Monday, Dec. 2, Austin, Tex. — Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International has kicked off its 2018 Conference, at the JW Marriott in Austin, Tex.
HARDI Chairman Troy Meachum, president, ACR Supply, reported that more than 1600 people are attending this year's event, which has a theme of 'Legacy." At this year's conference, HARDI leadership HARDI seeks to honor the giants who built the HVACR distribution industry, and provide guidance to those coming up through the ranks to establish their own legacies of excellence for HARDI membership.
"Last year we showed a video, 'Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.' That video was inspirational for me. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants in this industry. We are reaping the rewards of their work," Meachum said during opening remarks on December 2.
“We need to reflect and honor those who have built this amazing industry, but we have a responsibility to build on their legacies for future generations," Meachum continued.
Meachum reported that HARDI leadership has instituted major changes in the governance structure of HARDI.
"We realized we had to make some changes. We hired an outside consultant to help us formulate best practices for governance. We are working to design a board of directors to assure direction is sound, risks are mitigated an our professional management team is performing at an elite level," Meachum said.
"Welcome to our Super Bowl," said HARDI Chief Executive Officer, Talbot Gee, who reported that this year's conference has more than 300 first-time visitors. He credited that to the work of Executive Vice President, Emily Saving, and the simple fact that many sessions influenced member companies to send more people, to get the most out of their attendance.
"I like to think we are the most content-focused event in the industry," Gee proclaimed, "and I want to make sure we deliver on what we have promised you. Every general session will focus on an aspect of legacy building."
Attendees have three educational tracks, with repeat sessions so members can see as many speakers as possible:
Explore — The current state of the industry, with crowd-pleasing content favorites such as TRENDS and HARDI’s product councils.
Execute — A look at the footholds necessary to sustain and thrive in the future, with content focused on leadership, company culture and brand.
Expand — This track focuses on the preparation and processes of advancing the industry forward, with content focused on strategy and innovation.
Session topics include:
- Attracting & Retaining the Best
- Sheet Metal Council Forum
- How Trends in Markets, Benefits, and Government Will Affect Your Business
- Amazon Business & The Future of Distribution
- Profit Drivers and the Evolving World of Wholesale Distribution
- Emerging Technologies: Winners and Losers
- Growing Commercial Business Through Training
- Controls: Blueprint for Evolution
- Insider Theft: What Every CEO Should Know about Protecting Your Business
Guest speakers include Matthew Griffin, co-founder and CEO of Combat Flip Flops, a footwear and apparel company that sells goods manufactured in conflict and post-conflict zones. Griffin founded Combat Flip Flops in 2006, after graduating from West Point and serving four tours of duty as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan and Iraq. Another guest speaker is Frances Stroh, author of "Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss," which documents the decline and fall of the Stroh Brewery empire. Stroh shared what successful family businesses must do to avoid mistakes that can lead to failure.
"This content is about our theme of ‘Legacy,' which has two parts: we want to honor, understand and learn from those who have created legacies, and brought us here. To make it possible to meet in rooms like this and have an event like this," Gee said.
"Second, there is so much amazing talent coming up through this organization, and we are merging leadership. Those coming up in the industry will lead when their time comes, and begin defining their individual legacies."
That's an exciting proposition, but also a daunting task, Gee admitted, but it can be accomplished.
"We all must work together, to help our emerging leaders be even bigger than the legacy builders of yesterday. We accept this challenge and we hope you will too," Gee said.
"We want our members to grow and continue to prosper and profit so they can be generous, give back, and build on our legacies in that regard."
The HARDI 'Legacy' Conference continues through Tuesday, Dec. 4. Additional reports will be posted on Contracting Business.