Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ge Cafe..Part 2

GE is a funny company. Rather than rebrand with new names, they use their own name and then rebrand...Their best appliances became GE Monogram and their second best is GE Profile.

Their latest iteration, GE Cafe(who thinks of these names), is arguably their most successful. Cafe is full featured, commercially inspired products that seem to market to the premium segment of the market.

As successful as the line has been, it is strangely limited. The most notable exception has been a french door, shallow depth refrigerator. Its an odd omission because, french doors now outsell regular side by sides by 6 to 1.

Well now the GE Cafe french door is now available.

The rest of the line(for now):

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Innovation 2008 May 17-18

Our GE representative, Ron Vecchia, said to me a couple of months ago..."You know Steve, with so many new products, you should have an event. Call it like Innovation 08 or something catchy like that"...and so we shall May 17 and 18. We will have a weekend showcasing new products

There is a tremendous amount of new products becoming available in this industry now. It was not always this way. Like the car industry, the major players and products were unchanged for probably 50 years.

Then, a few new trends just started seemingly out of nowhere. A few KitchenAid executives believed that people wanted to cook as professionals and started a company now known as Viking. The European companies imported much quieter and efficient water products. Unlike the car companies, the domestic manufacturers actually started producing better and more competitive products.

Now more companies are designing better appliances. Pictured are brand new products(on display for less than 2 months)

Monday, April 28, 2008

New Bosch Laundry

Happy Monday.....

Most urban dwellers have a problem in placing laundry in their unit. 20 years ago, you bought a Whirlpool Thin Twin, which was only 24 inches wide and 68 inches tall. Unfortunately, this allowed enough internal space for a shirt a couple pair of socks and maybe a pair of pants.

Then the Europeans imported their 2 piece machines. It used less water and held more clothes, because it was a front load machine with no agitator.

European Laundry

Miele, Maytag(built by Samsung), Whirlpool(built by Eurotech), Asko and Bosch have machines catering to this market, all with similar specifications.

Until now, Bosch has just started marketing a deeper machine with greater capacity.

Bosch Laundry

Instead of 2.0 cubic foot, the new Bosch is now 3.4 cubic feet.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yale PSA: Help Wanted

We have won Best of Boston 7 times, Readers Choice and The Green Awards. Its great recognition and an honor without question. However, last year we won the "Best Places to Work" by the Boston Business Journal, and we were the only retailer to do so.

In my opinion, this award truly is reflective of the culture of Yale. I honestly believe you cannot preach great customer service without first taking care of your people. We have always offered great pay. Our benefits package is within the top 7% nationally. I like this company, because it is large enough to offer security and small enough where you can make a difference. In a time where everyone changes jobs every couple of years, our turnover is less than 1% annually.

Hiring for Yale has been tough, because our process is so thorough. We would rather hire from outside the industry and train extensively than hire from our field. Most HR directors think we are crazy, but I want people with good attitudes and good people skills.

So if you know a really decent person looking for a very good job, then have him/her send me an email.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Return Of Gaggenau?

Back in the 1980s, if you wanted to buy an upscale kitchen, you purchased a SubZero refrigerator and probably Gaggenau appliances. They had very precise cooking modes and were designed by Bang and Olufson, the elite stereo firm.

Lets flash forward to 2004, and the brand is almost dead. Why, because it was the same product as 20 years ago. All of a sudden, the cutting edge look is dated, their sizes are smaller and the burners are not as powerful. Happens when you spend zero on product development for almost 20 years.

Someone on Germany has awoken, because their new wall oven is decent. I like the side opening door, as it allows easy access to your food(as well as being ADA approved). The look is updated as well.

Gaggenau Walloven

Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Lights Part 2

As you know from previous posts, we buy new lighting in January and update the showroom accordingly. How do we know what products are shipped and when?

You cross your fingers and hope. Probably 30% of the new products ordered are never shipped. The software industry has a term for this. Its called vaporware.

Most of the following visuals are decorative lighting. For the newer readers, decorative lighting is typically chandeliers and wall sconces. When I was a young lad, I was taught a light should be proportional. More specifically, 12 inches less in diameter than the table.

This is not really the case. A good lighting plan involves task, ambient, accent and decorative lighting. Additionally, with less formal styles and the merging of dining and living spaces, decorative lighting can really be any size or style.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rebates Versus Sales

I will not run a sale in this store to acquire a new customer at the expense of an old one. Won't happen. We look at cell phone companies and other deal of the month offers, and they alienate their core customers. Then they complain about loyalty.

We have always invited our older customers to sales events before announcing to the general public. Our best events are private invitation only and are never advertised.

Rebates, however, are another topic. April should be called "massive rebate month" as manufacturer and buying group rebates seem to collide now....In May, most of these offers expire. Following are the most heavily incentivized products in laundry.....

Basic Frigidaire Front loader: Ftf530/Feq332 $699 after an instant $250 April rebate.

Frigidaire Laundry

Maytag Epic Mfw9700/Med9700: $1349 after $300 rebates, $250 is instant April rebates.

Maytag Laundry

Bosch Wfmc8400/Wtmc8320: $1599 after $450 in rebates, $250 is instant April rebates.

Bosch Laundry

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Our First Green Kitchen

About 1 year ago, we installed the first all glass kitchen in the country. Our idea was to show the latest and greatest products. We also wanted consumers to understand the installation behind a wall oven or an undermount sink while they were comparing products...

Glass Kitchen

Now we are on to greener pastures...literally, with the first totally green kitchen

Green Kitchen Plans

Green Kitchen Floor

Its a little unfinished, as we just layed the flooring. A totally Green kitchen is not that difficult.

First, for flooring try bamboo. Bamboo actually grows 3 inches per month and replaces itself in one year

Second, cabinets and counters can be replaced with reclaimed materials used previously. Don't think junk...think antique.

For lighting use LED or fluorescent (as I have blogged continuously), because they use up to 80% less energy than incandescent

Lastly and most easily, EnergyStar appliances will save a ton of energy. We will be using Bosch for this display, but there are many other brands

I will post the completion in May

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Crux of Electrolux

We are in the midst of the largest product offering from the largest single appliance company in the world. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Electrolux has quietly become a major player in the US market by buying Frigidaire in 1993. Now they are spending a fortune by branding their own name.

The strength of this line is cooking without question. Their hybrid induction cooktop is $1379. Perhaps their best single category is their slide in(controls on front without a back).

Electrolux Slide-In

This unit is stylish with 5 burners, great controls and the only slide in range with 2 ovens...Certainly worth a look

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Battle For Your Mind

Meet Igor Muravyov. Iggy is actually a really good guy, who now happens to be our new CMO. He brings order to the marketing chaos of Yale. This is yet another job I have lost, first Service Manager, Operations, Sales now Marketing. If there is a really smart guy with a great resume about blogging, I may be out of a career.

Anyway, I write all the radio commercials for the store. If you have never heard them, they are the semi stupid guy and the smart woman. The guy is actually me, because I am dumb around the house. The woman is a composite of a number of women I have known over my lifetime.

Igor wants to bring in professionals to write the scripts, so I wrote one and they wrote one. My script is different than my previous, but I will ask the 250 or so of daily Yale BlogNation.

Which one do you like better....Remember, you are in the car with your finger on the button. Which one translates the message better and faster...First reaction

Feel free to post comments, but please vote on the poll in the upper right hand side.

Frigidaire Laundry Package

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Best Of The Rest

Following is a slide show on the rest of the noteworthy appliances at KBIS. My previous posts showed the top tier, but there were many likeable products. As I have said previously, there seems to be a fixation with colored laundry.

We will realistically only display products and brands with service and parts in the United States, so about 10% of the products will never be sold at Yale.

Yale PSA: A Night With Randall Whitehead

About 5 or 6 times a year, we have seminars for the trade. In my opinion, our seminar on Tuesday is perhaps the best. We have brought in Randall Whitehead from California for the evening.

Randall Whitehead

I like Randall quite a bit. He is an absolute authority on lighting. Randall has written 7 books and conducted probably thousands of seminars. He pioneered the whole light layering concept of how to properly light a room using using decorative, ambient, task and accent lighting. Being from California, he understands energy efficiency better than anybody in this industry.

If you are building or remodeling, this seminar can really help in all lighting aspects. Please send me a email if you are interested. This seminar does qualify for CEU credit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Best of Kitchen And Bath

I was looking at the pictures yesterday, and there was a ton of very interesting products....But there can only be one number one

These are all range hoods from the same company...

Proper venting is (see my earlier posts): Capture area, power of the blower(CFM), venting, duct run and size of the duct:

Here they are in order of interest

Move over Andy Warhol. This soup can is actually a vent

Campbell's Soup

An American Flag...

American Flag

A 57 Chevy(I like the country better than Chevy), but this is kind of awesome, isn't it

57 Chevy

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Best of Kitchen and Bath 2008

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of innovation at this years show:

Here are the highlights:

6. Five burner 30 inch Thermador. The middle burner is 18,000 BTU


5.Bertazzoni Induction range...Great look, but it is 10,000 Euro, Thats 14,000 American


4.Viking slide ins: Induction and gas. Funny, they did not have a price listed



3.GE Single/double oven....Two ovens in a single foot print

GE Profile

2.Zephyr Range hoods...Looks like an Ipod. Then again, they share the same designer

Zephyr Hoods

Tomorrow is number 1 and rest of the best...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Induction Again

I actually wanted to post about the Kitchen and Bath Show, but forgot to bring in my camera.

So lets revisit induction. This technology is far better than gas or electric.

Benefits include:

90% efficiency so there is less residual heat and less need for venting
Fastest to the boil and simmer
Child safe(although there is some residual heat left by the pan)

When I started blogging about induction, there was one unit available at $3599, now they start at $1379 and look at the selection


Friday, April 11, 2008

How to Buy Appliances...Part 8

You had a great meeting with a salesman. The display impressed you. You checked the ratings on Yelp, Citysearch and Angies' List and the reputation seems to be good. You are satisfied with the after service support.

Now do one simple test: Call them. How they handle the phone is a litmus test on your treatment during the sale and after. Don't feel guilty. You will be calling for specifications, electrical, delivery(at least once) and service.

They should be on their best behavior before the sale, so rate accordingly.

Call them!

KBIS, the National kitchen show, is this weekend. I should have some good ideas for next week

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What You are Buying Now

We have always fought internally about our brand and its positioning in the marketplace. Are we an upscale store or more of a mid to upper generalist? Most family businesses run into this issue with the advent of very strong competition.

Personally, I have always thought any well run business can compete with any, chain any day. Our communication, supply lines and logistics are so much more compact and therefore more efficient. I know all 135 people in this company, hiring 135 is a hard enough chore without the need of hiring 135,000.

This blog, however, has never been about buying at Yale or local stores. You will decide that. We are more of a generalist, which serves us much better in a tough economy...Here is why:

Look at what you have buying:

Viking products...Super premium lines have been hit by 30-50%. Viking has improved by not increasing prices and downscaling some of the line. All of a sudden this line is strangely affordable


Laundry: Its a necessity. Recession or not. At $699 for a front load washer and dryer, the pricing with rebates has become increasingly attractive. New machines will save thousands of dollars simply by being much, more efficient

Green Laundry

Frigidaire: Two words, affordable steel

Affordable Steel

Rachels' Question

In the comments field, a woman by the name of Rachel asked about how air is replaced with high CFM blowers. Basically, as I understand it, if a blower is 1200 CFM(meaning 1200 cubes of air are being filtered out of your home), where does the new air come from?

The quick answer is from other rooms. According to codes, you have to have windows in your house and air will inevitably infiltrate through those areas.

A house can be built to be air tight. It is extremely unusual. In those circumstances, a window must open automatically to allow air into the room when a vent is activated.

Good question, Rachel and thank you to Peter Fallon of Fallon Custom Homes for assisting me with the answer

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dennis Macdonald And Range Hoods

Dennis Macdonald became the sales manager of the store effectively replacing me sometime 1 or 2 years ago. He is actually a great guy, good with staff and customers (which means I will have to fire him in a rage of jealousy)...

Dennis is motivated by the strangest things, refrigerator handles, coffee systems, and now range hoods. He has placed 16 new hoods on display from Miele, Monogram, Zephyr, Faber, Franke and whatever else he has decided to hang today.

The average stove burners are 20-30% more powerful than stoves manufactured 10 years ago. Hoods and ventilation in general need to reflect this change

Which one is best? Have a look...The answer is below

Hoods are based on capture area and CFM(blower speed). The cooking product really determines size of hood...There are some decent ventilation posts on the blog, but for the people who need info now:

How to vent:

Capture area: The deeper the capture, the better

CFM: Motor speed, the higher the CFM(cubic feet per minute or literally how many cubes of area are vented

Size of duct: A bigger motor needs a bigger size duct so the volume of smoke can travel efficiently

Duct run: Shorter is better without turning the duct..If you have more than one bend in the duct, you will have greatly diminished the efficiency

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Frigidaire EnergyStar Laundry

For April, there are $250 instant store rebates on front loaders from GE, Whirlpool, Maytag, Bosch and Frigidaire. Most of these companies have national programs as well..

Consider this, the Frigidaire basic front loading washer and dryer after rebates is $699.

Have a look (can be stacked or side by side.)

Frigidaire Laundry

Monday, April 07, 2008

Last Weekend

Yale Burners

A little break from the appliance world for a brief post. We had our annual hockey game against the Bruins Black N Gold Legends and the cast members of the movie Slapshot.

Although we lost(again), we were able to raise around $50,000 for The Arc Of Boston. The Arc helps people with special needs, and has been doing so since 1947.

This event was really the work of a few dedicated people: Jennifer Bowman, who works for The Arc, Steve from The Hanson Brothers. He handled the publicity and brought the old cast back. He even called us "trash talking punks" on Fox Morning News. Nice touch.

Lastly our team Captain, Dave Chaunt, whose efforts made it all possible..

EnergyStar Laundry

My racquetball partner, Alex, believes our next economic boom will happen when we become energy independent. He mentioned the cost of gas, etc.

My position on Green products is simple. Consumers will buy Green if there is an advantage or payback. In my opinion, people will not spend exorbitant amounts of money just being Green. Then again, he did beat me in racquetball, so I could be wrong...

The textbook example of Green products with almost immediate payback is laundry..Energy efficient, specifically front load laundry is the best residential investment....The average front loader is 40% larger, uses between 25-30 gallons less water and at least half the energy... In other words, you wash more clothes yet use less water and energy...

Which brings me to the question...What do these front loaders from Bosch, Maytag and Frigidaire have in common?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Rebates...How to Buy a KitchenAid Kitchen

We have a very large display of KitchenAid appliances displayed in their own vignette. I would place KitchenAid with JennAir, Bosch and GE Cafe in the premium segment just under SubZero, Wolf and Viking...

But with the housing industry in turmoil, how good are the rebates on KitchenAids best products...

The total price for a professional refrigerator, induction cooktop, canopy hood, double drawer dishwasher and single oven with steam assist is 13,165. This represents the most expensive appliances in their line. The total rebates offered in April is 1,825 or almost 14% of the purchase price

Not a bad deal, but the average package rebate for 3-5 pieces in April is 18-24%

Have a look:

Electrolux Kitchen packages - up to 25% off
Jenn Air kitchens - up to 25% off
KitchenAid kitchen packages - up to 20% off
Frigidaire kitchen packages - up to 20% off
Frigidaire laundry packages - up to 35% off
Bosch kitchen packages up to 20% off
Bosch laundry packages up to 30% off
GE kitchen packages up to 15% off
GE laundry packages up to 25% off

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Post Number 401

The Yale Blog is actually 400 posts old as of yesterday. I have tried to start tagging each post(except this one), so you can access your interests quicker. Unfortunately, I have to tag the older posts....which I have not done. You can still do an old fashioned search

Thank you for reading and thank you to Shawn and Pat, who provide the pictures, slideshows and surveys....

New Products

Everyone know the new cars roll into the showroom in the late fall.....Early spring seems to be the time for appliances. I usually try to attend two shows, the New England regional and the much larger Kitchen and Bath Show next week in Chicago(beats working)....

Most manufacturers seem to be intrigued with exotic laundry colors...The most interesting pieces were the new Bosch 24 inch laundry with bigger capacity, which is great news for city dwellers and other tight closet applications. KitchenAid has their own double drawer dishwasher..

Have a look at the highlights...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Rebates...How to Buy A Bosch Kitchen

I am dedicating this weeks posts to the manufacturers penchant to rebate their own product. Todays contestant is Bosch. Lets look at a suite of really upscale appliances from this brand.

You are looking at a 30 inch ceran, double wall oven with convection on the top, a fully integrated french door refrigerator(love that look), an over the range microwave hood and a fully integrated dishwasher.

Bosch is a great value for a premium brand. This kitchen of appliances sells for about $10,000, but Bosch has $2,400 in rebates for the month of March...and this is an expensive package for this brand.

For people renovating with a smaller budgets and still wanting marquee labels, Bosch, like JennAir and KitchenAid is a great alternative.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Rebates..How to Save $1175

I blog about rebates, because rebates have become a huge part of our industry. We have listened to the car advertisements promising $500 cash back. Typically, the car averages $20,000 or more. So how about $1200 in rebates on a kitchen that is $7,000

The average breakage, however, or people who do not turn in rebates is 80-90% in groceries. So instead of lowering wholesale price, manuacturers bet on this "breakage". But $1175 is a little different than a coupon for 75 cents off that Green Giants peas.

Have a look at one example:

JennAir Pro kitchen: Dual fuel convection range, french door shallow depth refrigerator, over the range microwave hood and stainless interior dishwasher

Jenn Air Pro Kitchen

Our delivered price $6774


factory rebate 500
buying group 400
Yale Instant 275

Final $5599