MAUI, Hawaii — At the Air conditioning and Refrigeration Wholesalers International (ARWI) meeting here October 21-24, there was movement once more on a possible merger with the Northamerican Heating, Refrigeration and Air conditioning Wholesalers (NHRAW).
The two major hvacr wholesaler groups have coexisted for many years, and yet have some common members, interests and themes. Some members of both groups, especially manufacturers who are associate members, have quietly clamored for a merger of the two groups. Such a merger would save costs on joint membership, convention costs, etc. Talks on a possible merger broke down a few years ago and there appeared to be little movement in that direction again until recently.
ARWI has about 100 supply house members in the United States (along with 12 in Canada and 25 in other countries) while NHRAW has about 350 supply house members. ARWI members have about 2,000 outlets and NHRAW members have 2,200 outlets. Many wholesalers are members of both groups.
NHRAW executive vice president Don Frendberg attended the ARWI convention. If such a merger is to take place, it might require a couple of years to implement, since the national conventions are generally planned out at least a year or two in advance. One possible scenario, said one source, is separate conventions for each association at a common site in order for the two groups to grow closer while still maintaining separate identities.
Another suggestion is to use an outside facilitator, such as wholesaler consultant J. Michael Marks, Indian River Consulting Group, to act as a neutral intermediary in helping to resolve any differences that arise between the two groups. Marks has addressed both groups and is recognized as an authority on market center distribution as well as other changes facing the industry, both hvacr as well as wholesale distribution in general.
A task force was expected to publish a white paper report in November that would spell out all the advantages/disadvantages of such a merger.