HARDI CEO Talbot Gee opens the conference.

HARDI Hosts 2018 Annual Conference

February 01, 2019

Themed “Legacy,” the Heating, Air-conditioning, Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) 2018 Annual Conference was held at the JW Marriott in Austin, TX on December 1 – 4, 2018. The theme honored those who built the HVACR distribution industry while encouraging those building their legacies to “forge their futures.”

HARDI CEO Talbot Gee opens the conference.
HARDI CEO Talbot Gee opens the conference.

HARDI CEO Talbot Gee greeted the attendees, stating “Our goal as an association is to be the channel of choice for HVACR manufacturers and contractors. Our legacy should be when we leave there should be more business being done through wholesale distributors than when we started. Stay focused and make sure we put the pieces in place to make it happen.” He also encouraged the participation of more contractors in future annual conferences. “They are our customers and we welcome their opinions and feedback on how we are doing and how we can improve.”

Opening Keynote speaker Matthew Griffin, Co-Founder and CEO of Combat Flip Flops described how his experiences during four tours of duty as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan and Iraq helped him understand to never underestimate the abilities of yourself or those around you. “How do you build a legacy? Through the power of persistence, creativity and respect. Through risk and evolution. You have to be willing to be subject to heat, to fail and to take the beatings if you want to get stronger and faster. You’ve done it before. Just think about how you got here.” He cited the challenges and successes he experienced while building Combat Flip Flops into a global organization providing jobs, education, and safer communities for vulnerable populations.

“Peppered throughout the event were many special sessions that tied into the different sides of the theme,” stated Anthony Lagunzad, HARDI Public Affairs Specialist. “On one hand, we had sessions that showcased industry experience in Legacy panels of distributors and contractors. On the other, we had sessions focused on the future of the industry, including one on Amazon’s impact on HVACR distribution with Modern Distribution Management’s Ian Heller, the emergence of virtual reality technology, and a panel of young HVACR distribution industry up-and-comers.”

Ian Heller’s presentation, “Your Amazon Business Strategy – Evaluating the Friend or Foe Equation”, offered a theory of what Amazon’s B-to-B strategy may be and how distributors should structure their online businesses to retain customers and focus on areas Amazon doesn’t excel in. “As you focus your company on selling online, you are moving into the bullseye of what Amazon does best. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sell online. It means you shouldn’t pursue a mindless goal of just driving up your percentage of online sales. You want to build services or modes that are hard to digitize. The more people are required, the less likely Amazon is to do it. Go to your customers, ask them for feedback about the modes and rank them. Your game plan should be to understand technology, adopt it and hang on to your customers by doing things that are hard to digitize, and that Amazon is not likely to do.”

“All in all, this year’s HARDI Annual Conference was our biggest ever, with 1,640 total attendees,” Anthony Lagunzad concluded. “At the onsite press conference, our CEO Talbot Gee reaffirmed our commitment to making viable and applicable content a crucial component of our events, and this seems to continually resonate with our membership. If you made it out to Austin or if you weren’t able to join us this year, we hope to see you next year in New Orleans for 2019 HARDI Annual Conference!”

Visit https://hardinet.org for the latest information about HARDI.

Additional photos of this event are available here and at flhvacinsider.smugmug.com.