Taking a firm stance during controversial times is nothing new to most people. Whether in your business when it's time to cut expenses, or at home when the teenager is breaking curfew, everyone has been faced with situations that require consistency, and solid decision-making - especially when the decisions are tough ones to make. That may not be the Funk and Wagnalls definition of leadership, but it works for a lot of people.
A lot of people, organizations, and companies that serve the HVACR distribution industry fall within the leadership category. However, one can't take the position for granted. Witness Funk and Wagnalls, a company that once was prominent in the dictionary and encyclopedia business and even in the pop culture of the 1960s and early 70s - it went out of business in 1997.
Leadership does not go out of business, but it does change hands every now and again; at least as often as generations change.
Recently, Bud Mingledorff, chairman of Mingledorff's Inc., took on the reins of leadership at Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI). Fortunately, things were in pretty good shape as his predecessor, Richard Cook, of Johnson Supply in Houston, admirably handled all things distribution for the 2011 HARDI year.
Mingledorff, the 2012 president of the organization, jumped into the fray almost immediately with a recent action taken by HARDI.
Through the legal advocacy group Cause of Action, HARDI filed a petition to intervene through the United States Court of Appeals against the Department of Energy (DOE) for its Direct Final Rule regarding regional energy standards. HARDI's petition to appeal the rule is based on the claim that DOE failed to follow proper procedures in issuing the rules for regional efficiency standards.
TAKING ON THE BIG GUYSWell, for Mingledorff and HARDI, there is nothing like picking on the biggest kid in the school on your first day in the classroom.
Why did HARDI choose to take this action on Jan. 20, 2012, one that has now also been followed in like form by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America?
"For years HARDI members have been discussing regional standards, then the consensus agreement, and now the potential impact of DOE's direct final rule on our industry," said Mingledorff. "Over the last several weeks alone, four individual votes were cast among varying levels of HARDI's membership leaders, each of whom unanimously determined joining this litigation was the right thing to do."
Jon Melchi, HARDI director of government affairs said, "If we were to simply ignore [the DOE handling of final rule] then it would remain unchecked. This rule completely changes the nature of HVAC distribution forever going forward, and for the DOE to not impart all due diligence in creating something that impacts people's businesses and livelihoods is completely against the way the regulatory process is supposed to work."
ROLE MODELSEveryone acts as a leader at some point in the day, whether they may know it or not. It has been said that young children - always looking for role models, whether they know it or not - pay attention to everything going on around them. One doesn't always know when one is acting as a role model for a young child, but it happens every day. It is very easy to exert influence on a child's life, whether good or bad.
Just as with the role that one models for a young child may be good or bad, leadership does not carry with it the automatic inference that a leader is always right. But, leaders do take on responsibilities that others may sometimes not. That is what sets them apart. In business, therefore, exuding leadership consistently is just as important as the influence on a child's life.
The business is a growing entity and requires care and nurturing. Having someone to watch out for the future is important too.
Mingledorff was quoted in a recent article, "As if a slowing economy wasn't bad enough, we must also deal with... ever-changing government regulations and interference.... And to think we only used to worry about our competition and marketplace consolidation."
It is a good thing that the HARDI organization is watching out for the future of its members. Whether it has been right or wrong will be judged at a different time in history - perhaps a less controversial time. However, it is reassuring to know that the organization is not afraid to lead.