Distribution Center talked with Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) chairman Don Frendberg about the HARDI Foundation beginning a new investment fund. The fund was announced at the recent HARDI Annual Conference.

DC:At the HARDI Annual Conference in Maui, the HARDI Foundation announced its plan to establish an industry research endowment fund. Is that correct?

Frendberg: Yes, we did make that announcement. A better description of the Foundation board’s intent is that we are working to create a board-directed investment fund.  The purpose and use of this type of investment fund and an endowment are essentially the same, except for some certain IRS and state requirements.

With a board-directed investment fund, contributors are directly involved in evaluating and selecting the projects for research and recommending the best to the board for funding.  The investment fund will generate annual earnings and overall growth.  The board will set specific investment strategies and spending policies that determine how the earnings can be used to commission key research for our industry.

DC:  It sounds more complicated than just announcing a fund and then asking for contributions.

Frendberg: It certainly is. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with other trade associations that have been very successful establishing resource programs to generate similar research funding to benefit their association and industry. They all explained that, before asking for any gifts at all, they had started with a well-defined evaluation process.  They wanted to determine member interest and potential support to ensure the viability of the fundraising campaign.

DC:Is the HARDI Foundation undertaking such a process?  If so how much time will it take?

Frendberg: The HARDI Foundation board is considering such an evaluation program right now. If approved, the process will get started this month. The initial tasks of assessing member interest, testing a financial goal, setting a development strategy, and identifying the fundraising structure should take about four months. If the evaluation results are positive and the board approves a campaign, we’ll move forward with fundraising for the rest of 2012 and into 2013 until we meet our goal.

DC:Can you tell us of other trade associations that have had similar successful fundraising campaigns? 

Frendberg: There are many that have undertaken very successful resource development programs.  Each of them now has a multi-million dollar Investment Fund for research and education. For example: The National Association of Electrical Distributors, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, National Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors Association, National Electrical Contractors Association, and The American Supply Association (ASA).

DC:What’s your personal opinion about how successful this endeavor will be for the HARDI Foundation?

Frendberg:  I am extremely excited about the potential for this research fund and the positive results that will benefit the HARDI Foundation, wholesale distributors, manufacturers, and the industry in general. Having a solid financial base for the foundation is certainly long overdue and I believe we have the resources, the enthusiasm and the desire to be as successful, if not more so, as our sister trade associations. 

Published: January 2012