Back in January, I made a commitment to HARDI members to make real progress moving beyond the traditional frictions that can occur between distributors and manufacturers – to help manufacturers grow through their wholesale distribution partners as opposed to other channels. I also wanted to highlight the true value of distribution, which, among other things, centers on developing lifelong relationships with our customers. Finally, I wanted us to strengthen our approach to attracting talent to the industry.
We’ve taken significant steps forward on all three fronts:
First, earlier this year we published the findings from HARDI’s landmark study on demand creation. If you haven’t read Myths & Misperceptions yet, you need to set aside some time – it’s compulsory reading that validates the important role distributors play in generating downstream demand. Wholesale distribution is no idle bystander in the marketing forces at work.
The HARDI Foundation is now in the midst of a new research study on the movement of unitary equipment. This research continues to support distribution as manufacturers’ channel of choice to go to market.
Second, as you look at this year’s conference agenda, consider the three learning tracks: Expertise, Innovations and Relationships. I think of these as the three backbones of distribution. We provide industry knowledge to our customers – knowledge and expertise they can’t access through other channels. We have a vast landscape of innovation on the horizon, which will be a major advantage for organizations that tap into it by fostering a culture of innovation. Finally, we have always been and will continue to be the bridge connecting manufacturers with a regional customer base – ensuring local availability and developing strong relationships. We become the face for many of these brands that our customers come to trust. None of these tracks is more important than another; they all contribute to creating an exceptional customer experience and thriving partnerships with our suppliers. While at the conference, strengthen all three of them as together they create the true value of distribution.
Third, something I’ve been particularly passionate about has been attracting talent and I’m happy to announce that we have made a major step forward on this via the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation. During the conference, I’ll provide more details on the newly launched site and various tools meant to connect job seekers with opportunities across several different industries in distribution.
The year has also been marked with other successes such as the launch of the Distributor Performance Dashboards and the Sales Manager Certification Program, growth in the Emerging Leaders program that exceeded everyone’s expectations and major strides forward in Washington, aided by testimony from ILLCO’s own Karen Madonia.
I want to once again thank my fellow HARDI members for a memorable year as president. Your engagement makes HARDI what it is and your support was deeply meaningful and encouraging to me. As I pass the gavel to Michael Meier, someone I consider a dear friend, I am certain he is as deserving – if not more so – of the same support. Thank you to my wife Jen and the entire ILLCO staff for all of your support this past year. I couldn’t have done it without you.
If you are reading this and you have yet to join HARDI, give it some serious thought. Together we create a synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of our parts. When we are at our best, we get out more than what we put into it. The benefits are innumerable: access to research, networking, educational resources and tons more. Not to mention, HARDI is fighting for the best interests of our industry on Capitol Hill, whether you’re a member or not. Your joining HARDI only serves to strengthen our solidarity.
Again, thank you all for a great year and I look forward to many more great years of prosperity with my fellow HARDI members.