Evolve ’13 is in the record books. The 2013 HARDI Annual Conference gathered hundreds of wholesale distributors, suppliers, manufacturer reps, and other industry players at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Dec. 7-10. The days were spent learning, networking, and participating in both educational and entertaining sessions.


Kicking Off Saturday

Saturday night began with a few sessions held just prior to the opening reception and Helping All Live On (HALO) silent auction. One session was the First-Time Attendee gathering. There, a large group of newcomers listened as Russ Geary, regional vice president of Geary Pacific Supply, Sacramento, Calif., explained what could be expected and welcomed those who were engaging the HARDI conference for the first time.

Another session, the Distributor Town Hall Meeting, was a closed-door session where distributor members gathered to discuss the specifics of issues needing to be addressed by the HARDI membership and its staff in the coming year.

While occupied with these sessions, Steve Deist, partner at Indian River Consulting Group (IRCG), led a supplier and manufacturer session breaking down some of the results of the HARDI Foundation’s Demand Quantification Project. He gave the audience an overview of how distributors look at and evaluate manufacturers’ lines, as well as how they make decisions about investment in manufacturers’ lines.

The evening ended with an opening reception and a plethora of items donated and purchased at the HALO silent auction to benefit HFOT recipient Marine Sergeant Jordan Maynard. Along with the auction and festivities, there were large-screen televisions broadcasting the football games.


Demand Creation

The main event on Sunday was the presentation of the results from the Demand Quantification Project, a landmark research project launched in an effort to better understand distributors’ roles in the demand creation process. Conducted by The HARDI Education and Research Foundation in partnership with IRCG, the study used leading edge research methods, which have never before been applied to the HVACR industry, to investigate the strategies, practices, and resources involved in distributor demand creation. Based on some of the research findings, Marks encouraged distributors to segment their customers by how the customer wants to buy. He also noted that, according to the study, 87 percent of contractors already know what they want or need by the time they get to a distributor’s counter.

Later in the presentation, Marks cautioned manufacturers and distributors to take a close look at what they consider to be company growth.

“Much of what individual manufacturers and distributors see as growth,” he said, “is really share shift within existing markets.”

There were many pieces of information taken from this study, and Marks noted he would be going over it repeatedly to continue pulling specific pieces of actionable information for distributors to use.


Awards Received During Conference

North American Technician Excellence — At the 2013 HARDI Annual Conference in Phoenix, NATE recognized four HARDI member companies for their efforts to promote NATE technician certification and the advancement of the HVACR industry.

• 2013 NATE Top Certifier — Mingledorff’s Inc., Norcross, Ga.

• 2013 NATE Single Location Top Certifier — Johnstone Supply, Denver.

• 2013 NATE Most Improved Certifier — Airefco Inc., Tualatin, Ore.

• 2013 Rising Star Certifier Award — Kru-Kel, Charleston, S.C.


NATE announced eight new awards for 2014 for the top NATE certifier locations in the HARDI North American chapters/regions to join the Top Single Location Certifier, Most Improved Certifier, and Rising Star Certifier honors. In addition to the banner recognition, 2014 recipients will receive cash prizes to be used to recognize staff at each location. For more information on becoming a NATE testing location, visit www.natex.org/tester


Distribution Center — This year Distribution Center honored its Top 50 Distributors on site at the HARDI Annual Conference in Phoenix. The Top 50 Distributors are named in the May issue of the magazine each year. The 2013 winners are:

• Watsco Inc. — $200 Million or More

• Gustave A. Larson Co. — $100 million to 199.9 Million

• Standard Supply & Distributing — $70 Million to 99.9 Million

• Corken Steel Products Co. — $69.9 Million or Less

• Slakey Brothers Inc. — Largest Percentage Sales Increase 2012 vs. 2011 

Consultants and Solutions Center

Significant parts of HARDI’s service to its members are the consultants that the association brings in for special sessions and makes available for referencing throughout the year. Not only did HARDI bring in its consultants for the conference, but it showcased their services in the HARDI Resource Center. There, attendees had access to Nancye Combs, president and CEO of HR Enterprise Inc., for human resource questions; Attorney Daniel Beederman from Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg LLC for legal advice; Lacey Robinson, vice president of Gregory & Appel, an Indianapolis-based insurance agency, for health insurance questions; Emily Saving, director of Education and Research Foundation at HARDI for professional development and training; Jon Melchi, director of Government Affairs at HARDI for legislation and government issues; and ITR economist, Andrew Duguay, senior economist at HARDI, for regional and national economic trends.

Each of these consultants and staff members presented sessions during the conference and are available throughout the year to help HARDI members with issues that arise.


Homes for Our Troops

In 2011 HALO began its partnership with HARDI’s Impact Committee to raise funds and awareness for HFOT. At HARDI’s annual conference in Oct. 2011, HALO raised more than $12,000 for HFOT, the same amount raised at the 2012 annual conference as well. During the Impact Committee meeting, members were able to meet and hear from this year’s HFOT beneficiary Sgt. Maynard, his wife Jennifer, and son Jay. On June 22, the 2013 HFOT Campaign, coordinated by HARDI’s Impact Committee and HALO, broke ground on building a home in the Verde Valley, a city outside of Cottonwood, Ariz., for Sgt. Maynard and his family. He was a squad leader on a foot patrol with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Nawa, Afghanistan. The IED blast was so severe that both of his legs required amputation above the knee.

“Everyone works their entire lives to be happy. I was willing to sacrifice whatever was necessary to be sure my family’s future was secure,” said Sgt. Maynard. “After losing my legs, my stress and anxiety have been centered on finding a comfortable, safe, permanent place where I could live with my family. Whether you realize this or not, you are changing lives…just the thought of what you are doing for me and others makes me happy.”


Wrapping up Tuesday

Tuesday was the day of financial advice. From Steve Tusa at breakfast to Alan Beaulieu at lunch to regional financial sessions in the afternoon, attendees learned what was happening in the economy and how it was going to affect their business in the near term as well as looking a few years down the road.

Beaulieu is HARDI’s chief economist, and an ITR economist. He expressed that “The Economy Is on Your Side,” during his luncheon keynote presentation. His biggest advice was to plan for growth now. Although 2014 is predicted to be soft compared to the last year or so, it is not supposed to be a severe drop as before. Beaulieu emphasized growth as he looked at overall trends to come, noting that now is likely the time for a business to smartly borrow money to expand its space, technology, and equipment. He said interest rates are still at a considerable low and it looks as though they will be trending up the second half of 2014 and beyond.

“Borrow now and pay with inflationary dollars later,” he explained.

His financial message was one that showed a tighter second half of 2014 and definite changes to the economic landscape but encouraged attendees that the end has not come financially and that the United States is in a period of slow growth as opposed to a recovery.

Duguay presented his Regional Trends Forecasts information in separate sessions after the keynote session.

That evening, everyone gathered for a cocktail reception and the closing festivities. The Passing Zone, a juggling comedy duo, provided after-dinner entertainment and the passing of the gavel signified the beginning of a new president with HARDI.

Royce Henderson, president of Charles D. Jones Co., North Kansas City, Mo., received the gavel from Brian Cobble, now HARDI’s immediate past president from G.W. Berkheimer Co. Inc., Portage Ind.

“I see a lot of positive things for the industry and for the economy in general,” said Royce when asked about his perspective on the industry. “We’re seeing a lot of good movement in the commercial areas that were somewhat stalled out in the last few years. I’m focused on being positive in the next few years and expanding into some new markets.”