By Staff Writer, PHCC-National Association
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Jan. 14, 2022) – It is with great sadness that the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association (PHCC) reports the passing of Raymond R. “Dick” Irwin, PHCC—National past president (1985-1986), a driving force behind the creation of the PHCC Educational Foundation, and a highly respected leader in the plumbing-heating-cooling industry. Irwin, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, died at age 93 on Jan. 10.
“Dick helped set both PHCC and the Educational Foundation on paths to success that continue to positively impact professional p-h-c contractors today,” said PHCC—National President Joel Long. “We were honored to have known this visionary industry leader whose contributions will benefit generations to come.”
The PHCC “A Heritage Unique” history book reports from 1985 describe Irwin as someone who was “just plain fun to be around” with a “robust, earthy … sense of humor.” Irwin’s theme during his term as president at that time was “Keep NAPHCC on the Right Track – the “M Track,” as he called it, denoting Management and Education, Money, Manpower and Membership.
A native of Ohio, Irwin represented a new breed of association officers. He was a graduate of the Milwaukee School of Engineering, the alma mater of UA General President Marvin Boede, who was his fraternity brother. After graduation, Irwin moved to Florida, spent five years as an apprentice and only two as a journeyman plumber before purchasing (with a partner) the firm that employed him. Farmer & Irwin Corp., Riviera Beach, Florida, continues to operate today, and is an active member of PHCC.
A PHCC survey during Irwin’s PHCC presidency showed him to be in tune with membership. The majority of respondents reported exorbitant insurance costs and liability as their major concern, followed closely by unfair utility competition. In response to competition from retailers, Irwin advised members to compete, not complain, and he had a zero-tolerance level for unfair competition.
Of prime importance to Irwin was the idea of an Educational Foundation as an arm of PHCC focused solely on education. While he faced some initial opposition, Irwin sent personal letters to every past president soliciting their support; he developed a “Why a Foundation?” paper to inform PHCC membership; and he and members of the Executive Committee talked about the proposal at every opportunity on the state and national levels. “Whenever there was a concern, we immediately addressed it,” he said. At the 1986 PHCC Annual Meeting and Convention in San Francisco, California, the creation of the PHCC Educational Foundation was approved.
“The PHCC Educational Foundation owes so much to Dick Irwin,” said Foundation Chair Kevin Tindall. “We wouldn’t exist without the effort he put in to get us started. The legacy of his efforts has helped the careers of thousands of people in our industry.”
At PHCC’s 2015 CONNECT conference, “Irwin expressed how proud he was of how things worked out for the Foundation … that we were doing what he had envisioned when he got us started,” said the PHCC Educational Foundation’s Vice President of Development and Communications John Zink.
Most recently, Irwin had just celebrated his 72nd wedding anniversary with wife Patsy. Memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared with the Irwin family at www.howard-quattlebaum.com.
A celebration of life for Irwin will be held Monday, Jan. 7, 4 – 7 p.m., at Howard-Quattlebaum Funeral Cremation and Event Center, 754 Us Highway 1, North Palm Beach, Florida. A funeral service will occur Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 717 Prosperity Farms Road, North Palm Beach, Florida, where Irwin – a lifelong Presbyterian – was a founding member.
The PHCC National Association, formed in 1883, provides legislative advocacy, education and training to approximately 3,500 plumbing and HVACR businesses and 65,000 technicians. Members of PHCC have access to a wide variety of services designed to increase their professionalism, grow their business and improve profitability. For more information about PHCC, visit phccweb.org.