Name: Rhonda Wight
Company: Refrigeration Sales Corporation
Number of Locations: 10
Number of Employees: 150
Year Founded: 1945
Main Lines: Carrier, ICP, Manitowoc, Emerson, Sporlan
Most of the time, Rhonda Wight is busy serving Ohio and western Pennsylvania’s HVACR needs as president of Refrigeration Sales Corporation (RSC). This year, however, her influence goes nationwide as the new chairwoman of the HARDI board of directors.
Wight was kind to make time for some Q&A right on the heels of HARDI’s annual conference.
Distribution Trends: Tell us about the meaning or story behind something unusual on your desk or on your wall in your office.
Wight: I have bobbleheads of my kids. Best Mother’s Day present ever. They designed their own and it is incredible how accurate they are. I get comments often on Zoom calls.
DT: What was the hardest decision up to now that you have had to make in the HVACR business?
Wight: The hardest decisions I’ve made in my career came in 2020 while navigating the pandemic, trying to determine the right steps for our company to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our associates and our customers. Luckily, we made the right decisions and the remote working situation went fairly smoothly.
DT: What’s your favorite job interview question?
Wight: Who are you and what do you like to do in your spare time?
DT: We’re always interested in checking out distributors' training offerings. Most of them are one- or maybe two-day things. RSC has a three-month course! Would you give us a little background about the Sheet Metal Survival Skills Program?
Wight: I’m so glad you asked about our sheet metal class. It’s very special to us. This is by far our most popular course.
We actually had to add an additional course in the fall, so our instructor taught two separate classes. This was a much-needed class and was requested for years. Safety is important when working with sheet metal, and we want to train contractors on all aspects of sheet metal.
We have the best instructor, Roger Tresch. Roger owns one of our most successful, family-operated Carrier dealerships — Bay Heating and Air Conditioning. Roger works a full day in the field as an owner, with all the stress and hard work that entails. Then he comes in at night twice a week to teach the young technicians how to safely and skillfully fabricate sheet metal.
As a matter of fact, some of the students he teaches work for his own competitors. Roger is the very best example of someone giving back to an industry that has been good to him. He is fantastic. The students love him, and he teaches them a very valuable skill. We are lucky to have such dedicated instructors like Roger.
DT: What have you discovered about your RSC customers over the last couple of years?
Wight: They are resilient. We have the best customers. They care about their communities and their associates. The pandemic and the supply chain issues have challenged our customers in ways they haven’t been challenged in the past, and while they are working harder than ever, they are still the same “class act” folks we have always had the honor to partner with. We are blessed to do business with such great people. They are great business people as well as great citizens with big hearts.
DT: Congratulation on serving as the HARDI board's new chairwoman. How long have you been a HARDI member, and is there an unexpected benefit or experience from along the way that you would share?
Wight: We have been members of HARDI since its inception in 2003. We were members of ARW prior, and when ARW and NHRAW merged to form HARDI, RSC became a HARDI member.
The networking and training are the best benefits of HARDI. I have had the honor of meeting incredible folks in this industry through HARDI committees and the board.
DT: Do you have a top one or two priorities for your time in this position?
Wight: My top priority is to listen to our distributor members and work with the HARDI board and HARDI staff to be sure HARDI is focused where the membership benefits most. We have many challenges in our industry currently with supply chain issues and government regulatory changes, and we need to focus on helping distribution navigate these challenges.
DT: What was the worst business advice you ever received?
Wight: The worst advice I was given was not to get too emotionally or personally involved. This is a relationship business, and the only way I know to build strong relationships is to care. If you truly care, then you are personally involved.
I care about our RSC associates, our customers, and our suppliers. I absolute love our Carrier dealer family, and I can’t imagine going through the last two years with any other group of folks. Also, did I mention RSC has the best employees?
DT: If you had to go start to become an expert in something different tomorrow, what would you enjoy studying?
Wight: I’m going to be a writer when I grow up.