As summer nears an end, I trust you have all experienced a satisfactory, if not good, business environment and remain optimistic about the future. There is no question that it has been a roller-coaster ride for many HARDI businesses over the last year or so with the economic downturn. Those on the HVACR equipment side have had the advantage of hot weather and government rebate programs this year, while those of us with more focus on the commercial side continue to struggle with stagnant markets and the outlook for a continuing slow recovery. Nevertheless, it remains a great business to be in, with great people and great opportunities abounding.

Speaking of great opportunities, it's time to start planning to attend the annual fall conference from Saturday, Oct. 23rd, through Tuesday, Oct. 26th, in Houston, TX. Based on the extensive content generated from the committees and councils at the Mid-Year Business Conference in June, I am confident this conference will be exceptional in its depth, content and attendance. The theme for this year's conference, Forging New Frontiers in Sales, Growth and Profit, will carry forth through outstanding presenters such as Jeffrey Gitomer on sales, Michael Marks on business growth, Dr. Al Bates on profitability and Jeffrey Dietrich from the Institute for Trends Research® on economics. These speakers, plus the many other professional presenters contributing in the educational tracks and various committee and council programs, stand to make this another truly "world class" event that you and your fellow industry executives and managers should not miss.

I am confident that all segments and major issues affecting the HVACR industry will be addressed by the presenters, committees and councils, distributors, manufacturers, service vendors and manufacturer reps in attendance. I also encourage everyone to register and make hotel reservations as soon as possible. It is not unusual for demand for hotel rooms to exceed availability at this event, causing much last-minute anxiety and frustration.

If you are not familiar with the event, we provide an updated listing of conference attendees on the HARDI website so you can determine if your distributor, rep, supplier and even competitor will be in attendance. It stands to reason that if you're participating in Houston and your competitors are not, you have the advantage and vice versa (if they're attending and you're not).

I'd like to mention the new HARDI Distribution Learning Network (DLN), which provides an outstanding means for online training opportunities for all HARDI members and their employees. The DLN will allow individual distributors to set up "personalized" company universities and tailor course work to their employee's unique training and development needs and objectives. In addition to HVACR and distribution-oriented training, the DLN will provide a resource for product training generated by many of the 375 supplier members. We will continuously expand and update the DLN course inventory; in fact, we intend to make it the training portal for the entire HVACR industry.

Finally, if you have not done so already, please visit the newly updated HARDI website at www.HARDInet.org. You will find greatly enhanced content with numerous opportunities to quickly find the latest news and facts about HARDI and the HVACR industry. I encourage you to check out the advocacy section to see HARDI's involvement in defending HVACR distribution from state and federal government regulatory and legislative intrusion into our businesses. HARDI has made major strides, but we need to do more.

See you in Houston!