In your business, where do all your good ideas come from? As the leader of your organization, I assume you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning brainstorming ideas to make your business more profitable.

Surely you have sharp employees who bring you good ideas. Hopefully you have fostered an environment where new ideas are encouraged. And, of course, you can get ideas from other contractors. That can happen in a mix group or perhaps even in the pages of this publication.

Have any good ideas come from you customers? I will wait a second while you stop laughing. Customers are yet another source where smart ideas can originate. That is exactly what happened with Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI). The distributor organization listened to its members who recommended the group expand into the Mexican market. So, they complied.

Heading up this undertaking is executive director, Guitze Messina.

“Mexican distributors are already a part of HARDI,” Messina said. “They knocked on the door of the HARDI leadership a couple of times to say this would be great for the Mexican market.”

Currently, HARDI has about three Mexican distributors as members. Messina’s goal is to recruit 40 members to the Mexican association by the time HARDI’s Annual Conference commences in December. It is an ambitious goal but one that Messina believes is practical.

“Mexico is a big market,” he said. “It is very close to the United States, and they love American products,” Messina said.

The Mexican organization will maintain a membership structure that stands alone from the current HARDI association.

Messina’s first step in recruitment is to lean on the current HARDI members who have Mexican distribution connections to help him secure a meeting. Once he gets an introduction, the executive director believes he has a good story to tell. That story reinforces that belonging to this new association will allow Mexican distributors to sell more, make more money, and, most importantly, leave a legacy for their families.

Messina estimates that about 80 percent of the coalition’s members will be from family-owned businesses.

“A lot of these businesses are much smaller than the distributors you see in the United States,” Messina said. “We will have great training. We will provide training on how to sell more, what strategies should be implemented, and how to become an even more essential partner for their suppliers. Why reinvent the wheel? I think we bring a lot to the table, but we have to make that clear to the distributors.”

Messina also said it is important for the new organization to have strong leadership. A leadership council will begin to take shape as more members sign up. The plan is to have manufacturers advise the council.

HARDI leaders spent more than two years studying the viability of starting up a division like this. They currently are not doing anything like it with other countries. HARDI decided it needed one individual who was completely focused on this task and was very excited to hire Messina.

Messina started as an industrial engineer before transitioning into sales. He also spent some time working as a consultant — most recently at RSM International Management.

The official launch of the new HARDI Mexico division will occur at HARDI’s Annual Conference in December at a special Mexico Market Summit event.

“The mission of the organization does not change because it is going to Mexico, but our tactics and strategy will change,” said Talbot Gee, CEO, HARDI. “We have zero intention of having the arrogance to think we should be transforming Mexico into the U.S. in this market. We are here to provide all the experience, knowledge, and resources we have built to assure Mexican distributors remain the channel of choice for manufacturers and contractors in their market. We are fortunate to have Guitze to lead this for us.”

This undertaking proves once again, you never know where a good idea is going to come from.

Oh, and for those interested in learning more about the HARDI Mexico group, contact Guitze Messina at

Publication date: 9/25/2017

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