Name: Douglas R. Young
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
No. of Branches: 18
No. of Employees: 210
Year Founded: 1926
Major Product Lines: Bryant
Please share with us some background about your company.
- 91 years;
- Full line supplier;
- Third-generation leadership;
- Preparing fourth generation for leadership;
- Outside board of directors;
- 25 years Bryant distributor in Michigan;
- Great group of associates and leadership team;
- 17 branches located in Michigan and northwest Ohio; and
- Hub and spoke distribution center outside of Detroit.
You hold a distinct position in the HVACR wholesale industry. You were HARDI’s first president, taking the reins in 2003. That was 14 years ago. Give us a sense of the changes you’ve seen.
- Many more government regulations and a need for more lobbying and government relations;
- A greater amount of coordination and cooperation between manufacturers, distributors, and contractors “to improve the industry;” and a
- Growing shortage of trained technicians and an incredible increase in technology; hence a greater need for contractor training offered by distributors.
I know your father was both a president of NAW and NHRAW (a predecessor of HARDI). How is your management style similar and different from his?
Young: My dad had a business and law degree and was managing during a time (1960s to 1980s) that required development of policies and procedures. We have similar core values — honesty and integrity have always been key from the very beginning 90 years ago. The company has changed dramatically from his time to mine. Behler-Young (B-Y) is a bigger company today, and I have been blessed to have a great team of associates and a leadership team that has accomplished great things.
People who meet you discover a buoyant personality and a smile on your face. I often wondered if you ever get mad. What makes you mad?
Young: I am upset by a lack of honesty and integrity. I can pretty much work with anyone toward a win/win situation/result.
What do you believe is the best way to attract and retain talent in the HVACR industry?
Young: This is a great industry, and one that is needed in our current way of life that provides comfort, indoor air quality, etc. Good careers and access to a good lifestyle are available to people who get involved in the industry ... challenging your people, having a great work environment, and providing for them will help with retention.
Please tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know. It can be a hobby, interest, or a goal that you achieved.
Young: I make a great Limoncello.
I know that your son had an accident some years ago. How is he coping, and does he work in the business?
Young: It is now 10 years since the swimming accident in Spain in which Cameron broke his neck. He has been a quadriplegic since. Cam has a great attitude and has worked hard to maximize his capabilities. He works full time at Steelcase, an office furniture manufacturer, in marketing and communications. He drives an accessible van and is involved in numerous nonprofit boards. When he was in high school, he worked in our warehouse as well as in marketing. He is part of the fourth generation being groomed for the future.
If someone invited you to be on the board of any company in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Young: I would choose Amazon. It would provide amazing exposure to innovative ideas and learning opportunities.
What’s a perfect Sunday afternoon for Doug Young?
Young: Read the highlights of the University of Michigan football victory; kayak on a nearby lake; read the paper on our screened porch with Kim, my wife; and then grill freshly caught salmon for dinner along with a great Cabernet.
There are many characteristics that we look for when hiring. What have you found to be the most important?
Young: There must be a strong connection between the candidate and our culture of honesty and integrity with a focus on developing a high-performance team equipped to provide superior customer service. We can teach the technical skills, but if there isn’t a cultural fit, it won’t work.
Where do you see HARDI in 25 years?
Young: That would be 2042. I have to believe the technical aspects for our industry are beyond my ability to predict; however, I do believe that the need for broad coordination between the manufacturers and end users (contractors) will still be needed, hence there is a continuing role for HARDI.
What is the one question no one in the media ever asks you and you simply wish they did? You can answer the question if you'd like to.
Young: How did I land such an amazing wife? She picked me?!