Does anyone else have problems with wholesalers who seem to have rather inexplicable gaps in the range of items they carry?
I can understand if a place doesn't deal with specific manufacturers, or slants its stock toward mostly domestic or mostly industrial type items, but I sometimes find it hard to figure out the logic behind why they carry some things but not others, or why they seem to miss silly little things out of their stock.
Taking one supplier (branch near-ish to me in Norwich) as an example:
They carry both 20 and 25mm PVC conduit, with saddles, bends, elbows, the full range of thru, tee, and 4-way boxes, etc., but they don't do a simple 25 x 20mm reducer to allow easy connection of the two sizes.
They carry a fair range of Wylex 3-phase distribution equipment: NH panels, B and C curve MCBs, triple-pole MCBs and isolators, etc. If they are trying to cater for 3-phase commercial installations, why is it then that when you turn to the cable section they stock 6491X (singles for conduit use) only in brown, blue, and green/yellow? Not a reel of black or gray in sight (and it was the same before the color change, just red, black, and green/yellow, no yellow or blue).
The selection of 6491X cable itself is curious. 1.5, 2.5 and 6mm are available in the three essential colors for a single-phase circuit, but when it comes to 4mm they only stock green/yellow. They don't do anything besides green/yellow in 10mm upwards either.
When it comes to switches and sockets, you can select from literally dozens of fancy brass, stainless steel, or other decorative domestic devices. But basic surface-mount metal-clad units for workshop use are in very short supply: Just a few cheapo Powerlectrik types plus an even more restricted range in their own-branded Micromark. Not even anything larger than a 2-gang switch.
It's not just the lack of range carried, but also the lack of stock of what I would consider to be very basic items in a branch which is supposedly one of the company's "super" warehouses. More than once they've had no stock of 4mm T&E whatsoever. Other times I've ordered a load of PVC conduit fittings only to find that they're down to something like five lengths of 20mm conduit and have only a dozen spacer saddles or four inspection bends in stock.
They are good on price, but it's annoying to have to go chasing around elsewhere to find all the extras which they either don't carry at all or are out of and "won't have any more for at least a week."
Before I trash our distribution system, I will admit that we are leagues ahead of the rest of the world. In my travels, I have found pubs out of beer, post offices out of stamps, and banks out of change.
Yet, I had to come to Reno to find an electrical supply house that was out of #12 white!
In a sense, I understand that a distributor cannot stock everything under the sun. Yet, there are a few 'outages' that irk me. If the local codes require it, you better stock it. If it is a necessary part of a system, you better stock it. If you have pushed the line at "counter day," or have a nice display in the customer service area, you better stock it.
There is a certain "Catch 22" built into the way things are sold. Things are sometimes not stocked because 'they don't move.' Fair enough. Yet, I have several times asked for items that I KNEW were in the warehouse, only to be told 'we don't carry that.' Or, since the warehouse is not open to me, I cannot ask for something that I don't know is there.
Part of the problem unfortunately seems to be one of attitude. Too often, filling customer's orders is considered an annoying interruption in an otherwise peaceful day!
The contractor does NOT exist for the convenience of the supply house! Rather, he needs to please the ultimate customer... the guy who needs something done. So, when we go to a supply house, we need something NOW, not on tomorrows' truck. Nor can I afford to spen three hours driving around, visiting supply houses!
#146361 - 12/02/0610:23 PMRe: Wholesalers -- Lack of range?
Earlier this year, there was shortage of building cable of most sizes (1.0, 1.5, 2.5 4.0 & 6.0 mm2 in single, twin & three core) due to supply & transport problems out of Melbourne.
Word got around Alice Springs of this shortage which led to panic buying of cable (usually dozens of rolls per order) as the rumoured lead time was 2-4 weeks for the next delivery.
The result of this was nearly all the building cable in the common sizes disappeared off the shelves.
Another good example is when someone comes in off the street at 4.30pm on a Friday & buys all the 4 foot twin flouro fittings in stock. The shelves are emptied & no stock will show up until Wednesday due to the weekend, the ordering system & transport times.
These are good examples of demand outstripping supply which then puts the pressure on to resupply the store. Most items are usually 24-72 hours by road or rail to Alice Springs ex Melbourne (approx 2300km) or Adelaide (approx 1500km)
It is annoying as a contractor when the pressure is on to get a job done & you are held up by a shortage of parts.
Before we start a job, we let the customer know that supply problems are out of our hands & most of the time this is accepted as part of living in this neck of the woods.
As for stores missing all the "little parts", most employees are not electricans or worked in this field before so it is unlikely that they would know what bits are missing & would be good to be on the shelf. What we did was this with problem was we talked to the two supply houses in town & they now carry parts that we & other contractors need as stock that were not there 6-12 months ago on the shelves.
#146362 - 12/04/0609:57 PMRe: Wholesalers -- Lack of range?
John, you having Leviton's west coast distribution center in your own backyard would seem like a handy little perk I miss having a local manufacturer here in So Cal...
This is funny though... Just today I went to the local supply house out in Taft, CA (Middle of nowhere!) and they were out of ALL sealtite fittings in ½ and ¾ sizes.. not just straights or 45's.. Another time they were out of red wirenuts, and 5/8" 1 and 2 gang P rings. Another time ¾ LB's...
But then if you walk in the back, You'll see rolls of pink and purple #8 stranded THHN, rolls of #10 green THHN from Cornish/General Cable on metal spools (they evidentially don't rotate stock very well..) Along with an oddball collection of FPE, Zinsco, Pushmatic, and of all things, Trumbull multibreakers This place has always baffled me!
A few years ago I went to a supply house in San Diego, CA that had FPE panels BRAND NEW in the box! (date stamped 1984!) I took a walk into the back to grab a wire cut and it was like a walk through the nostalgia section... Old-new stock from Sierra, Rodale, Arrow Hart, Royal, Paulding, Homart (which I thought was an old Sears brand ) spools of Hatfield Hatvinol #12 TW...
I asked about the old stuff and the guy just said... "Slow selling product..."
I would've guessed that
#146363 - 12/06/0608:16 PMRe: Wholesalers -- Lack of range?
Paul, I know what you mean. I remember about 4-5 years back, simple things like Hot water cylinder elements (of any size), Thermostats (20A) and some sizes of cable, capping and conduit were like hens teeth here. If the same thing ever happened again, I'm sure that Electricians here would go out of their minds, as would the supply house owners, it's just as hard (if not worse) for them. Imagine going to work, knowing that you can't do your job because there is nothing to sell that people want?. These days it seems like things such as Pin Clips and Buckle Clips are becoming rare as the suppliers are trying to push cable ties, which I refuse to use for new work attached to timber-work or anything else for that matter, they just look so rough and can't be installed quick enough in comparison to Pin Clips.
#146364 - 12/06/0609:20 PMRe: Wholesalers -- Lack of range?
Mike, Are you talking about cable ties for attaching wiring to wall studs and such??? I can't even imagine that from the way things are done over here... Is this something that is acceptable down-under?
Just out of curiosity, what are pin clips and buckle clips?
#146365 - 12/07/0605:11 AMRe: Wholesalers -- Lack of range?
I'm not certain about the reference to pin and buckle clips either, but I think one is probably similar to our British clips.
These are the type we normally use in the U.K. for standard "T&E" (NM-type) cable:
There used to be another type of clip here which consisted of a thin metal strip with a nail hole in the middle. You nailed the clip into place first, then laid the cable in the middle of it and folded the ends over and through the "loop." The overall effect did look something like a buckle when completed -- Is that your buckle clip Mike?
#146366 - 12/07/0608:02 PMRe: Wholesalers -- Lack of range?
Hiya Paul, Those are similar to what we use for coaxial, cat 5e cables, and other low voltage cables. Here's a link to a few of the cable fasteners we use (Not my favourite brand, but the only one not in a huge .pdf )
This is getting annoying. I started a job yesterday, expecting more material to be delivered straight to the job today (deliveries are Tuesdays & Thursdays to this part of the county).
I thought I'd better phone and check yesterday, and it's just as well I did, because half the conduit fittings still hadn't arrived, so I've put the job on hold until later in the week.
"Be some in Wednesday, but we're not sure if we'll have them in time to get them on the delivery truck for Thursday." Aaargh!
I phoned again lunchtime today to check.
"Yes, we have some more in, but not sure what yet. I'll check it all and call you back this afternoon."
It's now turned 5 p.m. and no call.
As we're now completely stuck until we get a few essentials (e.g. 20mm PVC inspection tees & boxes), I've placed an order with Screwfix , who at least seem to keep stocks of everything in and get them out fast (order by 6 p.m., it's here next day). I needed some more boxes of screws, drywall fixings, etc. anyway.
To top it all off, I'd ordered some other materials from TLC mail order and just received the package this afternoon. I thought the box seemed a little small when I signed for it.
Half the order is missing! Mind you, they did send me a 25mm bending spring that I didn't ask for. Unfortunately, they didn't send the 20mm spring that I did order. Looks like somebody in the packing department really had a bad day yesterday.
As for my usual wholesaler in Norwich, I'm considering switching to one which is more reliable and has larger stock ranges -- and doesn't take over a week to get anything not in stock.
There's an Edmundson's branch in Norwich. Any U.K. readers have any experience with them?
#146368 - 12/12/0612:20 PMRe: Wholesalers -- Lack of range?