With the weather starting to warm up, two things are becoming very evident:

First, I just retired from competitive cycling, and missing out on the races in this beautiful weather really stings (but don’t feel bad for me, feel bad for my bike -- I had to take it out back and shoot it).

Second, the busy season is upon us, and I’m once again glad I invested in my team’s training during the off-season. Employee training is the easiest way to improve your business. It strengthens the culture and morale, bears little to no risk and makes your people a more valuable resource to you. With the biggest months of the year just around the corner and the bulk of our business on the line, I’m secure in knowing we’re poised to switch into high gear.
What have you been doing since January to put your company in a position to maximize the opportunities during this time? If you can’t immediately list anything, you need to pay attention.

We all need to make consistent, incremental improvements to our businesses through well-executed training programs. If your goal is to move up a notch in the Top 50 Distributors list, training your team is never the wrong decision. When you make them better, they’ll make you better. I challenge you to commit to your people (including yourself).

Start by looking into HARDI Education. Reach out to HARDI staff and discuss putting a program together. Their combination of resources is unmatched in HVACR distribution. I’ve already been to two HARDI Focus Conferences so far this year, and the level of content and insights is exemplary. Not to mention, they offer opportunities to network with like-minded industry associates that you can’t replicate anywhere else.

At the Purchasing Focus Conference in Charlotte, I learned from pros like Al Bates and Jason Bader on improving gross margin and ROI. At the Marketing & Sales Focus Conference in San Diego, we looked at territory management, persuasion science and future-proofing our businesses, among other valuable topics – I also discovered that I DO like tequila as it turns out (I guess I am a Meier, after all).

There are two more 2016 Focus Conferences: Operations & Logistics (June 5-7) and Strategic Leadership (Oct. 2-4). Take advantage of them.

For those of you heading to D.C. for the Congressional Fly-In, I look forward to seeing you very soon. Karen Madonia has been an invaluable advocate for our industry in Washington and is featured in this issue’s Meet the Wholesaler. She will also be a mentor for our future leaders during the Emerging Leaders Summer Conference this July in Chicago.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate the most recent cohort of HARDI’s Sales Manager and Branch Manager Certification Programs. More than 70 talented HARDI members just upped their value to their companies.

Remember, championship teams commit to training in the off-season. When it’s game time and busy season hits, it’ll be just like riding a bike.

Michael Meier