Greetings! I understand HARDI distributors collectively are enjoying a great year, with strong sales and business performance. It is certainly the case in the Southwest, and we are looking to a strong second half of the year.
This year, as your president, I have had the opportunity and pleasure to attend nearly every regional meeting and several industry conferences, including ARI, the AHR Expo and ACCA. My travels have enabled me to meet many of you and discuss your perspectives on the state of the industry and the association. In summing up the comments, there is a definite optimism for the future for both the industry and the association. Many view the continued involvement of HARDI with other industry organizations, the increased promotion and exposure of wholesale distribution, and the tremendous value it brings to the channel as very positive activities. I have also seen the same appreciation for what we do from the manufacturers and contractors I have met.
In late February, I had the pleasure to attend the Mostra Convegno ExpoComfort Trade Show in Milan, Italy, with Don Frendberg, our executive vice president. The purpose of our visit was twofold. First, we wanted to better understand the position of wholesale distribution in the international marketplace, and second, we wanted to increase the exposure of HARDI and its brand on a global basis.
While at ExpoComfort, we met with the general secretary of Angaisa, which is the equivalent of HARDI but represents HVACR and plumbing wholesale distribution only in Italy. Because of the differing traditions and languages in Europe, wholesale distributors typically market only within their individual countries, and an association represents them within that country. Many of these national trade associations belong to FEST, which is a European trade body formed to represent wholesale distribution across Europe, with the European Commission and with manufacturer and installer associations. In meeting with the director general of FEST and with Angaisa, we found many common interests and industry concerns, and a strong interest to form an alliance to assist each other in educational and industry issues.
Both organizations' representatives were invited and plan to attend our annual conference in November. We also met with several commercial officers at the American Consulate in Milan and gained valuable information and offers of assistance in our endeavors to expand the HARDI brand in Italy and Europe. I would be remiss if I did not mention all the assistance and hospitality extended to us by HARDI member Sauermann Italia SRD, in Bologna, Italy. Maria Zanotto and Stefano Deserti went out of their way to make arrangements for our visit, including setting up meetings, arranging for lodging and providing transportation. Our trip would not have been as successful without their help.
The HARDI board believes that we must continue to broaden the exposure of HARDI. HVACR wholesale distribution plays an ever-increasing role in our industry and in the U.S. economy, and it is important that we continually promote our value proposition to our manufacturers and suppliers, contractor customers and to any potential manufacturers entering the U.S. market.
Best regards, Bill Shaw