COLUMBUS, Ohio - Donald Frendberg, the Heating, Airconditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International’s (HARDI’S) executive vice president and COO, recently addressed European distributors at the 48th European Federation of the Sanitary and Heating Wholesale Trade (FEST) Congress in Algarve, Portugal. The theme of the Vilamoura congress was “competition in added value” and it brought together over 170 attendees from 11 European countries. FEST represents national trade organizations in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, Denmark, France, Finland, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden.
Earlier this year Frendberg and Bill Shaw, HARDI president, and Standard Supply and Distributing Co., Dallas, attended the Mostra Convegno Exposition Comfort in Milan, Italy, where they were introduced to FEST and Frans Geurts, its director general.
“We attended the show in Milan to better understand the European distribution industry and to determine if a global alliance was possible within the wholesale industry,” said Frendberg. “What we came away with was a wonderful reception, a mutual agreement to share common interests and issues, and an invitation to address the FEST Congress.”
HARDI addressed representatives of FEST’s 2,000 members, comprising 5,500 branches, 150,000 employees, and over 50 billion Euros in annual sales at this year’s 48th FEST Congress in Portugal. Representing wholesalers involved in plumbing, sanitary, and HVACR products, FEST shares HARDI’s interest in understanding distribution across the Atlantic.
Since FEST represents both HVACR and sanitary distribution, Frendberg was asked to speak about both aspects of the distribution industry in North America. The presentation included histories, membership makeup, governance, performance, and industry statistics for both HARDI and American Supply Association (ASA).
“The most significant aspect of the overall congress was the realization that the issues faced by European distribution is virtually a carbon copy of the situations in North America. Concerns with consolidation, finding qualified personnel, improving efficiency, cost reductions, technology implementation, and the extension of service offerings are common to all distribution no matter country or continent,” said Frendberg. “In a way it’s good to know we all share common issues, however, it also emphasizes the need for greater cooperation in finding collective solutions as globalization continues at a rapid pace.”
FEST is planning a trade mission to the United States in 2007 to visit with fellow wholesale distributors. HARDI will be coordinating the mission once the plans are developed.
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