Well, if you read our list, you know who the winners are.

I can’t imagine our readers not grabbing this issue to examine the Top 50 Distributor List. Everyone, human nature being what it is, is simply fascinated by lists.

Pre-Internet, there was a hugely popular series of books called, “The Book of Lists.” It had lists about everything and was a fascinating read.  But I can’t think of a more successful version of this than when U.S. News & World Report started their college ranking series. It created a firestorm on the college-bound crowd and became a money machine long after the magazine declined in importance. If you have a college age kid, you know what I mean. If you have a younger child, you will eventually. For them, there’s nothing quite like finding out, to their joy and dismay, how their hoped-for school ranks.

Now we have our own list. I should add public kudos to Pat Lenius, who is in charge of the research and who has written a fine article outlining the highlights of our report. Creating, maintaining and updating this list is an enormous task, and Pat carries out those duties with aplomb, efficiency and thoroughness. We are grateful for her efforts. And we hope she hangs around for a few more issues.

This is a good point to mention that IF by some chance you felt your company was not on the list  (but should have been), please contact me, (tom@distributioncentermag.com) and I will ensure that we will add you to the next survey we conduct. We are diligent about contacting everyone, repeatedly, whether or not they’re a HARDI member for input, because we’re interested in the broadest possible range of companies. But we’re also human so if we inadvertently missed you, let us know. Sharing the information is easy and quick. I asked Pat how long it takes to fill out the survey, and she estimated it at 10 minutes. And if you have any questions, she and I are both ready to help.

Speaking of HARDI, it appears that they did fairly well this year. OK, let’s be blunt: It was a knockout for HARDI. Not because Tom says it, but because the facts prove it. A small point to my nonHARDI readers. (Yes, I’m prejudiced.) If you had a sporting interest, as an example, and could take lessons from a world champion, you would probably do so, if time and cost allowed. That HARDI members so disproportionately represent wholesalers on the list would suggest that they’re the winners and that joining HARDI just might make sense, because there is something to learn from the members who comprise the organization. To quote Will Sonnett: “No brag, just fact.” And the fact is that in this survey HARDI members made up 91 percent of all the respondents and 96 percent of the Top 50. I would suggest that if you’re a HARDI member, stay in the game. If you’re not a HARDI member and are looking to grow, well maybe, just maybe, you should reassess whether to join.

Congrats to the winners, which in my mind are everyone who participated. There are thousands of wholesalers throughout the United States. It must be nice to feel part of the HVACR “Ivy League.”


Indeed, everyone loves lists. Whether it’s top 10 ranked fighters or the top 25 football teams, we love to see how well or poorly the subjects rate. The appeal of lists has many reasons, but the most obvious one is that it’s a shorthand or a shortcut to divining who’s the best. Or certainly the largest. And it’s expedient, because who has the time to create their own list? Lastly, it settles arguments or at least adds some official imprimatur for assessing the list members.

But there is one other slightly subtle reason why lists like our Top 50 distributors are so appealing. I confess that this might be simply conjecture, but I wonder how many people have looked at the list and used it to motivate them further; that is, using the rankings as a stimulus for trying harder to overtake a competitor. Maybe I’m wrong here. Maybe companies or, more accurately, top executives don’t really care where they are on the list. What really matters are profit and return on investment.  Maybe. But I strongly suspect that top businesspeople are as competitive about what they do as competitors are in every endeavor.

 My conclusion?  Lists matter and our Top 50 Distributors list matters a great deal to those of us in this industry.