By Rich Lindblom, YourSource News
Most BrandSource members have a great deal of passion for the appliance industry, and many wear that passion as a badge of honor. But all may have met their match in Cindy Conrod.
If you’ve ever met Conrod, it is clear that she absolutely loves what she does. And what she does — and has done for the past 31 years this June — is own and operate TC Appliance in Sturgis, Mich., along with her partner Todd Kilbourn. A 2015 BrandSource Dealer of the Year honoree, TC Appliance sells a wide assortment of appliance and electronics brands. And, like 80 percent of BrandSource members, TC also offers service on everything it sells, which is a subject that really gets Conrod fired up.
Conrod is one of eight dealer members that sit on the recently formed BrandSource National Service Committee, and it is a responsibility she does not take lightly. She considers it an honor to be charged with helping appliance servicers all over the country and relishes the opportunity to go to bat for the members. She also has a vision for the future, not just for her company, but for all BrandSource servicing dealers.
To get a glimpse of that vision, ask her what she thinks are the greatest challenges facing appliance servicers, and the first two things out of her mouth are warranty service rates and the shortage of service technicians.
In her role on the Committee, Conrod has a burning desire to take the lead on raising warranty service rates to an acceptable level for all BrandSource servicers. But before you say it ain’t happening, know that she has already accomplished that for her own company, and hopes to replicate her success for members. Given the combined power that BrandSource servicers wield, she believes in her heart of hearts that if we all band together we can and will find a way to receive a fair and equitable pay rate for performing warranty service. In fact, she envisions a world in which servicers will wantto perform warranty service for all customers because it would actually pay enough to be <gulp!> profitable.
TC Appliance was one of the very first LG dealers in Michigan and as such had a very long service history with the vendor. At one point, she was invited to LG’s corporate offices, where she was able to speak to the executives about fair labor rates and other service issues plaguing the industry.
As for solving the shortage of service techs, Conrod had already begun tackling that in her hometown through a commitment from Bosch to provide appliances and training to the local high school. Although the pandemic put the initiative on hold, she hopes to resurrect it soon in the pursuit of generating some home-grown technicians from the school’s industrial arts program.
Like Bosch, Conrod believes appliance manufacturers need to play a role in creating a pipeline for new service techs; otherwise, we will all be in trouble, especially the manufacturers. Vendors can also help create and support vocational programs at the community college level, she noted, where some schools already offer HVAC, electrical, plumbing and carpentry vocational programs.
After speaking with Conrod, you too will be optimistic about the future for BrandSource appliance servicers. And if you think for one minute she isn’t up to the task, Conrod is also a cancer survivor with a clean bill of health. If she can beat cancer, taking on a few appliance manufacturers will be like a walk in the park.
YourSource contributor and longtime BrandSource member Rich Lindblom recently sold his business and stepped down from the Maytag Leadership Council after more than four decades in independent retail. You can reach Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org.