As you say, Richmond is made by Rheem, and the Rheem/GE is an excellent choice. The Bradford-White is preferred by many and would be a good option as well. Kenmore appliances are made by many companies for Sears, so it's hard to say what manufacturer is currently the low bidder. Whirlpool is the worst choice you could make. See the lengthy thread on them. Since this is a product that should last you for 10 or more years, and is a fairly major purchase, if you have to travel to a larger town to find a quality heater, it would be worth the time and effort. If you are dealing with a local plumber, he should be able to order anything you want and have it delivered.