Sometimes looking at the “bigger picture” isn't always the answer. There's too much information involved in the larger sphere, and the only way to really gain insight is to dig deeper and simplify matters. When that happens, it's a lot easier to become more effective and more efficient. That's why HARDI offers different councils for its members to join. Originally, there were four main councils for wholesalers and distributors to choose from: HVAC Systems & Equipment, Controls Distributors, Refrigeration Systems and Hydronic Heating and Cooling. But HARDI has been looking at ways to improve this system and has found that adding subcommittees will benefit its members.

HARDI focuses on four essential subjects for its members that make the organization what it is today, says Talbot Gee, executive vice president and chief operating officer. They are: education and professional development, advocacy, benchmarking and networking. “Ever since we identified those four main pillars, we've been continuing to hone in more on our service initiatives, projects and efforts very tightly. That required looking at the committee and council structures as well,” Gee explains.

The main concern was the HVAC Systems and Equipment Council. Gee told HVACR Distribution Business magazine that the HVAC Council has been growing tremendously in recent years. During that period, HARDI also started a Hydronics Heating and Cooling Council. “The problem was, after a couple years of the evolution and development of the Hydronics Council and the HVAC councils' rampant growth, we started to see more and more overlapping of what an HVAC council would focus on and what the hydronics council would focus on,” Gee says. “It had so many of the same members because they sold those same products. They were having a tough time trying to figure out how to reconcile the two. So, we rolled the hydronics council into the HVAC council as a subcommittee for hydronics.”

Last fall, the HVAC committee approved the creation of four subcommittees. The HVAC systems and equipment council is now comprised of: the unitary ducted subcommittee, the ductless subcommittee, the renewables subcommittee, which includes geothermal and the hydronics subcommittee.

Gee explained that it was a better way to add order to the group and still keep them under the umbrella of the HVAC Systems Council. “It's a way to help organize the topics and focuses of these various aspects of these committees and councils, and it makes it easier for members who have very singular needs or focuses to find their niche,” he says.

HARDI introduced the new council subcommittees and its leadership at its annual meeting last fall. Each council has a chair and a vice chair; each subcommittee has a chair and vice chair, too.

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Tom Roberts, president and CEO of Kansas City, MO-based cfm Distributors, is chair for the HVAC Council. “I cannot give enough credit or thanks to Tom,” Gee says. “He's been the chair of that council for the last two years and has done a tremendous job of taking that council to new heights. He was a lead architect in the development of the HVAC Council's four subcommittees. He worked very well with his vice chair, Jeff Thompson, director of HVAC at APR Supply Co., Lebanon, PA. They just do a tremendous job.”

Roberts explains how development of the subcommittees was crucial to the focus of the HVAC and Equipment Council. “As council chair, we've felt for some time that the HVAC Systems Council was busy with the quickly evolving regulatory environment, as well as standard changes and technology changes that affected all of our distributor members,” he says. “At the same time, our council wanted to maintain a focus on the status of technological improvements and system advances in our industry. Our evolution to a structure of subcommittees allows us to maintain the focus on specific types of systems and their evolving technologies while, at the same time, hold a ‘main tent’ committee meeting that will focus on the hot issues of the day that continue to affect our distributor members and their equipment,” Roberts said.

“We anticipate that this will provide a richer variance for our HVAC systems distributors as they are able to attend the ‘main tent’ session of our council meeting and then break off into one or two specialty subjects that they choose to learn more about within the subcommittee structure. The rest is just details. The main thing is that we just weren't able to get it all done. There's the 30,000-ft. material in the ‘main tent’ meeting and there's the 20,000-ft. down to street level in the subcommittees.”

The committees meet every year at the annual HARDI conference. They also hold a leadership conference during spring or early summer where the chairs and vice chairs of all the committees and councils come together with the HARDI board members. According to Gee, the purpose of the leadership conference is to continue to update the strategic plan and make sure all the committees' and councils' activities are lined up in the same direction and are staying focused. At the same time, they make sure that the various chairs are aware of the other initiatives and can cross-pollinate when necessary, partner if needed and coordinate efforts so there are no redundancies.

Gee explains that, with the exception of the leadership meeting, the committees and councils have open meetings. “We have very few instances where our supplier members and our associate members are not able to participate,” he says. “We're a very open organization with these committees and councils. I think that's a unique feature and something that's pretty positive.”

“With the creation of the subcommittees, our members are working on meatier issues and projects. They are more delivery- and outcome-focused for having deliverables that will help with the membership,” Gee says. “I think that now we have more ways for more members to be involved, be engaged and to make a difference for their industry and for their business. Participation has its benefits for your business. You're going to have access to broader ranges of information and insight that we're able to logistically get out to the rest of the members. I think that's pretty neat.”

HARDI will list the subcommittees' agenda for the first time at its annual conference, this year in Hawaii, Oct. 23-26, 2011.


Kate Kelly is an associate editor with Contracting Business magazine. Contact her at 216/931-9755 or kate.kelly@penton.com.