The role of a distributor is not the same today as it was when the first HVAC distributor organizations were formed in the World War II era.

That’s why HARDI will focus on the evolution of the distributor at this year’s HARDI annual conference, to be held Dec. 7-10 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix.

“The competencies, skills, and even structures that made distributors so successful over the last 60 years are very likely not the same competencies and skills required to continue their success for the next 60 years,” said Talbot Gee, HARDI executive vice president and COO. “New outside competitive forces, a drastically different supplier landscape, and different customer demands and expectations are all requiring HVACR distributors to evolve, much like we’ve seen occur already in other wholesale lines. This entire annual conference is about the whys and hows of this evolution so our members can remain at the best strategy for manufacturers to access our markets.”


Demand Quantification Project Results

The highlight of this year’s conference is the unveiling of the HARDI Foundation’s much-anticipated Demand Quantification Project.

The results of the project will be revealed during lunch Dec. 8 with Mike Marks, managing partner of Indian River Consulting Group (IRCG), presenting the data to conference attendees. IRCG is a firm which has extensive experience in the HVAC industry and focuses exclusively on market access within distribution channels.

One of the goals of the project is to create a language and shared vocabulary for all HARDI members as they seek to make markets.

Bill Shaw, chairman of the HARDI Foundation, said this project is important because not every distributor is created equal.

“This year, the study and its results are going to be groundbreaking because it’s going to show exactly what the distributor’s role is in demand creation,” Shaw said. “For years, we’ve known distributors are very vital partners with manufacturers in getting their product to the marketplace, but we’ve never really analyzed how you can measure a distributor’s impact on demand creation.”

Gee said the HARDI Foundation made its greatest investment in its history for this study.

“Distributors’ ability to create demand for their suppliers’ products will be the most important value-add they will bring to the channel. This study will identify exactly how distributors can create demand and what value those skills are to their manufacturer partners,” he explained. “Never before has such a study been done in any industry, and this study will likely tell us how far our channel may need to go to ensure its long-term success.”

The reveal of the project’s results will be one of three keynotes at the conference. Also presenting will be Clyde Fessler, the retired vice president of Business Development at Harley-Davidson Motor Co. His presentation, “The Harley-Davidson Turnaround: The Rise and Fall of Harley-Davidson,” will touch on reinventing business, with a focus on building a brand, customer experience, and setting the guiding path for an organization.

Alan Beaulieu, principal at ITR Economics will present the final luncheon keynote. His presentation, “The Economy Is on Your Side,” will look at the economy with practical application.


Managing Distributors as Market Makers
— Steve Deist, partner, Indian River Consulting Group

Re-Energizing Efficiency: Replacing Myth with Math and Motivation
— Mark Jewell, president, Energy Efficiency Funding Group Inc.

Government Affairs Briefing
— Jon Melchi, director of Government Affairs, HARDI

HVAC 2013: Wall Street’s Perspective
— Stephen Tusa, JP Morgan Equity Research

Improving Employee Performance with a Performance Review System
— Nancye Combs, HARDI HR and Organizational Management Consultant

Decoding Health Care Reform 
— Lacey Robinson, consultant, vice president, Employee Benefits, Gregory & Appel Insurance

Avoiding Liability: Successfully Traversing the Legal Minefield That Confronts Your Business 
— Daniel Beederman, attorney, Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg LLC

Regional Trends Forecast 
— Andrew Duguay, economist, ITR Economics


Unique Programming

Brian Cobble, HARDI president, said he is pleased with the lineup put together for this year’s conference.

“The HARDI leadership has taken the theme of this conference very seriously and has worked extremely diligently to develop programs and agendas which will give attendees a significant advantage over competitors,” he explained. “In fact, I believe that the speakers and programming for this conference are the finest I can recall.”

The conference will host eight featured speakers.

Andrew Duguay, an economist at ITR Economics, will present “Regional Trends Forecast,” which will provide, “insightful, accurate analysis for companies throughout the United States and Canada, allowing companies to make timely decisions to enhance their short- and long-term financial and competitive positions.”

Duguay, who is in his fifth year presenting, said this is an opportunity for attendees to build on the keynote speech from Beaulieu, which will present broad economic themes. Duguay’s session will bring those economic projections down to the state and local levels, he said.

“It is important to attend the regional economic breakouts because the sessions allow for a stronger focus on the specific economic factors influencing regional-based distributors,” Duguay said. “When planning out warehouse expansions, inventory levels, staffing, and exploring new territories, the economic information and forecasts presented at the session should help be a bellwether for making smart, strategic business decisions. Distributors will learn which sectors of construction are doing better or worse, and which geographic areas of the United States are seeing the strongest and weakest economic conditions. The smaller group settings of these breakout sessions will provide a more open atmosphere for facilitating questions and answers pertaining to the economy.”

Booth Program Returns

The conference’s booth program will continue this year, with a host of manufacturers on hand to show off their products.

Jerry Troke, vice president, marketing and product development, Heat Controller, said his company is pleased to return for its 52nd year in the booth program. He noted this is the perfect venue to showcase Heat Controller’s relationship with its new parent company, Mars.

“We look at the HARDI distributor attendees as the cream of the crop of our target market, and look to make our presence known to them in any and all ways that we can,” Troke said. “Our goal is to cement relationships where we already have one, and to take advantage of opportunities to forge new ones.”

Gee noted he is excited for what distributors and manufacturers can accomplish together at the conference.

“I also think this is a conference that will reinforce, or perhaps rebuild in some cases, strong ties and trust manufacturers have in their wholesale distribution partners to achieve mutually beneficial objectives,” he said.


Digital Features

HARDI recently launched the Evolve ’13 mobile app. The organization noted that this app provides attendees with the chance to view all event information in any place with updates coming in real time. The app can be downloaded in the app store for all devices.

“I view HARDI’s annual conference as an opportunity for my team to learn, share, and develop ideas that will be a driver of success in years to come,” said Cobble.

The conference will conclude with a reception and closing festivities on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

 Shaw summed up, “This is going to be a groundbreaking conference for HARDI.”