COLUMBUS, Ohio — While some are talking about building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) is embarking on a plan to bring the HVAC distributors from the two countries together. An official name has yet to be determined, but HARDI wants to build a similar association in Mexico for Mexican HVAC distributors.
Heading up this undertaking is executive director Guitze Messina.
“We have Mexican distributors already a part of HARDI. They knocked on the door of the HARDI leadership a couple of times to say this would be great for the Mexican market,” Messina said. “Usually Mexican organizations meet with competitors to fence off the government. It has nothing to do with what they can do to be better. That is the biggest difference in what they saw with HARDI,” Messina said.
Currently, HARDI has about three Mexican distributors as members. Messina’s goal is to have 40 members of the Mexican association by the HARDI Annual Conference in December. It is an ambitious goal, but one that Messina believes is practical.
“Mexico is a big market. It is very close to the United States, and they love American products,” Messina said.
There will be a membership structure that is completely stand-alone from the current HARDI association.
Messina’s first step in recruitment is to lean on the current HARDI members who have Mexican distribution connections to help him secure a meeting. Once he gets an introduction, the executive director believes he has a good story to tell. That story is belonging to this new association will allow Mexican distributors to sell more, make more money, and, most importantly, leave a legacy for their family.
Messina estimates that about 80 percent of their members will be from family-owned businesses.
“A lot of these folks are much smaller businesses compared with the distributors you see in the United States,” Messina said. “We will have great training. We will provide training on how to sell more, what strategies should be implemented, and how to become an even more essential partner for their suppliers. Why reinvent the wheel? I think we bring a lot to the table, but we have to make that clear to the distributors.”
Messina also said it is important for the new organization to have strong leadership. A leadership council will begin to take shape as more members sign up. The plan is to have manufacturers advise the council.
HARDI spent over two years studying the viability of starting up a division like this. They currently are not doing anything like it with other countries. HARDI decided it needed one individual who was completely focused on this task and was every excited to hire Messina.
Messina started as an industrial engineer before transitioning into sales. He also spent some time working as a consultant — most recently at RSM International Management.
Everyone at HARDI is excited about this project.
“The mission of the organization does not change because it is going to Mexico, but our tactics and strategy will,” Talbot Gee said. “We have zero intention of having the arrogance to think we should be transforming Mexico into the U.S. in this market. We are here to provide all the experience, knowledge, and resources we have built to assure Mexican distributors remain the channel of choice for manufacturers and contractors in their market. We are fortunate to have Guitze to lead this for us.”
The official launch of the new HARDI Mexico division will occur at HARDI’s Annual Conference in December at a special Mexico Market Summit event.
“HARDI has grown leaps and bounds in terms of quality and quantity of resources and services it provides to its members in the United States and Canada over the last decade. With the progress the organization has seen in that timeframe, expanding with a focus on the Mexican HVACR distribution market is the next logical step,” Tom Roberts, HARDI president and CEO of cfm Distributors Inc., said. “With Guitze on the front lines supported by the current association, this is an exciting new development that will grow to further improve resources and services provided to all HARDI members.”
For those interested in learning more about the group, they can contact Guitze Messina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication date: 9/14/2017