Here’s how I know I’ll never make it as a politician: I’m keeping my promises.

On the night I became HARDI president, I made a commitment to everyone. I said I believed in the importance of training – specifically HARDI’s training resources – so passionately that I was going to start calling members who aren’t taking advantage of this monumental opportunity in HARDI’s repertoire.

HARDI’s Education resources are continually growing and improving. With three certification programs, thousands of e-learning courses and the Emerging Leaders program, the HARDI member that couldn’t benefit from HARDI Education simply does not exist. I can promise you, if your employees aren’t getting continued development, one of two unfortunate things will happen: They will leave. Or they will stay.

This stuff really matters – not only to you but also to your team, to your company and to the industry. Answer the call.

In this issue of Distribution Center, you’ll see 40 people who clearly value their own progress and development. More than six months ago, HARDI began taking nominations for its first 40 Under 40. Take a look at some of the best and brightest up-and-comers in the industry. (It’s no surprise that many of them are members of HARDI’s Emerging Leaders program, which is quickly proving to be the flagship of HARDI Education.)

I began this letter with a friendly jab at politicians, but, in all honesty, our elected officials are extremely important to the future of the industry. The way we get their attention, consideration and respect is through the Congressional Fly-In in Washington, D.C. This year’s Fly-In takes place May 24-26, and it’s crucial that every HARDI member company makes an effort to participate. If you’ve never been, yes, it will be an unfamiliar experience. But don’t confuse unfamiliar with ineffective. Last year, after one of my meetings, an aide pulled me aside and said, “Your group HARDI is making a difference and an impact here on the hill.” A comment like that completely unsolicited? That’s significant.

Another item of note from my experience at last year’s Fly-In was that, for the first time, Jon Melchi, HARDI’s vice president, government affairs & business development, sat in with me on one of my meetings. It was like watching Michael Jordan hit a series of fadeaway jumpers (same haircut, too). Ask Jon if he can attend any of your meetings – there are close to 200 of them, so it’s a long shot, but if he can, it will be completely worth it.

The hotel cut-off for the Fly-In is April 15. Come make a difference with us.

For anyone heading to San Diego next week for the Marketing & Sales Focus Conference, I look forward to seeing you there and kicking off the first Focus Conference of 2016.

As for the rest of you, I’ll be calling you soon.



Michael Meier