COLUMBUS, Ohio — The beginning of 2003 coincides with the beginning of a new association — the Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI).

HARDI is the result of the recent consolidation of the Northamerican Heating, Refrigeration & Airconditioning Wholesalers (NHRAW) and the Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Wholesalers International (ARWI).

In separate, simultaneous meetings on Oct. 7, 2002, members of ARWI and NHRAW voted in favor of consolidation, effective Jan. 3, 2003. The new association is headquartered in Columbus.

The vote approving the consolidation was the result of a year-long effort to draw on the strengths of both organizations and mold them into a new association that will become “the single voice of wholesale-distribution for the HVACR industry,” according to NHRAW.

Directing the consolidating project were NHRAW president James Truesdell, of Brauer Supply Co. (St. Louis), and ARWI president Johnnie Drury, of Fox Appliance Parts (Atlanta).

“This is truly a momentous occasion for our two organizations and for our industry,” said Drury. “We are obviously pleased with the overwhelming — virtually unanimous — support in favor of consolidation from the members of both organizations.”

Truesdell added, “We are pleased and excited about the future of our industry. HARDI will provide the needed voice to address the many issues we are facing. Our new association will be the focal point for HVACR distribution and provide an opportunity for the best ideas and strongest players to come together.”

According to a HARDI statement, “The new association represents over 450 wholesale companies, including 17 international companies, plus over 300 manufacturing associates and nearly 140 manufacturer representatives. It is estimated that HARDI members represent 80 percent of the dollar value of the HVACR products sold through distribution.”

The Objectives

The association’s motto is, “Uniting World Class Distribution,” which is one of several objectives of HARDI, as pointed out in a recentNews’interview with HARDI president Douglas Young of the Behler-Young Co. (Grand Rapids, Mich.).

“There are five objectives,” Young stated. “They are:

1. “To provide for a smooth transition from NHRAW and ARWI into HARDI. The officer groups of each organization did their best to pick out the good pieces of each organization and fashion them into a new association that we are extremely excited about.

2. “To provide more value to our members and to encourage more involvement by our members, including a world-class annual event, communicating more industry information, and partnering with alliances, e.g. manufacturers, contractor groups, media, government, etc.

3. “Provide leadership within the industry, specifically in technology along the HVACR supply chain, education, and the promotion of wholesale-distribution.

4. “Continue to expand our membership. We need to reach farther out to the HVACR community — to throw the net farther.

5. “In order to endure long-term viability, we have to do it in a cost-effective manner.”

Young said that membership in NHRAW and ARWI has been “fairly steady” in the past few years, and that the wholesale organizations have been covering as much of the industry as they were 10 years ago.

“There is only one association you have to touch base with, instead of two,” Young said. “I think this is going to help the industry.”

HARDI president elect Frank Meier of Meier Supply Co. Inc. (Johnson City, N.Y.), said that similarities between NHRAW and ARWI members had become more apparent over recent years; and there was a lot of “excitement and energy” between representative members of each organization during merger talks. “We just clicked right away,” he said.

Meier said that the vote to merge was an indicator of the cooperative spirit. “I believe that out of 700 to 800 responses, there was only one negative vote. Any doubts [about the merger] that we had were settled when we saw the results.”

Meier echoed Young’s position on the importance of one association. “We were looking for one voice in the industry where one could come to know anything he or she needed to know about the wholesale-distribution industry.

“The merger is almost a byproduct of the changing distribution channel. You have to have a brick-and-mortar base as opposed to just an Internet base.”

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Publication date: 01/27/2003