HVAC distributors, manufacturers and reps shared concerns over tax credits, tariffs and other issues at a recent meeting.

Bill Bergamini (left) president, ILLCO Wholesale Distributors, director of HARDI’s Central Region and vice chair of National Refrigeration Council, and Talbot H. Gee, vice president of HARDI.

The Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) held its combined mid-year business meeting and Great Lakes and Central regional meeting June 5-8 in Oak Brook, IL.

Part of the meeting was spent on an interactive exchange regarding HVAC and refrigerant issues. Among the topics covered:

Tax credits.HARDI credits the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) at least partly with the recent improvement in sales performance in most of its regions. Starting in March 2010, seven of eight regions had outperformed the same month, previous year, although half were still running more than 10% lower over the last 12 months. HARDI is urging an extension of two more years for ARRA, which offers tax credits to homeowners who make qualified energy efficiency improvements to their primary residences and expires at the end of 2010. The association is also asking that small businesses that use the same qualifying HVAC systems in commercial settings be offered the tax credit.

Copper tariffs.Any tube product now entering the U.S. is assessed a preliminary anti-dumping tariff. A final ruling will be made in September. Those tariffs will remain in place for five to seven years. Expect to see an impact on OEM. Distributors should find out if their supplier of small diameter tube will continue to import.

Refrigerant raw materials.The focal point seems to be HFC-125 because it is used in so many refrigerants. Expect to see longer lead times with different blends. The market for R-401A was underestimated. Some wholesalers say they have surpassed last year’s R-401A sales by three to four times. Demand will grow further as equipment gets older. There may be a scaling back of HCFC-22 (also known as R-22) to produce more blends. When there is a shortage, try to identify real needs and avoid creating artificial demand.

Sales data.The HVAC Council is working with the Institute for Trend Research (ITR) to pursue a distributors’ equipment sales report. The Refrigeration Council is discussing something similar for refrigeration sales. These reports will reflect sales, not just inventory, and will help distributors make better business decisions.

For more information, visitwww.hardinet.org.