We soon will be completing the first quarter of 2008, and I don't know about you, but it could be better. From all indications at this time, the outlook for the next six to nine months is not all that promising for the economy in general, and particularly for our business sector. Alan Beaulieu, Ph.D., of The Institute for Trends Research, our favorite economist and a regular presenter at our meetings, has been predicting this downturn in the economy for quite some time. Of course, most of us have been through it before, and we have the experience and the strategies in place to minimize its effect on our businesses. At times like this, I consider myself fortunate to have strong relationships and friends within the HARDI organization with which to consult, share ideas and otherwise commiserate. In addition, the association provides me information on how my fellow wholesalers are faring through the Trends Report, and I know I will be getting valuable information from the regional meetings that will be starting very soon.

I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to give my endorsement to regional meetings. I have been involved with regional meetings in the Southwest for more years than I can count and for one primary reason: It helped to grow my business. In my opinion, there is simply no way to put a value on what I learned from the meetings, the contacts that were made and the relationships that were built. There were many times when I thought I was too busy or needed to be in the office, but I went anyhow. I was always glad afterward, and it always proved that I made the proper decision. If you want more information about the value of the meetings, don't hesitate to call me at 817/922-0544, or better yet, make your plans to attend one of this year's regional meetings, and we'll talk there.

  • Southeast Region, April 13-15; Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, St. Augustine, FL
  • Northeast & Mid-Atlantic, May 12-13; Grand Cascades Lodge, Crystal Springs Resort, Vernon, NJ
  • Southwestern & Western, June 8-10; Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Incline Village, NV
  • Central & Great Lakes, June 22-24; Grand Geneva Resort, Lake Geneva, WI
  • Canada, August 21-23; Delta Quebec, Quebec City, QC

Also, a reminder about the HARDI Mid-Year Business Meeting and Congressional Fly-In April 30 to May 2 at the Washington Court Hotel on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. The business meeting is the opportunity for the important association committees and councils to meet to keep current on industry issues and to plan for the Annual Fall Conference meeting and programs. For the association to continue to grow and be viable, your participation and input are critical.

The Congressional Fly-In, as you may be aware, is the first-ever for the association, and we deem it critical in order to have our legislators know more about wholesale distribution and our major contributions to the nation's economy. Through our involvement in Washington last year, we found there was a critical need to protect the interests of our members by preventing special interest groups and even other industry entities from influencing policy that, while beneficial for them, would be detrimental to our members. I highly encourage your participation in the Fly-In and in meetings with your congressional representatives. It will be my first time at such an event, and I know I'll learn a great deal; but once again, I'll come away knowing my efforts will ultimately help my business and the industry.