Other wholesalers have diversified their product mix in order to keep up with the demands of their contractor customers. But how many can say they are manufacturers? Or remanufacturers?

The remanufacturing came first - in fact, the operation is almost celebrating 75 years, too. Founder Sidney W. Harvey started providing an alternative to new parts just a few years after starting his initial business.

Today, Sid Harvey customers can take in their nonfunctioning parts and exchange them for one of 1,700 remanufactured heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration parts. The remanufactured parts can save contractors anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent and are backed by a two-year warranty, while some of these remanufactured products are further backed with a UL listing.

Remanufacturing these parts goes well beyond repair, according to Jim Otto, senior vice president, manufacturing.

“A typical rebuilder checks the unit to see why it failed, fixes just that, puts a new coat of paint on the outside and sends it on its way,” Otto explains. “They never look further at the secondary reason that could cause future failures.”

That's just what might happen down the road, Otto says. Dispelling the notion of rebuilt (or reconditioned or repaired) vs. remanufactured is one reason Otto strongly encourages firms to send their techs on a tour.

Typically, owners want to take advantage of remanufactured parts thanks to the cost-savings and warranty. The techs, however, usually need some persuading.

“Techs may not want to use our remanufactured part since they may have used a rebuilt in the past and wished they hadn't,” Otto says. “But once they take a tour, they can't believe the things that we are doing.”

Previously used parts are thoroughly cleaned by ultrasound, sandblasting or chemical baths. Then, they go through a series of component tests on specially designed equipment.

“We get the original specs from the manufacturer whenever possible,” Otto explains, “but if they aren't available, we'll do some further testing in our lab and create our own.”

Worn parts are either repaired or replaced. In many cases, Sid Harvey's may even modify certain parts to incorporate improvements made after the original manufacture date.

“Often, we're just using the shell of the original product and putting in our own patented parts,” Otto says.

While many of the remanufactured products are common everyday items, many are anything but. “We also remanufacture parts that have been out of production for as long as 30 years,” Otto says.

As a result, Sid Harvey's is one of the few remanufacturers looking at parts well after the original warranty has ended. The company knows how component performance is affected by on-the-job conditions such as dirt, sludge, corrosion and chemicals. Otto's engineers can make further recommendations to improve product performance.

“Because of our own testing and from customer feedback,” Otto explains, “we can find out where the weak link is. In many cases, we've even patented some of our own innovations to the original equipment. To be fair to the manufacturers, they are in the new-market business and we are in the after-market business. The changes we make might not be feasible from a manufacturing standpoint.”

The finished products go through another series of controlled tests and inspections. In many cases, the company had to develop its own computer programs to run the testing in order to ensure accuracy of this important final step.

What the contractor ends up with is a chance to buy a part that is better than new, at a substantial savings. All Sid Harvey's remanufactured parts come with a two-year warranty. Many of the major remanufactured components are also backed by a UL listing.

“A lot of people think that only new items can get UL approval,” Otto explains. “But as far as we know, we are the only company that has UL listings for products that are not new.”

Sid Harvey's UL-listed remanufactured products have undergone the same rigorous UL testing as a new product would and must meet all the criteria of the latest UL standard for that device. Just like a new manufacturer, Sid Harvey's remanufacturing facility receives periodic, unannounced inspections by the UL to ensure that the company is complying with all the UL's requirements to maintain its approval.

“There is no easing of standards for remanufactured products,” Otto says. “Whether you produce a new product or a remanufactured product makes no difference; the UL treats them the same.”

The manufacturing side of Otto's operation provides two services:

• Sid Harvey's manufacturers its own brand-name line of products, currently about 750 parts primarily for HVACR service work.

• The company also will buy certain items in bulk and repackage them into more convenient sizes for contractors.

“Our manufactured products are similar to our remanufactured products,” Otto adds, “in that the line is based on the concerns our customers have on cost, quality and availability. We're always looking for ways to save our customers money on individual products or by developing one product that might do the work of more than one piece of equipment.”

Over the years, the company's own research and development efforts have helped create unique products or modify an existing product that will better fit the needs of its customers.

For example, take the company's Turn-A-Kit, patented and developed more than 25 years ago. Before its creation, techs bleeding oil pumps had to use a regular wrench and then try to catch the oil in a coffee can. With the Turn-A-Kit, oil bleeds right through the handle thanks to a hose, which feeds into a receptacle.

Otto will soon be conducting his eye-opening and persuasive tours in much bigger accommodations, now that Sid Harvey's is moving its manufacturing/remanufacturing operations to a new facility in Andrews, S.C.

“Our old Long Island plant was one acre,” Otto says. “The new facility is 16 acres.” Last year, Sid Harvey's began retrofitting an existing 62,000-sq.-ft. building and added another 15,000 sq. ft.

“The move allows us to triple our R&D space and gives our engineers and quality control personnel plenty of elbow room. The expanded square footage allows us plenty of space to add new products to our current line,” Otto says.

Early Start

Sid Harvey's has been in the remanufacturing/manufacturing business almost as long as it's been in the wholesaling business.

Sidney W. Harvey started his business during the Great Depression. With unemployment at 25 percent, Harvey figured there was a need for inexpensive, but reliable, repair parts, so in 1935 he started repairing oil heating parts. Before long, he was accumulating defective parts and repairing them in advance. That way, customers could exchange old parts for new without delay.

At one time, the remanufactured products accounted for as much as half of Sid Harvey's sales. That percentage has been reduced over the years to about 12 percent of sales as the company has expanded into the HVACR equipment and parts.

As the wholesale side of the business has diversified into HVACR so has the remanufacturing side of the business. The company, however, remains the largest remanufacturer of oil-heating parts, producing more than 1,700 line items. Remanufactured products include motors; primary controls; cad cell relays, stack relays; fan and limit controls; zone valves; timers; switching relays; pressure, safety and relief valves; circulators; pumps; low water cutoffs; and fuel pumps.

On the manufacturing side, Sid Harvey also produces a line of its own brand name products for HVACR service work. These include electronic test instruments; air filters; fuel filtration products; heating and ACR chemicals; cleaners and degreasers; igniters; hand tools; and electric hardware.