HARDI Conference Addresses Major Issues
January 17, 2011
HOUSTON - The theme of the 2010 Annual Fall Conference of the Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) association was Forging New Frontiers: Sales/Growth/Profit. The conference, with its three-pronged premise, was held at the Hilton Americas - Houston. There was much talk among attendees about the expected slow recovery from the Great Recession, and the general mood was upbeat after a year when some members’ businesses had struggled - after all, if you get a group of distributors in one location, it is likely they will talk about their favorite topics: sales, growth, and profit.
Chrissy Nardini, 2009-2010 HARDI president, said, “I am extremely pleased to relate that our wholesaler attendance is up significantly and the conference booth program this year has over 230 booths, when many other associations continue to deal with reduced conference participation. The majority of members are experiencing improvement in 2010, but there are some who had the recession hit them later,” and have not yet begun to recover. According to Nardini, only about 10 to 15 percent of members are still experiencing difficult times.
HVACR ISSUESThe HARDI annual conference consisted of a variety of council and committee meetings, education sessions, panel discussions, and guest keynote speakers. One particular session during the convention garnered especially high attendance: the HVAC Systems and Equipment Council meeting which spent a considerable amount of time discussing the prospect of selling newly manufactured R-22 units.
Bud Mingledorff, of Mingledorff’s Inc., with locations in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Carolina, said, “This is going to be the wild, wild West because some contractors will slap these units on any coil that’s there.” He also noted that some installations may suffer even more so because of the natural short life of condensing units in coastal areas.
Concerns about the continued manufacture of R-22 units in today’s business environment ranged from worries about compressor life, warranty changes, and shortages of components being used for new installations rather than repair, and general R-22 refrigerant shortages.
The majority of those in the room were not in favor of the continued manufacture of new R-22 units. Another distributor at the meeting said, “Contractors have said they can sell thousands if we have them. We will have to adjust to what the market wants.”
Talbot Gee, who recently assumed the role of executive vice president and chief operating officer of HARDI, said, “The question is more about installed units that may not meet the requirements of law. In other words, the shipment of dry units (those charged with nitrogen rather than virgin or recycled R-22) may be OK, but [at the time of the conference] there is guidance from Department of Energy (DOE) that may allow units to be installed that do not deliver minimum 13 SEER performance.” At the time of the conference, the guidance Gee referred to is one that would allow a manufacturer that can not determine a most popular coil match for a condensing unit to specify a coil that may be up to one-half ton less in size than the condensing unit. This could create a situation whereby an installed unit and coil may be less than the current 13 SEER minimum energy efficiency standard. HARDI has since filed comments with DOE in response to this proposed guidance stressing the need to support and maintain the integrity of the current matched system certification. This would mean certifying only those newly-produced R-22 units necessary for warranty fulfillment of existing, properly matched systems, or specifying coils a full ton less in size to more accurately account for the likely efficiency and capacity losses that will occur with the mismatched installations.
MEETING NOTESDistributor attendees had a full slate of meetings, events, and social activities. Members, as well as guests, surely found plenty to keep them busy in Houston.
During her opening comments, Nardini said, “This year we continue our long standing tradition of hosting guest educators from throughout the United States and Canada, which we consider a great honor and service to the HVACR industry. These individuals were nominated by our members for their outstanding contributions to basic and advanced education and training for those individuals entering HVACR technology and supply chain management education.
“Our purpose is to establish lasting relationships between the schools these educators represent, and both suppliers and wholesalers of this industry.”
AWARDSHonoring a HARDI tradition, suppliers that attend the conference booth program were recognized for their long-term support of the organization. Among the 10-year attendees are: Cooper-Atkins Corp., Dundas Jafine Inc., Glasfloss Industries, Testo Inc., Vapco Products, and Refco Manufacturing US Inc.
Four suppliers were recognized for their 20-year support: ServiceNet - HVAC/R Division, Heating and Cooling Products Company, Z-Flex US Inc., and Gripnail Corp.
Three additional suppliers join the ranks of those in the 25-year supporters: Grasslin/Intermatic Inc., Gray Metal Products, Sanyo North America.
Two suppliers were honored for the prestigious mark of 50 years of participation in the conference booth Program: Allied Air Enterprises, Johns Manville.
The HARDI Booster Award was presented to Ruth Ann Davis of Williams Comfort Products. The award is given each year to a supplier member who has contributed in unusual and outstanding ways to the association and the industry.
For more information, visit www.hardinet.org.
Publication date: 01/17/2011