At Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International’s (HARDI’s) Annual Conference in December, the organization’s Emerging Leaders program sought to strengthen the HVACR industry by developing the talent of its up-and-coming distributors, manufacturers, and vendors.

This was the second of two annual meetings for the program. The first occurred in July in Austin, Texas. During the three-day July event, 75 future industry influencers gathered with industry mentors and leadership professionals to expand and develop their leadership skills.


The program aims to shape high-potential candidates into strong, effective leaders.

“We’re helping these individuals advance their careers,” said Emily Saving, vice president of professional and program development, HARDI. “We start with talented individuals who have been identified by their companies as likely to one day assume an executive position, and we help prepare them for that role. We provide the tools and learning opportunities to improve their career possibilities and equip them to lead.”

Such opportunities include roundtable discussions led by some of the HVACR industry’s top leaders, seminars from professional leadership speakers and trainers, leadership assessments, and various other studies. The program also provides valuable networking and relationship-building opportunities, which help attendees establish themselves with peers and existing leadership.

Industry veterans from companies like Allied Air, cfm Distributors, Charles D. Jones & Co., Johnson Supply, Johnstone Supply, Meier Supply, Mingledorff’s, and Packard Inc. led attendees through roundtable discussions focused on current industry issues.

“Learning and sharing information with our mentors was the highlight event,” said Dan Lauterhahn, vice president of sales for Packard Inc. and coleader of a task force that shapes the program’s objectives. “Having access to some of the most well-respected HVACR executives and understanding how they think was a priceless experience for me.”


“Ultimately, when they do step into those executive shoes, their preparation through the program will make them better leaders than they could have ever been,” Saving said. “Think about the great leaders in your life; they have the capacity to completely transform an organization. As we continue to move people through the program and into leadership positions, they’re going to strengthen and transform those companies for the better.”

No business wants poor leadership to undermine his or her company’s success,” said Bud Mingledorff, chairman of the board for Mingledorff’s Inc. and one of the program’s mentors. “We want to put people in place who are ready to excel in leadership positions. Those are the people who are going to inspire a company to greatness and create a culture of high performance. It’s a two-way street. When you’re the best you can be, you bring a great deal of value and create an exceptional experience for your customers, which makes you their vendor of choice.”

The Emerging Leaders program includes HARDI’s wholesaler, manufacturer, service vendor, and manufacturer’s representative members. The broad scope of participation encourages strong leadership throughout the supply chain, which strengthens the position of the entire industry.


The program, entering its third year, recently introduced a graduation track that consists of a six-part curriculum model. The comprehensive option took three years to complete.

“We have been planning the concept since the end of 2014,” said Lauren Roberts, vice president, cfm Distributors, who also serves on the task force that helps shape the Emerging Leaders program. “The graduation program provides a clear beginning and end point to participation in the Emerging Leaders program, as well as accountability. It includes an initial leadership assessment, which gives participants a baseline of their leadership strengths and weaknesses. Then, when they complete the program, they take a closing assessment to quantify how their leadership skills improved.

“Personally, I’m excited about the Graduate Designation because it provides participants with a clear leadership development track that teaches key skills and processes to ensure that the future leaders of our industry are fully prepared to guide our companies when the time comes,” continued Roberts.

If you want to see who will be leading progress and influencing the HVACR industry in the near future, you don’t need to look much further than HARDI’s Emerging Leaders.

The program’s next meeting takes place July 17-19 in Chicago. HARDI members interested in joining the Emerging Leaders program can contact Nick Benton, manager of professional development, at

Publication date: 2/29/2016

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