Rheem Manufacturing Company, Air Conditioning Division will showcase its Contractor Ring of Honor during Comfortech 2004, St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 15 -18.

The Ring of Honor recognizes more than 300 contractors nationwide who gave of their time to provide real-world suggestions that were incorporated into the company’s final product designs. Rheem and Ruud launched 14 new innovative products during a short span of 18-months. The company could not have taken such an aggressive approach to award winning product development without significant Contractor involvement, according to Jack Sinkler, vice president, marketing.

“Rheem development teams designed each unit with ease of installation in mind. Once the designs were in prototype stage, product development teams traveled to contractor meetings throughout North America asking for critical analysis and feedback on how to improve prototype designs,” Sinkler said. “Contractors provided many innovative suggestions to enhance ease of installation and service-friendly design improvements.”

The Ring of Honor crowns the 40-feet by 40-feet Rheem and Ruud “Innovation Center”, the largest manufacturer exhibit at Comfortech. The “Ring of Honor” encircles the top of the Innovation Center recognizing the many contractor contributions to the products shown within the exhibit.

Proudly displayed beneath the Ring of Honor are the many new or significantly redesigned Rheem or Ruud products influenced by contractors. A sample of these contractor-inspired products includes: the all-new Super Quiet 80 gas furnace. This new furnace features a closed combustion system that provides homebuilders, contractors and homeowners with the unmatched combination of super quiet comfort and super efficient performance. And at a quiet 67 dBA, consumers may actually wonder if the furnace is on.

The new Rheem Prestige Series“ and Ruud Ultra Series“ 16 SEER Condensing Unit will greet trade show guests with a system capable of reaching 16.8 SEER and will be available in both R-22 and R-410a refrigerant. Both Prestige Series and Ultra Series products are equipped with the revolutionary Emerson“ Comfort Alert‘ onboard diagnostic system that gathers and analyzes data around the clock allowing faster and more accurate contractor diagnosis.

In addition to HVAC products, the company will be introducing a number of exciting new contractor-friendly programs and services, including an enhanced Top Contractor program, and a homebuilder web-based equipment upgrade tool for homebuyer use. The Top Contractor program provides Rheem Team and Ruud Reliable Top Contractors the opportunity to select from a number of customizable profit and growth programs. A unique benefit of the Top Contractor Program is that the company pays 100-percent of all local, state and national ACCA membership dues for all qualifying Rheem Team and Ruud Reliable Top Contractors.

The company’s Builder Group is also introducing an all-new revolutionary web-based system that allows homebuyers to upgrade their HVACR system from the standard system spec’d by their builder. The new system called the “Better Home Planning Guide” allows for total collaboration between homebuyer, homebuilder, and HVAC subcontractor in creating a customized comfort system that meets every buyer’s preferences. Some of the benefits for contractors and homebuilders are forecasting tools that show the additional profits expected from each upgrade; a project record management tool that pinpoints subdivisions in North American cities showing the average square-footage, heating and cooling hours, cost per kilowatt hour, and typical systems installed in each subdivision; a comfort system menu that assists in providing homebuyers with easy-to-use visuals that explains system package features, value differences, variable costs per system, and the energy savings expected from upgrading to higher efficiency systems.

Rheem and Ruud will also display at Comfortech a wide array of indoor air quality products that cater to the growing number of health and energy-conscious consumers including: anti-bacterial UV filters that effective in controlling allergens caused by viruses, bacteria, yeast and mold; electronic air cleaners that collect dust and other particulates in the home; humidification systems that provide the ability to reduce or raise humidity levels to reach optimum comfort levels. Energy recovery ventilators that take fresh air into the home, evenly circulates while expelling stale polluted air.

Also, the Air Conditioning Division’s replacement parts department will introduce its new PRO-Series‘ line of designer thermostats exclusively available through PROSTOCK“, a chain of one-stop parts and supply outlets located throughout North America. These new thermostats were designed based on customer research. The new designer line features sleek attractive styling available in programmable and non-programmable models. Contractors will appreciate the timesaving, quick-mount features that allow for simple, easy installation. Consumers will enjoy the easy-to-operate product features, large backlit LCD display, front accessible battery compartment for easy replacement, and the value that comes from owning an environmentally friendly electronic thermostat with the latest in microprocessor technology. The thermostats are available with customized engraving of contractor addresses on the inside cover for contractors who want to advertise their company and keep their information at hand for customers when service and maintenance is required.

Everything displayed at the Rheem and Ruud Innovation Center demonstrates the Company’s dedication to listening to the customer and responding with the highest quality HVAC products, services, and programs featuring innovations that deliver important new contractor and consumer value, and advantages designed to meet unique and diverse homeowner comfort needs.