Reinventing NHRAW was the main topic discussed at its annual convention in New Orleans. NHRAW's 2000 President James McNeil presented the members with the concepts of vision engineering and market center distribution.

Reinventing the Northamerican Heating, Refrigeration and Airconditioning Wholesalers Association was the main topic discussed at its annual convention Dec. 3-5 in New Orleans.

NHRAW's 2000 President James McNeil of Emco Limited Distribution (Calgary, Alberta) presented to the members a new vision for the association, beginning with vision engineering.

"With vision engineering, NHRAW officers will have a disciplined strategic process to ensure that the association and its members have the required capabilities to succeed in this environment," he explained.

Vision engineering will require that industry trends be examined in order to plan advance strategies for the predictable and develop contingencies for the unpredictable. Core competencies of the organization will be reviewed, and new competencies will be developed in weak areas. In addition, visions and strategies will be developed for moving the association forward.

As a result of this intense scrutiny of NHRAW and its membership, the concept of market-centered distribution was developed, McNeil said. MCD means local businesses staffed with employees who know the local markets and customers.

"Market-centered distribution represents a channel function which delivers value through the marriage of the latest technology with the knowledge of local markets, convenient warehousing, information access and rapid accurate delivery provided by the local wholesale distributor," he explained. "Realigning NHRAW in support of MCD is critical to the survival of the association and its members."

Electronic technology was also a hot topic at the convention.

During the Distribution/Logistics Management Committee meeting, Chairman Russ Broeckelmann of Precision Distribution Systems (The Woodlands, Texas), announced that the board of directors had approved the formation of a new committee to focus solely on e-commerce and e-business. Recognizing the importance of electronic technology in today's business, the board believes that a separate committee will benefit the membership while allowing the distribution/logistics committee to continue with its focus of distribution and inventory management. The committee is to be called the Supply Chain Technology Committee, and Broeckelmann will chair it.

Adam J. Fein, president of Pembroke Consulting, presented his thoughts on consolidation and electronic business, "Consolidation and E-Commerce: Waves and Patterns in Distribution." The bottom line: Distributors need to understand that information technology will not replace them; it will make their businesses more efficient and more successful. Get focused on how e-business will work in your company, Fein said. Understand why your customers buy from you and use your Web site to build and maintain customer loyalty.

"Technology that solves problems gets adopted quickly," he said.

John Sedgwick expanded his presention from the 1999 convention on improving manufacturer-wholesaler relationships, and sales and marketing consultant W.R. "Max" Carey Jr., founder and chair of Corporate Resource Development, conducted a workshop on creating, selling and living the brand.

Scott Nicholson of Empire Gas & Electric (Denver) was elected as president of the association for 2001, succeeding James McNeil, who will serve as chairman.

President-elect for 2001 is James Truesdell of Brauer Supply Co. (St. Louis); vice president is Douglas R. Young of The Behler-Young Co. (Grand Rapids, Mich.); treasurer is Randy Tice of APR Supply Co. (Lebanon, Pa.); and secretary is Bill Shaw of Standard Supply & Distributing Co. (Dallas).

The 2001 convention is to be held Dec. 2-5 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.