Bleach washing a mildewed wall is not my idea of a fun weekend at the Cape, but that’s what I found myself doing at my fabulous girlfriend’s summer home when we hadn’t been there in a while. The last straw for me was when an errant chlorine splash ruined my vintage Euclid Records tee-shirt. Yeah, just imagine one of those super slo-mo clips of a majestic splash… Just a few little drops doing their best imitation of synchronized swimmers gave my cool black tee orange leopard spots. We needed a dehumidifier.
As is the norm for many, I hit up the inter nets and found the most reliable brand, based on reviews of other buyers. My sound research also uncovered a potential issue with the decibel level of these “whole-house” units. After an on-line chat with the manufacturer, I believed a particular unit would get the job done and could do so from the sound deadening confines of the basement utility room. “Esmeralda,” however disagreed, and since it’s her home, I deferred. A quick email back to the manufacturer rep scored us a local distributor to work with.
As an analog girl in a digital world, Esmeralda immediately worked the phones and reached Mike Andras of Grate Products in Westport, MA. Over a week, she had two very educational calls with Mr. Andras and scheduled an appointment to see, touch and feel our drying options on Patriot’s Day. Mike moved his lunch to accommodate our noon-ish arrival and after a warm greeting, took us next door to their training center. The place was impressive, with a classroom upstairs and every sort of water avoidance product imaginable. Down in the basement sat a Santa Fe “Classic” dehumidifier. Over the next half hour, Mike asked questions to understand our specific basement problem areas, suggested possible root causes, and also demonstrated and described every aspect of the three-high, file cabinet sized unit. Mike also answered all of our questions with courtesy and completeness. Next, we went back to the warehouse of the main building where Mike and the warehouse staff had the Classic and 4 other units unboxed and ready for a comparative demonstration. What happened next was like watching Goldilocks and the 5 dehumidifiers:
- Santa Fe Compact – A cute, quiet little unit the size of a small cat carrier. Too small.
- Santa Fe Advance -A beast of a unit that resembled a monsterous, robotic slug. We didn’t even ask to hear it. Too Scary.
- Santa Fe Rx – The quietest unit at 54 dB due to extensive “baffling,” but the tradeoff was less power to move air. Too weak.
- Santa Fe Max Dry Dual XT – A behemoth that could eat the Advance slug whole. Order this if you ever need to part the Red Sea. Too much.
- Santa Fe Classic – Powerful, ductable and not too loud. Plus it had a small dent so Esmeralda got a discount! Just right.
The experience was so positive, consultative and educational, Esmeralda just couldn’t wait to flash the VISA card. When she disappeared to do just that, one of the warehouse guys lined my leather seats with cardboard and helped me get our new toy comfortable in the back seat.
Just before leaving, I asked Mike if they received customer service training or if they were just naturally good at it. He said it starts at the top, with the owner of Grate Products, Mike’s brother Steve Andras. “It’s just how we believe customers should be treated.” A few hours later, I simply did as Mike instructed and had the unit set up including a pump accessory in about 5 minutes.
It was an extraordinary customer experience that has created two raving fans and probably saved the life of some future, vintage tee-shirt.