Because the JUCA products are so technologically advanced, and because the JUCA diskette / down-loadable Program didn't yet exist, we had concerns that a few of those dealers were not able to address some customers' questions about JUCAs. For this and other reasons (referred to below), we stopped encouraging new dealers to join our family at that time. We wanted to make sure customers got correct and accurate and thorough answers to the questions and concerns and thought that customers might be better served by being in direct contact with the manufacturer (US!). This became even more valuable when we went to custom building every single unit in 1989, and we had started offering an immense number of customization choices. It turns out that dealers with showrooms didn't like that anyway, because they wanted to have "stock" products on the floor and in their stockroom to be able to sell immediately.
When we created the diskette-based Program in 1992 (which we mailed out on floppy diskettes), customers now had access to the answers to EVERY question and concern they might have. That program also offered and described the huge diversity of options and choices we had recently started making available. The answers are ACCURATE and COMPLETE, since they come directly from the manufacturer and the designers. Customers love this! They like having extensive, relatively un-biased information available, such that they can make INFORMED DECISIONS.
In the next several years, JUCA operated much as a mail-order house. This was good, in that it kept overhead low, allowing us to keep prices low (from 1989 through 1999, JUCA product prices never increased!) The only disadvantage was that many customers wanted to SEE one or more JUCA units and / or to talk to someone who has owned one. They seldom had any specific questions (the diskette Program had taken care of all that!) They just wanted the reassurance of actually seeing one and / or talking to an owner.
Up to early 1997, this was a very nice situation. We had not advertised anywhere since 1981, so virtually anybody that had found a way to contact us probably had already seen a friend's or neighbor's JUCA. How else could they have ever even known about a company that didn't advertise? Amazingly enough, sufficient people found us during those 16 years of not advertising to be busy and happy.
When we created our very complete web-site in 1997, the situation continued. We actually didn't create the web-site to nab new prospects! We did it for two primary reasons. (1) The vast majority of JUCAs sold earlier were through those 500 dealers, and when they eventually closed or quit, they never gave us their sales records, so we have never known just where most of our products are actually being used! Over the years, we have come to realize that many people could enhance the performance of their JUCA, because they have poor duct arrangements or an improper sized blower for their home. JUCAs work so very well, that even with such errors in installations, they work great, and such owners are probably unaware of being able to get even better performance out of their old JUCA! (2) This was a selfish reason! Traditionally, JUCA would mail out roughly a hundred sheets of information on the unique operation and design of JUCA products. This cost us a lot in printing and mailing. We thought that by having the web-site, we might be able to reduce that cost, and therefore be able to keep product prices down even better. It turns out that there has been a side benefit from that. When people would receive a hundred sheets of paper in the mail, they would invariably discard ninety of those sheets right away, because they dealt with different types of products or features or aspects that they did not care about. With the web-site, a visitor could look at (and print out) ANY of the 1,000 files included in our web site and ignore all the rest.
Our web-site visitors are often extremely impressed with what they read and see. Given the real world, though, it amazes us at what a huge number of people choose to then buy our products, without actually seeing one. Of course, since we custom build each one, there really are no "stock" models to look at anyway! But still, it makes sense that most people would prefer to actually SEE one first, and maybe even in operation in an owner's home. At least, it would be nice to talk to someone who owns one.
In a way, we have complicated this, too. Since EVERY JUCA is custom-built to fill a specific customer's needs, they are all unique (and different!) When someone now orders an F-9AX Built-In Double-Sided Fireplace, with an Arch-Top opening on one side and a Rectangular opening on the other, there is virtually NO chance that a similar one will be within driving distance! (Even if we still had lots of dealers, NO dealer would STOCK such a unique product, so even then, it would not have been possible to see one.
Seems like a good idea, right? Through this list, future customers would (eventually!) be able to find someone local to talk to and to visit, and maybe even to buy from, rather than having to depend solely on our pictures and information.
The alternative to our current system, would be to (1) virtually eliminate all of our custom-built aspects (normal dealers like standard models that they can stock); (2) have customers wind up paying a LOT more for our products (since contractors, dealers and distributors all profit for handling any products, our $1400 prices would be likely to be $2300 to the final customer); (3) eliminate installers being able to call our factory experts about questions they might have; (4) reduce our factory technical experts being able to DIRECTLY give useful suggestions about specific installations; (5) reduce the personal interaction of the transactions; (6) and otherwise have the disadvantages of higher volume operation to our customers. (That's how virtually all other products are sold.) So we are pretty well committed to our current approach.
Our hope was to eventually get enough current JUCA owners to be listed on this page, so that ANY future prospect could see one in operation, and we think our system would have become nearly perfect. Have you noticed how all the references here have been in the past?
A bad thing happened. Things were going well through most of 1997, and various existing JUCA owners veritably LEAPED at the chance to brag about how their unit had heated their homes completely. (Actually, we tend to think that some owners exaggerate how well they work, and listening to some owners makes it sound like JUCAs work even better that we describe in our web site. Oh, well!) Then, Alaska!
Early in 1998, some woman in Alaska had found our web-site and had become impressed. For unknown reasons, it appears that she had chosen to call EVERY SINGLE ONE of the dozen or so names then listed on this page, and she apparently kept EVERY ONE of them on the phone for one and one-half to two hours! Now, these kind people had just volunteered to be helpful (and we will forever be thankful to them for their generous offer). But we doubt if ANY of them expected to have an entire evening at home tied up by a two-hour conversation about a product that they just happened to like!
In the next few days, nearly all of those dozen people called us and asked to be removed from the page. Since they were all nice, kind people, none would initially say why, but we soon learned to just say the word "Alaska" and they would mention that they hadn't realized what an imposition their kind offer turned out to be. Nearly all pointed out that if ONE inquiry took up an entire evening of theirs, how much MORE of their leisure time would be also tied up in that way by future inquiries?
It is hard to imagine that a single customer could do so much damage! And, why did she feel it necessary to bother EVERY SINGLE ONE of them? And for so long? (And, can you imagine the phone bill she must have gotten, for all those very long calls from Alaska?) In any case, we immediately removed ALL of the entries from the (empty) list below.
There is even a funny part of that story. About two weeks later, that lady called US back again. She said she was amazed at how happy all of the JUCA owners were, but that her plans had changed and she no longer had any need for a JUCA! Ya just GOTTA have a sense of humor sometimes!