The Education Horizon

The Education Horizon

Continual improvement seems to be the “constant variable” in today's hectic business climate and erratic economy. And whether we are talking about one of our distributor member companies, the manufacturing and contracting businesses they deal with or HARDI itself, we know that the cornerstone of this improvement is the personnel who are moving operations along. This is why, no matter what the economic anxieties of the moment, training is key to improvement for the individual and, more importantly, for the company.

HARDI educational activities have expanded substantially in recent years. Starting with the HARDI Home Study Institute (HSI) offerings in distance education, regional training workshops and conferences, and culminating with the huge success of the Counter Certification Program, HARDI has been addressing the professional development needs of its members.

The accomplishments over these past many years in education delivery at HARDI have been a direct result of the stellar staff leadership of James “Bud” Healy. His 38 years with HARDI have enabled HARDI and its membership to grow in professional expertise. Bud is planning on retiring soon — please be sure to read the accompanying side article on page 19. Through his efforts, he has created the future for so many people.

Now, even greater expansion to help distributor personnel achieve a better understanding of best businesses practices is on the way. Under the auspices of the HARDI Education Committee chaired by Tom Hansch, G. W. Berkheimer Co. Inc., and the Executive Development Committee, chaired by Russ Geary, Geary Pacific Supply, your HARDI leadership is busy addressing the current demands for skilled and trained personnel.

In February of this year, a HARDI leadership Strategic Planning session identified several strategic objectives. First among them was education, specifically “to provide unparalleled educational offerings through the development of a career path curriculum.” The intention of the curriculum would be to assimilate existing and new development for training programs which wholesalers need to create a comprehensive staffing progression guideline for each different category of personnel in the distributor chain. This guide would go beyond the basic technical or practical applications employees need on a daily basis. It would include the traditional “soft skills” such as supervisory and management expertise, communication skills for responding to both internal and external customers, assessment of personal skill sets and how they interact with business success, and others yet to be identified.

It would identify both stages of learning and training resources for each of the steps in the skills ladder. It would identify resources and training providers from industry and the association worlds including HARDI, RSES, NATE and academia. The end goal would be for HARDI members to be able to have a simple, trackable road map they could use for all employees who desire professional development. Not lost in this equation will be the owners themselves, because education is a never-ending cycle that touches all employees and one which we can link to total business success.

With the onslaught of continual upgrades in technology, trade skills and customer service opportunities, it is sometimes hard for one company or one organization to keep up with the demand. This guide will enable our members to pick and choose based on their individual needs. More importantly it will give them a roadmap to determine each company's “career track” for each staffer.

In my new role with HARDI, I am looking forward to leading this project as one of my responsibilities. My recent experience with other professional associations in similar endeavors will help me formulate a structure from which to start. In the relatively short time since I have joined the staff, I have been tremendously impressed with the diligence of the membership and their desire to be strong participants in offering educational opportunities to their staffs. Beyond that, HARDI itself is perfectly poised to take the lead in becoming the resource for professional development for the industry. I look forward to working with members from across North America as well as our international component in building on the strength of HARDI's educational network. I invite any member who has an interest in being part of the task force to build this new project to contact me directly at [email protected].

Educational training is the key to future growth. Come join us in creating that future.

Patricia Kutt is HARDI's director of education. Contact her at 888/253-2128 or [email protected].

Editor's Note: Adding to the strength of the education department activities this year is the newly hired Director of Education Patricia A. Kutt, CAE. Patricia joined the staff in June and has brought with her a wealth of expertise, having served as the education director for four major national associations. She developed workshops and several education publications for the National Society of Professional Engineers. While at the National Solid Wastes Management Association, she built the conference education program for WasteExpo, one of the top 200 trade shows in the country. She also managed a multimillion-dollar certification program for the manufacturing industry and most recently developed a yearly series of webcasts for the public works industry. Patricia has facilitated numerous business planning sessions and was the project lead for major grant projects at several of these associations. She holds the Certified Association Executive (CAE)designation from the American Society of Association Executives.

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