Shift 14 speakers
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Heating, Air-conditioning Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) has signed on a diverse range of guest speakers to head up the agenda at “Shift into gear,” HARDI’s annual conference Dec. 6 to 9 in San Antonio, Texas. The young, the wise, the politically savvy and the technologically gifted will take center stage to infuse distributors and suppliers alike with renewed energy to take charge of their economic futures.

The array of speakers begins Sunday, Dec. 7, with Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics and HARDI’s chief economist. A perennial favorite, Beaulieu’s presentation is the first on the schedule and will provide the context around which the remaining speakers will revolve.  Beaulieu’s and ITR Economics’ 94.7 percent accuracy rate is legendary, and his economic insight is virtually unequaled. Attendees will take away data, solutions and strategies that could change the course of their business.

Robert Stephens started The Geek Squad in Minneapolis with $200 and a bicycle.  By 2002, The Geek Squad had entered into a joint operation with Best Buy and is now the world’s largest technology support company. Stephens will speak Monday, Dec. 8; his keynote address will focus on how to spot the “next big thing” that could give a business that fresh injection of technological innovation and creative problem-solving.

Tucker Carlson, editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller news site and co-host of Fox and Friends Weekend, will offer a unique perspective on the political landscape with wit and skepticism. HVACR distributors have always been involved in political issues and are more so now that crucial subjects – R-22, regional standards and estate tax, to name a few – are beginning to have direct economic effects. When Carlson speaks to the attendees Dec. 9, members will enjoy informed and insightful yet entertaining commentary regarding the goings on inside the Beltway.

In addition to HARDI’s always fascinating inhouse professionals (HARDI’s director of government affairs Jon Melchi, insurance guru Lacey Robinson from Gregory and Appel Insurance and economic authority Danielle Marceau from ITR Economics) attendees can also hear Jason Young, Rick Blasgen and Mike Marks.  All three of them have been featured at HARDI events in the recent past and were so well-received, they were invited to participate in “Shift into gear ’14.”

A “rare breed” when it comes to developing leaders and customer service initiatives, Jason Young learned early the value of a successful workplace culture.  A former senior-level manager at Southwest Airlines, Jason was instrumental in the creation and development of the company’s training programs that helped to make Southwest Airlines No. 1 in customer service and employee satisfaction. Jason also wrote The Culturetopia Effect, in which he shares his experiences and observations of companies with high performance and high fulfillment cultures and presents ways in which businesses can create their own Culturetopia.  He will present a session Monday, Dec. 8, on internal and cultural-related management objectives that will dovetail nicely with the current business phase in which HARDI members find themselves.

Rick Blasgen was a keynote speaker at HARDI’s Distribution and Logistics Focus Conference this year.  He is the president and chief executive officer of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. His business career includes time spent as senior executive in charge of logistics and supply chain with ConAgra Foods, Nabisco and Kraft.  Rick will offer two sessions Sunday, Dec. 7: one for suppliers and a second session for all attendees. Topics include suppliers’ position in the supply chain and the optimization of distributors’ logistical operations.

Mike Marks, co-founder of Indian River Consulting Group, revealed the findings from the HARDI Foundation’s landmark project, “Distributors’ Role in Demand Creation”, at the 2013 HARDI Annual Conference. He returns this year on Tuesday, Dec. 9, to illustrate how distributors and suppliers should apply these findings to their businesses as they experience economic growth in the near future.

In keeping with the 2014 conference theme, “Shift into gear ‘14,” these speakers will inspire attendees to revisit their business strategies and shift their mind-set from worrying about falling into the economic abyss to seeing light at the end of the recession tunnel.  HARDI anticipates that this lineup will spur its members to begin planning for future growth and opportunity and is excited for members to experience all of the opportunities provided for them during this jam-packed conference.

“Our registration numbers have exceeded our goals thus far, and I think that’s a positive indicator that we’ve lined up the right folks to headline our event,” says Emily Saving, HARDI’s director of education and research foundation.  “The speakers we have selected for HARDI’s 2014 annual conference will prepare our members for maximum business opportunities, taking into account the improving economic climate.”

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