Don't Buy a Generator in a Box - Go Local, Do it Right

"Service and response are our greatest assets," says Warren-based Columbus Fan and Machine Corporation owner David Cioe. "We are definitely service-oriented." Tucked into the neighborhood on historic Baker Street, the company is a repair headquarters for AC and DC motors and pumps, has a machine shop, does fabricating, and manufactures Cooling Blowers for the AC and DC motor industry.

Through his other company at the same location, DC Industrial Sales, Cioe distributes products such as AC motors, DC motors, generators, line reactors, transformers, and many other industrial electrical products. Cioe took a giant step into retailing last year when a local retailer left the consumer home generator business, picking up where they left off. It was a natural fit to the sales of generators his company had already been marketing for years.

Today, Columbus Fan is fast becoming the go-to place for portable and automatic home standby generators. They also stock and sell manual transfer switches, residential and commercial pressure washers, sump and submersible pumps, lead-free hoses, nozzles and adapters. And they back their growing sales with a strong service and repair commitment that larger retailers may find hard to match. With nearly 50 years in the industrial electrical field, David's experience is hard to beat, too.

Since generators are such a hot product now, Cioe wants his customers to know that when they buy a generator from Columbus Fan, they will not just be receiving their purchase "in a box." Nor will they have to worry about its assembly, its smooth operation or any of the other problems that can surface with the delivery of a boxed item. Unlike many generator retailers, like the big box stores for instance, Columbus Fan will completely assemble the generator, fill it with oil, test it, deliver it in the local area, set it up in your outside location, make any electrical connections necessary and ensure it operates perfectly.

They will continue to maintain the generator with scheduled service calls. If any problems occur, they will make all the arrangements for warranty repairs directly with the manufacturer. Non-warranty parts and repairs are also part of what Columbus Fan does. "When you buy from us, we will prep it, test it, make sure it fits together and doesn't have any missing parts, fill it with oil, and be available for any issues that may surface," says David.

"Who would want to buy from someone who doesn't provide service? We sold it to you, we will maintain it, and we'll fix it, if necessary," he says. Hence the company motto of, "We service what we sell." Next time a large storm disrupts your electrical power, you'll be happy to know your generator is ready for the job. And that Columbus Fan is in your local area.

Columbus Fan sells generators from such well-established manufacturers as Winco, Subaru, General Electric, Briggs and Stratton, DeWalt, Pramac, Generac, Westinghouse, Powermate, and Gentron, with portable and standby versions available, and engines being made by manufacturers such as Briggs Stratton, Honda and Subaru. "We tend to align ourselves with the most service-oriented manufacturers," says David.

There are two kinds of generators for consumers to consider. The automatic standby version connects directly through the electrical panel, and with an automatic transfer switch, turns on automatically when power fails, and also turns off automatically when utility power comes back on. Most can handle the electrical needs of the entire house. The portable version must be turned on and off manually, delivering its electricity through a manual transfer switch, which is electrically tied in to run such items as boilers, well pumps, sump pumps, refrigerators, etc.

There are other reasons to purchase an item as important as a generator from a company like Columbus Fan. According to David, when you purchase a generator from a large retailer, they are able to offer their products at a lower cost because they sometimes have cut out features to keep the price down, like low oil shutdown switches or voltage regulators, especially critical for computers and other high tech equipment, and some of which are important safety features, plus no time was spent on the generator assembling it or testing it.

"Some people aren't really sure what they're buying in generators," he says. "They might buy something rated for a 10K (10,000 watt) surge, but they are really getting an 8K (8,000 watt) continuous rating. You should size your generator by the continuous duty rating needed, and the surge rating should be large enough to start your inductive loads," he says. "People often overbuy more than they need," he adds. "We size a generator to specific customer needs, often saving them money in the process," he says.

Cioe says there are also fuel considerations to factor in. "We offer generators that use gasoline, liquid propane, natural gas or diesel. We also offer a tri-fuel version generator that runs on liquid propane, natural gas or gasoline."

"Here in New England, consumers should consider proper add-ons for their standby generators, like a cold weather package which consists of an engine block heater and a battery warmer," he adds. "A lot of retailers don't tell you that or don't offer it. If they do offer it, you have to install it yourself — they hand it to you as an addon kit."

Columbus Fan stocks generators, manual transfer switches, trickle chargers, parts, maintenance kits, oil and stabilizers for fuel, as well as replacement batteries, in addition to providing maintenance and service." We are definitely one-stop shopping," says David. "We will arrange to have our electricians and plumbers work with our customers for installation estimates on their generators."

David Cioe has been working in the industrial electrical sector since 1972, beginning in sales and service at an industrial electrical business in Providence. He started DC Industrial Sales 30 years ago, distributing products such as ACDC motors, transformers, line reactors, drive systems, tachometers, encoders, generators, and the like. Originally he was in Cranston, but ended up moving this business to his hometown of Barrington.

He became the largest distributor of cooling blowers and filters for Columbus Fan & Machine, which interestingly enough was located in Warren, Ohio. About 16 years ago, he bought that company and moved it Don't buy a generator in a box — go local, do it right along with DC Industrial Sales to Warren, R.I. His move allowed him the space to expand Columbus Fan into a motor repair and industrial machine shop. The company manufacturers cooling blowers and filters for the AC and DC motor industry, selling throughout the entire United States, and does on-site machine shop and repair services, offers AC and DC motor rebuilding, pump repair, grinding, welding, parts fabrication and other services. His clients include hospitals, steel plants, municipalities, as well as motor manufacturers. He is proud of the fact that the cooling blower products are made right here in Warren, R.I., USA.

Among the many products and services available at Columbus Fan is a full line of pumps, including swimming pool pumps, submersible pumps, sprinkler pumps, sump pumps, grinder pumps made by Little Giant, Goulds, Franklin Electric, Sta-Rite, Pentair, to name a few. Sales and repairs of pumps as well as spare parts are available. "We are also able to offer small mower and snow blower repairs and tune ups," which is a great convenience. All in all, his companies are diverse in all they have to offer to consumers in the local area.

The expansion into the generator industry grew at an opportune time, and with Cioe's background, was a natural fit with all his companies have to offer. David reminds consumers to not only shop by price but to consider the all-important service after the sale, and what that is worth to them in saving time and aggravation. "We are local and here to help educate the consumer about what they are investing in, hand-holding if you will. The big box stores may have a lower price due to the large volume they move, but will they be there to personally help you after the sale or repair it when it breaks? That's worth investing in."

Columbus Fan and DC Industrial Sales enjoy their location in the Warren community. The "Enterprise Zone" and all it had to offer small businesses was a big drawing card for Cioe setting up in Warren. "The town has always been very supportive of small business and we cannot say enough about the great neighborhood we are in." A lot goes on under his business roof. Cioe is a lifelong, very active member of the Bristol County Elks. He and his fellow Elks members are responsible for launching and continuing the East Bay Cares Food Program, which assists food pantries, local churches, and soup kitchens in the East Bay area with the food items they need that are in short supply. At any given time, you will walk into his very busy business and find cases of just-purchased canned goods and food items waiting to be distributed to those in need in the local area.

Many of his fellow Elks stop by his office to check in, say hello, and see what needs to be done in the community. 'Elks Care-Elks Share' is the other motto that stands sideby- side with 'We Service What We Sell,' all adding up to one focused person working hard to make a difference in people's lives. "At the end of the day, making a difference in people's lives IS the all-important measure," says Cioe.

Columbus Fan is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is located at 59 Baker St. in Warren.

Columbus Fan and Machine Corp.

59 Baker St., Warren

401 247-0079

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