Chicago. Last year they attracted 50 engineers representing 30 firms in greater Chicagoland.
“It’s something they look forward to every year,” says Simms. “In fact, if they don’t get an email or invitation, they’ll call and find out where it’s being held and when. It lets us network with engineers and lets them network amongst themselves.” Another way that Deery-Pardue stays connected to the plumbing engineering community is through membership and involvement with the Chicago chapter of ASPE. Pardue says his dad, Dave, joined Chicago’s ASPE chapter shortly after its formation in the 1960s and served on its board for several years.
Greg has done likewise and served as both VP of membership and corresponding secretary, while Simms has been its affiliate liaison for the past six years and attends monthly meetings. All seven outside sales people for Deery-Pardue, including Pardue and Simms, are affiliate members of ASPE.
Several of Deery-Pardue’s manufacturer clients have made technical presentations to the ASPE Chicago chapter at either their monthly meetings or annual product show. Simms says Acorn Mfg. discussed its AcornVac fast-track vacuum plumbing system at the chapter’s May 2009 meeting and about 60 engineers were in attendance.
“Last summer, Acorn showed this system to several Chicago plumbing inspectors who had a strong interest in it because the Olympic games  might come here,” says Simms. “The system is very green and enables the use of extremely low-flow fixtures (down to 0.5-gpm water closets). Both the state of Illinois and Chicago plumbing codes allow for engineered systems, and that’s where this would fall under.”
“We’re fortunate in that the manufacturers we represent, by and large, are going green,” adds Pardue.
For instance, Acorn offers a waterless urinal; Wade has the HydroMax siphonic roof drain system; Symmons Industries offers low-flow aerators and showerheads; and T&S Brass has a line of energy-saving wash-down devices/spray hoses. Simms points out, though, that many of these products don’t add up to many LEED points for the building. He believes that plumbing engineers will design more green systems in the future, such as graywater reuse systems that recycle rainwater to flush toilets.
Another topic of concern to Simms is the growing trend toward value engineering, where the contractor who gets awarded a job will tell the engineer (or architect or owner) how money can be saved by installing products that are not in the spec. “Many times the engineers are caving in and accepting that because the jobs are well over budget and they want to make sure the job goes ahead. So they have to re-do some of the specs.”
Deery-Pardue contacts engineering firms of all sizes, according to Simms. However, the company plans to pay more attention to the smaller firms in the immediate future as a way to get its clients’ products specified in the smaller projects - which are increasing in number due to the tight economy.
The company also helps engineers design water treatment systems for projects such as hospitals and laboratories. Simms says that engineers provide a list of the fixtures, then he comes up with a required flow rate and determines water quality. If the project is rural, Simms might have samples taken onsite and sent to the manufacturer’s factory to be analyzed. Then he’ll recommend the proper equipment (water softeners, reverse osmosis systems, de-ionization systems, etc.) for water treatment. “From a water quality standpoint, we’re fortunate to have Lake Michigan here,” notes Pardue. “The water quality is higher than in most areas of the country so water softeners are not often used. Basically, it’s more about water softening and filtering.”
Regardless of the engineer’s specialty, Deery-Pardue works diligently to make sure they are kept up-to-date on the products the company represents. Its Web site (www.deery-pardue.com/) serves as a portal by containing links to all the manufacturers they represent. Simms also provides updates during his in-person meetings with engineers.
“You can email and tell them about the introduction of a new product. But you can’t really help them understand its value and benefits unless you take the hands-on approach and explain it to them in person. Education is the most important thing,” says Simms.
While he’s there with the engineer(s), Simms either provides them with product information in print or tells them where they can get it online at the manufacturer’s Web site. He says that engineers tend not to like the CD data discs that come from the manufacturers. Simms guesses it’s because they don’t want to load all the data into their computer at once, preferring to only review the literature or catalogs as needed.
“Another challenge for our manufacturers is to keep up with the needs of both engineers and contractors in terms of 3-D files for their products,” adds Pardue. “The industry has evolved into 3-D CAD, which extends from the engineers and architects to each sub-contractor on the project. This enables pre-coordination that has never been available.”
Inner WorkingsCurrently, Deery-Pardue is broken down into two divisions: Commercial and Showroom. The Commercial division accounts for 90+% of sales, but the Showroom division is growing quickly after being established in 2008.
Companies represented in the Commercial division are as follows: Acorn Engineering (include Neo-Metro), AIM, Anaco/Husky, CTS, FastPipe Software, Fiat, Hold-Rite, Kaldewei, Marlo, Orion, Rectorseal, Rockford Separators, Symmons Industries, T&S Brass, Tyler Pipe (includes Wade), and Uponor.
Fiat, Kaldewei, Neo-Metro, Showerite and Symmons Industries comprise the Showroom division.
Pardue points out that three companies - Fiat, Marlo and Rectorseal - were picked up following the merger with Stanzi-Simms.
“We created the Showroom division to focus on the hospitality market as well as plumbing showrooms,” says Pardue. “With our line cards, we can provide products for every project - whether it’s a gas station or a 90-story building.”
When it first opened in 1973, Deery-Pardue was located in Franklin Park, IL, where the company sublet office space from Wade Inc.’s warehouse/distribution center. Twenty years later, Deery-Pardue took over the warehouse responsibility for Wade and moved into its current facility in Bensenville, IL.
Initially, they used just one unit in the complex, but today they have four units, which total about 12,000 sq. ft. for warehouse and 3,000 sq. ft. for offices. The warehouse stocks both buy/sell and consignment inventory.
The company also has satellite sales offices in Rockford and Peoria, IL. Each office has a single salesperson. Deery-Pardue opened the Peoria office after the Stanzi-Simms merger.
However, the company’s geographic sales territory has remained the same since day one. Pardue says it serves engineers, contractors, architects and interior designers throughout Illinois and in northwest Indiana - specifically, Porter and Lake Counties - but notes that some product lines are not sold in central or southern Illinois. All the manufacturers they represent sell through wholesalers.
At present, Deery-Pardue has 14 employees, including seven outside salesmen, five inside sales support people and two warehouse personnel. The company quadrupled in size from 2000 to 2007 and reached a peak of 20 employees before downsizing somewhat the past couple of years.
“The spec side of our industry - plumbing engineers, architects and interior designers - has always been our cornerstone,” says Pardue.