LAS VEGAS - Beating this year's political rallies by several months, Carrier Corp. recently hosted a "caucus" of a different sort: its first dealer convention, with nearly 4,000 participating.

The Carrier 2004 national dealer convention took place in January at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, in recognition of the important role the dealer plays as the front line of customer relations for Carrier.

"To the consumer, the dealer is Carrier," said Halsey Cook, president of Carrier's North American residential division. "Consumers make HVAC purchase decisions based on the relationship they have and trust they place in the dealer.

"The dealer's proficiency in servicing and installing home heating and cooling solutions is the ultimate driver of sales and long-term customer satisfaction," Cook added.

Carrier also announced that "Turn to the experts" is the theme of Carrier's newest marketing program, which was launched at the convention.

The integrated campaign educates homeowners about Carrier products, while encouraging loyalty to the Carrier dealers, who provide the equipment and service to back it up, according to Carrier officials.

The company also introduced its next-generation Infinity System, along with its command center, the Infinity Control. The Infinity Control is a programmable thermostat that manages six comfort functions: temperature, humidity, airflow, ventilation, indoor air quality and zoning.

A trade show held in conjunction with the convention included more than 40 exhibitors.