The Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International certified 32 members through its branch manager training program.

The students spent six months working on management skills through a variety of assessments, online learning, workshops and coaching sessions to obtain the certification. Participants completed the certification in late March.

Steve Marlin, a recent graduate of the program and branch manager for South Central Co., said the company’s gross profit increased by 3 percent after finishing the certification program.

“Since we went to (the) classes, we’ve gotten with our IT people and picked out some (sales) dogs, we revised the way we do our ranking, and by adding 5 percent to the real slow movers, here in Bloomington, our (profit) percentages went up almost three percentage points,” he said.

Tim Armenta, another 2015 graduate and branch manager with Geary Pacific, said the program changed the way he manages his inventory.

“I found the program to be very valuable,” he said. “Particularly important to me was what I learned at the Chicago workshop. It really changed the way that I view the inventory. The warehouse is your vault. It’s not boxes; it’s money. And that’s the approach and attitude we have to have if we want to maximize our profitability.”

 HARDI says the 2015 enrollment was the largest yet, growing more than 40 percent over the previous year.