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HDDC: HDDC flocks to the coast

ST. ANDREWS, N.B. - Approximately 200 business delegates attended the 18th annual Heavy Duty Distributor Council (HDDC) Annual Business Conference held in beautiful St. Andrews, N.B.This year's theme,...

ST. ANDREWS, N.B. – Approximately 200 business delegates attended the 18th annual Heavy Duty Distributor Council (HDDC) Annual Business Conference held in beautiful St. Andrews, N.B.

This year’s theme, “Moving Forward Together,” shone through as approximately 600 meetings between warehouse distributors, associates and a half-dozen service providers transpired.

“Right now in our membership we have the best of the best,” explains HDDC president Kevin Broadwood.

Although there is no growth in terms of numbers – Broadwood insists this is because they have the majority of folks already onboard – HDDC’s growth lies in strengthening each individual member and its ties to the council.

“Put it this way, some fun, a lot of hard work – equals good results,” he says.

Founded in 1984 by seven warehouse distributors who felt the need to have a Canadian identity to the heavy-duty truck parts aftermarket, the group has re-invented the idea of an annual meeting and its success stands largely unchallenged.

The four-day event takes on the air of a business conference as opposed to a convention.

“We’re geographically challenged in Canada. It’s difficult to get around the country to make calls on people to get to know them,” says HDDC managing director Allan Tucker. “So by bringing people together for four days in one location … it’s a very efficient way for getting together with key players in the aftermarket industry and networking. But also having these private business conferences is the key to the success of the whole thing.”

Individual conferences are 35 minutes long and each group has open periods for those meetings that simply need to be longer.

“We preschedule the initial meetings,” says Tucker. “It’s an administrative function to save members some time.”

This function, for which he and his staff are responsible, takes approximately two weeks as total membership currently stands at approximately 94 companies broken down to 56 associates (manufacturers) and 38 distributors.

“The size of our group makes it very workable. Even our U.S. corporate group executives who come to these meetings tell us that it’s nice to deal with a small group like this. It’s just more efficient,” he says.

At the end of the day, those participating in the business meetings are left, “dead dog tired.”

A lot of associations are accused of just being clubs, and Tucker resists that appraisal of the HDDC and says its conference format plays a large part in the networking success enjoyed by members.

“That’s why we have continued support from everyone. Let’s face it, it costs money to do what we do, but at the same time, when you talk to an associate who says they can come to these meetings and in four days save themselves a couple of trips across Canada, it’s worth it.”

As the road transportation industry grows, the council says it is prepared to grow with it.

“We have survived, the majority so far, all of the mergers and acquisitions.

“We’ve been able to maintain a reasonable level of activity and membership to sustain what we’re doing,” says Tucker.

Giving a hand when they can

Not only does the Heavy Duty Distributor Council (HDDC) get together yearly to do a four-day marathon of business conferences, for the past two years, it has also tried to spread the wealth.

For the second year running, HDDC has held a successful charity drive giving the money to the Hospital for Sick Children Foundation. The idea of the charity started when two members of HDDC, director Greg Jordan, the Canadian area director for Truck-Lite, and past-president Jim Hillis, of Maslack Supply, wanted to shine a positive light on the trucking industry.

In 2001, a cheque for $17,116 was written after a successful baseball tournament. This year, the charity event was incorporated into the Third Annual Angus Cup Golf Tournament held at the Algonquin Golf Course and Academy in St. Andrews, N.B.

Opportunities to help raise money included company sponsorship of holes, a silent auction, six live auction items – including six skybox seats to the Stanley Cup finals recently held in Detroit – as well as an all expenses paid trip to the Daytona 500.

Surging ahead by almost $6,000, this year’s total hit $23,000.

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