PALM DESERT, Calif - Bill Shaw blamed his raspy voice on Texas tumbleweed allergies, but it just might have been that he picked up a cold on the plane. But, which plane? Aside from the trip to the desert for the Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) 2006 Annual Fall Conference, Shaw spent a lot of time on airplanes as HARDI’s 2005-06 president of its board of advisors.


Shaw, owner of Dallas-based wholesale Standard Supply and plan-and-spec company Bartos Industries, told the nearly 1,400 attendees that the year was spent working to expand relations with all industry organizations in North America and Europe. In addition to attending many regional HARDI meetings with HARDI Executive Vice President and COO Donald L. Frendberg, the two men attended a major HVAC and plumbing show in Milan, Italy. As Shaw said, “dotting the I in HARDI.”


Evidently, the worldly efforts of the HARDI leadership were fruitful as several European HARDI members attended, especially noticeable was a contingent from Padova, Italy, looking for distribution in the North American market.


Dallas Roher, Aftermarket Specialties Inc., a supplier from Kennesaw, Ga., participated in a meeting of the Futures Studies Committee during the Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) Annual Fall Conference. Committee members exchange information on long-term strategic issues and the implications for HARDI members.


The conference was held at the Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort Nov. 4–7. As with most conferences, plenty of time was allotted for meetings, golf, tennis, and sightseeing. The first two days of the meeting were primarily for committee meetings in between social opportunities.


Most, such as the future studies committee, allowed for an open session, to which the media was invited. Arthur Franklin, owner of S. Franklin & Son Inc., a wholesale distributor of Fairfield, N.J., chaired the committee and began the session with an innovative group reading of a Motley Fool® forecast for the year 2010. Some of the prognostications the Motley Fool had written about in 1996 drew subtle smiles from the committee members as they realized how quickly change comes about in our world.


Several topics were introduced for discussion and the morning began with the subject of consolidation and independent buying groups. Several buying groups, such as Wit, AD, and Blue Hawk, were present at the convention and some took the opportunity to stage their own national meetings at the venue. Suggestions from the members included finding ways to intertwine the independent groups with HARDI in such a way as to determine what services should or should not overlap between the respective efforts.


Additional far-reaching topics of discussion included the effect of utility rate structures upon HVAC, changes in accepted accounting methods, and the use of bar code technology for inventory management.


The future studies committee has as its task, to identify issues for the general membership and then recommend actions to the executive board. Franklin said he had recently taken over the chairmanship of the committee and was looking forward to broadening the opportunities for HARDI to become even more involved in industry discussions.


There appeared a common thread at the convention: From broadening international ties to broadening its industry reach, HARDI seems to be positioning itself to continue to grow its influence in HVAC. The organization already boasts more than 45 member companies with more than 3,500 branch locations. As such, the organization’s members represent approximately $21 billion in distributor sales, which is estimated to be more than half of the total revenue generated by all distributor companies in the United States.


Mixed in with a tremendous variety of educational sessions with well-known expert speakers, the attendees had the opportunity to walk the aisles during the conference booth program. More than 220 vendor companies participated in the program.


The convention wrapped up with an elegant dinner with dancing under the desert stars. The group Shaken Not Stirred provided the dance music with a variety of styles from jazz, rock, pop, funk, and country.


The 2007 annual fall conference will be held Oct. 6–9, at the Orlando World Center Marriott, Orlando, Fla.


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Publication date: 12/25/2006