So what is a one-off brand? A one-off brand is what we call an equipment or product that has poor product representation, and can only be obtained from one source.
HVAC product brands may be exclusive to one Wholesaler, but it should not be exclusive to one Store or Contractor, and there should be a Canadian Rep / Distributer. Otherwise parts can be extremely difficult to obtain, can be pricey, and you don’t have a choice but to shop at that one source.
There are many equipment brands that are exclusive to one Wholesaler, but there are multiple store locations, and there are many contractors who shop at those locations. In this case, the product is available to many sources and, therefore, product is usually pretty good to obtain. Unless, of course, there is no Canadian Rep available for that brand.
Another issue is if that equipment or product is a stockable brand. A stockable brand generally refers to product brands that have good representation in Canada, and the product & parts are available here, or can be easily obtained. Non-stockable brands will nearly always need to be brought in from the U.S, and are generally non-stockable at most sources. This will always see a delay of 2-3 weeks.
A particular boiler brand was sold to a building to replace the older boilers they had. They were sold on the looks of the boiler, the hi tech options, efficiency, and the small amount of venting required to make it work. All was well, until the 1st winter. The boiler quit working. It was discovered that there was only one Rep in Eastern Canada, and only one contractor in Western Canada who was allowed to service these boilers. Maintenance & service costs were very high, and all parts were only available from the U.S. An extremely expensive lesson.
Another case involves commercial plumbing fixtures. An engineer specs out a plumbing fixture brand, but that brand is not a common stockable brand here in Canada, so all repair parts need to be brought in from the U.S.
Over the years, we have seen too many cases like this.
So how do you avoid a one-off brand?
In most cases, a simple google search should tell. When you search for a particular product & brand, you should get many search results, from many different sources (shopping sites, contractors, youtube, etc). There should also be at least one Canadian Rep.
If an engineer specs an equipment or product that only comes from one source, you do have the ability to have the engineer specify a more common equipment or product brand.