Many believe that success comes easier for those HARDI members who attend the Annual Fall Conference held by the world's only association dedicated to the distribution of HVACR products — HARDI.

It's nearing that time again for those successful companies to gather and communally work toward the advancement of their industry and businesses. Leaders from all aspects of the HVACR distribution industry will convene in Palm Desert, CA, at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa for HARDI's 2006 Annual Fall Conference, November 4-7. With an expected attendance of more than 1,300, it is understandable if someone felt they missed out by not attending. That's why there's nearly no excuse not to attend.

The three-day conference packs in immeasurable opportunities for the HVACR distribution professional. Premium networking and education are abundant through the careful design of this world-class event. From the golf and tennis outings held prior to the conference through the closing festivities on the last night, industry leaders are guaranteed to find value at every turn.

The opportunity to participate in golf or tennis occurs on Saturday, November 3. The onsite Valley course designed by Ted Robinson is an exceptional, 18-hole championship course set against the towering backdrop of the Santa Rosa Mountains. This sort of competitive recreation, if it's your thing, is an excellent way to prepare for a successful conference.

Committee and council meetings dictate the full first-day schedule on Sunday. The core of the association's unique structure, HARDI's 14 business-related committees and three product-oriented councils will hold their steering committee meetings throughout the day. Committees and councils drive the projects, policies and advancement of the association. All members can benefit from active involvement in these information-packed meetings and are encouraged to add their experience, expertise and opinions to the benefit of their industry and their association. HARDI maintains an “open” meeting policy, so attendees can select any number of meetings in which to actively participate. (For a detailed update on committee and council work, see the mid-year business conference highlights article on page H4.)

The first-class Sunday night opening reception, a highly anticipated event, is the place to be. HARDI member suppliers sponsor this reception as a way to express their gratitude to their distributor customers' business over the past year.

The Takeaway

Monday is the main day for keynotes and other significant speakers. Well-known industry figure Michael Marks will start the day with his keynote discussion on “How to Fight the Big Guys.” Distributor businesses have become attractive to equity firms and public companies. Successful companies that earn high capital returns and gain share over their competitors do not have the typical human resources issues faced by most companies. The acquisition and merger link to staffing talent is a major conversation in the industry. Based on input from HARDI's executive leadership, Marks will delve deeply into this subject during his kickoff presentation. A leading thinker and practitioner in our industry, Marks doesn't hold anything back, good or bad.

Following the opening keynote, HARDI's councils will hold programs and meetings that discuss the hot topics inherent in natural, product-oriented affinity groups. Representatives from the EPA will participate in a critically important roundtable discussion on improving the recycle/reclaim of R-22 for the Refrigeration Systems council. Discussions for the HVAC Systems and Equipment council will focus on 13 SEER match-ups and legal issues involving mismatched installations, how to handle the transition to 410A equipment and where product efficiency is going next. The Controls council has focused its energies on how and where it can provide value and influence. Discussions during this council session will continue to explore how it can work with HARDI's supplier members to build two-step distribution together as the preferred channel.

From the five educational tracks running Monday afternoon, it'll be difficult to choose which to attend. For that reason, each track will run twice in succession. HARDI's Events Committee has vigilantly searched for speakers and topics relevant to all the leaders and industry segments that will be benefiting from conference attendance.

The overall economy is set to rise for the next one to two years, based on current leading indicators. Back by popular demand, economist Brian Beaulieu will present an insightful discussion on how the best times related to this market and business cycle are behind us, with challenges awaiting as we move through the next two years.

Information technology (IT) security expert Mike Foster will explain in plain English the shocking truth about how insecure your business and vital systems likely are and the critical questions to ask your IT personnel to ensure security.

In their discussion titled “Liquidity Alternatives for Private Businesses: The Private IPO — How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too,” Mark Jrolf and Charles Gifford, Jr., with the Heritage Partners, will expand upon what Michael Marks presents in the morning. Topics will cover current merger and acquisition trends, liquidity alternatives for private businesses and the private IPO.

Distributors are familiar with The Distribution Team, Inc., for the services they provide the industry in inventory management, business operations and technology utilization. In his program, “Finding the Loopholes in Your Inventory Management System,” Jason Bader, partner with The Distribution Team, will address many of the unique challenges distributors face with regard to existing loopholes in the purchasing department, the shipping department and more.

While everyone is distracted with the fluctuating stock market, downturns in buying and selling, and other business doom and gloom, you have a chance to excel. In his session, “If Business Is Down — Up Yours!”, inspirational teacher and storyteller Dr. Dale Henry helps executives realize that success is about more than money. Attendees will learn how to invest in themselves and their self-worth through proven effectiveness techniques.

Tuesday will be another full day highlighted by HARDI's version of a vendor show in the Conference Booth Program. More than 200 of HARDI's supplier member companies will convene in the ballroom for provoking face-to-face discussions between distributors and policy-level executives. Year after year, the progressive design of this nonintimidating booth program proves to be a very popular benefit for distributors and suppliers alike.

To maintain the momentum of the day, one last formal program will follow the information-packed booth program. New to the conference this year, the Industry Leader Forum will feature a panel of invited executives representing the refrigeration, controls, equipment and supply facets of the HVACR industry. Leaders Dave LaGrand, president, Nordyne; Ed Purvis, group vice president, Emerson Climate Technologies, Refrigeration; Jeffrey Irmer, Honeywell vice president, Sales, The Americas Environmental & Combustion Controls; and Ramesh Bhatia, president, ATCO Rubber Products, will be asked to share their perspectives on the issues and developments related to manufacturing, wholesale distribution, contractors and consumers.

All HARDI members will have the opportunity to submit questions and inquiries to the executives before and during the session. The goal of this program is to become a regular feature of the HARDI Annual Fall Conference as the cadre of high-profile executives varies each year. Conference attendees will be grateful for the opportunity to tap this resource of forward-thinkers in their industry.

Enhance your success! Plan now so you won't miss this conference. You owe it to your business, your employees and yourself. Watch your mailbox for promotional brochures and registration materials later this month. Details and registration materials are also available online at www.hardinet.org/conference.

Don't Forget to Vote!

The 2006 Conference concludes on Election Day 2006. Plan now to get your absentee ballot so that your voice can be heard even while you're on the road. For details and to apply for an absentee ballot in your area, visit HARDI's website at www.hardinet.org.