Organizers plan to get HVAC distributors more excited about their industry — and the work they’ve put into battling supply-chain kinks, worker shortages, inflation, and other business woes — during HARDI’s annual conference in December.

The Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston will host hundreds of HARDI members for four days, December 3-6, during the 2022 conference, which will include town-hall meetings, market forecasts, in-depth breakout sessions, and opportunities for socializing and networking.

Conference-goers will also get the chance to hear six speakers, each from a different professional perspective, on aspects of business and personal growth. See related story.

The watchword for this year’s conference is “Ignite,” and organizers have planned it around four major themes: personal advancement, organizational development, business growth, and the effects of external factors.

Zachary Perge, HARDI’s vice president of distribution strategies, said the conference is also intended to recognize distributors’ successes in the face of difficulties.

“People have been working really hard through the pandemic. People have had to make a lot of sacrifices,” said Perge. “We’re hoping that, with Ignite, it’s an opportunity to get really fired up about the hard work that everyone has done.”

HARDI has published an agenda and is still accepting registrations for the conference; Perge said the goal is to have more than 1,500 attendees. HARDI’s block of rooms at the Marriott Marquis sold out quickly, but registrants are being directed to other hotels within walking distance.

The conference kicks off Saturday, December 3, with events that include a session for women in HVAC, a workshop for emerging leaders, supplier and distributor town halls, and a 7-9 p.m. opening reception.

The second day will feature the Solution Center, a chance for distributors to connect with providers of business-to-business services such as marketing, accounting, human resources, delivery, and information technology. Breakout session topics will include leadership, data-driven planning, new business technology, and insights from HARDI’s annual “Voice of the Contractor” surveys. A regional forecast will take a look at the HVACR market in the western U.S.

The Solution Center continues on the third day, until noon; session topics that day will include the supply chain, talent recruiting and retention, sustainable building trends, and government affairs, an update to be presented by Alex Ayers, HARDI’s government affairs director, and Palmer Schoening, the vice president for government affairs.

The conference’s Booth Program, which gives HVAC manufacturers a chance to show distributors new products and new technology, is in the afternoon on day three, and the market forecast will look at the Southwest and Southeast.

The fourth day of sessions will explore the regulatory landscape, cyber liability insurance, HARDI’s new data analytics programs, and how to use energy efficiency incentives to boost sales, among other topics. There will be two market forecasts, one on the central and Great Lakes regions, and the other on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

A closing reception is planned for 6-8 p.m. on the last day of the conference.

Conference sessions are being designed for give-and-take between presenters and HARDI members, including time for questions, rather than having members “sitting through four days of being talked to,” Perge said.

“We did that at Focus (a conference in May) and we found those were really engaging and really successful,” he said.