My son Spencer, daughter-in-law Cherrie and I attended the January Professional Development Retreat in Vail, and we came away tremendously impressed with the location, facilities and the program. This was the third year for the retreat, and it continues to grow and develop every year. Of the 53 people in attendance, the majority were wholesaler principals. We were also fortunate to have several major suppliers and reps to round out the mix. But the fact of the matter is, it is not really about the numbers in attendance but the quality of the time spent in serious business discussions in an atmosphere conducive to relaxation and recreation. Many took to the slopes, but quite a number of others chose to take advantage of the opportunity for snowmobiling, the heated pool, spa, networking or just plain relaxation.
Although we started early each day, Michael Marks of the Indian River Consulting Group, this year's leader, had everyone so engrossed that, in spite of the lure of the mountains, it was virtually impossible to get anyone away from their group discussions and one-on-one conversations. Michael covered subjects ranging from new distribution competitors to 13-SEER to the use of technology to measure field sales forces. When everyone came together in the evening, there were further animated discussions about the earlier presentations, evidencing that a lot of in- depth conversations took place during the day's recreation. This type of presentation is so unique to our association that I believe some are reluctant to take advantage of the value it affords. It is in deep contrast to our annual conference, which offers education and relationship-building on a large scale, while this is intense, almost one-on-one, business education. I believe I can safely say that everyone left this meeting believing it was by far the best value for the time and expense they spent all year. The number of people who continue to return every year further exemplifies this. Even though I didn't ski, I can assure you I will be at future Professional Development Retreats because of the intensity and the opportunity to spend time with other wholesale distributors and associates.
For the most part, the five HARDI Regional Meetings are very similar to the Professional Development Retreat, only with warmer temperatures. There is the opportunity to gain excellent business knowledge, great interaction with other wholesalers and suppliers, and the opportunity for recreation, if you choose. I personally do not know of a better way for investing in one's valuable time than by taking the opportunity to be in a situation where you can increase your business success. HARDI provides many such opportunities every year, and I encourage wholesale distributors, in particular, to take advantage of them. I plan to attend every Regional Meeting this year, and I would love to see the wholesalers be the largest group of attendees, just like the meeting in Vail. Getting to know fellow wholesalers and learning from one-on-one discussion are invaluable to the success of your business.
The dates and locations of this year's Regional Meetings are shown elsewhere in this publication, or go to the HARDI website at www.hardinet.org and click on “upcoming events.”
If you have any questions, please call me at 214/630-7800 or Don Frendberg at 888/253-2128.
Best regards, Bill Shaw