Cue the ceremonial tones of “Hail to the Chief” as Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) welcomes Troy Meachum, president of Durham, North Carolina-based ACR Supply Co., as its 2018 president.
The presidential gavel will ceremoniously be passed from current HARDI president Tom Roberts, president, cfm Distributors Inc., Lenexa, Kansas, to Meachum at HARDI’s Annual Conference: NOVA 2017, Dec. 2-5 at Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
“Troy’s passion for his people and how he gets the most out of them for both their own and his company’s benefit is becoming legendary in our industry,” said Talbot Gee, CEO, HARDI. “He’s brought that to HARDI along with an acute sense of organization, clarity, and purpose. If Troy’s doing something, you know it brings value to someone important, and if it doesn’t, he’s the first to ask why it’s being done at all. With HARDI’s ever-expanding reach, Troy’s vision and discipline are coming at the perfect time.”
Heading Up Hardi
While he’s yet to be inaugurated officially, Meachum already has a plan in place for 2018.
“We complain about not being able to find quality people every year, and I get that, but if we’re not creating an industry and organization that draws in rock star millennials, then we’re destined to fail,” he said. “We’ll be eaten up by the Amazons of the world. We have to take a look in the mirror. We have to bring value to the chain, and the best way to do that is to focus on our people. We must create the right work cultures and equip our employees with the right tools and professional fulfillment for the industry to succeed.”
Along with workforce development, Meachum has placed a high priority on fellowship as well.
“At ACR Supply, we currently operate an initiative called ACR Cares, where we’re doing a lot of things in the community. We’re working with Operation Resolute, which ministers to military personnel and their families. We recently hosted a father-and-son float down one of North Carolina’s biggest rivers, held a daddy-daughter dance, did some work with the Ronald McDonald House, and every one of our storefronts houses an Angel Tree during the holidays. Additionally, we’re in the process of building an orphanage in Burkina Faso.”
Meachum truly believes most millennials want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. ACR Cares. allows younger employees to do just that.
Meachum tipped his hat to exiting president Tom Roberts, whom he said has inspired him to be the best he can be.
“Tom’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met in the industry,” he said. “He’s a deep thinker and always seems to have a solution for every problem. He’s very quick on his feet, a wonderful guy, a great friend, and a fantastic president.”
Passing The Gavel
Roberts assumed the role of president at last year’s HARDI annual conference. In the blink of an eye, he’s now passing the honor off.
“Serving as HARDI president is all reward,” Roberts said. “Everyone told me it would go by quickly, and they were right. My goal was to continue the flight plan established by our former presidents and executive committee, get to know our amazing HARDI staff better, and weave closer links between HARDI and our members while expanding HARDI’s value proposition in Mexico.”
Roberts said the most rewarding aspects of serving as president were visiting with HARDI members and working closely with HARDI’s staff.
“I found excellence, commitment, and passion equally demonstrated in Columbus and at the member companies I visited,” he said. “We are truly fortunate to work in one of America’s best industries. We just need to let more people know.”
Roberts is confident Meachum will do an outstanding job as president.
“I know HARDI members are going to benefit from Troy’s leadership and love him, too,” Roberts said. “When people get to know Troy, they will find a principled, servant leader with a layer of southern hospitality. It’s a combination that can’t be beat.”
Meachum’s HVACR career began nearly four decades ago.
As a child, he spent countless evenings watching his dad carve out a career in HVACR distribution. As he grew, he elected to follow in his dad’s footsteps, which led him to enroll in tech school after graduating high school. He later earned an HVAC degree from Alamance Community College in Graham, North Carolina.
In 1980, at the age of 19, Meachum began working at ACR Supply — a company his dad founded in 1977 — as a warehouse worker before transitioning to the sales counter.
In 1984, he opened up ACR’s first branch business unit in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which he identified as a make-or-break moment in his professional career.
“I knew I did not want to be a failure and a stereotypical son of the boss,” Meachum said. “So, I truly worked my tail off. I literally ran that store by myself for two years. It was really, really hard. I knew I had to make it work because if it didn’t, I had no one else to blame.”
In 1988, Meachum gave his life to Christ.
“Christianity radically transformed my life,” he said. “My wants, needs, and desires changed, and my whole perspective on business and life would never be the same.”
After successfully leading the Chapel Hill branch, Meachum rejoined ACR’s Durham location in the early 1990s as general manager.
In 1997, Meachum; his father; and Lee Blakely, company vice president; met to discuss the company’s future, which had largely been overlooked at that point.
“Honestly, we had never really thought about our long-term future because none of us had business degrees,” Meachum said. “We were just three rednecks in North Carolina looking to make a living in the wholesaler business.
“At that meeting, we developed our first mission statement, which centered on maintaining a healthy work environment,” he continued. “We then started working diligently to get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off. This cultural change brought a real systemic change. At that moment, we were doing about $4 million a year. Today, we’re operating at just under $30 million in gross revenue.”
ACR Supply operates in five distinct markets: refrigeration, commercial controls, air filtration, hydronic heat, and residential HVAC parts. The company also recently started selling LG mini-split equipment and intends to add an HVAC equipment line early next spring.
“We’re probably one of the last HVAC distributors in the nation not to have an HVAC equipment line,” Meachum said. “And now that we are jumping into the fray, our focus will not be on new construction but mostly on the replacement and retrofit market.”
The company represents about 500 products; holds about $7 million in inventory; operates eight storefronts in North Carolina; and maintains 10 buildings, including its distribution center in Durham.
Meachum said the company maintains its excellence by continually focusing on three cultural pillars: humility, hunger, and intelligence.
“To work for us, you must have a real sense of authentic humility; it’s not always about you,” he said. “You must have a willingness and desire to put other people’s needs in front of your own. You have to have a healthy dissatisfaction with the status quo and a desire to grow personally, professionally, financially, spiritually, and technically. Finally, you must be emotionally intelligent as well as smart. We call that having EQ and IQ. If you don’t fit into this culture, the culture will eventually chew you up and spit you out.”
Despite overcoming the Great Recession and enduring the advent of new-age technology, Meachum identified maintaining the company’s culture as the most difficult challenge he’s endured in his 37 years.
“The world is full of toxic work cultures where people take that ‘death march’ to work every day, and I’m determined to not let that happen here,” he said. “We’re creating an environment that attracts rock stars. We expel donkeys and hire thoroughbreds.”
As HARDI president, Meachum is excited to give back to an organization that he’s benefited so greatly from.
“HARDI has given us so much and continued to be a blessing for us organizationally, professionally, and personally,” he said. “It’s been a natural partnership that has helped feed our growth in every aspect of our business. This industry has been my whole life. Becoming HARDI president is an honor, but it’s humbling at the same time.”
Gee is absolutely thrilled with the current and future direction of HARDI.
“Tom’s leadership has been instrumental in helping us ask the right questions, set the right priorities, and identify the best steps to making several significant changes in how HARDI works,” he said. “With Tom’s guidance, we were also able to streamline and further improve the Focus Conference format, many of our governance processes, and our long-term plan for expanded talent development.
“Troy is one of the best people anyone will ever have the pleasure to know,” he continued. “There can be no doubt that everything HARDI does in 2018 will be 100 percent focused on doing the right thing for our members.”