Outgoing HARDI President Michael Meier (Meier Supply Co.) had a distinct message for attendees of the HVACR trade association’s annual conference held in early December at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Make wholesale-distribution the channel of choice for our manufacturers and contractors,” he said. “This is about elevating wholesale-distribution and raising the game.”

Meier’s use of the word elevate tied into the conference’s main theme. And based on the many educational and self-help sessions, as well as the large amount of networking opportunities available during the three-day event, HARDI again succeeded in providing a platform to help its members elevate themselves on the professional and personal levels.

First-day lunch keynote speaker Aron Ralston told his harrowing story (later the subject of the Oscar-nominated film “127 Hours”) of having to amputate his own arm after being trapped under a large boulder for five days during a rock-climbing excursion. Ralston translated what he learned from his experience into advice that can be applied to businesses and everyday life.

“Things that stress you out and keep you up and things that cause fear and uncertainty are boulders,” he said. “It could be tightening margins or a saturated market, let alone personal ones. The boulders always are there. When your boulder shows up, what are you going to do with it? What I took from that rock was the strength to persevere. That boulder gave me the courage and strength in the face of an immovable object. That strength is in all of us. You don’t find it unless adversity comes. You will learn what you are capable of. That’s the gift the boulder gives. We can resist all we want when the boulders come, but then what? When you encounter boulders in life, say thank-you for what they give you. Your boulders become your blessings.”

For the second year in a row, media members attended a series of special press conferences that highlighted new initiatives from HARDI member companies, ranging from Viega’s move to new corporate headquarters in Broomfield, Colo., to Dakota Supply’s rollout of an after-hours phone order service for its customers throughout the upper Midwest.

“We survey our customers every year and two years running a concern has been that it’s hard to get ahold of someone after 5 p.m.,” Dakota Supply Group HVACR Segment Manager Greg Servais explained. “We have customers who like to call at 5:15 or 6 p.m. They are just getting off the jobsite and want to get something on the truck for the next day.”

Thus Dakota created an after-hours order line for its plumbing, HVAC and electrical customers. “We have dedicated customer-service reps (one for each segment) live from 5-11 p.m.,” Servais said. “The early reviews have been really good. We want to get away from contractors being frustrated that they can’t get ahold of us and then they go to a big-box retailer that’s open at night. If someone calls at 9 p.m. and needs to place an order, we can fulfill it and have it ready at 7:30 a.m. the next day. We’re a customer-service distributor and this is another tool that best helps our customers.”

Also during the conference HARDI announced the revision of one of its four strategic pillars with the education component being relaunched as the talent pillar, which will provide a broader scope of services and resources to members as it relates to their employees and workforce development.

Coastal HVAC Supply and Gustave A. Larson Co. were the winners of the HARDI advocacy pillar champion award; while G.W. Berkheimer was the benchmarking pillar champion award-winner. ACR Supply earned the education pillar champion honor.

Meier turned the HARDI presidency over to Tom Roberts of cfm Distributors. Troy Meachum of ACR Supply now is the president-elect and Brian Peirce (Peirce-Phelps) is the new vice president.


This article was originally titled “Elevate” in the January 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.