How do you know if you're playing it to win or playing it to lose? That's what representatives from 26 HARDI member distribution companies and six supplier member companies focused on during the early January Professional Development Retreat in Vail, CO. A mountain full of education and networking rounded out some great group skiing during the two-and-a-half-day retreat.

The workshop leader this year was distribution industry expert Michael Marks from Indian River Consulting Group. Using the input provided from attendees before the retreat, Marks put together an intense, thought-provoking call to action for the industry's pinnacle leaders in attendance.

The consultant discussed how competitive advantage, creating strategy, opportunity analysis, the sales management piece, supplier-related issues and the bottom line apply to HVACR wholesale distribution. The main point, according to Marks, is that there are large growth opportunities in mature markets for innovators to gain at the expense of those who have fallen behind the change curve. He urged attendees to examine their plans with three tactics they MUST do:

  1. You need to make an innovation investment.
  2. You must begin the process of redefining the role of your sales force, especially around growth.
  3. Start a strategy process and formally work on your professional development.

When not working during the eight hours of education, retreat executives found plenty of time to hit the 50 inches of base powder with their peers and enjoy many other winter activities offered by the picturesque mountain town. Evenings allowed for groups to take advantage of the world-class culinary experiences in many well-known Vail restaurants.

HARDI's Professional Development Retreat continues to be an invaluable experience for the progressive HARDI members who attend. It's more than just skiing; it's an opportunity to grow your business and yourself through education and networking. The relationships built by distributors and suppliers during this retreat will pay dividends for the foreseeable future.