Members of the Northamerican Heating, Refrigeration and Airconditioning Wholesalers Association achieved a 4.5% growth rate in fiscal year 2000 over 1999 results, according to the association's annual sales survey released in July. Sales of HVACR equipment, accessories and supplies in 2000 were nearly $14.75 billion.

While the increase of $650 million for the year is impressive, it represents a decline of nearly 3% from the growth patterns seen in the proceeding year. In 1997 and 1998, NHRAW wholesalers posted sales growth increases of 5.7% and 7.4% respectively. The growth reduction is reflective of other industry indices for 2000 which also showed significant softening as compared to previous years, said Donald Frendberg, NHRAW executive vice president/COO. Housing starts, for example, were down 5.2% compared to 1999 while unitary air conditioning units increased 2% and central heating units remained unchanged from the previous year.

How does the HVACR distribution growth compare to the total distribution industry? In 1999, the latest data available, the total sales in wholesale distribution grew to $2.74 trillion, which was a 7.3% increase over 1998. As mentioned previously, NHRAW member wholesale distributors reported a similar growth of 7.4% for the same period. What is perhaps even more significant is the fact that the wholesale distribution industry in total contributed 7% of the U.S. national income in 1999 and accounts for one in every 20 jobs in the United States, according to The Distributor's and Wholesaler's Advisor.