CONNECT 2017: Impact of Our Stories

October 11, 2017
By Staff Writer, PHCC-National Association

The Impact of Our Stories

More than 860 attendees rolled up their sleeves within the halls of the Wisconsin Center Oct. 3-6 to collaborate among the p-h-c industry’s best at CONNECT 2017 in Milwaukee. The common thread woven in the countless valuable lessons and insights on key opportunities moving forward – namely recruiting skilled workers and learning how to embrace the latest technologies – was the value in the stories among attendees and the need to share those stories beyond Milwaukee.

The timing to leverage opportunities in those arenas of workforce development and technology could not be more perfect. In his keynote address on “Emerging Trends Affecting the Industry,” Chris Baldwin, president, Kitchen & Bath Americas, Kohler Co., shared several research studies that illustrate how p-h-c contractors can better serve customers and attract new workers. “Technology is being adopted widely … consumers are using technology to streamline their lives,” he said.

“Millennials,” Baldwin added, “are the new customer and the new employee.”

How do we reach them?

“Through storytelling – values-driven and engaging stories,” he said.


In the other keynote address, renowned White Hat Hackers Dr. Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek discussed their roles as hackers for good, their approach to identifying vulnerabilities in various technologies and devices, and tactics for avoiding risks. Their top 3 list of tips:

  • Protect your email address.
  • Enable two-factor authentication.
  • Use a password manager.

Workforce Development Exchange

There was no shortage of employee recruitment and retention ideas at the Workforce Development Exchange, co-sponsored by the PHCC National Auxiliary and the PHCC Educational Foundation. Auxiliary President Lynne Finley set the stage for the interactive event by asking those present to “challenge ourselves to a higher level, to be the employer of choice … in a highly competitive environment.” In the end, attendees got new perspectives on how they approach recruiting much-needed employees, plus practical ideas they hadn’t before considered.

QSC Power Meeting: Special Edition

Quality Service Contractors offered Power Meeting: Special Edition during CONNECT. The highly energetic and result-focused education and networking event featured guest speakers on everything from profit-first business coaching from Mike Michalowicz to creating innovation processes to stimulate the development of new products, process and approaches with Steve Bobowski.

PHCC-PAC Recognizes Legislative Successes 

More than 100 attendees came together at the BMO Harris Bradley Center to recognize legislative excellence and success at the state and local chapter level.

Government Relations Chair Mark Giebelhaus and PHCC-PAC Chair Hunter Botto presented the 2017 Legislative Leadership Excellence Awards to representatives from PHCC of Washington and PHCC of Pennsylvania.

“The work that chapters do on the local level, such as building relationships with their members of Congress, hosting trips to their state capitals, and staying current on legislative activities in their areas, has a major impact when it comes to protecting and advancing our industry,” said Mark Riso, vice president of legislative affairs.

“The efforts made by Washington and Pennsylvania this year were phenomenal. I’m hoping that all of our state-level leadership sees what they’ve done as inspiration to achieve even greater results.”

The Best of PHCC

CONNECT also was a celebration of the unity, strength and diversity that defines PHCC today. To illustrate PHCC’s faith in the future as we continue to collaborate for the success of our association and our industry, PHCC honored several contractors, apprentices, auxiliary members, association executives and students.

Among those are the winners of PHCC’s popular Plumbing and HVAC Apprentice Contests, which put the talents of 20 plumbing apprentices and 12 HVAC apprentices on full display as they competed for top honors this year.

Promoting development of the next generation of industry leaders, the PHCC Educational Foundation and PHCC National Auxiliary announced scholarship awards totaling $137,045 to 62 students. The Foundation and its industry partners awarded $87,500 in scholarships this year, and $49,545 was presented at CONNECT by the Auxiliary Scholarship Committee, led by Kathy Tindall. Over the years, the Foundation and the Auxiliary have awarded over $4.3 million in scholarships to more than 2,232 deserving young men and women.

The PHCC Educational Foundation also announced that it received Invest in Your Future campaign contributions totaling more than $32,000 during the Awards Luncheon on Friday. Thanks to generous donations from members and Industry Partners and matching funds from InSinkErator, Ferguson and NIBCO, the campaign reached its annual goal of $165,000. The Invest in Your Future campaign funds education and scholarships.

The Power of A: Apprenticeships, Advocacy, Awareness and Access

With an eye on the future, PHCC installed new officers, with PHCC President Patrick Wallner, Wallner Plumbing Company, Inc., Redding, California, passing the baton to Laurie Crigler, L&D Associates, Aroda, Virginia.

Before relinquishing his duties as PHCC president, Wallner gave members an update on key accomplishments this year, namely focusing on workforce development initiatives; partnering with other associations and groups to advance PHCC’s agenda, including a recent meeting at the White House; expanding the association’s presence on social media; launching PHCC’s Technology Business Interest Group; and increasing our membership, which has a 98-percent retention rate and already is up 300 members over last year.

“We built this whole year around collaboration, and I’m happy we’re doing the right things to grow our association and make it better,” Wallner said.

Crigler is eager to build on the momentum fueled by Wallner’s term of “collaboration” and grow PHCC and its members’ businesses under her message of “Power of A: Apprenticeships, Advocacy, Awareness and Access” – referring to the four key challenges PHCC members face.

With an interesting journey to the p-h-c industry – opening her first plumbing business with her husband in 1983 after beginning her career as a school teacher – Crigler takes the PHCC helm with a hands-on approach, already meeting with members at local events and participating in higher-level coalitions made up of PHCC and other associations facing similar challenges.

“We need to advocate for good laws and regulations in our industry,” she told the crowd at CONNECT. “We do not need uninformed legislators imposing laws and regulations on our businesses. We need legislators to understand what role our small businesses play in the growth of this country … and that is where PHCC comes in.”

The tide is slowing turning in our favor in the four key areas of Advocacy, Apprenticeships, Awareness and Access, she revealed, adding, “Let’s ride the ‘Power of A’ as we go into the future together.”

In anticipation of her new role, Crigler has shared her plans for PHCC this year with several media outlets:

The association also welcomed new PHCC Vice President Jonathan Moyer, Cocalico Plumbing & Heating, Denver, Pennsylvania. Moyer was elected during the Oct. 6 PHCC Annual Business Meeting.

Rising UP at CONNECT 2018

Be sure to save the date for CONNECT 2018, Oct. 9-12, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The site of the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a perfect place to rise above the status quo. Plan to ramp up, build up and power up your business; join us in Albuquerque, a must-see destination in the American Southwest.

Staff Writer
, PHCC-National Association
The PHCC-National Association, formed in 1883, provides legislative advocacy, education and training to approximately 3,600 plumbing and HVACR businesses and 65,000 technicians.

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