AHRI 2015: Doug Young's Challenge

AHRI 2015: Doug Young's Challenge

The key to Young's keynote: AHRI needs the involvement of more industry professionals if it has any chance of influencing fair legislation out of Washington, D.C. Everybody must "up their game."

Nov. 23, 2015 — If Doug Young had not already been named the AHRI's chairman for 2016, his speech last week during the AHRI Conference would have won him the job. It was the American political system's equivalent of what they call a "stemwinder," a solid message and first-rate delivery.

Doug Young: 'If we have any hope of shaping our industry’s future, we need to be less defensive, and be more strategic in our actions.' Photo by Terry McIver

Young — chief operating officer and president of Lennox, International — pulled no punches in his luncheon address to hundreds in attendance at the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute's Annual Conference, Nov. 15-17, in Bonita Springs, Fla.

The key to Young's keynote: AHRI needs the involvement of more industry professionals if it has any chance of influencing fair legislation out of Washington, D.C. Everybody must "up their game."

Young began his message by telling attendees that AHRI and the HVAC industry find themselves in a position of strength that must made advantage of.

I think we all want a healthy industry defined by growth and competition. We are successful when we are differentiated. We are successful when we make money. — Doug Young

"Our industry is one of the largest industries in the world. AHRI has over 300 member companies. Our companies represent iconic brands. Our companies employ more than 200,000 people in our United States’ factories alone," Young said. "And, our industry creates and sustains more than 1.2 million jobs across the United States."

However, while Washington politicians might be generally in a "do nothing" frame of mind, Young shared that the Obama Administration, and major federal agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are hard at work to regulate comfort equipment standards.

"It’s probably no surprise to you that the current administration is very effectively using energy-related legislation to aggressively regulate test procedure and efficiency standards for just about every product manufactured by our membership," Young said. "The federal agencies have been working overtime to shape our industry’s future, and it’s a future you may not like." And the shame's on industry.

"We haven’t always assumed a leadership position in this process, and we’ve been on the defensive quite a bit; actually, for a number of years. It’s difficult to win if you continue to play defense. And I think you would agree with me that we have not been completely successful at slowing down the impacts of regulations on our industry," Young continued.

Young said that in order for the HVAC industry to have a say in its future, AHRI members must become more active on a variety of legislative and regional fronts.

"I challenge each of you to be engaged. I challenge you to send your ‘best and your brightest’ to serve on AHRI committees and sections. Send your leadership to the AHRI Congressional Meetings in March, and be prepared to lobby for our common interests.

"If you’re the president of your company, you need to be there. Back home, you need to educate your elected officials on your business and our issues. Invite them to your facilities. Support the ones that support our industry. Remind them how many people you employ. Know your representatives, whether you like them or not. Tell them that you and your friends vote in the primaries, and then do it."

"Finally, remind them that they work for you, and for us," Young said.

———————

Below is the full text of Doug Young's speech at the AHRI Annual Meeting.

It’s my honor to serve as Chairman of AHRI for 2016.

I’d like to begin my chairmanship by extending my personal thanks to Ed Purvis (chief operating officer, Emerson Climate Technologies), for his leadership, for his ability to represent our industry in a very professional way. He’s showed a lot of honor and did it with true distinction. For that, we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Today, I’d like to talk primarily about two areas: engagement, and continuing to invest in our future success. 

Our industry is one of the largest industries in the world. AHRI has over 300 member companies. Our companies represent iconic brands. Our companies employ more than 200,000 people in our United States’ factories alone. And, our industry creates and sustains more than 1.2 million jobs across the United States.

We actually invented many of those product categories we produce today. Think about the collective numbers of patents those in the audience today now hold. Our members include many small businesses, which are consistently recognized as this nations’ job creation engine.

We are a well-funded organization, with an annual budget in excess of $25 million, and we have

Doug Young: "We haven't always assumed a leadership position in this process, and we've been on the defensive quite a bit."
reserves that exceed $26 million. At face value, we’re a healthy, vibrant and strong association. But relative to our size, AHRI needs to significantly expand its reach and impact. In 2016 I’m going to challenge those of you in the audience and those back home to make a difference, hopefully a much bigger difference.

First, I think it’s important to tell you why. Our industry has experienced more change in the last 10 years than we did in the prior 50 years. And I’m not sure we’re ready for it. It’s probably no surprise to you that the current administration is very effectively using energy-related legislation to aggressively regulate test procedure and efficiency standards for just about every product manufactured by our membership.

We haven’t always assumed a leadership position in this process, and we’ve been on the defensive quite a bit; actually, for a number of years. It’s difficult to win if you continue to play defense. And I think you would agree with me that we have not been completely successful at slowing down the impacts of regulations on our industry.

We need to be regulated by fair rules, which will not happen unless we are more strategic, more engaged, more involved; which includes everyone in this room.

To be successful, you first have to define ‘success.’

I think AHRI’s desired results are rather simple, and shared by every member company in this room. I think we all want a healthy industry defined by growth and competition. We are successful when we are differentiated. We are successful when we make money.  Our industry is successful when we make products that are good for customers and end-users. As our tagline states, ‘We make life better.’

But success requires change. If we have any hope of shaping our industry’s future, we need to be less defensive, and be more strategic in our actions. We need to  be regulated by fair rules, which will not happen unless we are more strategic, more engaged, more involved; which includes everyone in this room. It includes our AHRI President and CEO, Steve Yurek. It includes AHRI, and its staff. It includes you, and it includes me.

Recently, AHRI named John Lanier to fill the role of newly created chief operating officer position. John’s role streamlines the organization, for structure, so that we can focus on AHRI certification programs, standards, software development,  regulatory, international policy, communications and information technology.

This will allow for AHRI’s growth of services, and addresses the need for a greater operational focus.

The addition of the chief operating officer role allows for Steve Yurek to be more strategic, and more engaged with the product sections, government affairs committee, regulatory committees and others. Steve will be freed up to develop and enhance relationships with senior administration officials, and with decision makers at the federal agencies. Steve will spend more time acting as an advocate for our industry, with members of congress and their staffs. Finally, this change will allow Steve to spend more time to collaborating with ACCA, HARDI, PHAC, PHCC, ASHRAE and our other industry partners, to drive one strategy, and one industry voice.

The fact is, we need to be more strategic, to advance our position. And by John taking a larger share of the administration burden from Steve, we will be in a better position to create the relationships, and build the needed momentum on Capitol Hill.

The staff at AHRI play an important role, too. Their commitment and dedication is vital, to helping our members be more successful. As we move forward, the staff must become the engine that generates the horsepower for members to operate more efficiently and more effectively.

AHRI has a strong and growing membership.  We’ve got a strong balance sheet and healthy reserves. By these measures we are a very strong, healthy and vibrant association. We need to drive this association in a fashion that delivers the results that we, as members, need.

We have to operate efficiently, delivering results, because at the end of the day, that is what matters most. We want our association to have the same focus on results that each member does in their business back home: delivering a great product that exceeds customer expectations.

  • Delivering a great product requires AHRI to be a strong advocate for industry at the state, federal and international levels.
  • Delivering a great product requires AHRI to provide a testing and certification program unmatched inside or outside our industry.
  • Delivering a great product requires AHRI to provide the best legal, analytical, and  technical, advice available.

Our trade association cannot be great without your active participation. Each member must be engaged, proactive, and strategic about the way you engage.

Today, most people have the impression that nothing is happening in Washington, D.C. You may have heard people referring to the United States Congress as a ‘do nothing Congress.’  Well, in spite of no legislation coming out of congress, I can assure you that we have a ‘do something Department of Energy’ and a ‘do something EPA.’

The federal agencies have been working overtime to shape our industry’s future, and it’s a future you may not like.

It would be easy for me to stand in front of you today and demonize the government. These days, especially in the United States, the federal government is an easy target. But as a result of our ‘do nothing government,’ many of us have given up; we’re not engaged. If you don’t participate in the process, you shouldn’t wonder how we get poor results.

So, I challenge each of you to be engaged. I challenge you to send your ‘best and your brightest’ to serve on AHRI committees and sections. Send your leadership to the AHRI Congressional Meetings in March, and be prepared to lobby for our common interests.

If you’re the president of your company, you need to be there. Back home, you need to educate your elected officials on your business and our issues. Invite them to your facilities. Support the ones that support our industry. Remind them how many people you employ. Know your representatives, whether you like them or not. Tell them that you and your friends vote in the primaries, and then do it.

Finally, remind them that they work for you, and for us.

Many of you in the audience today are already working on this, and I want to say ‘Thank You.’ But we’re not doing enough. We need to do better.

Remember what I said to begin my speech? We are one of the largest industries in the country. We have over 300 companies, and we represent iconic brands. We should be a powerful voice driving policy, but we’re not as influential as we need to be. We need to demand more from our association, by demanding more from ourselves.

As Ed Purvis noted yesterday in his address, we also need to continue to support new investments in our association. We need to support infrastructure investments and information technology. We need to continue to fund website enhancements to improve the user experience, and provide content that is timely, relevant and useful to all of our members.

We also need to continue our investments in lab diversification, to not only build our test capacity, but we also need to improve our test capability, to build credibility to enhance AHRI’s position in the market.

AHRI must be the gold standard for testing and certification. Otherwise, somebody else will. AHRI must provide a differentiated product for its membership, and membership must be engaged. We must be strategic and resolved in our challenges.

Done well, our future is bright. In this future:
• our industry contributes to the reduction of global energy consumption.
• our products are not restricted by overly-burdensome regulations
• our spending is focused more on research than on litigation
• our industry is recognized internationally as a powerful advocacy group, and is unmatched at the state, provincial, federal and international levels.

Our testing and certification program has integrity and is recognized globally as the gold standard.

So, my challenge to everyone in this room is to up our game. And this isn’t an option in today’s world. We ARE and important industry, and our products are important to mankind. We need to be recognized as important, and influence the decisions that will impact and change our industry for years to come.

We are important because we provide products that are vital to human comfort and safety. And, as our tagline states, we do make life better.

I’d like to thank you for your time today, and I truly look forward to upping my game in 2016.

 

 

 

 

Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish