What’s the role of distributors in creating demand for a product? That’s what a HARDI foundation is trying to find out.

The Heating, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International’s educational research foundation has hired Michael Marks of the Indian River Consulting Group to study the issue.

“We are going to do some deep diving with a project development team comprised of several distributors and manufacturers where people have agreed to share confidential and financial information,” Marks said. “We are also going from the top down with some broad-base surveys with the whole HARDI membership, both manufacturer and supplier side and the distributors and reps as well. We are going to cross tie it together so we actually understand the entire cost in the entire system.”

 Emily Saving, who leads the foundation, said growing business will be a key part of the research.

“Market share gains are essential to manufacturers, so what exactly does it take for distributors to satisfy those needs? That is the core question this research project will tackle,” Saving said.

The research is being funded by a number of HARDI members, including: Johnson Supply of Houston; Standard Supply & Distributing Co. Inc. of Dallas; Meier Supply Co. Inc. in Conklin, N.Y; GW Berkheimer Co. Inc. in Portage, Ind.; Gustave A. Larson Co. of Peewaukee, Wis., and Mingledorff’s Inc. in Norcross, Ga.

Manufacturers taking part include Honeywell, Nordyne, Duro Dyne, Allied Air Enterprises, Heatcraft and M&M Manufacturing.

The research is currently about 75 percent funded, said Bill Shaw, CEO of Standard Supply and HARDI Foundation chairman.

“We’re ready to make an impact on the industry,” Shaw said. “We are very excited about the possibility of what we will find.”

Results will be discussed during HARDI’s Dec. 7-10 annual conference in Phoenix.

Larson Co. names Partners in Excellence award winners

Gustave A. Larson Co. has announced the winners of its 2012 Partners in Excellence and Quality Award.

Honorees include Advanced Distributor Products, DuPont Fluoroproducts, Armacell LLC, Heatcraft Refrigeration Products and Nu-Calgon.

Winners were evaluated on product quality, profitability, marketing, sales support and e-commerce capabilities.

Awards were also given to Larson’s top supplier sales representatives.

“Our PEAQ program helps us to identify ways we can work more closely with our supplier partners for the mutual benefit of our companies,” said Herb Daugherty, Larson’s director of inventory management and administrator of the PEAQ program. “The program continues to strengthen our partnerships with our suppliers helping us to provide better service to our customers.”