The theme of the 2009 Annual Fall Conference meeting of the Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) association was Turning Up the Heat on Recovery: Education/Leadership/Technology. Attendees were encouraged to invest in themselves and their respective companies, as they shared best practices and new ideas in Orlando recently.
The worst recession since the 1930s did not occupy much of the discussion time at the conference, as members have been faced with perhaps more pressing issues.
ENERGY EFFICIENCYTwo popular, and crowded, meeting sessions during the four-day event were presented by the HVAC Systems & Equipment Council. The council’s committee meeting featured special guests Jennifer Anziano from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency and Ann Kilpatrick from Xcel Energy. Both discussed energy-efficiency programs.
Tom Rogers, chair of the HVAC Council posed a question as he introduced Anziano: “How much are we borrowing against the out-years through the current stimulus program that have increased the sale of energy-efficiency products?”
Anziano said, “The Consortium is managing $4.5 billion in energy conservation programs, which is a 20 percent increase from one year ago,” as she described the influence that conservation is having on business practices, a trend she expected to see continuing. It is thought by many that the federal money flowing through the federal tax credits for HVAC replacements already has, or soon will, stimulate purchases in the HVAC industry.
Kilpatrick, of Xcel Energy, which offer gas and electric utilities in eight Western and Midwestern states, said that a major quest at Xcel is to mutually educate contractors and end users, and encourage distributors to work with their local utilities to take advantage of available energy programs.
The following day, the HVAC Council presented a program session that featured a town hall meeting format with Stephen Yurek, president of Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) as he presented AHRI’s reasoning for its recent major decisions to delist thousands of mix-match combinations and to agree with efficiency advocates on increased and regionalized efficiency standards for residential HVAC equipment.
Yurek told the group that this industry had been labeled as fighting energy conservation measures, and that it was no longer politically effective to fight what had always been thought to be the good fight. “Going back to our experiences with the 10 to 13 SEER changeover, as much as we used fact and reason to explain our industry’s position, we found that ultimately, the new standard was based more upon political considerations than technical merit. That is the world we must live in,” said Yurek.
Yurek told the audience that coming to an agreement with the various energy advocates was important because even though it accelerated the process, it extends the timeline for the next changes in gas efficiency standards until 2019, and for air conditioning and heat pump standards until 2022.
“With that kind of time frame, our industry can effectively plan for the changes ahead,” said Yurek.
REFRIGERANT RULINGSThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Julius Banks spoke at the Refrigeration Council committee meeting, providing in-depth insights into the pending HCFC regulations, international negotiations on HFCs, domestic climate change legislation, the EPA’s finding of greenhouse gases as a pollutant and its implications, and trends and initiatives in refrigerant reclamation.
Banks discussed two rules proposed by the EPA that were currently at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The 2010 Allocation Rule proposes to set HCFC production and import limits for the period 2010-2014 in order to meet the 2010 phase-down caps under the Montreal Protocol.
The second proposal complements the first. The Pre-charged Appliance Rule would ban the sale or distribution of pre-charged air conditioning and refrigeration products containing HCFC-22, HCFC-142b, or blends containing one or both of these substances, beginning Jan. 1, 2010, but not to appliances or components manufactured before that date.
Effectively, the first rule would prohibit U.S. manufacturers from charging newly manufactured appliances with newly produced or imported R-22 or R-142b, and the Pre-charged Rule would affect the sale and distribution of products before they would enter the United States. Both rules are pending an approval out of OMB that is expected by Dec. 31. However, Banks did note that if the Allocation Rule were not approved in 2009, there would likely be supply disruptions in the market.
MEETINGSThose that came to the HARDI convention for fun and sun were not disappointed. The perfect Orlando weather tempted many conference attendees, but the 20 committee meetings, four major program sessions, and the educational track were well attended. In addition, the opening keynote workshop was delivered by Tony Jeary, who stressed the importance of clarity, focus, and execution in order to succeed at the Speed of Life, his presentation theme.
Other notable sessions included:
• Alan Beaulieu on Economic Recovery.Beaulieu is with the Institute for Trend Research and is the HARDI chief economist. He presented data collected from HARDI members in the monthly sales trends report as well as extensive research with his other clients. He shared his expectations on the coming inflation, the influence of the current administration and Congressional legislation impacting businesses, and what leading indicators to be watching in the coming months.
• Rick Johnson on Leadership Techniques.Johnson, of CEO Strategist, highlighted how distributors can make sure they are on the “right side” of the storm, how to release the power of profitability in their employees and how be more effective in the sales of their product line.
• Mike Workman on Opportunities.Workman, of Texas A&M University, wrapped up the conference with the closing keynote workshop. Though obstacles confront the membership such as, economic downturn, a negative posture of government toward business, credit issues, taxes, etc., there is great cause to be hopeful said Workman.
AWARDSThe HARDI conference booth program is one of the largest gatherings of vendors in the industry. Many vendors have been supporting HARDI for decades. Following are the companies who were recognized during the 2009 event: 50 years of service, Johnson Controls Inc.; 25 years of service, Atlantic Chemical & Equipment, Shurtape Technologies, Siemens Building Technologies; 20 years of service, Metal Industries, Schmitt ProfiTools, Superior Refrigeration Products/Sherwood; and for 10 years of service, Activant Solutions, Seal-Tite, and Snap-Rite Manufacturing.
The Booster Award was presented to DuctMate Industries. The award is based on a supplier’s contribution in unusual and outstanding ways to the association and to the industry. The Market Center Distribution Award was presented to DuPont Refrigerants.
For more information, visit www.hardinet.org. The 2010 Annual Fall Conference will be Oct. 23-27 in Houston.