The Evolution of the Dealer Price Book 
An Interview with Dave McIlwaine, President, HVAC Distributors

Forget about spreadsheets and the hands-on process of loading and formatting parts data into price books customer by customer. Thanks to a new batch processing feature in Catalog Builder Live software from Computer Pundits Corporation, you can build dozens of price books at a time, pulling pricing information directly from your ERP system.

That’s how Pennsylvania-based HVAC Distributors dramatically reduced the amount of time they spend producing their dealer price books. According to the company’s president, Dave McIlwaine, instead of requiring weeks of work, now it’s just a matter of hours and their price books are out the door. These aren’t your typical price books either. Rather than simple columns of SKU’s and prices, HVAC Distributors’ price books feature detailed descriptions, attributes and images along with each equipment customers’ unique net pricing.

Customer-Specific Net Pricing

HVAC Distributors is committed to helping its customers improve productivity. Creating useful resources like customer-specific price books is one of the ways the company follows through on that commitment. “Equipment customers serve different markets, have different specialties and varied volume discounts. There are so many variables involved in dealer pricing, it’s essential to give them price books reflecting their unique pricing structures. We’ve always done it, but it’s never been easy until now,” McIlwaine explained.


With 450 equipment dealers and over 13,000 items in their catalog, an efficient price book process is making a big impact on this wholesaler’s sales and operations. “Thanks to its automated batch process, Catalog Builder Live is a huge time saver for us. It also gives us more options because we can pull any information we want from our full catalog database. Because of that, we’ve started including companion products in many of our price books, which makes it an even more effective sales tool.”

Catalog Builder Live is part of a suite of catalog and ecommerce software products from Computer Pundits Corporation (CPC). HVAC Distributors also uses CPC’s flagship Catalog Builder platform to manage the company’s full print catalog production in-house.

Why do they maintain their parts catalog in-house? It’s all about control, McIlwaine says. “Every week we’re adding or changing information in our catalog. Companies that outsource their print catalogs can’t do that. They’re basically starting over every time they print a new catalog.”

“Our catalog is a living, breathing document with images and attributed information for all of our 13,000 products. Because it is integrated with our Eclipse ERP system, it stays fresh from a pricing and availability point of view. Plus, we’re adding and changing products constantly. We can even print mini catalogs to highlight a subset of product lines or specials.”

Rich Information

Whether producing mini catalogs, a single price book or hundreds, Catalog Builder Live instantly formats and outputs them to PDF for emailing or printing.

“A lot of distributors generate price books right from their ERP systems, but there’s no detailed information there. The beauty of Catalog Builder Live is that it allows us to use the rich information we have in our catalog database for price books. It pulls that data in along with customer-specific net pricing out of our Eclipse ERP system to create price books that far surpass anything we could have realistically created before. Not only are our price books a better resource to our equipment customers, but they present a huge competitive advantage to our sales efforts by cutting the time it takes us to produce our price books.” Now they can send fresh price books for any product line, numerous times a year.

It’s all thanks to the latest enhancement to Catalog Builder Live software, automating the process of creating hundreds of unique, customer-specific price books at a time. For more information about Catalog Builder Live or Catalog Builder visit

About Dave McIlwaine and HVAC Distributors
HVAC Distributors serves residential new construction, residential replacement and light commercial segments of the HVAC industry in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Northern Virginia and Western New York. Their industry affiliations include HARDI (Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International), where McIlwaine is a Past President, NATE (North American Technician Excellence) where McIlwaine is current chair, Blue Hawk Cooperative where McIlwaine is current chair, ACCA and ASHRAE. To learn more about HVAC Distributors and the product lines they carry, visit their website at

Catalog Builder is a registered trademark of Computer Pundits Corporation. All other trademarks belong to their respective owners.