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Van Gogh and Picasso are admired for their unique views of the world. The Beatles rose to stardom because their music was, well, incomparable. Yup, there’s a wow factor in daring to be different.
Enter Jim Huesman, Todd Schneider and Brett Mullins – all partners in Cincinnati, Ohio-based Disney-McLane & Associates, a manufacturers rep firm with additional locations in Indianapolis and Cleveland. DMA serves all of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania. Their exceptionally successful engineered plumbing and mechanical enterprise has grown steadily since its founding in 1954 – by daring to be just a bit different.
Growth, lately, has far exceeded the pace of earlier decades, due chiefly to the quality of their outreach among buyers and specifiers. One example of their success in being different is the rock n’ roll tour-themed “DMA Training Wheels Traveling Roadshow” – a flashy, industry-centric van, fully outfitted to help them carry Watts products and technology deep into the markets they serve.
“The combination of the van, the operational products and the way we can provide an understanding of how they’re used and perform have become a huge advantage among installing contractors and specifying engineers alike,” Huesman explains. “It’s all very engaging. And our customers can have a whole lotta fun while they’re at it.”
There’s real value in seeing these technologies up close and personal, Huesman adds.
“To feel the weight and heft of a product, or to test it and see it perform, and to ask questions with the product in hand,” he explains, “these are all huge advantages when considering purchases. Our traveling showroom has proved to be a great investment.”
Rock n’ Roll Touring
Huesman adds that the van took its maiden voyage in 2022. Interest was high, though DMA’s road crews have since learned how to dial-in the van’s role at wholesaler counter day events, trade shows, and even at manufacturer locations.
“They’ve learned to spot the best locations for the van, what products to emphasize when packing and outfitting it, and how best to engage the crowd,” Huesman adds.
And, of course, every road show needs a t-shirt. These quickly become collector’s items among installers. The shirts are classy, and have tour dates on the back side.
“In a crowd, I can spot ‘em a mile away,” Mullins says.
Mullins adds that a recent event held at a large Toyota manufacturing plant in Kentucky was attended by more than 20 facility managers and technicians.
“The van was the ideal tool for engagement,” he says. “The group asked loads of great questions, and we believe we held their attention in a way we simply couldn’t have without the ‘training wheels.’”
The long, streamlined Ford van’s exterior is adorned with Disney-McLane and Watts Works signage, and graphically-compelling photos of products in use. The key message: “Learn Today, Lead Tomorrow.”
For fun and amusement, the van’s road crew pulls out plinko boards and games to play with promotional prizes.
Last year, the van went on tour to 25 locations throughout their entire territory, including wholesaler stops in Bedford; Cincinnati; and Toledo, Ohio; and Louisville and Owensboro, Kentucky, as well as the Made in the USA Cookout in Cleveland; the Cincinnati PHCC Show, and the Ohio Rural Water Expo in Wilmington, Ohio.
“This year’s schedule is much busier,” Schneider says. “The vans already made many more trips that were scheduled last year at this time, with hundreds of professional trades people engagements. Additions to the schedule are being made routinely, and the fall schedule for this year looks great.”
Inside the van are artfully assembled tools, products and technology, all operational and ready for use. There’s plenty of flexibility in outfitting the van specifically for an event. At one location, by opening the back doors, a plethora of rugged DeWalt tools were displayed. At another event, the tools were replaced with a broader range of Watts technologies, including expansion tanks, filtration and reverse osmosis systems.
The larger side doors reveal a big flat screen TV for video presentations. Inside, and with plenty of room for trade professionals to step in and get cozy, are wide range of essential plumbing and mechanical technologies, such as a Watts OneFlow anti-scale system; backflow assemblies; closet carriers; and Dead Level trench drains; Powers IntelliStation digital water mixing system; BLÜCHER stainless steel hygienic drains and pipe; Dormont movable gas connectors; tekmar controls; and the Leak Defense system.
According to Schneider, the most popular technologies – or at least those that stir the most questions among visitors to the van – are the smart and connected products such as the Leak Defense system; Isimet Controls; tekmar controls; Watts Sentry Plus; Watts Pure Water; and OneFlow technologies.
But There’s More
It’s even more revealing of the good things happening at Disney-McLane when their rock star demo van is put in context. The van isn’t a singular attraction. Its counterparts at the rep agency include “DMAU,” or Disney-McLane & Associates University, a comprehensive, specifying engineer- and contractor-oriented training program that provides ASPE continuing education credits.
DMA is a certified ASPE CEU provider that partners routinely with ASPE and various manufacturers to provide participants with valuable product and industry training and CEU certificates. Courses include backflow prevention, water storage and pressure vessels, rooftop supports, emergency utility control, commercial leak detection, and fire stopping, among others.
But there’s more. DMA also offers “Water Tech with Todd” webinars and video training with Schneider. The YouTube series has pulled more than 150,000 views and 637 subscribers. The series follows Schneider (a former master plumber) as he troubleshoots, installs and showcases the products they represent. The majority of the videos are shot inside DMA’s fully functional plumbing wet lab at its Cincinnati HQ. Check out www.youtube.com/user/DisneyMclane for more on Todd’s videos.
All content and the van schedule are readily available on the Disney-McLane website at disney-mclane.com/