HOW HARDI CAME ABOUT
Wholesaling matured at different times for different types of merchandise in North America. Food and apparel wholesalers were well established in the 19th century. However, today’s mechanical products were not possible until the development of the small electric motor in the early part of the 20th century.
The market for refrigerators began in the 1920s and in the early 1930s for store display cases – hence the emergence of the Refrigeration Parts Association in 1935, which in 1958 became the Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Wholesalers (ARW).
In the late 1940s, heating wholesalers formed their own organization, the National Heating Wholesalers Association, to focus on the business of national distribution of lighter weight steel furnaces in the post-war building boom. By the 1960s this association was renamed Northamerican Heating & Air-conditioning Wholesalers Association (NHAW).
As the exponential growth period for many products gave way to maturity, the HVACR industry entered into an era of excess production capacity. For manufacturers this led to mergers, acquisitions and closed doors. The 100 furnace manufacturers of the 1960s became just a handful by the 1990s. Channel power shifted from the manufacturer to the customer.
For wholesalers, too, real growth often came by increasing market share at the expense of another wholesaler, merging and acquiring other wholesalers and moving horizontally to handle other related products – air-conditioning wholesalers might expand into refrigeration and vice versa. As technology issues helped drive the merger of contractor, engineering and manufacturer associations in the 50s and 60s, pure distribution issues in the 90s helped inspire the two major HVACR wholesale trade groups to take a more collaborative approach.
In 2003, Northamerican Heating, Refrigeration & Air-conditioning Wholesalers (NHRAW) and Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Wholesalers International (ARWI) consolidated forming Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI).
Today HARDI represents more than 475 wholesale companies (including 17 international companies), more than 300 manufacturing associates and nearly 140 manufacturer representatives. It is estimated that HARDI members represent 80 percent of the dollar value of the HVACR products sold through distribution.
Information may well overshadow product innovation as the leading market driver. Organizations that are information masters will control the HVACR market. Having the right products, at the right place, at the right time, at the right price, for the right customers, is all about information.
HARDI is the single marketing organization designed to support and serve the HVACR industry with the right products, at the right price, for the right customers.
DOES THE INDUSTRY NEED AN ASSOCIATION?
The construction industry is a huge business operation comprised of thousands of diverse specialty groups furnishing a wide variety of services and products. Despite its diversity, the construction industry manages to come together to perform – as a team – extraordinary feats. According to the Directory of Construction Associations, much of its success can be attributed to an extensive network of trade associations, professional societies and labor organizations formed by various interests within the industry.
Therefore, one of the most important reasons for industry groups to form an association is to provide a means of disseminating information to its members and communicating with other segments of the industry. HARDI is now the single marketing and distribution resource devoted to the advancement of the science of distributing HVACR products and supplies.