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RSD Realizes Success with Professional Development Model

March 1, 2011
A Q&A with HARDI

Refrigeration Supplies Distributor (RSD) is the largest independently owned refrigeration parts and equipment wholesaler in the western United States, with 69 branches in nine states. The company has proudly operated since 1907.

We recently sat down with Brian Martin, RSD's president, for a look at how his company is making great strides in training and development.

HARDI: First and foremost, congratulations are due. You recently won the 2010 Dean of Education Award with HARDI, for all of the excellent work you do implementing training and development programs. You really set a precedent for the importance of continual growth and education.

Brian Martin: Thank you. The congratulations should really go to RSD's management team. They look for employees with a future in the industry, and specifically a future at RSD, and work to develop those employees and maximize their potential.

HARDI: You purchase a lot of training material from HARDI. Who are the recipients, or should I say the beneficiaries, of these great training opportunities?

Brian Martin: We encourage all of our employees to take HARDI training courses. I have seen everyone, from my vice president to a new hire, participate. If our employees pass the course, they are rewarded for the time they spent improving their management and product knowledge. RSD awards incentive pay for each course taken, depending on the grade. An employee can receive between $100 and $200 for each course. In 2010, we paid out more than $20,000 in these rewards alone.

HARDI: Wow! So Brian, it clearly takes a lot of time, money and resources to continually develop employees in this economy. Why are you still doing so much of it?

Brian Martin: My management team finds that these are great times to focus on the quality of our employees. Most people right now are glad to have a job. We feel that we can make it more than ‘just a job.’ By providing training and development, we can make it a future. It improves their attitudes. This positive attitude held by our employees is frequently noticed by our customers, vendors and even their family members. You are either a winning team or you are going backwards. Training is one of the ways to keep moving forward.

HARDI: Would you say this gives you a competitive advantage?

Brian Martin: Not only does it give us a competitive edge, but in most branches it provides a place where people are happy to come to work each day.

HARDI: What specific benefit(s) do our technical training and workbooks have on your employees? On your company as a whole?

Brian Martin: Our goal is to help our customers get what they need and get back to the job location. The HARDI courses teach our employees the vocabulary and the function of the products we sell. Our customers rely on our product knowledge. This helps build lasting relationships. Our vendors know, if they have a technical product to be sold, we make a great partner. This reputation has allowed RSD to be chosen by the leading manufacturers of the HVACR industry to represent their products.

HARDI: So you could really make a case that these training products contribute to the financial performance of your company?

Brian Martin: Money is not really our goal around here. What we strive for is to treat our customers, employees and vendors with the same respect that we would enjoy. I don't get up in the morning thinking about how I can improve the bottom line. I get up in the morning thinking that I have 400-plus families that depend on RSD. How can I help them support their loved ones? Education is one way I try to offer that support.

For more information on RSD, please visit