A: A PVF distributor is set up to distribute pipe, valves, fittings, bolts, and gaskets. Really anything that is needed in the petrochemical, refinery, downstream, or pipe fabrication.
“Why do I need a PVF distributor? Isn’t one parts dealer the same as the next? Why don’t I just get all my parts from a general supplier? If I buy a valve from the plumbing supply with my other stuff isn’t it the same?”
These are all statements we’ve heard from people since we entered this industry some years ago. The reason many people have this perception is they are looking at upfront price and convenience only. However, while that might be the deciding factor for a home project or a sub-contractor on a small job it is not the case for big industrial applications. In fact, when it comes to your own manufacturing facility, your luxury apartment complex, or your petrochemical plant—you need more.
Because, while a lot of PVF components for home and smaller projects can be bought off the shelf, with bigger projects you have specific needs. You need PVF components that are guaranteed to be compatible with the rest of your application.
Will you find PVF supplies at the big box stores and general supply houses? Sure, but you won’t get the institutional knowledge or the level of service. Just because everything is conveniently located in one place doesn’t make it convenient. What you end up with is a big warehouse that carries “everything” but knows nothing.
Convenience Over Quality Service?
What if you’re in the middle of a time-sensitive project and discover you’re short 30ft of 3” diameter HDPE and a dozen spiral wound gaskets? Do you want a salesperson that has to look up a catalog, and ask you a bunch of qualifying questions from a script just to quote inventory? No, you need a salesperson that can ask what application it’s for and then tell you when they can expedite it to you.
You can’t get that at your general supply stores, and you shouldn’t expect to. These types of stores are jack of all trades, masters of none so to speak. However, with a PVF distributor such as TPC, you get a distributor that is the master of one thing—PVF supply. Do we sell lumber? No. Centrifugal pumps? No. Groundwater well systems? You guessed it—NO.
We Stay In Our Lane
We stick to what we know and don’t try to offer every possible part for a job—and that’s an advantage for you. Why? Because since we only focus on PVF supply, we can help you with our institutional knowledge of the PVF industry. We know what valve will work best in a particular application, what type of steel you need for chemical applications. We know how to spot incompatibilities with parts you’re ordering and advise you otherwise. Do you think you’d get that from a big box warehouse with a salesperson?
They may have the parts you’re looking for, but they likely won’t be able to tell you what that part does. They won’t notice when you choose a pipe material that’s not compatible with the application it’s to be used for. You’d end up wasting money and possibly delaying your project for some time by purchasing the wrong products. Is it their responsibility to know those things for you? No. But, when you’re juggling a dozen major jobs at once, it’s nice to know that someone has your back. Having that assurance will always outweigh the convenience factor of the big box warehouses.
Big Box Warehouses Box You In
Big box warehouses are quite favorable options for small contractors and homeowners. You drive to the store, park, hunt for your parts, and then you have to count what you need and load up. If you have the time for all of that—big box is for you.
Don’t forget you are also limited to the supply they get from their supplier, so if you need a unique part, it might not be available. Need an industrial product solution? Forget it, you won’t find it here and you can forget asking technical questions. If it’s not in the techs service support script book—they won’t have the answer.
For example, we had a client that needed a particular gasket for one of his pumps at one of his waterparks. He had gone to a big box store to try and get the part on a time crunch and it didn’t bode well. The salesperson didn’t even look at the old gasket he brought it in, he simply asked for the part number.
Our client didn’t have the part number so the salesperson directed him to a kiosk to look it up in a huge database. Long story short, the client spent 45 minutes digging through databases and found nothing. The part he needed was a specialty gasket that the company does not carry or have access to.
Our client came to us, showed us what he had and one of our salespeople with over 15 years experience, helped him. He knew exactly what he needed when he showed it and had the part on a truck by the end of the day. That is service and knowledge you simply won’t find at a big box store.
Big Box Low Prices Come With Added Costs
The recurring theme with big box stores is that they have kept prices low by making you do the legwork. That may not be bad if you’re working on your kitchen and trying to save every penny. But, when you need supplies for your business, the wasted time is not worth the savings.
Not to mention, big box stores follow the market, not their skillset. What do we mean by that? Let’s take a look at the housing market and residential plumbing distributors. The new home construction market is cyclical. When business is booming, those residential plumbing distributors come in handy because they know fixtures, faucets, and the like.
However, when that boom slows down, many of those residential plumbing distributors will try to tap into the industrial piping market. They’ll get their sales team to sell products for the industrial market with a bit of industrial-grade inventory. It’s magic, now they’re suddenly a PVF distributor…that is until the home building starts booming again.
So, what does that mean to business owners? It means you’re not getting a dedicated PVF distributor. You’re getting a distributor stepping outside their skillset just to make a buck—that’s not service. If they really wanted to get into the PVF business, they’d truly branch out. Build a warehouse and put together an experienced sales team and create a PVF division.
But that’s not what big box does—they go for the easy quick profit. While the object of a business is to turn a profit, it should still put the customer first. When you don’t look out for your customer’s best interests just your bottom line—you’re not doing good business.
When You Need PVF Supplies You Need A PVF Distributor
All distributors that sell PVF supplies are not the same. Just because big box warehouses may claim to carry industrial PVF supplies doesn’t mean they are a PVF distributor. It also doesn’t mean they’re qualified to advise you on what you need to fulfill your application needs.
If you’re looking for quality PVF supplies with a fast turnaround—contact us today! All we sell is industrial PVF supply and that’s it. We know our business and we will not steer your wrong.
So call us today and let us get you the quality supplies you need for any industrial application delivered to your site lightning fast.