The Man Behind the Foundation’s Creation

Dick Irwin
January 12, 2022
By Staff Writer, PHCC Educational Foundation

From the July 2007 edition of the Foundation Focus Newsletter

In 1987, the PHCC National Association Educational Foundation came into existence because of the vision and commitment of a coterie of exceptional leaders, leaders who persisted despite initial reluctance, who after the first resolution for a foundation was tabled, redoubled their efforts, gathered support, often individual by individual, and a year later, prevailed.

At the 1986 PHCC Annual Meeting and Convention in San Francisco, the creation of the PHCC Educational Foundation was approved. In one sense it was just another example in PHCC’s long history of strong and dedicated individuals stepping into leadership roles at pivotal moments. But what was different about the Foundation was how its founders envisioned its reach: beyond membership, to serve the industry as a whole; beyond the many purposes served by the association, to focus on education.

It was an intent held so strongly that the organization was named not the PHCC Foundation but the PHCC Educational Foundation. The nature of the strong, self-made businessmen who started the Foundation was matched by an extraordinarily single- minded shared purpose, the first ensuring the creation of the Foundation, the second, engaging a common will that secured survival and then success.

Along the way, the larger-than-life personalities shine through. One of those, Dick Irwin, was truly the driving force behind the creation of the Foundation. Others included Chuck Hiley, Sr., John Ward, Orin Ellis, Ray Dauenhauer, Dan Burnette, Ken Krauska, and Irwin Botto. Interestingly, these early supporters were in the main not volunteers coming to this cause after a long business career, but rather, men in their prime, noted Irwin, – in their 40s and 50s, yet ready to give back to their industry, to serve an interest larger than their own.

In the Beginning…Dick Irwin in 2007

When Dick Irwin first proposed the creation of the Foundation in 1985, the response was often wary, and even the two candidates for PHCC election that year, John Ward and David Fox, both opposed it. Undeterred, Irwin concluded the proposal had been brought too quickly and that PHCC members and leaders needed a fuller understanding of what a Foundation would do (and not do, since some worried that its role might compete with the association rather than complement it). Thus he developed a “Why a Foundation” paper, 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 question or a concern, we immediately addressed it,” he said. One example is that Irwin sought out the newly elected John Ward and in a private one-to-one conversation, laid out his arguments for the Foundation. Ward listened and changed his mind, joining those early supporters. In fact both Ward and Fox became strong supporters, a testament both to the idea’s mettle and to the persuasive gifts of Dick Irwin.

Once the resolution had passed, the real work began, with a strong sense that there was a limited time to prove the worth of the new entity. President Bill Harvey named Dick Irwin (then PHCC Treasurer) as Foundation CEO. When shortly thereafter the Board of Governors was set up, Irwin and Chuck Hiley, Sr, were named co-chairs. Their roles were well defined: Hiley was the point person for “resource development” (read: fundraising) and Irwin was to head the curriculum or program side. Most records from those days quote Irwin; that’s because Hiley insisted Irwin chair all meetings.

The first meeting of the Board of Governors took place in March 1989. Contractor members included Dick Irwin, Chuck Hiley, Sr., Dave Fox, John Ward, Ray Dauenhauer, Bill Harvey, John Giolitto, and Irwin Botto. Manufacturer members were American Standard, Cerro Flow Products, Delta Faucet Company, Eljer, Kohler, and NIBCO. That same year, Moen was sponsoring a golf tournament and InSinkErator began their annual donation of a Cadillac for fundraising.

With that, the Foundation was off and running — and prevailing. While there would continue to be funding challenges and various detours and roadblocks, Dick Irwin’s vision was a now reality with a growing presence and a dedicated mission.

Dick Irwin
PHCC Educational Foundation
Co-Chair 1987 to 1991
Raymond R. Irwin


The PHCC Educational Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit established in December 1986 by PHCC members with the goal of helping their fellow contractors be more successful through education and professional training. These contractors believed and still believe that by helping their friends and their competitors, the whole profession benefits.

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