They came, they saw, and, hopefully, they bought the sage advice as a variety of experts provided insight on how to make the purchasing process more profitable during HARDI’s Purchasing Conference held April 10-12 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A brief recap of what these experts shared follows.


The Profit Mandate from Purchasing. Albert Bates, Ph.D.

No flash. Just cash. Eventually. That’s the Albert Bates, Ph.D., way. Bates is a stalwart speaker in the HVACR industry and the founder of the bench marking and education firm Profit Planning Group. For Bates, there is no magic bullet that changes everything and leaves you in a pool of profit. Rather, his approach is that by coordinating a variety of activities, with purchasing an important component of those actions, one can expect to see a substantial and demonstrative improvement in profit within several years. It’s slow, but real, growth in profits, Bates said.

Albert Bates,


Negotiate: Be H.E.A.R.D. The Negotiation Process that Works in All Situations. Mary Redmond.

Everyone loves a great negotiator — if you’re on the winning end of a negotiation. Redmond, a negotiator for more than 20 years, reminded attendees that it’s not only what they say but how they say it and stressed the importance of our body language, which might be saying it for us. Redmond provided a simple, yet effective, guide to the basics of negotiating. And with a crowd of purchasing experts in the attendance, she urged the audience to look for that extra edge in negotiations not just to gain an unfair advantage but rather to emerge from a situation where both parties leave feeling that they are winners.

Mary Redmond,


Beer Logic: Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Purchasing I learned from Beer. Chad Pilbeam

It was a great act for this day-ending presentation as everyone learned the meaning of the term “beer logic.” Half business seminar, half Saturday Night Live comedy, Chad Pilbeam explained to the audience the explosion of the craft beer market and the mistakes the biggest players in the industry made in their quest to curtail and then to join the craft beer revolution. Pilbeam accomplished this using the inspiration of cans of beer in a bowl that decorated each table, from which participants could partake during the speech. Pilbeam describes his presentation as a cynical, sarcastic and humorous approach to business. His approach of poking fun yet providing a thought-provoking review of business strategies from the largest beer producers in the country. [Ed Note: It is one of the most original presentations that I’ve witnessed in 17 years of covering the HVACR industry.] He’s worth a repeat performance. His strongest impact is twofold: First, size alone doesn’t dictate success (witness the beer industry); and second, while business is serious, sometimes dreadfully so, you need to take a break and smell the beer.

Chad Pilbeam,


The Value of Procurement Today. Jim Barnes. 

Do those in purchasing or procurement feel as though they don’t get the love they deserve from their bosses or even those in the executive suite? Jim Barnes, with the Institute for Supply Management, demonstrated how organizations are measuring and communicating the message of procurement’s strategic value. While the session demonstrated the impact of procurement on the bottom line, Barnes spent considerable time validating the value of procurement and the communication process associated with it (or the lack thereof). His simple message rested on the belief that everyone in purchasing has to communicate the value of purchasing if they want senior executives to take their efforts seriously.

Jim Barnes,


Managing Expectations: Suppliers, Customers and the Bottom Line. Jason Bader.

Jason Bader, HARDI’s coaching expert for its Branch Management Certification program, drove home the need to convey purchasing’s value across the supply channel, especially in a mature market. What is that value? Sometimes a distributor might minimize their worth to a supplier. It’s crucial for distributors to remind suppliers that they provide an array of invaluable services in the channel. They include: warranty processing, consolidated payments, market knowledge, relationships in the market, customer feedback, brand exposure, and specification calls on architects and engineers. Don’t forget to remind your supplier.

Jason Bader,