The HARDI member spotlight serves as a regular feature through which the association management highlights standout individuals in the HVACR industry and their companies. For our February Member Spotlight, we spoke with Wes Swank of Coburn Supply Co. We highlight Wes for his commitment to promoting the HVACR industry amongst elected officials at HARDI’s Congressional Fly-In each year.
Heating and Cooling Division Manager
Coburn Supply Co.
Last year Coburn Supply celebrated its 85th anniversary. How long have you been with the company, and what was your journey to your current position?
I was hired in November of 2007 as an HVAC Territory Manager. I came from outside the industry having spent over 20 years in various positions of the financial world, mostly third-party financing for contractors. I became a Regional Sales Manager very quickly and then promoted to Heating and Cooling Division Manager for the last 5 years.
You have participated in HARDI’s Congressional Fly-In quite a bit. Tell us a little bit about your past experiences at the Fly-In.
To be honest, this is my favorite HARDI event. I became enthralled with the energy and atmosphere of Washington DC, the access to our legislatures and adopted the Washington Nationals as my baseball team. Of course, the legislative process is slow and frustrating but so rewarding when something we have been lobbying for finally gets passed.
Why do you think it is important for the HVACR industry to have industry experts advocate in DC?
Our legislators and regulating agencies have the tendency to operate in a vacuum, often resulting in unintended consequences. We are a key stakeholder in the industry and if you don’t participate you can expect hyper regulatory consequences to cascade across the country from the west. California regulations and restrictions do not work for the rest of the country, I’m not sure they work for California. There are forces at work that are not pro-business or pro-consumer, speak up!
How is being active in advocacy beneficial for Coburn Supply and other HVACR Distributors?
It certainly keeps us current with pending legislation, but also keeps us relevant in the legislative process. After many years of going to Capitol Hill it is great to be recognized by our legislators and their aides now. I believe we have a lot more credibility and the aides look for our insight to help formulate the legislators’ position and platform. This allows wholesale distribution to have a voice in our future.
How has it been beneficial for your personal and professional development?
It has been incredibly beneficial. My network has grown immensely. People who prior to my involvement with HARDI would have been described as “competitors” are now friends and I look forward to spending time with them.
What was the first Presidential Election that you voted in?
That’s an easy one, 1984 Reagan/Bush second term.
Don't forget to check out our previous Member Spotlight posts at blog.hardinet.org.
To nominate a member for a future Member Spotlight, contact Emily Frost at firstname.lastname@example.org.