Vendors and distributors interact at NHRAW's booth program.

Electronic commerce dominated the presentations at the annual convention of the Northamerican Heating, Refrigeration and Airconditioning Wholesalers Association, held Dec. 5-7 in Washington.

Rick Jones, e-business architecture manager for Intel Corp., made a strong presentation regarding the impact of electronic business in today¿s world.

¿The essence of the Internet economy is knowledge management,¿ Jones said. ¿E-businesses today are turning information into competitive advantage.¿

And it¿s happening at an accelerated rate. Jones noted that the Internet took five years to reach 50 million users, whereas radio took 38 years to reach the same number of consumers. He emphasized the fact that electronic business-to-business transactions can reduce redundancies in the supply channel, lower transaction costs and improve business partnerships.

The Distribution and Logistics Management Committee addressed the issue of vendor-managed inventory, or supplier-assisted inventory replenishment. Jennifer Clark from Johnson Controls and Larry Rector from Climatic Control Co. (Milwaukee) discussed their inventory partnership. Clark explained that supplier-assisted inventory replenishment is a massive cost-cutting initiative for Johnson Controls. Drop in lead times, improved forecasting accuracy, transaction cost savings, better inventory tracking and fewer returns of overstock are just some of the benefits to distributors, Rector said.

Ed Heon from Profile Systems described the EDIPro standard, which is the electronic data interchange documentation standard established by the National Association of Electrical Distributors. NHRAW¿s board of directors recently adopted this standard for the HVACR industry following the recommendation of an all-industry e-commerce forum held in September. He also explained the need for product database synchronization, in which the part numbers from manufacturers¿ and distributors¿ products are matched so that only one number can be used. In most cases, the manufacturer¿s part number is used, he said.

The Controls Distributors Council also conducted its meeting along e-commerce lines, discussing the new EDIPro standard for HVACR.

Vendors and consultants of e-commerce technologies were on hand at the Electronic Commerce Pavilion for one-on-one discussions. Vendors included Datacat, Eclipse, General Data Systems, HVAC Online, J&M Industries, Mincron Software Systems, NxTrend Technology, Precision Distribution Systems, Susan M. Recchia Consulting Services, Howard W. Sams, Schnitt ProfiTools, Systems Design and Wrightsoft Corp.

Other presentations of note were the Air Distribution Materials and Machinery Council program on dealer development with Jim Booth of Grandy & Associates; the HVAC Systems Council program on improving wholesaler/manufacturer relationships by John Sedgwick; and a workshop dealing with global warming presented by Michael C. MacCracken, executive director of the National Assessment Coordination Office of the U.S. Global Change Research program.

James McNeil of Emco Limited Distribution (London, Ontario) was elected as president of the association for 2000, succeeding Leo Walsh of Columbus Temperature Control Co. (Columbus, Ohio), who will serve as chairman.

President-elect for 2000 is Scott Nicholson of Empire Gas & Electric (Denver), vice president is James Truesdell of Brauer Supply Co. (St. Louis), treasurer is Douglas R. Young of The Behler-Young Co. (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and secretary is Randy Tice of APR Supply Co. (Lebanon, Pa.).

The 2000 convention is to be held Dec. 3-6 in New Orleans.