If members can pull themselves away from the golf course and the typically warm and sunny Florida fall weather, they will find a lot to educate themselves about the industry and how to better run their businesses.

The group is again holding its distributor town hall, a session just for distributors to be held at 5 p.m. Oct. 6. HARDI President Bud Mingledorff and Talbot Gee, executive vice president, will moderate this forum that is designed for candid conversations.

The next day, the group has brought Sam Richter of SBR Worldwide to explain the “Keys to Demand Creation.” During his lunchtime speech, he will explain how to foster deeper relationships with clients and prospects. The session will also teach Web search tips and ways to add value.

A D.C. perspective

With a presidential election just a few weeks away, it’s likely “The View from Washington,” Fortunemagazine reporter Nina Easton’s noon Oct. 8 presentation, will be a popular one. An award-winning journalist and author, Easton will predict what the national elections will mean for business owners and Americans. 

The debate over global warming — and the industry’s role in it — are part of what Rajan Rajendran, Ph.D., will discuss at 9:45 a.m. Oct. 9 as part of a joint meeting of HARDI’s HVAC and Refrigeration councils. The vice president of engineering services and sustainability at Emerson Climate Technologies Inc., Rajendran will present “The Future of Refrigerants.” The next generation of refrigerants will be explored, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of those being used today.

HARDI has brought back Alan Beaulieu, its chief economist for another update on the industry’s economic health. His 11:30 a.m. Oct. 9 presentation, “The Economy is on Your Side: Getting the Most Out of the Recovery,” will have the Institute for Trend Research expert prognosticating on where the housing market and nation will go for the next year.

Stocks and HVAC

In a similar vein will be JP Morgan analyst Stephen Tusa. He’ll present “HVAC in 2012: Wall Street’s Perspective” at 8 a.m. Oct. 9. Commercial market trends and what lies ahead for the industry’s largest publically traded firms will be the topics.

The Distribution Team’s Jason Bader is coming back to HARDI’s annual conference, this time to speak about “Optimizing Branch Manager Performance: What You Need to Get the Maximum Return on This Crutial Function.” Learn how to hire, recruit and manage this position so important to your business’ success.

And throughout the conference, attendees will have a chance to consult with Nancye Combs, HARDI’s new human resources and organizational management consultant. She will be available in HARDI’s Solutions Center.

This year’s conference booth program (trade show) will take place from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 8.

The convention will close Oct. 9 with a presentation by Cirque Dreams. This popular performance group has been on Broadway, cruise ships and in theaters and casinos nationwide. Expect a colorful performance with audience engagement.

And throughout the conference, HARDI’s industry councils and committees will be meeting, offering a chance to hear about the latest in sheet metal, refrigeration, management, professional development and other topics from a wholesaler perspective.



Central Florida offers many attractions for conference attendees

Orlando, Fla., may be the city “the Mouse” built — or at least transformed from swampland — but there is a lot more than just theme parks to it.

HARDI members will have a chance to see that for themselves  when the group holds its annual fall conference at the JW Marriott Orlando Grand Lakes.

Prior to the 1971 opening of Walt Disney World, Orlando was mostly farmland, orange groves, swamps and tacky tourist traps designed to attract vacationers en route to established leisure spots such as Miami and Tampa.

The arrival of the first permanent Disney-brand attraction outside Southern California forever changed the city, region and state. Now more than 25 million people visit each year, and the area is packed with such world-class amusements as Sea Worldand Universal Studios’ two theme parks. Walt Disney World’s 40 square miles of land has been developed to include thousands of hotel rooms, four major theme parks, two water parks, a campground and more.

But if you think the city just offers family and child-oriented attractions, you’d be wrong. While a trip to Orlando would not be complete without visiting at least one theme park, regardless of age, the city offers a lot more.

Here’s a list of some of the possibly lesser-known attractions the Orlando area offers.

Did you know central Florida offers several parks with real trees and animals, unlike the robotic and plastic variety common at Disney World? Longwood, Fla., is home toBig Tree Park, which includes a bald cypress tree estimated to be 3,500 years old. Some believe it’s the oldest tree in the United States. The park also includes pathways through natural marshes and picnic facilities.

Lake Louisa State Parkin Clermont, Fla., is 4,000 acres of water-based activities, including fishing. The park includes camping and horseback riding, as well as deer, rabbits and alligators.

Tosohatchee State Reservein Christmas, Fla., is good to visit any time of year. Plenty of migratory birds pass through each winter, making the spot popular with birdwatchers. Grey foxes, bald eagles, hawks, owls and squirrels are also common sights.

If you enjoy looking at plants, theUniversity of Central Florida Arboretummay be for you. Within its 80 acres grow more than 600 plant species, including exotic ones. Guided group tours are available.

Kissimmee, Fla., is home to the Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wildlife Preserve. You won’t find any vinyl leaves or plastic elephants here. The two groups partnered in 1993 to protect this 12,000-acre region. Hiking trails and off-road tours will show a number of rare animals.   

It’s dwarfed — no pun intended — by the bigger themed attractions of Universal Studios and Disney World, but the Holy Land Experienceis a hit despite critics who said it would fail. Recreated architecture showcases the ancient world and tells the stories of the Bible. The Scriptorium houses a collection of rare religious texts.

Gatorlandhas been around for decades, but it may not be as well known today as it once was. The entrance is an alligator’s mouth. You can see gators get fed and get close to them.

Cypress Gardens was one of Florida’s first amusement parks, originally opening in 1936. Restored and reopened in 2004, it contains classic amusement park rides and offers regular concerts.

If you like NASCAR — and according to surveys, many people do — Daytona International Speedwaymay be worth a visit. Near the city’s famous beaches, it offers tours and stock-car racing. Daytona USA is a new NASCAR-themed interactive attraction.

A little over an hour from Orlando isKennedy Space Center. Visitors will see the launching pads and landing strips used by space shuttles and rockets for decades. Exhibits cover the history of the U.S. space program.