COLUMBUS, Ohio — Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) announced the speakers and activities for its Emerging Leaders conference which will take place July 17-19 in Chicago.

“The Emerging Leaders Task Force has carefully arranged the content to promote expertise in financials and profitability,” said Emily Saving, vice president professional & program development for HARDI.

Dr. Albert Bates, founder of the benchmarking and executive education firm Profit Planning Group and whose writing has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, will discuss barriers to profitability and how to break them down.

Many distributors have struggled with profitability over the past decade. Bates will demonstrate how to overcome those significant barriers by addressing three issues. First, he will review what it is that we know about profitability that is actually wrong. Only when the profit barriers are well understood can they be overcome. Second, he will lay out a game plan for actually making proper adjustments in key areas of the business. Third, he will identify where firms need to be in terms of profitability to ensure long-term success.

According to Bates, the result will be to improve financial results – not just a little, but a lot.

Jason Bader and his group at The Distribution Team will lead a hands-on session for attendees to simulate running a distributorship. Teams of Emerging Leaders will “rip the roof” off of an HVACR distribution company, making decisions and taking actions to lead their companies. And just like in real life, the company with the most net profit wins!

This innovative learning experience focuses on learning by doing, which is widely regarded as one of the most effective ways to sharpen one’s skills. The simulation will cover cash flow, customer profitability, inventory, receivables, purchasing and more, all with the intent to develop stronger financial leaders.

HARDI market research & benchmarking analyst Brian Loftus, who has also served as an investment analyst for commercial and industrial sectors, will discuss various sources for valuable economic data and how attendees can use it to their advantage. Loftus will share his expertise on accessing this in-depth information to interpret past performance, assess the potential of new and existing markets and have a solid basis for strategic planning.

The conference also brings back the highly praised mentor-led roundtables. This year’s mentors have been selected for their strong financial acumens and will share their knowledge and expertise with attendees. HARDI will announce the mentors in early May.

Financials and Profitability is one of six rotating topics for the Emerging Leaders program.

HARDI’s Emerging Leaders program is open to any employee of a HARDI member who has been recognized as having the talent and potential to advance to the executive level of the organization. HARDI members can contact Nick Benton,, for more information about the conference and the Emerging Leaders program.