Last weekend marked the beginning of a landmark initiative for HARDI, our distributor members, supplier partners, and most importantly for at least 100 wounded heroes from America’s armed forces. Impact Committee Co-Chairs Mike Braun, Gustave A. Larson Co., and Dave Chatmon, The Lettering Machine, as well as Distribution Center Magazine Editor, Tom Peric, joined me at a Community Kickoff for Homes for Our Troops’ (HFOT) new specially-adapted home build for Army Corporal Kevin McCloskey and his wife, Bridget, in a Northeast suburb of Philadelphia. The four of us were invited because HFOT incorporated into this moving and inspiring ceremony one of the proudest moments of my professional career.
HFOT President & CEO, Major General (USA, Ret.) Tim McHale, and I participated in a signing ceremony consummating a bold partnership between HFOT and HARDI to fully supply 100 new builds over the next three years with Energy Star or better HVAC equipment and installation supplies. Further, the partnership fully empowers the contributing distributor to partner with the HVAC contractor of their choice willing to donate their expertise and time to install — to the highest standards — every system for each of these builds. The total value of this commitment could reach $2 million, making HARDI and our membership one of the largest contributors to this fantastic organization.
I first met HFOT at a U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild in 2008. I was impressed with their mission but felt compelled to meet them so I could ask why they were at an event such as Greenbuild. Their answer has stuck with me ever since. HFOT builds specially-adapted homes for severely injured Veterans Post 9/11 and GIVES the home to the Veteran MORTGAGE FREE, however the Veteran is then responsible for all subsequent maintenance and upkeep. They were at Greenbuild to learn how to build the most energy efficient homes as affordably as possible so their homes would have the absolute lowest operating costs for the incoming Veteran. It wasn’t about saving the planet, trying to pull baseline efficiencies up, attempting to create a premium-priced product, or reducing greenhouse gases, but rather getting the biggest bang for the organization’s and the incoming Veteran’s buck by having efficient equipment installed properly into well-designed, well-constructed homes. They had me at hello and, since that moment, HARDI’s commitment, and that of our Impact Committee and our Helping All Live On (HALO) philanthropic organization, has grown each year exceeding $60,000 in donations in 2015 (good enough for 6th place among all HFOT contributors in 2015) and now on track for more than $1 million by 2019.
Perhaps I’m most excited about members of HARDI now being part of the next 100 Community Kickoffs as primary sponsors of those builds. Those who have attended Annual Conferences since 2012 have undoubtedly felt the hairs on the back of their necks stand up when a HFOT Veteran opens the Annual Conference, tells their story, and introduces that year’s HARDI President. I will guarantee you that moment is just a fraction of the emotion you’ll feel at your first Community Kickoff – and I can’t even imagine what a key ceremony must be like when all your hard work is complete and the Veteran is about to walk into their own, perfectly climate-controlled new home.
You’re going to be hearing a lot about this massive campaign in the coming months and I’m hoping- no, EXPECTING- HARDI distributors to not only rise to the challenge, but exceed our 100 build commitment over these next three years. This is distribution’s time to shine in your local communities for a cause so much bigger than any of us. HFOT could have signed a national supply agreement with a single OEM, but they wanted and recognized the power of local businesses supporting local residence. So help me prove to HFOT and all of their Veteran heroes who have sacrificed so much that we are worthy of their trust over the next three years and capable of delivering the most efficient and affordable homes these Veterans will ever know.
For anyone who wants to get involved, reach out to our Impact Committee: