By Staff Writer, PHCC-National Association
After the Checkered Flag
They may have waved the checkered flag during the closing event at the Indy 500 Speedway – signaling the end of their time in Indianapolis, Indiana – but the more than 900 attendees at PHCCCONNECT2019 returned home excited to start their business engines equipped with valuable takeaways from PHCC’s three-day Conference and Product & Technology Showcase.
The importance of keeping up with technology, analyzing data, planning for the future, protecting public health and safety, and maintaining professionalism in the industry resonated repeatedly last week throughout the Westin Indianapolis and Indiana Convention Center, where plumbing, heating and cooling contractors came eager to learn from the experts and share information with their peers during 22 educational opportunities.
Co-located with the 2019 RSES Conference & HVACR Technology Expo, the event – which included more than 140 exhibitors – offered numerous opportunities to learn about new products and practices. The Radiant Professionals Alliance also hosted a special education track on the latest hydronic and radiant heating and cooling technologies.
With several industry partners conveniently located at the Crossroads of America, PHCC leveraged its time in Indy with a behind-the-scenes look at the Delta Faucet Design Center, where attendees experienced the research and development practices behind Delta’s innovative design and technologies. In addition, Chemours offered a tour of its newly opened Training and Technical Support Center.
As testament to Indiana’s famous Hoosier Hospitality, PHCC of Indiana welcomed their guests with an inspiring video about how their members work together to better the industry, grow their own businesses and ensure professionalism in all they do. “Local chapters are your teammates and cheerleaders,” said one member. Forecasting the next three days at PHCCCONNECT2019, PHCC of Indiana’s Brad Isley predicted: “You’ll come for a convention, but you’ll leave with an experience.”
Among those experiences was a PHCC Political Action Committee (PAC) event at the Dallara Indycar Factory, where attendees had the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of a race car simulator, enjoy drinks and dinner, and learn about Dallara’s history, the IndyCar design process, vehicle dynamics and more.
Start Your Engines … and Don’t Let Up on the Gas
Coincidentally, the need for speed inspired by the locale translated inside the conference halls as well. During a packed session on Succession Planning, for example, attendees were encouraged to set their personal feelings aside and “start the conversation now” on their futures, including examining different methods to accurately value their businesses to prepare for the sale or transfer to the next generation.
Weaving throughout many of the sessions was the importance of gathering and analyzing data and the crucial need to keep up with technology. PHCC illustrated that right on site, using online polling for the first time in some sessions at PHCCCONNECT2019, including a panel discussion on unfair utility competition.
During the Opening Breakfast, Bradford White CEO Bruce Carnevale stressed the company’s own commitment to innovation … as well as to American manufacturing and industry tradespeople. “Change drives innovation, and innovation drives change,” he said, focusing on key changes in the industry such as BIM, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, green construction, eCommerce, connected products and the Internet of Things (IoT).
“It’s not all about the products but also about the people in the organization,” Carnevale added. To stay ahead of the change, the PHCC Strategic Partner is putting the finishing touches on a new R&D lab and hiring new people to further expand the company’s business intelligence and IoT capabilities. Carnevale encouraged PHCC members to take advantage of the association’s educational opportunities, bring more professionals into the fold, and leverage opportunities – such as Bradford White’s For the Pro® program – from PHCC partners and other industry manufacturers.
During his Oct. 4 keynote address – “Managing in an Uncertain Economy” – economist Connor Lokar also prompted attendees to “listen to the data points and move from reactive to proactive.” Assessing today’s economic situation, Lokar described it as “bending, but not breaking.” “Things are going to get a little worse before they get better, and it’s going to be scary,” he said. “Don’t panic. Yes, things are going to slow down, but they will get better.”
Lokar guided audience members on how to manage the business cycle to maximize their profits. “It is important to know where you are relative to the general economic trend,” which he predicted will be marked by decelerating growth through the rest of the year before showing growth in 2021. Of note, the participants learned how to use rate-of-change calculations to learn where they are in the business cycle and how to identify key leading indicators that will steer their business decisions in areas like cash management and inventory control.
“I Bring Value to Society. I’m a Plumber.”
In a patriotic nod, Bo DeAngelo, manager of technical training for Viega, underscored the PHCC Corporate Partner’s commitment to the education and upward mobility of the contractor profession. “PHCC fights for the tradespeople who fought for our country,” he said, comparing the loyalty to that for our country’s veterans, before introducing keynote speaker Richard Trethewey on Oct. 3.
Sharing some stories that he admitted he “couldn’t tell on TV,” Richard Trethewey, a fourth-generation plumber best known from the Emmy Award-winning home improvement show “This Old House,” shared his passion for elevating awareness of the trades and filling the skilled worker gap. “If you have had a great career, a great life, and have something to give back, adopt one kid,” he said of connecting a young person with a job in the trades. “Please celebrate getting kids in the industry.”
Trethewey has worked with “This Old House’s” Generation NEXT program to encourage young people to consider professions in the construction trades. Also, “don’t overlook the veterans,” he told the CONNECT audience. “Find someone with a good work ethic.”
Recognizing that often it is difficult for trained contractors and technicians to explain the technical aspects of plumbing and HVAC to customers, Trethewey offered this advice: “In our industry, we are all very smart yet try to talk down to the consumer. We don’t talk to them…You’re professional business people. Articulate to them that you know what to do.”
Hearing is Not Enough
For service and repair contractors, PHCC’s Quality Service Contractors (QSC) powered an exclusive race-car themed hub – Service Contractors Central – where QSC members huddled for targeted information sessions, networking and even virtual reality games!
A highlight came in the form of a “Hearing is Not Enough: Overcoming Objections and Take Control by Listening” session where representatives from Pointman, a field service management company, engaged contractors to become better listeners to overcome objections from customers and take control. During role-playing sessions, attendees took on the roles of both contractor and homeowner to experiment with a LEAP (Listen. Empathize. Ask. Produce) approach to sales. When trying to make a sale, Pointman’s Tim McGuire advised it should never be the customer vs. the contractor; it should be the customer and the contractor together vs. the problem.
“Hire Character, Teach Plumbing”
During a “Women, Workforce and Wisdom” breakfast – facilitated by Brenda Dant of PHCC of Indiana – female p-h-c business owners shared their tips for recruiting and retaining women in the skilled trades. “Hire character, teach plumbing,” said Laura Ciriello-Benedict, president of Ciriello Plumbing. “Engage your entire company to find talent,” added Beth Rovazzini of B & W Plumbing and Heating. Elevating the image and importance of the trades again surfaced as key, with several participants urging others to use smart technology as a selling point to the younger generation.
Honoring 2019’s Very Best
PHCCCONNECT2019 also was time for celebration, as the PHCC National Auxiliary kicked off its 100th Anniversary in Indianapolis, commemorating its history of working with PHCC to further the association’s mission to advance the industry and protect the public’s health and safety and the environment. In fact, during the week the Auxiliary shared several videos produced this year to raise awareness about career opportunities for women in the industry.
Together with PHCC and the PHCC Educational Foundation, the Auxiliary hosted an Awards Luncheon on Oct. 4 to honor the best contractors, students and instructors in the industry (click here for a complete list of award winners).
Jim Steinle of Atomic Plumbing & Drain Cleaning in Virginia Beach, Virginia, received PHCC’s prestigious Col. George D. Scott Award. Steinle’s impact on both PHCC and on the dozens of kids who entered the trades due to his passion for the industry made him deserving of this very special award, inspired by PHCC’s first president. “Jim has brought great honor upon himself, his family, his company, his local, state and National PHCC associations, his local community and our beloved industry,” outgoing PHCC president Ken Nielsen said during the award presentation.
PHCCCONNECT2019 also featured two days of Plumbing and HVAC Apprentice Contest action, with 19 plumbing and 10 HVAC apprentices from across the nation competing for top honors. Click here for complete coverage, including the winners and the dedicated team of contractor volunteers behind the scenes. Following the competition, the PHCC Educational Foundation donated many of the contest materials to the Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity; read more here.
Now in the Lead
During the Annual Business Meeting on Oct. 4, Ken Nielsen of AccuAire, Inc., in North Reading, Massachusetts, reflected on his time as PHCC National President. An HVAC contractor himself, Nielsen is proud of the headway PHCC made this past year escalating opportunities in that arena, particularly within PHCC’s new Education and Training Department and with expanding corporate partnerships, most recently welcoming Bradford White as a Strategic Partner and Rheem as an HVAC Corporate Partner.
Now taking over the lead car is Jonathan Moyer of Cocalico Plumbing & Heating in Denver, Pennsylvania. After being sworn in as the 2019-2020 PHCC President, Moyer pledged his commitment to protecting the professionalism of the industry by working to keep licenses intact and ensuring that PHCC helps set crucial standards. During interviews with Moyer in both CONTRACTOR and PHCP Pros, Moyer details what he believes are the most pressing issues facing the industry today and his goals for the association this year.
PHCC members elected Joel Long of GSM Services in Gastonia, North Carolina, as their new Vice President. Donning a hard hat to illustrate his commitment to workforce development, Long said he believes that “PHCC has the best opportunity to change the future … so let’s go make a difference!”
Also at the meeting, PHCC members approved two proposed bylaws: the merger of the PHCC National Auxiliary within the PHCC National Association with a designation as an Affiliate; and the addition of a new Business Development Committee, a standing committee that will explore new partnership opportunities and work with staff to secure new partners, sponsors and affinity programs.
Investing in the Future
Invested in the next generation of industry leaders, the PHCC Educational Foundation and the PHCC National Auxiliary announced scholarship awards totaling $167,850 this year: the Auxiliary Scholarship Committee awarded $54,850 to 25 deserving students, and the Foundation and its industry partners awarded $113,000 to 50 apprentices and college students.
Since their inception, the PHCC Educational Foundation and PHCC National Auxiliary scholarship programs have awarded over $4.6 million in scholarships to more than 2,370 deserving young men and women across the nation.
Also during the Awards Luncheon, the Foundation announced that it raised more than $34,000 at PHCCCONNECT2019 toward its Invest in Your Future Campaign. With matching funds from InSinkErator, Ferguson, NIBCO and several other manufacturers, the Foundation surpassed its $170,000 goal for this year’s campaign (up from $165,000 last year).
New this year, donors were able to link to a mobile-friendly contribution form, with their gifts showing on screen at the luncheon in real time. More than $23,000 was raised through this mobile giving system … most of it in just one hour!
Planning for Dallas
PHCC already is planning to go BIG in Dallas next year … and you should be, too! Save the date for PHCCCONNECT2020 – Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 in Dallas, Texas – where you can enhance your vision for success.
THANK YOU TO OUR PHCCCONNECT2019 SPONSORS!
PHCCCONNECT2019 Recorded Sessions Coming Soon!
If you missed all or part of PHCCCONNECT2019, PHCC is pleased to announce that – for the first time –recorded sessions will soon be offered through PHCC’s Live Learning Center. These sessions are free to full conference registrants or at a discounted rate for PHCC members. Full access will be available soon!