Distributors and suppliers alike are guaranteed to find value in the 2007 Professional Development Retreat. The Vail Mountain Marriott Resort & Spa will once again host the group of prominent executives for this highly anticipated event now in its fourth year. Year after year, this retreat draws distributors and suppliers serious about their business and looking to take advantage of the winter activities offered by Vail Mountain and Vail Village.

As a three-legged stool of education, networking and activity, the retreat is careful to give equal billing to each of the important segments. When choosing the retreat instructor, great care is given to selecting a top-notch industry leader who will stimulate conversation among attendees both in and out of the meeting room. Tim Underhill, the instructor for the '07 retreat, is no exception. Underhill will lead the group through the distributor-manufacturer channel efficiencies in his “Team Up! Profit Up!” discussion.

For years, distribution, as a channel, has enjoyed a competitive advantage over other channels. It has consistently proven itself to be the low-cost, high-performance supply chain solution for customers' needs. Yet in some areas distribution is being challenged. Other channels and supply chain opportunities have developed, which have resulted in some of this competitive advantage being lost.

But distributors have a unique opportunity to align their supply chain, one that brings them closer to both their customers and manufacturers, and helps them to strengthen their competitive advantages. How? By following a similar process their customers use.

Customers have been able to reduce the total cost of doing business with their suppliers equal to as much as 7 percent of their revenues, according to research on supply chain improvements. In Underhill's workshop, participants will look at how distributors and manufacturers can work together to achieve significant cost reductions, including the results from a landmark research study conducted for NAW-DREF on how to make the channel more cost-effective and valuable to all channel partners. And with an estimated 25 percent of the costs in the channel redundant, distributors and manufacturers have tremendous opportunities to reduce costs and be more profitable.

Mark your calendar and plan to join this cohesive group in Vail, CO, January 11-13, 2007. Details and registration materials have been mailed to members and are available on HARDI's website at www.HARDInet.org/events. While you're there, check out details for the Methods of Management Golf Retreat in March. When you register and attend both, you'll receive a $100 rebate back from your total registration fees!