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 Ryan Kiscaden, Executive Director of Thermostat Recycling Corporation based in the Greater Philadelphia region. In this Q&A interview, we spoke with Ryan about his unique HVACR industry career with roots in wholesale distribution, and the lessons he learned there applying to his work today.
You’ve had a pretty interesting career path in the HVACR industry, can you tell us how you first started and how you ended up as Executive Director at Thermostat Recycling Corporation?
In 2007 I graduated college with a management degree, and my 22nd job interview was with APR Supply Company, one of the HARDI members. They were hiring management training associates, and so I took the job. I took that job and they took a chance on me, you know, and decided to work with them. I ended up being there for six years, and I worked in all kinds of areas of the company. I did first shift, second shift, third shift in the warehouse. I worked in the purchasing department, I worked at a branch location answering calls from contractors all day for about a year and a half. But I ultimately ended up in the business development marketing department and led that group.
Then the Thermostat Recycling Corporation opportunity came along and my job there was really focused on still working with the same network and group of people that I’d grown accustomed to throughout my days at APR Supply and being a part of HARDI, which was the wholesale channel. I became the executive director three years ago, and I’ve gotten to do a lot of really cool things. Focused now more on the government affairs and the regulatory side of the HVACR business than the day to day sales and marketing, but certainly have an appreciation for and understanding of what the wholesaler’s challenges are in the business and what they go through.
How does that well-rounded experience at a wholesaler and managing relationships between the manufacturer and contractor segments help you today?
That experience of having worked as a wholesaler — like delivering products to contractors’ job sites and understanding the way that they go to market and the challenges that they have every day really super prepared me to be in front of legislative bodies, regulatory authorities, and a couple of a years ago I wrote testimony to a couple of statehouses related to the issues that TRC had on the mercury thermostat problem. That experience, knowing the way that contractors and what I’ll call the entire “food chain” think and act was paramount. A lot of people could have government affairs jobs and work in dealing with the government, but until you actually work in the business or the industry you’re supporting, it’s really difficult to comprehend and be able to answer some tough questions that are posed to you on the spot.
Speaking of career experiences, you actually put a lot of these into Stay The Course, a book you wrote to share knowledge you’ve gained along the way. You mentioned earlier that your network through HARDI has been valuable to you for a long time, and you included a chapter titledTrade Associations: Benefiting from a Golden Partnership referencing this experience. Having seen HARDI membership from both the wholesaler and service vendor perspectives, what advice can you share with members on getting the most out of being a HARDI member?
I don’t know that trade associations work very well for you when you go into them thinking, “What do I get?” And I think that if you look at it the other way around — “What can I give?” — that will pay off for you. For example, TRC works in the utility industry and we went in saying, “Man, how can we get these folks to pay attention to us other than just paying my membership?” And you always hear most memberships aren’t worth their weight unless you actually use them. Well, how do you use them? You have to give, right? You have to give your time. In my case, I hosted a webinar on behalf of one of the regional utility associations. It gets your name out there. It’s a marketing thing.
It’s about paying it forward because you get more than just a lead list, for example. I’m a huge believer in the power of trade associations, the ability to work with them, and whatever message you have to spread. Whether it’s the sales and marketing message or in my case more of an outreach, education and legal compliance message. It works better when you’re working in concert with each other.
What’s your favorite movie quote?
“Do you think we choose the times into which we are born, or do we fit the times we are born into?”
This article was published in the February 2019 Thermostatus newsletter.