Events, People

Succession Planning, Talent Development and More HR Topics Discussed During Unified Group Forum

July 22, 2022

After last year’s virtual Human Resources Forum, members were ecstatic to return to a face-to-face meeting in 2022. Excited and eager to learn, members from 15 companies across the country flew to San Antonio for three full days of productivity and socialization.

“The best part is knowing I have the network, but to participate in person is just phenomenal,” said Donna Anderson of Peterson Sheet Metal.

Deb Whitworth, owner and CEO of HR Studio Group, LLC, was the featured speaker on the first day. She dug into the complex process of succession planning and what that looks like, from the timeline to developing a company’s next leaders.

“Succession planning goes hand-in-hand with career advancement,” Whitworth said.

Members had plenty of opportunities to reflect on their own professional success, in addition to being provided charts and real-life examples on working through investigations and complaints in the workplace.

“Since I’m new to HR, Deb gave many good ideas for me to take back to management,” said Elyse Schuman of Wiegmann Associates.

Members returned on day two for more informative topics, including large group discussions, breakout groups and time for reflection. Guest speaker Susan DiGraitis facilitated an open-discussion workshop with an emphasis on performance management.

“Perfection is the enemy of progress,” she said. “You need to constantly evaluate.”

Onboarding presentations by Elyse Schuman and Rita Swegheimer of Standard Plumbing & Heating were also beneficial to the members. Schuman shared her company’s new hire training while her onboarding binder was passed around for each attendee to review in detail. Swegheimer established the importance of onboarding to establish good rapport.

Day three started with Cary Dixon of Blauch Brothers, who created a presentation on a new hire training program. Dixon shared various diagrams he utilizes during this training process, which correlated experiences with creating positive outcomes.

“This was my first Unified event, and I am so grateful for having been included,” Dixon said. “I can’t wait to attend the next one to continue learning and sharing best practices with the teams.”

Overall, the time spent in San Antonio with The Unified Group was advantageous to all who attended.

“I learned so much from really intelligent people. I felt very welcomed and supported,” said Kelsey Alstrup of Legacy Mechanical Systems. “I’m grateful for the willingness of others to share ideas and suggestions.”

If you or someone you know is interested in attending an upcoming meeting with The Unified Group, contact Janet Kelleher at (815) 546-6211 or

About The Unified Group

Formed in 1998, The Unified Group is an organization of the leading independent HVAC commercial contractors in the industry. The association helps strengthen its member businesses through a variety of training and resources and is dedicated to raising the standards of excellence in the HVACR industry. For more information, visit