Columbus, OH - Donald Frendberg, Heating, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) executive vice president and COO, recently addressed European distributors at the 48th FEST Congress in Algarve, Portugal. The theme of the Vilamoura congress was “competition in added value” and brought together over 170 attendees from 11 European countries. FEST, the European Federation of the Sanitary and Heating Wholesale Trade, represents national trade organizations in 17 counties including Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, Denmark, France, Finland, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.
Earlier this year, Frendberg and HARDI President Bill Shaw of Standard Supply and Distributing Co. in Dallas, Texas, attended the Mostra Convegno Expo Comfort in Milan, Italy, where they were introduced to FEST and its director general, Frans Geurts.
“We attended the show in Milan to better understand the European distribution industry and to determine if a global alliance was possible within the wholesale industry,” Frendberg said. “What we came away with was a wonderful reception, a mutual agreement to share common interests and issues, and an invitation to address the FEST Congress.”
Since FEST represents both HVACR and sanitary distribution, Don was asked to speak about both aspects of the distribution industry in North America. The presentation therefore included histories, membership makeup, governance, performance and industry statistics for both HARDI and ASA.
“The most significant aspect of the overall Congress was the realization that the issues faced by European distribution are virtually a carbon copy of the situations in North America,” Frendberg said. “Concerns with consolidation, finding qualified personnel, improving efficiency, cost reductions, technology implementation and the extension of service offerings are common to all distribution, no matter country or continent.
“In a way, it's good to know we all share common issues; however, it also emphasizes the need for greater cooperation in finding collective solutions as globalization continues at a rapid pace,” Frendberg added.
FEST is planning a trade mission to the U.S. in 2007 to visit with fellow wholesale distributors. HARDI will be coordinating the mission once the plans are developed.
For more information on HARDI, visit www.HARDInet.org.