This is the first part of a four-part article about wall-mounted chemical proportioners.

Distributors often have to compete not only with other distributors but also with large, national online retailers and big-box stores. These mega-stores lure customers with lower margins on many of the same janitorial products that traditional distributors sell.
 
Meanwhile there are jan/san product categories that remain untouched, one of which is wall-mounted chemical proportioning systems. According to jan/san distributors, the big-box and online retailers don’t sell dilution control systems because those retailers don’t offer the training, installation services, and after-sale support necessary to operate and maintain such equipment. As a result, chemical proportioners have become a wide-open market for traditional jan/san distributors — a market of which more distributors could take advantage.

“We look at ourselves as educators and consultants before we look at ourselves as suppliers,” says Bruce Heller, president of Cavalier Inc., Norfolk, Virginia. “Cleaning is not a commodity. There’s science and training involved, but it’s treated by Amazon and Staples and the like as if it’s nothing more than selling a stapler or a pencil.”

Shawn Sizonen, sales manager for Professional Supply Inc., Sheboygan, Wisconsin, installs more than 15,000 dispensers a year. He says chemical proportioners make up a much larger chunk of his business than ready-to-use (RTU) products. Like Heller, he believes continued service after the sale is what separates janitorial distributors from online retailers.
 
“Family-owned distributors have grown up for generations providing customer service after the sale,” he says. “Amazon and Staples can’t do that.”

Selling products that require ongoing support, such as chemical proportioners, allows distributors to use their customer service skills to their advantage — unlike RTU products that typically don’t require any follow-up with the customer, other than to replenish supplies.