At the time of this writing, the Bush tax cut extension just passed Congress, along with a reduced 25C extension, and I just returned from an officer and staff meeting in balmy Columbus - a meeting for which several of us from the south had to purchase or borrow the appropriate cold weather gear so as not to freeze in the 4-degree-high temperature.
The rich agenda included productive in-depth sessions evaluating the strategic plan, annual budget, board and past president responsibilities to the association and new initiatives adding yet more value to HARDI members and the industry. In addition, we discussed meetings, including the "Fly-In" in May and the Annual Conference Meeting in Hawaii. Finally, we had the opportunity to meet and spend time with new staff.
To that note, I would like to introduce Susan Little, director of marketing. She will oversee all marketing, communication, service, promotion and branding strategies. Emily Saving, in the role of education services manager, will play an integral role in the future development of HARDI's educational offerings and will be responsible for the research, course design, implementation and evaluation of all programs and classes added to our training and education catalog. Stephanie Lingofelter will serve as membership development and services manager. Stephanie's member support responsibilities will include management and retention of current memberships and increasing involvement in HARDI's programs and services. Finally, Mary Gustafson has been promoted to director of operations and will oversee education, administration and technical support.
We have designed these additions and changes in personnel to support the strategic initiatives and priorities of the organization. Within the plan, education continues to be the highest priority. The efforts of staff, the merging of two committees to form the new Professional Development and Training committee (along with four subcommittees) and the insight and leadership of Tom Hansch and Russell Geary as co-chairs will bring a significant amount of our resources together on this initiative.
Another strategic priority is Advocacy. The mission statement driving advocacy efforts is to "serve as the leading voice in the HVACR industry, through regulatory efforts and promotion of the HVACR industry to both members and end users." John Melchi has the lead role for the governmental portion of this initiative, and "old veteran" Talbot Gee will remain active in this area. The Government and Trade Relations committee, and all of the councils, are also active in this area. In fact, the group reflected on the impact of 25C on members' business this year and the potential impact of "dry shipped" units next year and beyond. The profound impact 25C had on many members' business this year and the potentially profound impact "dry shipped" units may have next year, reinforce how important advocacy efforts are to the industry.
Finally, Benchmarking and Information Sharing. Susan and her team are heavily involved, as well as almost all committees and councils. With the goal of offering another invaluable industry tool to its members, HARDI and the Institute for Trend Research (ITR) have begun collecting unitary sales for compilation of an A/C and Heat Pump Unitary Distributor Sales Report. ITR administers data collection as part of the Monthly Sales TRENDS reporting. To learn more about this report, visit the Benchmarking tab at www.HARDInet.org.
With all of this going on, it seems obvious that HARDI is one of the most valuable tools available to us in the industry. I urge you to take full advantage of your membership and your HARDI resource team.