Conference Realities During the Pandemic
I attended the virtual 2020 HARDI Summit, which like much of this year was different from previous conferences. HARDI has a deserved reputation for intense educational tracks that touch virtually every facet of the HVACR wholesale business. HARDI had to change the conference to a virtual one late in the game, given the pandemic’s realities. Yet it still offered a broad range of relevant seminars one could attend.
What no one could overcome, including HARDI, is the absence of the personal touch, connections made, problems resolved and spontaneity at a conference. We all know this happens. You make a connection with someone in your sphere of interest, and 20 years later, over a beverage, you recall your first meeting. “We met at HARDI back in …” is not uncommon. An acquaintance who has been in the HVACR industry for more than two decades once told me about a manufacturer who went to HARDI conferences without ever getting a new client. Why go? He told my friend that it allowed him to meet with all his current wholesale clients without jumping on a plane and flying all over the country. Most were there in one spot for four days. The logic is hard to dispute.
TRC has special challenges with virtual conferences. While I enjoy working at TRC and am committed to a safer environment, some might suggest our work isn’t quite the most exciting product. After all, unlike most businesses, if they reach a goal, they set new ones. If we reach our goal of finding that last mercury-containing thermostat, there is no longer a TRC. Given the narrow range of our well-known program, it’s unlikely someone will click to learn more or interact with us as an exhibitor. However, when they walk past us in a normal in-person event, they are far more likely to pause and speak with me about our program. It provides them an opportunity to participate if they haven’t yet or allows them to ask how well their company is performing in our program. It boils down to the personal touch, and we appreciate the nondigital approach that has contributed mightily to TRC’s success.
As an optimist, I hope we will meet with you at the next HARDI conference scheduled for Dec. 4 to 7, 2021, in Palm Desert, California. Stop by, let’s chat, and allow me to spend a few minutes catching you up on TRC’s recycling program. I have truly missed doing that this year.