The Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International must really like Phoenix and the JW Marriott Desert Ridge. The wholesalers association is returning to the city and hotel for its 2008 convention. It last held the event there in 2005.

This time, the slogan for the meeting is “Economic climate control.” As many parts of the United States suffer from slowing construction and rising inflation, HARDI is working to ensure members stay as profitable as possible.

In a recent interview, 2007-2008 association President Randy Boyd, president and CEO of Fort Worth, Texas-based AC Supply Co. Inc., said “recessions are optional,” quoting Joe Ellers, who has often met with HARDI members and is speaking at this year’s convention.

Whether or not that’s true, the association is packing the convention with speakers and business-oriented seminars designed to keep HARDI companies from participating in any downturns. Here’s a look at some of them. In addition, HARDI will hold its annual convention booth program, a tabletop trade show, from 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Oct. 28.

Sessions

At 8 a.m. Oct. 26, these are scheduled:

• Executive Development Committee. Chairman Russ Geary will update this group’s work on professional development, training and related matters.

• Former Presidents’ Advisory Committee. 2006-2007 HARDI President Bill Shaw will lead this meeting for other former presidents.

• Future Studies Committee/The Morris Group. Arthur Franklin and other members will talk about long-term strategic issues.

•        Guest Educator Idea Exchange. This session allows educators to meet with peers for discussions. Richard Wirtz will lead this talk.

• Government and Trade Relations Committee. John Tice and others will talk about the many regulatory issues affecting the HVAC industry, as well as green building and codes.

A special session for first-time attendees will be held at 8:30 a.m.

At 9:45 a.m. will be:

• “Succession Planning - The Real Story,” a HARDI executive development program. This panel discussion, led by Jim Hoffman of Hoffman Training, will feature members whose businesses have gone though a change in leadership. Family businesses and generational issues will be the main focus.

• Hydronic Heating and Cooling Council Steering Committee. This technology’s role in so-called green building and training workers in this field will be discussed. Solar, radiant, geothermal and similar uses will be talked about.

•            Supplier Members Committee. HARDI’s green objectives, the trade show and supplier “ambassador” program will be discussed by attendees and Hal Kivlan III.

•Manufacturers Representatives Best Practices Roundtable. Manufacturers and their representatives are invited to this talk on how to succeed in tough economic times. Consumer surveys and related research is on the agenda.

Discussions

At 11:30 a.m. will be these discussions:

• Habitat for Humanity Committee. The association’s work with this building charity is the topic.

• Membership Committee. Kerk Farrell will act as chairman for this discussion on getting new members, retaining those HARDI has, and making current members aware of HARDI’s programs.

• Steel Interests Group. Future trends and current market conditions in the galvanized steel business will be explored.

• Refrigeration Systems Steering Committee. Frank Meier will talk about the Environmental Protection Agency’s refrigerant-reclamation efforts and phasing out of refrigerants.

• Education Committee. A HARDI Foundation grant means the association now has new online training tools, which will be previewed at the session. Tom Hansch will lead.

At 1:15 p.m. will be:

• Green/Environmental/Sustainability Scoping Meeting. HARDI is looking into forming a new committee, which will be the focus of this talk.

• Insurance and Risk-Management Committee. James Luce and Lance Malone will talk about a new commercial insurance partnership available to members.

• Management Methods Committee. Dan Miller will explain the new tools HARDI is offering members.

• Plan and Spec Committee. Kevin Maloney and other attendees will discuss the HARDI-sponsored sessions set for the 2009 AHR Expo in Chicago.

HARDI’s keynote speaker will be former stand-up comedian Steve Rizzo. He will give his secrets to making your life the best it can be, personally and professionally.

Committees

At 3 p.m., these sessions are to take place:

• Distribution/Logistics Management Committee. “Transportation challenges today” is the focus of this session, led by Scott Larson. Fuel surcharges, driver shortages, delivery routes and Department of Transportation audits are among the issues to be discussed.

•HVAC Systems and Equipment Council Steering Committee. The transition to R-410A refrigerants and its effect on the industry will be part of this session. Tom Roberts, acting as chairman, will lead talks about mini-splits and ductless equipment.

• Controls Council Steering Committee. Steve Roe and others will talk about HARDI’s lobbying efforts, changing strategies and reviewing vendors.

Oct. 27 will start with Steve Rizzo’s keynote presentation, “Inspirational Keys to Achieving Success With an Unstoppable Attitude for Life,” at 8:30 a.m.

Rizzo, a former stand-up comedian, will give his secrets for making your professional and personal life the best it can be. He will speak about how to “laugh off” your fears and teach new ways of thinking.

Following Rizzo’s presentation will be these council programs, all held at 10:15 a.m.:

•Controls Distributors Council. Jim Hayman of Controls Group North America will talk about relationship building.

• HVAC Systems and Equipment Council. “Building Efficiency Drivers, Opportunities, and Implications for HVAC Distributors and Their Customers” is the title of this panel discussion with Sam Rashkin, national director of Energy Star for Homes; Harvey Sachs, building programs director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy; and Glenn Hourahan, a research vice president with Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

• Refrigeration Systems Council. Jeff Cohen of the California Air Resources Board will talk about the Golden State’s efforts to regulate so-called greenhouse gases and what that means for refrigeration systems and distributors. Many states are seeking to follow California’s rules, so this session may be of interest even if you don’t live, work or do business in California.

• Hydronic Heating and Cooling Council. Jeff Parsons, president of Geo Source One Inc. will explain geothermal technology, which uses the Earth to heat and cool structures. Opportunities for wholesalers and contractors will be featured.

Former HARDI President Phil Garrett will explain “HVAC Marketing: Myth or Magic” Oct. 27.

Education

At 1:45 p.m., educational seminars are to be held. These will repeat at 3:30 p.m.

• “HVAC Marketing: Myth of Magic?” Phil Garrett, a former HARDI president, will talk about how marketing should really work. Too often, he says, this is simply a job responsibility that comes with a promotion. Garrett will show how marketing can make a difference in sales.

• “How to Motivate Yourself and Others.” Peter Land of Peter A. Land Associates Inc. will talk about ways to ensure your company’s leaders are up to their tasks and guarantee their success.

• “Driving Your Business Forward.” Joe Ellers of Consulting Associates will explain a business planning process that will help to ensure your company keeps moving ahead and attracting the customers you want.

• “Inventory Management in Challenging Times - Improving Profits and Offering Stellar Customer Service,” with Grant Howard of the Grant W. Howard Co. Techniques to stay on top of inventory issues while making sure customer service stays stellar will be talked about by this Michigan-based expert.

• “Economic Strategy Based on Facts With TRENDS.” Alan Beaulieu of the Institute for Trends Research will talk about HARDI’s Targeted and Regional Economic News for Distributor Strategy reports and what these mean for members and the industry’s future.

For more information about HARDI’s annual convention write HARDI, 3455 Mill Run Drive, Suite 820,  Columbus, OH 43026; call (888) 253-2128; fax (614) 354-6191; see www.hardinet.org.

Distractions in the desert: City offers natural beauty, activities

When Phoenix was officially established in 1881, some probably couldn’t have predicted that this city in the Sonoran Desert would become the sixth largest in the United States, let alone a tourist destination.

Known by some as the “Valley of the Sun,” Phoenix has a rich history dating back to early Native Americans, as well as U.S. settlers who saw the land as ideal for farming. Visitors to the area will find plenty to feed their historical curiosity. But the city also offers an array of leisure activities, from the symphony to shopping.

Octobers in Phoenix can hit a high of 88ºF, so when HARDI holds its convention Oct. 25-28, get ready to enjoy the heat, as well as everything else this metropolitan community has to offer.

For visitors who want to delve into Phoenix’s past, one of the first stops should be the Heard Museum. The 130,000-square-foot museum offers a number of galleries devoted to the art and culture of Native Americans. The sight provides a look at early artifacts, as well as the work of several Native American artists.

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center also offers a look at early civilization in Arizona. The center is the location of the Hedgpeth Hills petroglyph site. Petroglpyhs are prehistoric designs that have been carved or engraved into rock and stone. More than 1,500 such ancient drawings can be found at the art center.

A more traditional look at history and art is available at the Phoenix Art Museum. The facility houses a variety of art, including Modern and Contemporary art, and American, Spanish, Asian and Latin American. The museum also has a collection of fashion designs from the last three centuries, as well as a room of miniatures.

A history of firefighting is also a highlight in Phoenix. The Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting offers close to an acre of exhibits with over 90 restored pieces of firefighting equipment. Some of the equipment dates back to the 1960s, while other pieces are from the 1700s. According to the museum, most of the equipment is from the United States, but there are also rare pieces from England, France, Austria and Japan.

There are plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy the great outdoors in Phoenix. For example, Camelback Mountain provides hiking trails for beginners and experts. The most difficult hiking trail will take you up 1,200 feet above sea level. The mountain gets its name because it looks like the shape of a camel lying on its stomach.

Papago Park, which is the location for the Hall of Flame, also offers hiking trails. Visitors will also find fishing spots and the Desert Botanical Garden. The garden contains 50 acres of outdoor exhibits, including a desert discovery trail, a variety of desert plants and wildflowers, and a desert house and garden library.

Finally, if golfing is your idea of enjoying the outdoors, Phoenix has several options. According to the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, there are more than 200 golf courses in the area. The bureau also reports that peak golfing season is in November, with shoulder seasons in May and September through October. Some of the most popular golf courses include the course at the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, the Sedona Golf Resort and the Sanctuary Golf Course at Westworld.

Billed as “90 blocks of urban lifestyle,” Copper Square is the place to go for shopping, dining, entertainment and more.

The Arizona Center can be found in Copper Square, which is the location for three acres of shopping and restaurant choices. The center has more than 30 boutiques and stores, a movie theater, seven full-service restaurants and a coffee house.

Copper Square also offers several theaters and entertainment complexes, including the Orpheum Theatre, (originally built in 1929), the Phoenix Symphony Hall, the Dodge Theatre and the Herberger Theater.

For sports enthusiasts, Copper Square is the location for the BankOne Ballpark, home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, and the America West Arena, where the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns hold court.

Several other theaters, museums and churches can be found in the Copper Square district.

If you’re traveling with the kids, Phoenix offers activities that the whole family can join in on. The Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix boasts 300 hands-on exhibits in five galleries. The museum aims to educate through interactive exhibits.

To catch a glimpse of 1,300 different animals, head over to the Phoenix Zoo. The zoo is also home to 200 endangered or threatened birds, mammals and reptiles from around the world. In the past five years, the zoo has introduced several new habitats, including the Monkey Village, the Wallaby Walkway, and the Leapin’ Lagoon water play area.

If you’re willing to travel outside the city limits, a number of day trips are within reach. The most popular is, of course, the Grand Canyon. The canyon is billed as one of the world’s seven natural wonders and it’s a five-hour drive northwest of Phoenix. Nature walks and mule rides are available at the Grand Canyon. According to the convention and visitors bureau, the North Rim of the canyon is open through October depending on weather conditions.

Just two hours outside the city is the Apache Trail. This trail, originally a stagecoach trail, was used by the Apache Indians to gain access through the Superstition Mountains. There are several points of interest along the paved trail, including the Roosevelt Dam, the Tonto National Forest and the ghost town of Goldfield.

Other points of interest outside Phoenix include Sedona and the Oak Creek Canyon, the White Mountains and Lake Powell.