E.W. Leonard Inc.
The technical expertise of E.W. Leonard’s sales staff helps the company retain its status as a go-to HVAC and heating product representative in the Northeast.
By Jim Harris
Morgan Leonard did not immediately rise up through the ranks of his father’s manufacturer’s representative company after he started working there in 1980. “My father was a believer in the idea that, to be successful working in a business, you have to know and perform all aspects of it,” he says.
After initially working in the company’s shipping and receiving department, Leonard moved on to the warehouse, where he began gaining hands-on knowledge of the products it represents. After both working in the warehouse and making inside sales calls, Leonard next moved to an outside sales position.
Today, Leonard is the president and owner of E.W. Leonard Inc., the company founded by his father, Elmer, in 1958. Like his father, Morgan Leonard is a strong believer in product knowledge, which he says his staff more than possesses.
“Our greatest strength is our ability to provide solutions to our customers’ needs based upon our knowledge and experience,” he says, noting that the company’s outside sales staff includes fire protection engineers and licensed contractors.
“Of all the people who work for us in the field, I actually have the least experience in terms of education and background, but I grew up very mechanically inclined,” Leonard adds. “All of our field employees offer mechanical knowledge, capabilities and experience, as well as a level of support that our competition can’t provide.”
E.W. Leonard Inc. represents manufacturers of heaters, boilers, pumps and other heating, plumbing and HVAC products. The company works with a number of manufacturers including Modine, Champion Pump, DuraTrac, Bacharach, Centrotherm and ComfortPro. Products received from manufacturers are stocked and shipped from a 15,000-square-foot office/warehouse facility in Moodus, Conn., 20 miles southeast of Hartford, Conn. Connecticut is one of six states served by the company; E.W. Leonard also covers the New England states of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Products represented by the company are sold directly to wholesale distributors. E.W. Leonard also works with end-users such as engineers and building tradespeople to specify products for specific projects. “A company that is putting an addition on a warehouse facility, for example, can call us to make recommendations for the best and most economical way to heat a building,” Leonard says.
The company makes its recommendations without bias to a particular brand. “I consider our people to be sales engineers instead of just salesmen,” Leonard says. “We pride ourselves on being honest and forthright and working in the best interest of our clients.”
Most of the projects the company is involved with as an engineering consultant require energy-efficient building systems. E.W. Leonard has extensive experience offering HVAC, heating and other systems that can qualify building owners for federal and state energy rebates. “We try to help owners put together a package that saves them money not only during installation, but throughout the entire operation of the system,” he adds.
The company’s experience and knowledge level have earned it a positive reputation in its industry. ”I truly believe that if you went through the Northeast and talked to our customer group, that our name would come up consistently among the top five companies they work with,” Leonard says. “My father instilled in me the importance of being honest and doing what you say you’re going to do.”
Building Market Share
During the past 12 years, the company has moved to offering engineered and specialty products rather than commodity items. The company continues to seek new lines that complement its existing offerings.
E.W. Leonard considers itself a market pioneer when it comes to many of the lines it carries. “Ideally, as a representative, you’d like a line to come to you that already has some market share, but usually we’re working with small to medium-size product lines without much promotion behind them that we then look to expand the market share of,” Leonard says.
Product lines recently added by the company include Noritz tankless water heaters, HBX heating system controls and ComfortPro radiant heating products.
The company’s sales and engineering efforts have earned recognition from clients include Modine, which has awarded it for meeting and exceeding sales quotas. E.W. Leonard also earned an award from Centrotherm Eco Systems, a European manufacturer of polypropylene vent systems used in fuel-fired heating systems. E.W. Leonard was one of the first companies to help launch the product in the U.S. market, Leonard notes.