HARDI Director of Marketing & Sales Chris DeBoer discusses how his idea for a documentary on the HVACR distribution industry came together.
“It may be crazy, but I realized that maybe crazy could work.”
It all started in Las Vegas of all places. I guess this is the perfect city to dream big, as nothing in Vegas is small. HARDI had just wrapped our most attended Annual Conference to date. During the closing ceremony, Troy Meachum shared the short film Standing on The Shoulders of Giants, which he had commissioned for the closing ceremony before he took over as HARDI President. The film was incredible. It showcased a few HARDI member organizations that had these amazing stories of ambition, perseverance and compassion that captivated everyone in the audience that night. I had several members ask if I was behind the project. I had to tell everyone that I had nothing to do this, but I was as amazed as they were with what I saw. Damn. That was well-made and authentic.
This got me thinking — how can we leverage this powerful medium of storytelling? It got my brain working in overdrive. Then, I was hit with an idea. It may be crazy, but I realized that maybe crazy could work.
What if…we created a documentary to help catapult awareness of our industry to the masses? A film that would help tackle the issue we are constantly hearing about is top-of-mind for our members: talent and workforce recruitment. Could storytelling be the path to getting a younger generation curious to learn more about all the opportunities available to them within our industry? After all, millennials are a demographic that seems willing to learn about any and all things if there is some sort of entertainment value involved.
Later that night I approached Troy in the Aria during the Presidents Suite reception. Everyone was trying to unwind and celebrate the successful event we had just experienced, but I wanted to pose the question before I forgot about my probably-too-grandiose idea. I asked Troy his thoughts on my somewhat out-there idea. To my surprise, he was extremely receptive.
Troy was excited about the idea. He told me we would circle back after the holiday and discuss the details on how we could possibly make this vision a reality. And that is exactly what he did.
So here we are now in the middle of September.
The scope of work was laid out, the characters have been selected and filming has begun.
It is sort of surreal in a way to think that my role at HARDI has me now producing a film that, fingers crossed, will make its way to Netflix and help bring awareness of the industry to the masses. The Muddy Trails couple, Bryce and Jessie Suriano, and myself are working really hard. The film will showcase a few short stories sprinkled with informational tidbits about the industry, career opportunities, work culture, etc. The finished product should help us start to overcome a stigma about “trade” labor and increase general awareness of wholesale distribution.
I encourage any member we have who understands the need for an initiative like this to help support this sizeable undertaking. I believe that this could be a massive step towards helping HARDI members start to alleviate the recruiting pains that they are feeling. The documentary is only part of the initiative. Once the film is complete, that is only the beginning. The documentary is only the first step in this workforce recruitment initiative, but we need more. We need to give them a place to go and learn more. We need to get them in touch with the members looking to hire. We need to continuously push awareness through marketing, advertising and campaigning on a large scale. This truly feels like a “go big or go home” moment.
If you want to donate to this project, learn more or have any questions about this project, please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit http://hardinet.org/workforce-recruitment-initiative. We welcome you to have a part in this sizable undertaking and to get our industry’s stories heard.