Highlights from CONNECT 2018

October 19, 2018
By Staff Writer, PHCC-National Association

To succeed in this quickly changing industry, contractors need to take important steps now to prepare for what – and who – is ahead. That was a key message conveyed during the two keynote presentations and more than 20 education sessions offered at CONNECT 2018, Oct. 10-12, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where nearly 820 conference attendees collaborated with professionals from both the the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) and the Radiant Professionals Alliance.

In video conferenced remarks during the Opening Breakfast sponsored by Bradford White, President and CEO Bruce Carnevale said, “I see your jobs as installers as secure; I don’t see this going away.” The changes, he added, are occurring “in between” (how the product gets from the manufacturer to the consumer), citing trends in ecommerce and IoT. “Let’s be smart; let’s evolve and take advantage of these opportunities.”

That set the stage for CONNECT’s numerous presentations and meetings on how attendees can work smarter to take their businesses to new heights.

How to Stay Ahead of the Curve

During a keynote address sponsored by Kohler Co., economist Connor Lokar encouraged business owners to carefully review their business data, as well as industry leading indicators at the company level, to determine their current business cycle and to detect any significant changes. “Think of this as a trip to the doctor’s office,” he said. Lokar advised contractors to pay special attention to any continuing trends of slow growth. “Then you’ll know whether you can accelerate or hunker down, looking at debt position, hiring and adjusting to a slowing down economy.”

The economist predicted the remainder of this year should be good, although “mild headwinds are coming your way; we’re already seeing a decline in single-home housing, which will then go to commercial.” He added, “ I am not saying you are going to stop growing next year … you just won’t grow as quickly as 2016 and 2017. You need to set your budget planning accordingly.”

For lighter commercial work, Lokar anticipated that 2019 will be an excellent year. In fact, he recommended that contractors in the single-family home market consider targeting new commercial projects in 2019 as a way to offset declines in single-family home construction.

Looking ahead, Lokar predicted a big recession will occur in 2030. He also forecasts that “the fight for talent is not going to go away,” which will have huge implications for family businesses. And with families in the future expected to face rising expenses related to increased health care costs, higher interest payments and the expected depletion of Social Security funds, he offered this advice for parents to offer their kids:

  • Live Below Your Means
  • Learn a Second Language
  • Each Household Should Have Multiple or Diverse Income Streams
  • Choose Career(s) Oriented Toward the “Opportunities”
  • Pay Off as Much Debt as Possible by 2030
  • Be Ready to Buy at the Price Cycle Low in the Depression
  • Be Self-Reliant

You Only Get Out What You Put In (YOGOWYPI)

In an address on how to engage the emerging workforce, keynoter Eric Chester said, “We get frustrated on a daily basis” when it comes to finding “the people we need in our business.”  To help attract these critical resources, Chester, a Hall of Fame speaker and author, encouraged attendees to identify their “sweet spot,” or the ideal qualities a candidate should have to fit in and be happy with their company. “Maybe you know, but let your employees and customers know,” he said. Armed with that targeted profile, you can start “hunting” friends, employees, schools, social media, etc.

“We need to know people who are career/tech educators,” he said. “Find students who like working with their hands. Tap into the talent.”

Chester also encouraged attendees to create a culture where people want to stay. “The only way to attract and retain great techs is to offer a culture that other employers who want those same great techs cannot match,” he said of his YOGOWYPI theory – You Only Get Out What You Put In.

He also stressed that today’s employees need validation of the company’s values and of the importance of their contributions to the business. “You need to let new people in your company know the why, not the what,” he said. “Make people know they do/did something bigger than themselves.”

Finally, how do you get employees “on fire” at work? Chester said it is important to inspire people through compensation, alignment, communication and goals.

Pillars of Success

Geared specifically for service and repair contractors, Quality Service Contractors (QSC) delivered their own full-day Strategic Planning Workshop – Pillars of Success – followed by two more days of targeted Solutions Labs in this year’s new Service Contractor Center and a Service Contractor Solutions Pavilion at the Product & Technology Showcase.

In the opening session, author and entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz shared a strategy he calls “The Pumpkin Plan,” inspired by the approach of a local farmer who dedicated his life to growing giant pumpkins. Michalowicz encouraged CONNECT attendees to plant the right seeds:

  • Identify what your company does better than anyone else in your market, then focus all your time, energy and money on growing in this area;
  • Weed out clients that don’t fit your needs and then focus on those that appreciate your value proposition and provide the best growth opportunities;
  • Nurture – discover unfulfilled needs of those clients, innovate and over deliver on promises to your best customers.

Michalowicz left the audience with three questions to help them build their strategy: 1)  What does your company do really well? 2) What is wrong or missing from the industry in which you operate?  3) Where do your best customers hang out? In the end his message was clear: Stay focused.

Following the Pumpkin Plan presentation, QSC business coaches led participants on a strategic planning journey identifying concepts, tools and questions essential to this creative process. Starting with having the right strategic mindset, the day progressed through topics like examining the environment in which your business resides, establishing a detailed playing field, strategic positioning, goals and objectives, measuring success and keeping score as well as business and human capital key performance indicators. The day ended with a treasure chest filled with tools to execute the strategic plan with success. After all, strategy without execution is just a dream.

Throughout the rest of the event, QSC presented four additional sessions on getting the best ROI on your trucks, onboarding processes for new team members, keys to finding hidden profits and identifying your BEST customers. For additional information on QSC or the business coaching services we offer, please contact qsc@naphcc.org.

PHCC Political Action Committee (PAC)

During the PHCC Political Action Committee event at CONNECT, PHCC of Texas was awarded PHCC National’s 2018 State Legislative Excellence Award for the great work they’ve done to change the Department of Labor standards to allow for a 2 to 1 apprentice-to-journeyman ratio. While the issue is not yet resolved, Government Relations Committee Chair Mark Giebelhaus praised the chapter’s continuing efforts during the awards presentation. “They give of their time, energy and resources to promote and fight for what they feel is right,” he said of PHCC of Texas.

Over the past year, the PHCC of Texas Board of Directors made it their priority to pursue the apprentice-to-journeyman ratio as required by the Department of Labor. In their push, they’ve worked in Texas – and recently came together as a group in Washington, D.C. – to discuss their concerns with congressional representatives and the Department of Labor. Their work also has resulted in other PHCC chapters coming out to become more visible on attempting to allow for a different apprentice-to-journeyman ratio. Said PHCC of Texas Executive Director Alicia Dover: “Our members see a need for change to the current DOL ratio, and they have rolled up their sleeves and have gone to work. Working for a group such as this brings purpose and pride into what I do as I serve as their executive director.”

Following the presentation of the Legislative Award, PHCC-PAC Chairman Hunter Botto spoke of the importance of backing lawmakers who support PHCC and our issues. “We always need to think about electing pro-business minded lawmakers, whether on the local, state or national level,” he said.

Event attendees also were entertained by comedian/magician/motivational speaker Mark Robinson, whose stand-up comedy has gained rave reviews, an invitation to open for Jeff Foxworthy and an appearance with late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. Robinson amused and captivated the crowd with a combination of magic tricks, juggling and motivational/business tips.

Honoring the Best

CONNECT also was an opportunity to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of the people who went above and beyond this year to leverage the power of PHCC.

Of particular note, Charles B. Gans of Charles B. Gans Plumbing and Heating, Inc., in Havertown, Pennsylvania, took home PHCC’s prestigious Col. George D. Scott Award.

Also, PHCC named Bradford White’s popular Nick Giuffre as a PHCC Honorary Member. Giuffre, who retired from day-to-day activities as chief executive officer on July 31, 2018, received a standing ovation following a farewell address to the crowd during the Bradford White Breakfast.

Click here for a full list of this year’s award recipients, representing the very best contractors, apprentices, Auxiliary members, association executives and students in our industry today.

Among those are the winners of PHCC’s popular Plumbing and HVAC Apprentice Contests, which put the talents of 19 plumbing apprentices and 10 HVAC apprentices on full display as they competed for top honors this year.

Leading PHCC Forward

With an eye on the future of PHCC, the association installed new officers, with PHCC President Laurie Crigler of L&D Associates, Aroda, Virginia, passing the baton to Ken Nielsen of AccuAire, Inc., Reading, Massachusetts.

Before relinquishing her duties as PHCC president, Crigler recognized past national officers and other groups of leaders who “have been instrumental in removing limits to our ability to achieve progress now and in the future.”

Reflecting on her term, Crigler noted several key accomplishments – from our increased social media presence and growing online apprenticeship program to an enhanced website and strong advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C. – as PHCC leveraged the “Power of A” (Apprenticeship, Advocacy, Awareness and Access) this year. “It’s inspiring to know we can overcome anything together,” Crigler concluded. “We’re all moving in the same direction. We’re all growing … thank you for letting me be part of the pathway to success.”

In addition, the association welcomed new PHCC Vice President Hunter Botto of Botto Brothers Plumbing & Heating in Hicksville, New York. Botto was elected during the Oct. 12 PHCC Annual Business Meeting.

Also during that meeting, members approved all four proposed bylaws amendments, summarized below:

  1. PHCC Enhanced Service Group representatives (i.e., chairs of PHCC’s Construction Contractors’ Alliance, Quality Service Contractors and Union-Affiliated Contractors) will be added to the PHCC Board of Directors to serve as voting members. In addition, the AEC president, the Auxiliary president, and a manufacturer’s representative are now voting ex-officio members. This reflects the board’s desire that all board members except for the Executive Vice President be afforded a voice in the management of the association unless there is a conflict of interest.
  2. PHCC Board of Directors use a version of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised that is no older than 10 years old.
  3. “No member shall hold more than one office at a time, and no member shall be eligible to service more than two consecutive terms in the same office.” This will avoid the possibility of the PHCC Secretary-Designate running as a candidate for Vice President until after they are elected Secretary.
  4. Adjust rules that govern the current chapter model and how union-affiliated chapters are structured in order to meet the needs of their contractor members that are signatory to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Investing in Our Future

Promoting development of the next generation of industry leaders, the PHCC Educational Foundation and PHCC National Auxiliary announced scholarship awards totaling $155,220 to 63 students. The Foundation and its industry partners awarded $105,000 in scholarships to 44 students and apprentices this year, and the Auxiliary Scholarship Committee announced $50,220 in scholarships for 19 students at CONNECT. The Foundation and the Auxiliary have now awarded more than $4.4 million in scholarships to more than 2,300 deserving young men and women.

Also, during the Awards Luncheon at CONNECT, the PHCC Educational Foundation announced that it received Invest in Your Future campaign contributions totaling more than $33,000. 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.

Reliving Albuquerque

Relive the best moments from Albuquerque with this photo gallery of CONNECT 2018 highlights!

Planning for Indianapolis

Get ready to start your engines for CONNECT 2019, Oct. 2-4, at The Westin Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana. We’ve already started making plans to ensure your business is on the inside track to the latest ideas, innovations and initiatives in the p-h-c industry. Save the date!

Thank You to Our CONNECT 2018 Sponsors!

­­­­­­­­­­­­On behalf of all the attendees at CONNECT 2018, we thank our event sponsors for helping us fuel our imaginations and taking our member businesses to new heights!

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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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