Pasar al contenido principal Saltar al pie de página del mapa del sitio

Cómo los datos, las regulaciones y la capacitación están dando forma a la industria de HVAC

CEO Talbot Gee of HARDI – the Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International
CEO Talbot Gee of HARDI – the Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International


Connect with Talbot:

Ver transcripción

Talbot Gee (00:00:00 to 00:00:58)

I wouldn't say the focus has been on displacing or replacing or filling labor needs. It's been more about scalability and maximizing space. Space is at a premium these days, and so you're seeing more and more distributors implement or kick the tires on robotics and systems that enable them to just simply have more stuff in the same square footage than they had it before work. So, you need better technologies for your inventory management and movement of product and everything. Also, a lot of it on data management, business intelligence.


Distributors sit on an absolute goldmine of data because there are so many transactions every single day, and most distributors will admit that they just don't leverage the data well enough. So lots of investment on figuring out how to get the nuggets out of all that data and make better decisions, move faster, be more nimble.


Announcer (0:01:01 to 0:01:16)

Welcome to Paychex THRIVE, a Business Podcast where you'll hear timely insights to help you navigate marketplace dynamics and propel your business forward. Here's your host, Gene Marks.


Gene Marks (0:01:17 to 0:02:16)

Hey everybody, it's Gene Marks, and thanks so much for joining me on another episode of the Paychex THRIVE podcast. I am here with Talbot Gee. Talbot is the chief executive officer at the Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International or HARDI. First of all, Talbot, thank you so much for joining me.


Talbot Gee (00:01:35 to 00:01:37)

Thanks for having me. Really excited about this.


Gene Marks (00:01:37 to 00:01:55)

Yeah, glad to have you here. We have a lot to talk about, and this conversation is really directed to people that are in the HVAC industry, but also contractors as well, and indirect and related fields. Tell me a little bit about the organization, and then I also want to hear about you and how you came to be leading it.


Talbot Gee (00:01:55 to 00:02:55)

Sure. Sure. Yes. So, we're the wholesale distributor association in the heating, cooling and refrigeration industry, and we represent over 450 wholesale distributor entities located all across the United States and Canada. And then we also have a Latin American division which reaches into Mexico, Central America, South America. That's an additional, I don't know, 50 or so more wholesalers or so, something like that throughout that part of the world. And we are proud to say we have a location in every congressional district in the U.S., and members of all shapes and sizes. We still have an awful lot of family-owned, family-run businesses, but we also have publicly traded, we have very large privates, we have nationwide super regionals down to one location wholesalers. So, you name it. And then all the major suppliers are also associate members of the organization, as well.


Gene Marks (00:02:55 to 00:03:14)

Got it. So, these are people that are in the heating and air-conditioning industry, correct? I mean, that is what they do. Are there HVAC firms as well that, like the guy that comes and put in the HVAC system in my house, are part of your members, as well, or is it just distributors and suppliers?


Talbot Gee (00:03:14 to 00:03:48)

No, we work very closely with the contractor community, but no, they are not members of ours, and that's intentional. There are organizations that are specific to the contracting side of the business. We are specific to the wholesaling side of the business, but we are, as a former president, used to call it, a three-legged stool, right? The stool falls over if you don't have the manufacturer, distributor, and the contractor. So we work incredibly closely with the contractor community on a lot of things, everything from training and workforce development all the way up to, obviously, government affairs and policy issues.


Gene Marks (00:03:49 to 00:03:51)

Yeah, it makes sense. And how did you come to lead the organization?


Talbot Gee (00:03:52 to 00:04:25)

Well, I had tripped into the industry that is association management and working with trade associations, and I happened to get into the wholesale distribution sector and was working with associations in wholesale distribution. That in and of itself is kind of a tight community. And my predecessor, who ran HARDI before me, Don Frenberg, had met me through some of those networks, and then when he decided it was time for him to retire, asked if I would move to Columbus, Ohio, and fill his shoes.


Gene Marks (00:04:25 to 00:04:36)

That is awesome. And do you guys have any, know, it's North America, I guess, right? So, it does include Canada and Mexico. Do you have any members that are outside of North America or anybody in Europe or Asia?


Talbot Gee (00:04:36 to 00:05:19)

Yeah, we have a very small spattering. We have a couple that are actually in Australia. We have, I think, one or two that might be in Europe or Asia, but we don't focus on it, we don't recruit for it. Usually if they join, they found us and want to be able to have access to the U.S. manufacturer executives, which is hard for them to get where they are. That being said, we are considering further international expansion due to the success of our Latin American division. And we see opportunities in a few segments of the world where there is either the need for or an established wholesale channel that we can help develop and grow.


Gene Marks (00:05:19 to 00:05:58)

Got it. Hey, so, Talbot, you just mentioned earlier about some of the things that you guys help your members with; workforce development kind of rings true in my field for my clients are in both the manufacturing and distribution industries. Regardless of what their specialty is, it still remains under one of the most - the most biggest issue that they have. Finding people, retaining them, training them. What kind of services do you provide to your members to help them develop their workforce, find new people, get them as skilled as possible. Where do you point them to?


Talbot Gee (00:05:58 to 00:07:36)

Yeah, not enough, never enough on that, but it's growing. So, one of the coolest things I think our education foundation did is we completed and created a whole documentary. It's a 50-minute documentary that you can see on Amazon and things like that called "Hot Commodity". And it's an incredibly professionally produced docudrama, I guess you'd almost call it, about working in our industry. And it has a large focus on those individuals who may not have a college degree, for example, and all the opportunities involved.


And it was so well-received that we were actually asked to expand it and include some of the contractor interest, as well. So, there's even portions about what it means to come into the field as a technician and go work for a contractor. But it really was intended to overcome any myths that you cannot be successful without a college degree or if you have a college degree, that you have to go to these certain fields and that this industry may not be a great place for you. I think we've addressed all that. So that was a great one that we encourage our members then to use, go take it to the job fairs, the high school career days, those sort of things, and share snippets of that or make it available to the students they talk to.


We also just brought on an incredibly accomplished and experienced new vice president of talent development who has worked with very large public international organizations, corporations, who obviously their biggest issue was finding and retaining talent, right?


Talbot Gee (00:07:37 to 00:08:31)

Especially retailers, where you have dots on a lot of maps. So she's going to bring a wealth of expertise to us on how we enhance our game in empowering our members to be excellent recruiters and retainers. But if I had to put a button on the whole thing, I would say we encourage the members to look hard in house first. Before you launch some huge recruiting campaign, What does your onboarding process look like? What do your internal processes and policies look like? Are you actually an employer of choice? Right?


Like ask yourself the hard question and really make somebody help you from the outside evaluate that. Maybe there are reasons why you might have a hard time attracting or retaining talent, and it's something you could actually fix if you were aware of it and focused on it in house. So, that's really the first place we start, and where most of our resources really lie is helping them from the inside out first.


Gene Marks (00:08:33 to 00:08:51)

I got to drill down on this because only because it's been such a hot topic. A lot of states offer workforce development training programs and grants, as well. Are you familiar with any of those. Do you have any sort of advice or thoughts for people watching this that might want to take advantage of those kinds of programs?


Talbot Gee (00:08:51 to 00:10:00)

Well, especially in skilled trades, there's a lot of opportunities in that area, and that's one of the trends we've seen in our channel, by the way, is a lot of contractors, as they grow, one of the first things they do when they hit a certain scale is they start building their own training facilities. Their model then shifts to where they'll look for practically green potential technicians and build them themselves, not rely on third parties, not rely on, or even if they get them from a trade school or something like that, they're still going to run them through their own program. Sure. And so there is ways that you can secure some funding in some states and through even some federal programs, depending how big you are, to help you offset some of the cost of doing that thing if you are successful in building and growing a talent base. So, on the wholesale side, it's a little bit, you don't have quite as many opportunities like that.


But the best distributors, I will tell you, they have formal development programs for their high potentials, for their leaders, and for their executive management paths and tracks. And I think that's an important best practice.


Gene Marks (00:10:01 to 00:10:25)

Have you been seeing many of your members, like doubling down on technology only because they're just unable to find workers or there's better ways and quicker ways to do things. And if that's the case, I'm kind of curious, what kind of technologies are you seeing out there? And I realize you're dealing with wholesalers, distributors, and also manufacturers, so it can be different. But I'm kind of curious, when you talk to your members, what's been hot in their minds over the past couple of years?


Talbot Gee (00:10:25 to 00:11:03)

So, yes, huge investments in technology, but I wouldn't say the focus has been on displacing or replacing or filling labor needs. It's been more about scalability and maximizing space. Space is at a premium these days, and so you're seeing more and more distributors implement or kick the tires on robotics and systems that enable them to just simply have more stuff in the same square footage than they had it before. So you need better technologies for your inventory management and movement of product and everything. Also, a lot of it on data management, business intelligence.


(00:11:04 to 00:11:57)

Distributors sit on an absolute goldmine of data because there are so many transactions every single day, and most distributors will admit that they just don't leverage the data well enough. So, lots of investment on figuring out how to get the nuggets out of all that data and make better decisions, move faster, be more nimble? I would say when it does come to people; people are expensive, frankly, these days they're expensive and they can be hard to replace. So, you're thinking about ways to use technology to make their jobs easier, safer, more sustainable, right? So, that in theory, all those things reduce turnover because the turnover is so expensive these days. So, I don't see it really as displacing people, as more empowering them and making the businesses just more efficient.


Gene Marks (00:11:58 to 00:12:30)

Jumping back onto the whole workforce again, I'm just seeing, you're out there, you're talking to your members. Is trade in tech schools still the place to go to find those sort of like skilled hourly production or even warehouse people? Is that sort of number one? Along with that, do you have any thoughts on programs with local high schools? Some of my clients have tried that with different types of success. What are your comments on both of those?


Talbot Gee (00:12:30 to 00:13:19)

Yeah, I think they're really important. And frankly, I think they're starting to see some success. I mean, frankly, we've seen a steady decline in four-year college enrollments over the last four years now. And those people aren't just disappearing, they're going somewhere. And some of them are going straight into careers.


A lot of them are going into vocation or trade type, school type or associate degree programs. And so, yeah, I think that's a really big deal. The other part of it is, especially in the trades, a lot of kids don't want to go into just more school. They want to work with their hands, they want to do something more immersive, they want to do something more interactive. And some really smart companies out there are taking advantage of that and giving these young people some incredible opportunities right out of school.


(00:13:19 to 00:14:22)

And they come out making a good wage with a huge potential for growth and no debt whatsoever. Right? It's kind of like the trifecta, the perfect win. So, we see that with the wholesaler community, too. One of my favorite things about wholesale distribution, there are countless stories of guys who started as a driver or just in the warehouse, who then end up on the counter, then end up in inside sales, then maybe in logistics or branch management, or they go the other way toward sales management, then end up in executive positions.


And a branch manager, by the way, I think is one of the coolest jobs on the planet. It's your own little business, right? You own your territory and the responsibility for execution for your company in that territory. And you own the personnel in that area, you own the inventory management, you even sometimes own the relationships with the sales forces in those areas. I think it's the coolest job in the world, and you can get that job with a handful of years of experience if you're smart, you work hard, you're on time, you're conscientious, and you want to learn.


Gene Marks (00:14:23 to 00:15:30)

Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. People that are in your industry, I see and bump into them all the time. And it's not only great for professional development just internally, but listen, I mean, the kind of skills and stuff that you learn gives you the ability to go out and start your own business if you want to do that on your own. With employees or without, it's a great livelihood and a great way to make a living. Are there any other, just when I speak to groups, and I've written about this in a few different places, I've been seeing this jump in people. Companies are so desperate to get skilled workers that they're willing to go to certain areas, and one area is like the formerly incarcerated. I've seen some industry groups form partnerships or at least go after people that are getting out of prison, they've served their time. They (companies) work with nonprofits that can provide training for them. They can get those workforce development grants, as well.


I'm curious if you've seen any of that in the HVAC industry. Has there been an uptick in people in these times of trying to find workers going to the prison systems? What thoughts you have on that?


Talbot Gee (00:15:30 to 00:16:51)

Yeah, I mean, there's opportunities more so probably in the wholesale side of the business on something like that. The contractors, it's a little trickier because if you, for example, are going to be a technician, you're in people's houses and it's a really big deal on security. And a lot of companies do have to do the background checks, but then also give advanced resumes to the customer of who's coming to the house and the background there and everything. So, that one's a little bit trickier, but again, for distributor personnel, yeah, I'm sure there's instances of that. The other big opportunity has been veterans, people coming out of the military, right? And that's been a huge opportunity for many in that respect.


I'll also address, we actually created one of our newer councils, is a diversity and inclusion council, but it was done with an extremely narrow, sharp focus, and it is on recruitment and retention. That's what it's about, is how do we solve the biggest problem in recruitment or retention, and what role does diversity and inclusion play in that. So, one of the best examples is all of our distributors are growing at rapid rates, and they're in a lot of markets that are not their home market anymore.


(00:16:51 to 00:16:58)

Okay, so now, if you want to be effective in a market, you know this as an expert, right, you have to relate to your customer base, right?


Talbot Gee (00:16:59 to 00:17:44)

So, that may mean that you have workforces that are very different from maybe where your headquarters are or where you had originally grown up. Are you capable, conscientious, aware, effective at recruiting and retaining people in other territories that you are now in that you may not know a lot about or have a lot in common with directly, right? So, to me, that's the business case around diversity and inclusion, and that is the laser focus that we keep with that council, is how do you make sure you're understanding this in terms of improving your recruitment win and your retention win, and that's it. If there's any other topic, we don't talk about that. It only is if it does those two things.


Gene Marks (00:17:44 to 00:18:25)

That's great. All right, let me pivot away from workforce and labor and ask just some things on the economy and regulatory stuff from you. The HVAC industry has done well. I mean, you guys have had through COVID, and since COVID, have performed quite well. Obviously, everybody's reading everywhere that construction continues to be strong, but pending home sales are, like, at a 30-year low. Real estate industry is right now in the doldrums. It's a combination of high prices and high mortgage rates and people not wanting to move. Does that concern you in this industry, or are you more inclined towards just new construction?


Talbot Gee (00:18:26 to 00:18:54)

It does concern us, and not because so many of our members do so much new construction, but more so because our market intelligence teams identified a really strong correlation with our members' sales and existing home sales. And it's actually pretty fascinating, you take that back, over time, a 1% change in existing home sales equates almost directly to a half-percent change in distributor sales.


Gene Marks (00:18:54 to 00:19:19)

And if I can interrupt you, I'm assuming that's because a lot of times, people will keep their HVAC systems much longer than they should be. Then they wind up selling their homes for whatever reason and then, of course, the new buyer comes in and is like, all right, well, we got to replace this system because we just bought this house. So, if there is a drop off in the sales of new homes, then I guess that correlates into the drop off that you're talking about. Correct?


Talbot Gee (00:19:19 to 00:20:11)

Exactly right. Exactly right. Construction trends are a big deal. Multifamily has buoyed the industry quite a bit and it's still going relatively strong, but the backlog is starting to shrink. So, that's a concern for more like second half of '24 because there's a huge lead time between when a job gets permitted to actually, when it impacts our members. When those permits start to drop on those multifamily, you can almost see it coming a little bit for our members down the road. So, that one's another bit of a concern. That being said, you're right. The industry had absolutely historic years for second half of '21 and '22.


(00:20:12 to 00:20:46)

We would say we've already kind of gone through our recession, so to speak. We're more in normalization mode now. We think the rest of the economy might be catching up in a little bit here and we'll see maybe a little bit more economic headwind, macro-economy going forward. But we continue to truck along and our volumes are higher and above pace of what they would have been pre-pandemic if you had just taken the normal growth rates. So, even with the declines, our normalization is more around just volumes and growth rates, not gross volumes.


The gross volumes are still higher. So, yeah, we're feeling pretty good about that. It is more of a repairish-type dynamic now, not as many of the strong replacements we had, but that also will lead back to some of the regulatory discussions we'll have because our friends in D.C. have not helped us a lot when it comes to replacements.


Gene Marks (00:21:06 to 00:21:14)

Yeah, we're going to get to that in just a minute. But when you talk about the overall environment, has high interest rates had an impact in your industry?


Talbot Gee (00:21:15 to 00:22:31)

It does on a few fronts. Obviously, it's a headwind to existing home sales, right? So that's the first part. We already talked about that. But the cost of capital, right? I mean, that's a big deal. So, distribution is actually a financial model more than anything else, right?


You're a financer in distribution. And by the way, our inventories, the products have inflated in price a lot due to regulation, frankly. So, it cost more, you have to carry more  and you're also probably carrying more space than you had because you expanded during the '20 through '22 time frame. So, all your costs kind of went up, plus the cost of capital on top of it.


We are a little concerned. We've seen lending tighten significantly by the smaller and regional banks, which are usually the primary banks for a lot of our members and more importantly, maybe their customers, the contractors. So, it's harder to finance a bigger project, a bigger deal, slows everything down, right? And creates a bigger risk on that front, then you have inevitably some pullback on some of the inflation. So, then you end up as a wholesaler, sometimes a little bit off-kilter because you had to buy at X, but now you're kind of selling it at Y, right?


(00:22:31 to 00:22:52)

So, not only did you take a margin hit, but your inventory valuation is a little bit off. So, these are not insurmountable, and our guys are smart, savvy guys who have been through downturns before. But high interest rates are not good for wholesale distribution generally and makes it more challenging. You just have to perform better. Your margin for error shrinks quite a bit when you have environments like this.


Gene Marks (00:22:52 to 00:23:16)

And do you still feel that your members continue to deal with inflation? I mean, I know that inflation has obviously been reduced. It's now anywhere from around 3 to 3.5%. But most of the industries that I speak to, Talbot, they're still reeling from what has been double-digit price increases in their core materials over just the past few years. Are you seeing the same thing?


Talbot Gee (00:23:16 to 00:24:37)

Yeah. Well, you probably get sick of hearing it too, because everyone talks about how inflation is coming down. Well, no, the rate of growth of inflation is coming down. So, that means the high prices that have grown so fast are still growing, they're just not growing as fast, right? So, that's an issue. Now in our industry. We worry all the time, like at some point in time do you start pricing out consumers from the market, right?


But the fact is, again, a lot of it is driven by regulatory mandates. Just the cost to manufacture are higher, right? And the materials, everything like that are higher. Commodities; we're still a commodity-heavy industry, as well. So those can be high and fluctuate a lot on us, too. So yeah, inflation is still a really big deal now.


It's not, again, insurmountable, but your margin for error continues to shrink. You have to be really sharp. And frankly, the use of financing and incentive programs becomes even more important just because the cost of the projects keep going up, right?


So, before, maybe you could get away with leaving some of that on the table, but now the cost going up, you got to take advantage of every lever you can pull to try to sell that job or get that thing done. So, it is a concern. We'll keep watching this pretty closely.


Gene Marks (00:24:37 to 00:25:21)

It's funny as you're talking about some of the challenges, we talked about labor and workforce and retaining and finding people. We talked about high interest rate environment. We talked about inflation, higher costs. And you've said a few times during this conversation that these things are not insurmountable, and they're not. I mean, even high interest rates, which are prime rate right now as we're speaking, is about 8.5%, which means, I'm sure a lot of your members are paying 9.5%, 10.5% depending on their credit history.


It holds people back. Price increases holds people back, but it doesn't put them out of business. They just have to be smarter about how they're running their businesses, and these are just challenges that we're all dealing with. And it's not just your industry as you can imagine, it's across all industries.


Talbot Gee (00:25:21 to 00:26:06)

Well, I will tell you though, when the inflation really started to pop on us, and again, we also had a regulatory situation which exacerbated it for our industry. It really exploded in some areas. The big "aha" though was for a lot of members, honestly, it's really easy to just look at dollars and the dollars can kind of hide the story. And dollars were going up, but volumes were going down, but it was being masked by that price inflation. So, I think our members in general are actually coming out of this even better managers, leaders, strategizers than they were going into it because they're even more aware of the unit growth rates and that such.


Gene Marks (00:26:07 to 00:26:42)

Yeah, I feel about that way. Okay, so here's your chance to vent a little bit on the regulatory side. I went through your website. Just for those of you guys that are watching, just since October, I got to read some of this stuff out. On Oct. 10, the EPA has finalized its technology transition rule with a confusing set of definitions that create an install date deadline for all equipment using high GWP refrigerants. Also on Oct. 10, the EPA released proposed HFC management rule designed to reduce links and ventings of HFCs, whatever that is.


(00:26:42 to 00:27:25)

I know you know what that is. Nov. 28, the U.S. Department of Energy has finalized this proposed rule requiring manufacturers to produce consumer furnaces with at least a 95% AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating. And then the list goes on. And it goes on. And listen, this is not a political conversation.


I don't want to go down that road. But we do have to agree that this is a political environment where climate change is a big narrative and people are the environment this and the environment that, and this administration has been big on these kinds of regulations. They've had a huge impact on your industry. And I'd love to get your thoughts on that and what you think of all these changes that are being imposed on you guys.


Talbot Gee (00:27:25 to 00:30:37)

Yeah, we are a surprisingly heavily regulated industry. So, we have Department of Energy, which establishes energy consumption standards for most of our products. Then we have the EPA, which regulates the refrigerants primarily that we use because they were initially ozone depleters. Then they were high global warming potential substances, and now we will be transitioning to a lower global warming potential substance, but it actually has a mild degree of flammability. Then we run into code issues, code adoption, code updates and all like that.


And really, it's been also just bad timing, honestly. We had to go through an energy standard change effective at the start of 2023, while then we're preparing for this transition for new refrigerant platforms going forward. And the manufacturers, honestly, it's amazing that they weathered this, because can you imagine demand forecasting where you still have some legacy product, but you're building new product, but it can only be new for a couple of years because then you have another new product that has to come out. It's really daunting what we've been through. I don't know,


the confusion has been tough. Now, that being said, this is the time when organizations like ours are supposed to shine. This is when you prove your worth, and we've invested very heavily in helping our members navigate this and obviously doing our own advocacy. It wasn't too long ago when a lot of our government affairs work was legislative. It was on Capitol Hill, it was in D.C. on the Hill. And I would say now it's overwhelmingly regulatory, and it's a different kind of advocacy. It's a different kind of work. The structure that works for lobbying in the legislature is not the same structure that works real well for being effective in the regulatory agencies. And it's time consuming, frankly, it's expensive.


We actually had to sue the EPA on a rule that they had finalized a little over a year ago, and thankfully, a U.S. Circuit Court agreed with us and we won that case. But at the same time, we spent almost three quarters of a million dollars doing it, right? And that's money that could have been a new program for regional sales managers or whatever.  


Yes, I am venting a little bit, but at the same time, I'm proud of our team and our members because they step up, they give us good data, we're a reliable and trusted source when we're working with the agencies and the Hill because we have good data, we have engaged members, we have a fantastic government affairs team, and we can back it all up, right?


So, we don't just sit there and stomp our feet and complain all the time. We said this isn't going to work, but this is why, and this is a better way of going at it. Now, do we always win that argument? No, but it's about as good as you can do.


Gene Marks (00:30:37 to 00:31:39)

I do know a lot of associations and speak to a lot of associations, and I do have to say that yours is an industry where if you're in the HVAC business, you really do need to be a part of an association like yours. I mean, there's just too many regulatory issues and things that need to be dealt with, and you need people representing you. We only have like a minute or so left. Talbot, let me ask you, I mean, going forward, where do you see the opportunities for people in the HVAC industry? Speaking personally, my son is a mechanical engineer with Microsoft and he specializes in HVAC, and they're building server farms all around the world. They're scooping up technical people with expertise in the HVAC world because these server farms need to be climate controlled. Do you consider that to be an opportunity area for your industry and are there any other areas that you would point people to?


Talbot Gee (00:31:39 to 00:34:00)

Yeah, data centers for sure is definitely on the roadmap. We do see continued upside in the non-res market, both refrigeration and commercial HVAC in general. So, those areas, but those areas are also a little more volatile, and it's generally smaller in terms of number of companies who participate in that part of it, versus the residential side of the business. But those are absolutely opportunities, I would say specifically, though, even just within our niche in wholesale distribution, I think this is a time where the combination of the more challenging economic environment, a slowdown in demand, plus the regulatory regime on top of it is going to make it extremely difficult for marginal performers to weather and kind of get through, like maybe they have in the past, right?


So, I view that as an opportunity for our exceptional performers. That's a way that you can pick up territory, acquisition, whatever the case may be, and grow your value to your end customers, to your suppliers. So, my challenge to our members, especially over the last year, is create the most-educated and eloquent customer-facing personnel you can possibly have, because it's so confusing and complex out there that there's going to be some who are going to be flat-out wrong, well-intended but wrong, or right and become that trusted single source of truth. And you want to be the latter, right? That's hard, though.


It's a hard thing to do for large organizations to get a unified message top to bottom all the way around and wide, and that's where we have to come into play. How can we help them do that? We give them training materials. We'll give them resources. We're actually building an AI-powered chat bot that will answer complex questions on some of these regulatory issues for anyone anywhere in the world where they're at.


But how do we empower them to be that most-educated and eloquent? So that's the opportunity I see. If you can accomplish that, you have no choice but to gain share, grow value, and frankly, grow your business. If you fail to do that, I'm not really sure what the future will hold for you on that.


Gene Marks (00:34:01 to 00:34:36)

Talbot Gee is the Chief Executive Officer at Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International or HARDI, a wonderful organization where I do have to say, if you're in the contracting business, particularly in the HVAC world and you're a wholesaler or you're a supplier manufacturer, there are just so many regulations and such a need to join up with others in your industry, put your competitiveness aside and share the data, because I think it's a world where you really need your association. HARDI does a great job. So, Talbot, thank you so much for joining us.


Talbot Gee (00:34:36 to 00:34:39)

You got it. Thank you.


Gene Marks (00:34:39 to 00:35:34)

Everybody, thanks so much for watching and listening to the Paychex THRIVE podcast. My name is Gene Marks. If you ever need any advice or help in running your business, or if you'd like to suggest a guest for a future podcast episode, please visit us at Again, my name is Gene Marks. Thanks again. We’ll see you again soon. Take care.


Do you have a topic or a guest that you would like to hear on thrive? Please let us know. Visit and send us your ideas or matters of interest. Also, if your business is looking to simplify your HR, payroll, benefits, or insurance services, see how Paychex can help. Visit the resource hub at worx. That's WORX. Paychex can help manage those complexities while you focus on all the ways you want your business to thrive.


I'm your host, Gene Marks, and thanks for joining us. Till next time, take care.


Announcer (35:36 to 35:42)

This podcast is property of Paychex, Incorporated, 2024. All rights reserved.