Eight Stories Loomed Large This Year David Letterman may have his Top Ten lists. The News, however, opts to bring you its Great Eight. The top HVACR stories of 2003 are listed below, but not necessarily in order of importance.

1. Industry organizations address mold and moisture. Without a doubt, every association meeting had this topic on its agenda in 2003.

2. HARDI is now a reality. The beginning of 2003 coincided with the beginning of a new association - the Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI). HARDI is the result of the consolidation of the Northamerican Heating, Refrigeration & Airconditioning Wholesalers (NHRAW) and the Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Wholesalers International (ARWI).

3. The status of refrigerants is examined. The long-term future of HFCs was explored; CO2 and R-410A gained notoriety; and the International Congress of Refrigeration (ICR) conference returned to the U.S.

4. "Branding" is the key word for the year. Manufacturers produced more brands, while some developed different channels to market their brands. Meanwhile, some contractors tried to "be the brand" via franchising methods.

5. Consolidators make changes. The year saw Encompass file a reorganization plan and then sell off RSG; Blue Dot firms were sold; Aire-Serv/Dwyer group was bought out; and AMPAM filed for Chapter 11.

6. The country experiences natural (and unnatural) disasters. From the blackout back East to the destruction of Hurricane Isabel, The News was there.

7. Insurance costs and natural gas prices continue to rise.

8. 2003 AHR Expo sets records. Even though attendance may have been down at many association meetings for the year, the AHR Expo in Chicago drew a record crowd with over 38,000 registered visitors.

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Publication date: 12/29/2003