The fourth annual HARDI Conference is past, and it was an exceptional event. The post-conference evaluations were excellent, and the event drew a record number of wholesale distributor companies and individuals. As always, I am impressed with the participation in the committee and council sessions as it is indicative of the importance all members place on the issues related to the advancement of wholesale distribution and the HVACR industry. I promise you next year's conference at the Marriott World Center in Orlando will be even greater.
I am extremely honored to lead HARDI in 2007 and look forward to an exciting and busy year for the Association. A number of challenges face the Association and the industry where we need to continue to focus our influence and resources, and promote the importance and value of wholesale distribution.
One issue that I consider to be of extreme importance is the assistance HARDI can offer for the revitalization of several of our regional meeting programs. I was personally involved in the planning and heading up of regional meetings for a number of years, and I can attest to the concept being an important facet of our culture, one that continually contributes to greater involvement and recognition of wholesale distribution on a regional and national basis. Over the years, many of our regions have been instrumental in growing HARDI membership and sustaining strong relationships between wholesalers and suppliers. Those relationships have provided the impetus for market growth, reduced business costs and greater operating efficiencies for wholesale distributors. We realize time and priorities change for wholesalers, and through a coordinated effort of regional planners, the Board and the Events Committee, we are committed to regenerating the meetings' value and importance for those areas requesting assistance.
Being in the refrigeration wholesaling business, I am acutely aware of the need for a national refrigerant reclaim program. I will be working closely with our Refrigeration Council, our supplier members and our alliance with ARI and ACCA to see this program to fruition. HARDI's significant position in this channel affords us a unique ability to draw the industry partners together, to keep the program “front-of-mind” and provide the momentum for continued implementation.
I believe 2007 will see HARDI's brand further expanded internationally with our presence at the China Refrigeration 2007 exhibition in Guangzhou, China. We are determined to educate and raise the awareness of the value of wholesale distribution in those countries such as China where it is not an established practice. As we continue to develop and export HVACR products, we believe it is imperative their manufacturers realize that, through the expertise of our wholesale members, we offer the most efficient and effective means of bringing products to the North American markets.
The alliances we have established with other industry associations are a critical factor in our continued efforts to raise the visibility and importance of our position in the channel. I see these relationships continuing to grow and strengthen, particularly in those areas where we can support their efforts in the legislative arena on state-by-state and federal levels. Although we choose not to have a presence in Washington or be involved in lobbying efforts, we nonetheless support NAW and have the ability to direct significant grass-roots efforts towards issues that may affect wholesale distribution or the HVACR industry. This influence became a call to action in the recent campaign to do away with the LIFO method of valuing inventory, which would seriously affect many of our members. Fortunately, as an active member of the LIFO coalition, we helped halt that effort, but did not eliminate it. We may once again be called forth to assist.
Obviously, there is much more to do and many other initiatives in the HVACR industry that the Association will address to the benefit of wholesale distribution. I am pleased HARDI continues to grow and, through its domestic alliances and developing international relationships, is in an excellent position to continue to be the dominant voice for HVACR wholesale distribution.