"Develop Demand, Success is Deliberate" is the timely theme of HARDI's annual conference, which will take place at the J.W. Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes in Orlando from October 6-9. While the conference will provide numerous occasions for socializing and networking, attendees will also want to take advantage of the many educational opportunities that are designed to be of interest to all sectors of membership, said Jon Melchi, HARDI's director of government affairs.
"We think we've laid out an agenda that gives everyone an opportunity to take something home with them," said Melchi. "HARDI leadership really put a lot of thought into the program to make it so good that when folks go home, they're thinking, 'Boy, that was a great conference.' HARDI has a lot of members who have been in this industry a long time, and there's a reason why the successful members keep coming back to the conference."
Jeff Corken, president, Corken Steel Products, and HARDI Great Lakes regional director, is one of those members who look forward to attending the conference every year. "The annual conference is a once-a-year opportunity to observe and interface with many of the most successful people and companies in our industry. You can see and hear what the best-of-the-best do, and that has helped us elevate our capabilities and professionalism dramatically. Before joining HARDI 27 years ago and attending the annual conferences, we didn't know how much we didn't know. The benefits have been incalculable."
UNIQUE PROGRAMMINGHARDI leadership is committed to having the best speakers on very pertinent topics at each conference, noted Royce Henderson, president, Charles D. Jones Co., and HARDI vice-president. "The schedule over the three days is filled with opportunities to learn from the speakers and your peers." This year's speakers include Nina Easton from Fortune magazine and economist Alan Beaulieu from ITR Economics.
Melchi noted that members will also be interested in hearing the wisdom of other speakers, such as Steve Tusa, executive director, JP Morgan Equity Research, whose seminar is entitled, HVAC in 2012: Wall Street's Perspective. In this seminar, Tusa will discuss July's joint HARDI-JP Morgan HVAC Mid-Season Distributor Survey, which provides a sneak peek at how the cooling season is shaping up. Tusa will also cover the most recent news from the HVACR industry's publicly-traded firms, as well as commercial market trends that will be of interest to refrigeration and controls distributors.
Rajan Rajendran, vice president of engineering services and sustainability, Emerson Climate Technologies, will lead a seminar entitled, A Review of Developments in Refrigerants, Related Regulations, and Systems Architecture, which will cover the recent developments in regulations related to refrigerants, the new refrigerants that are being developed (including naturals), and the change in systems architecture that are likely.
"The audience should gain an appreciation of what the next 10 years are likely to look like from a refrigerants and regulations point of view," said Rajendran. "Our industry is facing a lot of changes, and it is important to understand why these changes are happening and how to deal with them. The changes taking place in these areas globally are also strong influences on the U.S. industry - knowing what is happening overseas can help us make better decisions."
Jason Bader, principal, The Distribution Team, Portland, Ore., will lead a session concerning HARDI's Branch Manager Certification program. He plans to cover the way in which owners hire, develop, coach, measure, and reward branch managers directly correlates to a firm's profitability and perceived effectiveness by customers and suppliers alike. He will also discuss key performance indicators and an ROI-focused methodology for measuring, monitoring, and improving branch manager performance.
"This program is all about empowering and educating branch managers. When there are multiple branches, owners need to trust the individuals they have put into place to manage those assets," said Bader. "If owners don't invest in educating their branch managers, then they are going to spend a whole lot more time at that location, or the results are going to be dismal."
In addition to the speakers, HARDI's hard-working committees will be reporting on a whole host of industry issues, including optimization, market forecasting, and industry trends. Henderson noted, "The councils and committees discuss topics that are important to my business. The fact that everyone is so open to sharing ideas and experiences is what I enjoy most about the annual conference. I know that I could call up many of my peers or go visit them if they have implemented a process that I might be just starting. Their willingness to give me advice is a tremendous benefit."
CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS"We are definitely going to have a full agenda at this year's conference," said Melchi. "Some years the conference focuses more heavily on a specific issue, but this year, everything is on the table from refrigerant to business to tax and labor issues. There is no shortage of topics."
Some of those topics are bound to be addressed in the second annual distributor town hall meeting, which will take place on Saturday, Oct. 6. "This is a closed session for distributor members only, and it's really a forum for exchanging ideas on what is impacting their businesses," said Melchi. "It's a good forum to discuss business problems and hear how fellow members may have addressed those concerns. We first held a town hall meeting last year, and we weren't sure what to expect, but when we were done, everyone wished it had been longer."
Suppliers and manufacturers' representatives will also benefit, as new this year, they will have their own program, entitled, Web Search Secrets: Helping Your Distributors be Demand Drivers. In this session, attendees will learn how to build long-term relationships by arming their distributor partners with information in order to help them grow their businesses. New ideas will also be presented on researching companies, people, and industries in order to better connect with the distributor channel and help them achieve even more success.
Conference attendees will also notice something new at the Booth Program, which will feature over 200 suppliers and takes place Monday afternoon, Oct. 8. For the first time ever, manufacturers will be able to display products within their assigned booth space, which is a significant change from the previous literature-only format. "This is a great opportunity to see what's new and exciting from current suppliers, as well as look for new products offered by other suppliers who are participating in the Booth Program," said Sam Roti, division president, ChemChill Chemical Co., and HARDI supplier committee chairman.
Roti noted that adding products to the Booth Program is a natural evolution that came about as a result of member requests. "A lot of distributor owners are really interested in learning more about the different products, and they want to see them in person. By allowing product at this year's conference, we're hoping to not only increase the participation of the wholesale members, but to encourage wholesale members to bring more of their employees to the event."
While Roti looks forward to the Booth Program, he also enjoys the other aspects of the annual conference. "As a supplier, we're able to learn the same things that our distributor customers are learning, which really helps us understand what's important to them and their business. Which, in turn, helps us develop products and programs that interest them. It also allows face time with customers we might not normally get to deal with on a regular basis because we are not part of a particular buying or marketing group."
The closing ceremony this year is also sure to be memorable, as it will include a particularly exciting production titled, Cirque Dreams: It's Not A Dream, It's Reality. "I think this program will entice people to stick around for the whole conference and network a little more with friends, colleagues, and customers," said Melchi. "This year we are taking reservations for the closing ceremony on site, so people can reserve their tables."
This year's annual conference will be an exciting event and one that HARDI members should not miss. As Melchi noted, "The annual conference provides an invaluable opportunity for suppliers and distributors to interact, talk about best practices, and exchange ideas. Those are connections that you are not going to get by hanging out in your office."
For more information about the conference, or to register, visit www.developdemand2012.com.