Jeffrey Gitomer, a sales expert and consultant, will deliver the convention’s keynote speech Oct. 25. 

Michael Marks of the Indian River Consulting Group will present “Value Creation Strategies for Distributors” Oct. 25.

“New” is a key word for this year’s Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International convention. The convention’s location - Houston - is a new one for the wholesalers group. The slogan, “Forging new frontiers: sales, growth, profit,” plays on the theme.

And the schedule for the Oct. 23-26 meeting at the Hilton Americas has also been rearranged to maximize participation and make best use of attendees’ time, association officials say.

This year, the convention will begin on a Saturday with liaison meetings during the day and the opening reception that evening. For the three days that follow, expect a packed schedule with lots of educational seminars, new session speakers and networking opportunities. And of course, HARDI will hold its popular trade show, the conference booth program, at 2 p.m. Oct. 25. Dozens of companies are expected to exhibit with literature on their latest products and services.

At 7 a.m. Oct. 24, the Membership and Conference Booth Awards breakfast will take place. This meeting will include recognition of manufacturers and vendors who have participated for up to 50 years in the association’s trade show.


Here’s an overview of some of the convention’s other sessions. The full schedule, along with any changes, is posted at

At 8:30 a.m. Oct. 24 will be:

• Distribution/Logistics Management Committee. Scott Larson will run this meeting on benchmarking for issues such as material handling, freight damages and fleet leasing.

• Guest Educator Idea Exchange. Richard Wirtz directs this educator-only session on instructional issues.

• Sustainable Building Committee. This committee will explore the latest changes to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program’s standards. A guest speaker will talk about the European technology of chilled beams.

At 9:30 a.m., the newly created Professional Development and Training Committee will meet. Formerly known as the Executive Development/Education Committee, co-chairmen Russ Geary and Tom Hansch, along with members of four subcommittees, will be setting the agenda for the next year. An education action plan is also to be developed.

At 10:15 a.m., these groups meet:

•    Sheet Metal/Air-Handling Products Committee. Steel pipe, fittings, insulation, flexible duct and overall market conditions will be the subject of this meeting.

• Supply Chain Technologies Committee. Cameron Perkins will lead a discussion on the issues affecting the distribution network.

• Manufacturers Rep Committee. Michael Dungan plans a lively talk between representatives and manufacturers on how they can work together better.

At 1:45 p.m. will be:

• Membership Committee. Former HARDI President Randy Boyd will discuss recruitment, retention and membership development.

• Government Relations and Trade Relations Committee. Karen Madonia will discuss the latest regulatory news and HARDI’s policy on these issues.

• Management Methods Committee. Incoming president Richard Cook will be among the leaders of this session that will delve into the information contained in HARDI’s annual reports and how members can use it to improve their businesses.

These sessions are set for 3:30 p.m.:

• Supplier Members Committee. How suppliers can help distributors, regional meeting issues and the supplier ambassador program are to be discussed. Sam Roti will host.

• Insurance and Risk Management Committee. HARDI’s new health insurance program will be explained by James Luce and Lance Malone.

• Future Studies Committee. Jim Truesdell will lead a talk on long-term wholesale issues.

Oct. 25 will begin with a 7:30 a.m. continental breakfast and a keynote presentation by Jeffrey Gitomer, a sales expert and consultant. He will deliver the convention’s keynote speech: “Is Your Sales Presentation Engaging or Just a Bunch of Hot Air?” His speech will include tips on figuring out buying motives, referrals, engaging buyers and relationships. 

Jeff Dietrich, Ph.D., from New Hampshire’s Institute for Trend Research will host an Oct. 26 luncheon called “Reading the Economic Tea Leaves.”

Tea leaves

Jeff Dietrich, Ph.D., from New Hampshire’s Institute for Trend Research will host a luncheon called “Reading the Economic Tea Leaves” at 11:30 a.m. Recent trends have been improving for the HVAC industry, but will the upswing continue? Find out as Dietrich discusses future regulations, taxes and political implications for 2011.

At 1:45 p.m., two sessions are planned:

• “Regional TRENDS Analysis: Economic Forecast for Your Region.” Dietrich and another ITR staffer, Andrew Duguay, will discuss the Targeted and Regional Economic News for Distribution Strategies report that the company compiles for HARDI. Presentations will focus on different parts of the country.

• “Loving Some Customers More Than Others.” Al Bates, Ph.D., of the Profit Planning Group will talk about his Profitability Assessment Tool system and how HARDI companies can use it to ensure they make more money.

At 3 p.m., these three sessions will take place:

• “Getting Back to the Good Old Days.” Bates will focus on tips to help businesses protect themselves from future recessions and the best things to do as this recession ends.

• “The Word on the Street: Wall Street’s Forecast for HVAC in 2010 and Beyond.” J.P. Morgan Equity Research’s Stephen Tusa Jr. will explore the trends he sees for the industry in the coming months and years, and will explain the annual HVAC market report he writes for J.P. Morgan.

•    “Service Leadership and the Triple Win.” Sid Strickland of Strickland Associates will explain what customers are looking for and the importance of “service leadership” when it comes to sales. 

Houston offers much for attendees

When you think of Houston the first things to come to mind may be images of cowboys and rodeos.

But Houston is a lot more. And what you may not know is that Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States.

According to the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, at 634 square miles, Houston could contain the cities of New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis and Miami.

As with many large U.S. cities, you might expect a variety of activities from museums to shopping and nightlife. Houston is no exception, and HARDI members will have an opportunity to find that out for themselves when the organization visits the city this month for its 2010 annual convention.

Here are some suggestions to start planning your trip for leisure activities between seminars and the association’s annual convention booth program.


“Houston, we have liftoff.”

If that phrase rings any bells, then you know that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Johnson Space Center is a major Houston attraction

The 45-year-old center is the largest NASA location in the United States and is where all American astronauts have gone for training. The Johnson Space Center, named after former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, has also played a major role in the Apollo moon landings. As a bit of trivia, in 1969 when the United States landed on the moon, the word “Houston” was the first word uttered by Neil Armstrong.

The center is located 23 miles south of Houston and offers a visitors center with educational exhibits and interactive features. Visitors can also take advantage of the NASA tram tour, which takes them behind the scenes of the center and includes a stop at mission control.


Not lacking for culture, the city has a district that is home to 18 different museums, 11 of which are free. The Houston Museum of Fine Arts has more than 56,000 pieces and offers a number of exhibits from African art to American painters and sculptures.

The museum also offers a collection of work from Frederic Remington, who was best known for his images of the American cowboy and Western expansion of the U.S.’ boundaries.

Visitors to the museum district will also find the Houston Museum of Natural Science along with several specialized museums from the Weather Museum to the Health Museum. The Houston Zoo is also located in the museum district.


If wide-open spaces are more your speed, Houston offers a number of outdoor activities. For example, you may want to check out the Buffalo Bayou, a 52-mile waterway located near downtown Houston.

The waterway is a part of history and is the site of the city’s founding in 1836. The area offers canoeing and kayak trails, as well as hiking and biking trails.

You can find more trails at Buffalo Bayou Park, also located near downtown Houston. With the city as a giant backdrop, the park also offers a disc-golf course, boat launch and art exhibits. The park is home to sculptures and temporary public art displays.

Shopping, entertainment, nightlife

If your idea of a good time is some shopping during the day, a theater production in the evening and drinks to cap off the night, Houston has plenty to offer.

The Galleria is a shopper’s paradise offering over 300 stores, 30 restaurants and an ice rink. Department stores such as Macy’s and Nordstrom make up over 2 million square feet of shopping. The Galleria is also home to high-end boutiques such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

Houston also has no shortage of live entertainment. In fact, the city is home to a 17-block theater district. The opera, the ballet and the symphony are all within reach at the theater district, as well as Houston’s Broadway series. You’ll also find several local theater companies that put on several different plays during the theater season.

If you just want a night out on the town, Houston has over 150 different pubs, wine bars and clubs. Most of the bars will be open until 2 a.m.., but Houston has several restaurants that are open 24 hours or at least until the wee hours of the morning.