By Staff Writer, PHCC-National Association
The convention halls in Charlotte, North Carolina, were bustling with close to 1,300 attendees and over 130 exhibitors at PHCCCONNECT2022, Oct. 5-7. Excitement was in the air as PHCC also welcomed 61 young professionals to its new Rising Leaders Summit and hosted 74 new exhibitors on the tradeshow floor this year.
But far more important than the impressive numbers (overall attendance was up more than 79% percent over last year) were the opportunities for Constructive Collaboration – manufacturers helping contractors with today’s supply chain, workforce, and decarbonization challenges; PHCC members banding together to help a new PHCC chapter in Arkansas launch; contractors investing in their future with PHCC Educational Foundation and PHCC Political Action Committee donations; apprentices and contractors inspiring each other during the Foundation’s Plumbing and HVAC Apprentice Contests; outgoing leaders confidently passing the baton to new leadership; and everyone rolling up their sleeves and working on their businesses during the 28 educational sessions and many more networking events.
“Discover new ways to work, learn, and lead this week,” said 2021-2022 PHCC—National President Joel Long during the opening CONNECT session in his home state of North Carolina. “This is our time to build on real relationships and forge new partnerships with our plumbing, heating, and cooling family.”
Also during the opening session sponsored by PHCC Strategic Partner Bradford White, the company’s CEO, Bruce Carnevale, presented an always-popular industry update. Contractors, he said, should monitor and prepare for these “Big 4” issues:
- Heat Pump Water Heaters – NAECA 4, 2028
- Commercial Condensing Standard – 2026
- Inflation Reduction Act
- Electrification/Decarbonization – State Actions
Among the many other highlights of PHCCCONNECT2022:
Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Tour
The first official activity of the week was a tour of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company. Tour participants observed the steps to produce cast iron pipe and fittings and met the associates that make it all possible.
A bus tour of the city of Charlotte, hosted by the PHCC National Auxiliary, also was a highlight of the week.
Two Keynote Events
The Oct. 6 keynote speakers – the Our Motorsports team from the NASCAR Xfinity Series – appealed to attendees who love both fast cars and running their businesses. Co-owners Chris Our (a construction company owner) and his daughter Mary, along with General Manager Kevin Cope, shared insider secrets on how trust, dedication, hard work, and doing the right thing lead to winning in both business and racing. Among their tips:
- Diversify your business.
- Build your team.
- Get marketing right.
- Don’t grow too fast.
During a second keynote event – a comprehensive panel discussion on “Industry Perspectives” –industry leaders shared their knowledge and professional opinions on a variety of topics including supply chain issues, workforce challenges, electrification and decarbonization, government regulations, technology, and a potential recession.
Mechancial Hub Editor John Mesenbrink served as moderator for the event, which was sponsored by Kohler. Elisabeth Sutton, Kohler’s director of marketing, professional channel, Kitchen & Bath Americas, kicked off the session with a tribute to Herb Kohler, founder of the company who died in September at the age of 83. Kohler generously pledged one of the first $1 million corporate donations to launch the PHCC Educational Foundation more than 30 years ago.
Other panelists sharing their knowledge and insider tips were:
- Bruce Carnevale, president and chief executive officer of Bradford White Corporation;
- Randy Roberts, vice president of sales and marketing, Rheem Air Conditioning;
- Jeff Fetters, chairman of the Federated Insurance Companies;
- Scott Teson, senior vice president of skilled trades, Milwaukee Tool.
Product and Technology Showcase
The Product and Technology Showcase opened Oct. 6 with more than 130 exhibitors (including 74 new booths this year!), many announcing new products/innovations and offering show specials. The showcase experience offered one-on-one collaboration to test the “look and feel” of products and new technologies as well as provide product guidance right on the show floor.
The PHCC Political Action Committee (PAC) fundraising event and reception celebrated PHCC’s many advocacy achievements. More than $30,000 was raised for the PAC. PHCC also recognized PHCC of South Dakota for the 2022 PHCC Grassroots Excellence Award for their advocacy work on preserving building codes and licensure, and New York PHCC for the 2022 PHCC Legislative Excellence Award for their work fighting back against natural gas bans in the Empire State.
A strong line-up of 28 education sessions offered attendees relevant and timely topics, including The Art of Managing Workplace Conflict, 10 Stupid Financial Mistakes Contractors Make and How You Can Avoid Them, Electrification and How It Will Impact Your Business, and Why You’re Losing Your Best People—How to Avoid the Great Resignation.
Several sessions focused on the workforce challenges impacting the p-h-c industry. A Workforce Development Breakfast – Ideas to Inspire the Next Generation – sponsored by the PHCC National Auxiliary, PHCC Educational Foundation and SupplyHouse.com—featured speakers from the latest season of American Plumber Stories, a docuseries featuring the lives of plumbers throughout the United States who are profiled to help attract and recruit the next generation of plumbers.
Rising Leaders Summit
Billed as a one-day experience of learning, inspiration, and networking for company rock stars, this premiere event motivated and prepared future leaders to tackle business challenges. More than 60 attendees found inspiration from the speakers and panelists, as well as conversations with other rising leaders. Thanks to A.O. Smith, Sterling (a Kohler brand), Milwaukee Tool and Scorpion for sponsoring this important event!
Set up right on the tradeshow floor, the PHCC Educational Foundation’s National Plumbing and HVAC Apprentice Contests showcased 18 plumbing and 10 HVAC apprentices from across the nation testing their skills, knowledge, and accuracy.
We’re always inspired by these young professionals and what they bring to our industry! Read more about the 2022 National Apprentice Contest winners in this article.
In addition, PHCCCONNECT2022 proved to be a prime opportunity to generate interest in the plumbing and HVAC trades among local students. More than 150 high school students from our host state of North Carolina attended a special orientation, watched the apprentices demonstrate their skills during the PHCC Educational Foundation’s National Apprentice Contests, and met with vendors and contractors on the tradeshow floor.
Educational Foundation Celebrations
The PHCC Educational Foundation celebrated its 35th anniversary during a special reception at CONNECT for its donors and volunteers.
Cindy Sheridan, the Foundation’s chief operating officer, announced her pending retirement before PHCCCONNECT2022 and was honored throughout the event for a job well done. New COO Jessica Bridges was also in attendance. Thank you, Cindy, for your 22 years of significant contributions to PHCC and the industry!
Investing in the Next Generation
Scholarships totaling $186,600 were awarded to the next generation of industry leaders who are currently plumbing or HVAC apprentices, trade school students, or college students pursuing studies directly related to the p-h-c industry. The PHCC Educational Foundation awarded scholarships totaling $155,500 to 59 students (read more here about the 2022 winners and 2023 scholarship application season opening in January). Gifts made during CONNECT helped to push the Foundation’s Invest in Your Future campaign total to an amazing $280,000.
In addition, the PHCC—National Auxiliary awarded $31,000 to 10 students; a list of winners can be found here. PHCC wishes the best of luck to these students who are pursuing an education and profession in the p-h-c industry!
Special Opportunities Hosted by QSC and UAC
PHCC’s Quality Service Contractors (QSC) for service and repair professionals hosted its own version of “TED Talks” called “QSC Talks” on the trade show floor with a series of 15-minute interactive discussions focusing on emotional intelligence in the workplace as well as a variety of resourceful tips for doing business more effectively.
PHCC’s Union-Affiliated Contractors (UAC) hosted an Oct. 6 forum for signatory contractors, union leaders, and association staff. The keynote speaker was United Association International Director of Plumbing Service Tom Bigley, who participated in an informative and candid discussion on key industry topics, delved into pertinent plumbing trade issues, and fielded numerous questions.
Honoring the Best of 2022
The best in our industry were celebrated during the Oct. 7 Awards Luncheon and at other various events during the week. Of particular note, Charles “Chip” Greene of Macon, Georgia, received PHCC’s highest honor, the Col. George D. Scott Award. Click here for a complete list of award winners, including chapter awards, Auxiliary awards, and scholarship winners. Congratulations to all those honored in 2022!
In his speech at the closing event, 2022-2023 PHCC—National President Dave Frame, who is also chief executive officer of Bob Frame Plumbing in South Bend, Indiana, pledged to stay the course on the PHCC strategic plan. Frame encouraged clear communication among all PHCC staff, members, and partners; “this will truly be our strong foundation for constructive collaboration,” he said.
Frame also credited outgoing PHCC—National president Joel Long with being a “perfect example of positive leadership.” It was announced that Long’s PHCC Rocks podcast this past year (23 episodes featuring 49 guests) has reached nearly 5,000 people so far.
During the Oct. 7 PHCC Annual Business Meeting, PHCC members elected Rick Whitaker, owner of Brown Brothers Plumbing and Heating Co. Inc., in Durham, North Carolina, as PHCC—National Association Vice President. The members also approved Laura Ciriello-Benedict as the Association’s Secretary.
Closing Night at NASCAR
There was no better way to finish the week than by attending the PHCC Installation and Closing Event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, sponsored by Federated Insurance, NIBCO and LMH Agency. The Charlotte icon opened its doors and exhibits – many interactive. Among the highlights: the favored familiar sounds of the Milwaukee Tool Shed Band!
Thank You to Our Sponsors!
PHCCCONNECT2022 was a celebration of the positivity, unity, strength, diversity, and constructive collaboration that defines our association. PHCCCONNECT2022 would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. Be sure to keep them in mind for your business needs!
Next Stop: Cleveland, Ohio
Mark Your Calendars Now!
Our plumbing and HVAC contractors share a passion to help one another be the best they can be. Plan to celebrate that purpose at PHCCCONNECT2023, Oct. 25-27, in Cleveland, Ohio. Exhibit booths sales are open as is the Call for Presentations. We can’t wait to see you there! Be sure to invite a prospective member to the conference so they can experience the PHCC benefits. Look for more details as they are confirmed at phccweb.org/connect.