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ARWI, NHRAW Discuss Consolidation

October 31, 2001
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NAPLES, FL — Two major wholesaler groups are again talking about forming a single association, whose combined membership could account for 80% of the hvacr wholesaling business in the United States.

Representatives of the Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Wholesalers International (ARWI) and Northamerican Heating, Refrigeration & Airconditioning Wholesalers (NHRAW) held what was called an "exploratory meeting" in Chicago on October 19 and 20. And during the ARWI International Convention here in late October, the issue was a topic of conversation.

ARWI has about 100 supply house members in the United States (along with 12 in Canada and 25 in other countries), while NHRAW has about 350 supply house members. ARWI members have about 2,000 outlets and NHRAW members have 2,200 outlets. Many wholesalers are members of both groups.

The task force that met in Chicago reported that a member survey indicated that "there was strong member sentiment in favor of joining the two associations; that each association would bring complementary strengths to the other; and that discussions should continue."

During the ARWI convention, that association's executive director David Kellough told attendees the process started earlier this year when NHRAW President Scott Nicholson approached then ARWI President Paul Goulet about what Kellough called "the possibility of consolidation into a single entity."

The task force said it will soon publish a white paper on the topic for review by respective members. This will allow the task force "to seek further member input and recommendations prior to year end, in order to determine the future course of action."

Officials at the ARWI conference said that the white paper was expected to be released by mid-November, which would fall about halfway between the two organizations' 2001 conventions.

There have been previous consolidation talks, most recently in 1999. A major thrust took place in the mid-1990s when initial talks about holding the two annual conventions in the same city at the same time to share speakers and vendor exhibits, evolved into more serious consolidation talk. But that effort fell apart over concerns about history, tradition, and governance issues.

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