It’s a tough crowd of consumers out there. According to distributors, consumer behavior is leading to a drop-off in the replacement market, as well as a drop-off in the high-end market. Yet despite these worrisome trends, distributors are still seeing areas of growth and employing smart tactics to keep their businesses in good shape.
The annual conference of the Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) is right around the corner, and that means it’s time for a change in the organization’s leadership.
“You don’t stay in this business for 75 years if you don’t do it right,” said Wayne E. Lanhardt, president and majority owner of the McCrea family of companies. “We call it ‘the McCrea way’ — do it the right way the first time.” Lanhardt’s claim that his family’s business is doing it the right way is borne out by the numbers. Revenues for 2010 were around $30 million.
As the popularity of smart phones and tablets continues to grow, consumers are becoming accustomed to multiple features and instant connectivity. And so they are starting to demand more from the other devices in their homes, including the thermostat.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Department of Labor (DOL) recently proposed to change the rules for union elections. The proposed rules, which have stirred up political controversy across the country, are being debated by the HVAC community.
Next year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to release a new Energy Star specification for climate controls. This spec will replace the discontinued Energy Star spec for programmable thermostats.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is in the midst of creating guidelines that could become the standard to which contractors must be certified to do work involving federal funds. However, a coalition of industry organizations says the guidelines are flawed.