Where things are going – and where they have been. Both will be explored during the Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International’s annual conference this month. The theme for the Dec. 7-10 meeting at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge is “Evolve: New pathways to success.” And if members can find their way to the event, organizers say they will learn new ways to make money and work more efficiently.

The group has not just one but three keynote presentations to help members reach those goals. Mike Marks, a managing partner at Indian River Consulting, will explore a new research effort funded by the HARDI Foundation. It explores the steps involved in demand creation for HVAC products and why dialogue between wholesalers and manufacturers.

Mark’s speech will take place at noon Dec. 8.

Keep riding

Whether you ride a motorcycle or not, HARDI says you can learn a lot from Clyde Fessler. The former vice president of business development at Harley Davidson will explain how the iconic motorcycle maker went from nearly declaring bankruptcy to riding a resurgence that has led to increased sales, stock prices and worldwide prestige. His presentation is at noon Dec. 9.

For its final keynote at 11:45 a.m. Dec. 10, HARDI has brought back Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics to give his opinions on where the economy is headed and remind members how it got where it is today. He will explain why the political infighting in Washington, D.C., may matter less than you think and why he’s generally bullish on the economy over the long term.

New this year will be the debut of program focusing on emerging leaders, starting at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 8. Emily Saving, HARDI’s director of education, said the association realized there was need for guidance in an industry where many people with the same last name are executives or are on track to become company president or CEO.

Ensuring up-and-coming employees are prepared to take on leadership roles can help companies survive, she added. But it’s not uncommon to find people thrust into positions that they weren’t wholly ready for.

“Whether they are in our target demographic because of their last name or because of their high potential … there are still some competency gaps within their skill sets,” Saving said. “They still need to know how to make executive decisions and how to lead from the executive’s chair.”

With a mix of up-and-coming executives as well as more seasoned leaders, HARDI is hoping the session helps minimize the bumps that frequently occur when generational leadership changes.

Inside the beltway

If you haven’t gotten sick of Washington politics by the time of this month’s convention, government affairs director Jon Melchi will update members on federal regulatory issues and why 2014 will likely be a turbulent year for the HVAC industry. Melchi will speak at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 8.

Although some of the segments of the Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — have been postponed until 2015, rollout of the program continues and businesses are being affected, whether they fall under employer mandate provisions or not. During “Decoding Healthcare Reform” at 1:45 p.m. Dec. 10, Lacey Robinson, a benefits consultant with Gregory and Appel Insurance, will explain where things stand with the law and what HVAC wholesalers need to do now.

The session will repeat at 3 p.m.

Find out what Wall Street thinks of the HVAC industry from JP Morgan consultant Stephen Tusa at 9 a.m. Dec. 10. The commercial and residential markets will be covered by Tusa, who has written market studies for HARDI and followed the industry for some time.

As always, HARDI has scheduled numerous meetings for its committees and councils on issues ranging from logistics to refrigeration. The annual conference booth program will take place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 9. For full conference details, go to www.hardievolve13.com