Despite growth from do-it-yourself stores, contractors still have a big say when it comes to installing faucets. According to a survey by PM, four out of five contractors said their recommendations are usually accepted on service calls to homeowners about which faucet brand to install. When remodeling, 71 percent of contractors said the faucet recommended is usually accepted.

On the other hand, the homeowner only makes the call 8 percent of the time during service calls and 13 percent of the time during remodeling jobs.

“There are about 32 million faucets being installed a year,” said Ron Grabski, vice president of market development for Gerber. “That figure includes all types of faucets — kitchen, laundry, bar and specialty. And there’s roughly 60,000 installing contractors.”

Fifty–one percent of contractors, who do plumbing and bath/kitchen remodeling work, said they are installing more faucets today than in 1992. Within the next year 43 percent surveyed said they will be installing more faucets than they are currently installing. Fifty–three percent said that they will be selling the same amount within the next 12 months as are being sold today. Only four percent believed they will be selling less.

The most influential reason for installing a faucet is the quality of the product (53 percent), followed by brand loyalty (29 percent) and that the brand is sold only to plumbing professionals (10 percent).

“The quality of product is the main driver for the contractor,” said Jim Westdorp, vice president and business manager of Kohler faucets. “What he installs is his reputation. He doesn’t want poor consumer representation of his name.”

The traditional channel of distribution is alive and well. Overwhelmingly, 85 percent said they purchase from a plumbing wholesaler.

“The more rural the area, the more likely the wholesaler will have more impact,” Grabski said. “The only thing available will be what he carries.”

Seven percent purchase direct from the manufacturer, 6 percent said the homeowner buys the faucet and 2 percent head over to a home center or hardware store to complete the deal.

“You’ll see a resurgence of the contractor within five years as baby boomers get older,” Grabski added. “They [baby boomers] will bring in contractors to do jobs that they don’t want to do anymore.”

The survey, conducted in April by the Market Research Department at Business News Publishing Company, was sent to 1,000 PM plumbing/hydronic heating contractors who do plumbing and bath/kitchen remodeling work. The sample was chosen on an Nnth name basis. The response rate was 24 percent.