Over 1,400 HARDI members expected to attend second annual convention.

Frank Sinatra called it "my kind of town." Rudyard Kipling said it was a "real" city. It's home to deep-dish pizza, world-class shopping, dining and Oprah Winfrey. Chicago. The city is the site of the Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International's Oct. 16-19 convention. This is the group's second annual meeting, after merging the former Northamercian Heating, Refrigeration and Airconditioning Wholesalers Association with the Airconditioning & Refrigeration Wholesalers International in January 2003. Organizers are expecting this year's convention, at the Hyatt Regency, to attract 1,400 members - 15 percent more than the attendance at last year's San Francisco meeting. As with the former ARWI and NHRAW meetings, convention and committee sessions will focus on business issues of interest to wholesalers. An Oct. 19 trade show is also planned. Here is an overview of the convention's events.

Committee meetings

At 8 a.m. Oct. 17, the following committee meetings are scheduled:
  • Government and Trade Relations. Led by John Tice, members will discuss importing and exporting issues, U.S. and Canadian legislation that affects the HVACR industry.
  • Guest Educator Idea Exchange. Richard Wirtz will lead this session, where academics will review conference activities.
  • Insurance. James F. Luce will talk about HARDI's programs offered through Behnke & Co.
  • Plan & Spec. The sale of engineered products will be talked about by stocking representatives. Led by Bill Couture. At 9:45 a.m., these meetings will take place:
  • Education. Dan Hinchman will lead this discussion of HARDI's new certification program for counter workers. New educational CD-ROMs will also be previewed.
  • Executive Development. Russ Geary will lead a talk about the association's youth-exchange, education retreats and branch-manager programs.c Future Studies. A member of the Morris Group will talk about business issues and their possible effects on HVACR wholesalers.
  • HVAC Systems and Equipment Steering. Code issues, North American Technician Excellence training and 410A systems are among the topics Greg Trimbach will talk about with attendees.
  • Manufacturer Reps. Representatives will talk about "best practices" and improving relationships to generate more sales. Michael Dungan will lead.
  • Membership. Suppliers and distributors will discuss how to recruit new members and keep existing ones. Kerk Farrell will lead the talk.
  • Supplier. John Lawler, manufacturers and service vendors will review distribution techniques, technology and marketing efforts.

    Midday events

    At 11:45 a.m., during lunch, these meetings will be held:
    • Controls Distributors Steering. This event is only for distributors. Ron Mackiewicz will lead this talk about manufacturers' 800-number call centers and surcharges and the results of a customer survey on added values.
    • Distribution/Logistics and Supply Chain Technologies. These combined meetings will deal with product bar codes, software and best practices. Brian Cobble and David Boggs will lead the talks.
    • Habitat for Humanity. Royce Henderson will talk about HARDI's ongoing involvement with this charity.
    • Refrigeration Systems Steering. Johnnie Drury will talk with committee members about the phasing out of R-22 refrigerant systems, applied science and contractor resources. At 8:30 a.m. Oct. 18, U.S. Department of Energy special assistant Jim McCormick will give the convention's keynote speech, "Exceed Terminal Velocity." As a record-holding sky diver, McCormick knows some things about taking risks. He talks about how business owners can take chances that will help grow their businesses. At 10:45 a.m., these meeting will take place:
    • Controls Distributors Council. Mackiewicz will lead a discussion on "Do Your Customers Say You Are a Value-Added Resource?" Most wholesalers want to give extra "value," but is it the type of value customers want and are willing to pay for? That's the question this session will attempt to answer.
    • HVAC Systems and Equipment Council. Trimbach will lead a discussion on "Why IAQ Needs a ‘Total Systems' Approach to be Successful." "The house is a system" has been a mantra for some HVAC companies. Indoor air quality and how it relates to this "system" approach will be talked about.
    • Refrigeration Systems Council. Drury will lead this talk about "Coping With Change in the Refrigeration Business." The industry's switch to 410A refrigerant has spurred discussions on other refrigerant issues, including oils, recycling and safety. Participants will try to figure out how these changes will affect the HVACR wholesaler. At 11:30 a.m., HARDI's new Center for Advancing Technology will hold an e-commerce "summit." Topics will include Internet law and intellectual property, and how to protect your company's computer system from hackers. From 1:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., Adam Fein of Pembroke Consulting will discuss the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors' recent report, "Facing the Forces of Change: The Road to Opportunity." Fein's message: Get moving or get left behind. At 3:30 p.m., three concurrent sessions are scheduled:
    • Scott Stratman of the Distribution Team will offer tips on "Better Management of Your Assests." Stratman will discuss training, "cycle counting" and how they relate to inventory management.
    • "Standing in the Customer's Moccasins" is the title of Howard Hyden's speech on why companies need to look at what they provide from a customer perspective. Too many companies, Hyden says, are used to telling customers what they need. Companies really need to know what customers' needs are and orient the company to meet them. c Al Bates of the Profit Planning Group will explain how "Building a Profit Team" requires changing the way many wholesalers do business. Bates says that despite more than a decade of growing sophistication, wholesalers are no more profitable than they were 10 years ago. Bates says poor communication, the wrong goals and not following up are to blame. Attendees will hear ways to overcome these problems. On Oct. 19, following HARDI's trade show, Ed Scott of the Scott Group will give his report on the status of the HVACR industry. He will also offer his predictions for 2005 and beyond.