By Mark Ingrao, Chief Executive Officer
Over my 40-year career, I have worked for an interstate utility, one of the Big 5 (now the Big 4), a national recruiting firm, and five associations, and all of them had one thing in common that drove their success: strong community engagement and effective advocacy. I have witnessed firsthand how these organizations’ connections with their communities not only benefited their industries but also contributed to their bottom line. This association and our p-h-c industry is your community, and it needs you.
There is a saying in the lobbying world: “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” This is more true now than ever before for our industry. Our contractors are being inundated from so many fronts, and there needs to be a plan to combat these concerns.
The Signs are There
If you have read our PHCC Advocate, you are acutely aware of the current issues affecting our industry: gas bans, electrification, decarbonization, banning condensing units, new refrigerants, and workforce shortages … just to name a few. If you are watching the news and reading our PHCC Insta-Intel and other Business Intelligence publications, you are seeing, hearing, and reading terms that we have not been exposed to in our daily lexicon for decades: inflation, supply chain constraints, declining consumer confidence, the Great Resignation, and recession.
Money is becoming more expensive. Consumer and business owner purchasing power is declining with decreasing disposable income and saving rates; provisions of several federal programs are expiring; higher inflation is driving interest and mortgage rate hikes; commodity prices are elevating because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; lower unemployment and higher labor costs are impacting the workforce and workplace; and residual demand for goods and services is occurring as a result of pandemic-related disruptions. A weakening stock market [and declining 401(k) values] is signaling elevated fears of a recession to begin sooner than originally forecasted by leading economists. So, with all the negative news hitting our contractors, what are they to do?
What’s Your Next Move?
The answer is to engage to be part of the solution. How do I do that, you may ask? The answer is to be an advocate at your local, state, and national level. If you do that for the interest of the contractor world, wherever you are, you are giving back to your industry community while helping your company’s bottom line.
Over my 11 years of lobbying at all levels of government, I have witnessed the power of individuals pooling their voices to effect change. In President Joel Long’s article in this issue, he quotes Margaret Mead, and I’d like to put a slight twist to the statement: “Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed, contractors can change the industry. Indeed, it is the only thing that can.” PHCC needs your voice to help us all collaborate to combat the issues attacking our industry.
I once had a legislator tell me they had a mandate to take a certain action. When I asked what constituted a mandate, they said they received two letters … two letters!? This story exemplifies how a few active people who are knowledgeable about issues can “mandate” change as well.
During these turbulent times, you might feel that best thing to do is retreat, disengage, pull back, become defensive, and just concentrate on your business. I urge you to resist this temptation, because if our contractors follow that tactic, there will be no industry professionals to represent the collective voice of the p-h-c industry except for association staff. Though lobbyists within the PHCC Federation are active in their respective legislatures, they cannot do it alone. In fact, the legislators want to hear directly from the men and women affected by these threats, and that is you!
I urge you to reach out to our two stellar resources at PHCC—National: Chuck White, who handles regulatory affairs for our association; and Mark Valentini, who is our lobbyist and handles all legislative issues. Both deal with federal issues, but they are available to assist our contractors and chapters with state or local matters as well.
To combat concerns and problems facing our industry, you must engage and be an advocate; otherwise, you will have regulations and laws placed on you that can hurt our industry and your business. Be an advocate!
Chief Executive Officer , PHCC—National Association