By Kerry Stackpole, FASAE, CAE, PMI CEO/Executive Director
It has been a busy and fascinating few weeks since coming aboard at PMI. I met with the PMI team for several days, gathering insights about the culture and direction of your association, and sharing ideas about where we go next. I had the great honor and privilege of joining PMI members in visits with California legislative leaders and regulatory officials during our Sacramento Executive Fly-In (see more on p. 7).
Among the many discussions we engaged in with California legislative leaders were those surrounding the urgent desire to promote water conservation strategies. Whether we discussed maintaining current tub spout diverter standards, introducing grey water for residential use, or taming the risks of legionella in the water supply, the focus on safety and conservation are forever intertwined.
All this conversation about good and bad bacteria got me to thinking about one of my favorite leadership topics—the microbiome. In humans, the microbiome refers to the microbes that live in the human intestinal tract. They are responsible for digesting the foods we eat. Interestingly, even though they are bacteria, they don’t make us sick, they help keep us healthy. Without them, you and I would starve to death.
In decision-making, the leadership microbiome is known as “going with your gut.” Whatever you call it—knowledge, wisdom, or intuition—in today’s world they all have symmetry with that quaint notion of trusting your instincts. Some of our most critical decisions in the years ahead will surely require us to trust our gut instincts and, whenever it’s available, the big idea or data that support them.
In the absence of clear direction, the notion of going with your gut has taken on considerable import, as political observers in Canada noted in their remarks during the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH) Annual Business Meeting.
With summer warmth descending on Ottawa, PMI Board of Directors President Pete Jahrling, Immediate Past President Paul Patton, Fernando Fernandez, Barb Higgens, and I spent several days with over 300 industry colleagues. CIPH does an outstanding job of facilitating social networking, honoring the service of volunteers, and recognizing longtime CIPH members. It was inspiring to be among such an open, friendly and passionate group of industry professionals.
Mark Twain once remarked, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” The brevity of the journey between Washington, D.C., and Ottawa is no different. Two CIPH keynote speakers were former Canada government officials who freely shared their confusion, candor and critical perspectives on the new administration of their North American neighbor to the south. It was a fascinating exploration of perplexity from the viewpoint of America’s second-largest trading partner. There was a lot to digest.
One of the themes that emerged time and time again was that of making decisions in tumultuous times. Downsizing your dreams is not the way to go. Right-sizing your expectations is. While you don’t need to settle for less, you must be prepared to meet your team where they are. More importantly, you must be committed to advancing them to where they need to go. The French artist Gustave Flaubert noted, “God is in the details.” If you’re only going to trust your gut instinct, praying at the largest cathedrals may be your best strategy.
One of the strengths strategic leaders bring to decision-making is using their broad perspective to ask the right questions of their team. The Six Sigma practice of five whys is a surprisingly effective method. By repeatedly asking the question “Why?” you peel away the layers of static and noise, leading to the root cause of a problem. What’s important is asking the questions and thinking through the issues and the answers. Sure, not everyone fully appreciates this strategy at the outset, but like a compass, you have to learn how to use it proficiently before it yields any meaningful results. Disappointment is inevitable at some point along the way. Prepare for it, but don’t let it deter you.
It’s also important to remember execution does not live outside of strategy. And frankly neither does your success. That old saw about “some people being too busy getting things done, to listen to those who say they can’t be done” captures it perfectly. Strategic leaders delight in seeing others achieve their fullest potential. Our sense of success comes from witnessing the success of others. Our strength comes not from hitting targets others can’t hit, but from hitting targets others can’t see. We can all agree that, sometimes, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. What matters is whether you can achieve the goals of your organization while illuminating the aspiration of your clients, customers and constituents.
At PMI you have an amazing network of open, friendly, and passionate industry professionals who share your commitment to doing just that. Let’s go.
By Matt Sigler, PMI Technical Director
A version of this article also appeared in Water Quality Products and is used with their permission
As policymakers search for consensus on issues relating to water and environment, Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) continues to advocate for water efficiency, a restored national water infrastructure, and safe plumbing benefitting public health.
While federal policymakers wrangle over budgets and priorities, policymakers in states such as California continue to push for ways to more aggressively conserve and reuse water.
WaterSense program in jeopardy
WaterSense is one of several programs identified for elimination under EPA’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 submitted earlier this year. WaterSense, a voluntary partnership program sponsored by the EPA, has had widespread support from the plumbing manufacturing industry and has provided valuable water- and cost-saving benefits for more than a decade. In response to EPA’s proposed cut, PMI urged the EPA to preserve and maintain the WaterSense program in a letter and a face-to-face meeting with key EPA staff. In addition, PMI and its members have reached out to more than 100 key congressional offices, emphasizing the value of maintaining the WaterSense program, urging support for a series of bills that will formally authorize the program, and working to include report language in the House and Senate FY18 Interior, EPA appropriations bill to keep the program.
In addition, PMI is working closely with important partners including the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), High-Performance Buildings Coalition, and National Association of Home Builders to save this vital program.
WaterSense products have saved an estimated 2.1 trillion gallons of water since its inception in 2006. The program costs the EPA about $3 million a year to administer, and has delivered more than $33 billion to consumers in water and energy bill savings, according to the EPA WaterSense website. WaterSense products use 20 percent less water than plumbing products meeting the required federal standards. Most WaterSense products, including showerheads, toilets, urinals, commercial pre-rinse spray valves and faucets, are manufactured by PMI member companies.
To further emphasize the importance of water efficiency, PMI and AWE released the results of a research study in April estimating that 170 billion gallons of water can be saved annually through water-efficient toilets in five states facing water scarcity. An infographic provides examples of how this saved water can be used. For example, it’s enough water to take 10 billion showers – more than one for each person on the planet.
Water reuse presents benefits, potential risks
Efforts to conserve potable water through reuse have been gaining momentum, especially in states like California hit hard by drought. Several state legislators and other stakeholders joined with PMI to successfully delay regulations relating to the use of non-potable recycled water indoors for new residential and commercial developments until scientific studies determine if recycled water use in this manner poses any risks to public health and safety, as well as if there are plumbing product performance issues when these products are used with treated wastewater.
One such study that may be used as guidance is a Virginia Tech study, with funding through the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and National Science Foundation (NSF), under the direction of Drs. Amy Pruden and Marc Edwards. This research is exploring the relative abundance and diversity of antibiotic-resistant genes and pathogens in reclaimed (recycled) versus potable water distribution systems. A Virginia Tech research team recently released the results of a study concluding that interrupted corrosion control caused the Flint lead-in-water water crisis.
Promoting the need for restored national water infrastructure
PMI has traditionally advocated for water-efficient plumbing products, particularly those certified by the WaterSense program. However, lead-in-water crises in Flint, Mich., and many other American communities – coupled with concerns about waterborne pathogens such as Legionella, water main breaks and leaks, drought and their collective impact on water infrastructure – led PMI to begin an advocacy effort focused on water infrastructural issues.
In summer 2016, PMI introduced its water infrastructure advocacy through a position paper and infographic. PMI continues to educate policymakers about the importance of a restored national water infrastructure.
The good news is that Congressional leaders from both parties have expressed interest in developing job-creating legislation that would restore American infrastructure. PMI will be urging Congress to address water infrastructural concerns through this legislation.
In addition, a PMI study, currently in progress under the direction of Dr. Paul Sturman of Montana State University, is testing the hypothesis that low flow rates yield a greater proliferation of opportunistic waterborne pathogens, such as Legionella, in potable water and create unsafe conditions. Dr. Edwards at Virginia Tech has published research showing that waterborne pathogens, like Legionella, are more likely to grow when water lies stagnant in pipes leading to the tap.
This research is especially important as lower flow rates and alternative kinds of water systems that keep water in pipes longer are being considered to address water shortages.
When Jerry Desmond, PMI’s California government affairs consultant, started working with PMI in 2005, he compared his experience to a race-car driver who straps on a helmet, jumps in his vehicle and presses the pedal to the floor.
At that time, the California “Lead in Faucets” bill (AB1953) was heating up, requiring everyone at PMI, including all member companies, to come together ready for action. “We almost got the bill defeated twice but it ultimately passed over our objections,” Jerry said. “However, we worked hard to add several key provisions to the law to require third-party certification to the new standard for lead-free faucets. The California law led to federal legislation.”
Legislative issues in California have continued toward PMI and the industry at high speed. Since the state creates such a large volume of legislation affecting plumbing products and the industry, Jerry acts as the first line of defense, protecting PMI members’ interests. His established relationships with the California governor’s office, state legislators, California Energy Commission and other key agencies allow Jerry to get early warnings on issues. “I work with PMI’s leadership and the Advocacy/Government Affairs and Technical Committees to quickly get engaged and figure out what PMI members need and want as an outcome,” he said.
Out of thousands of pieces of legislation covering everything from chemical safety to water conservation, the collective PMI team typically narrows its focus to about six high-priority issues in California annually. Once those priorities have been established, Jerry and the team turn their attention to how that legislation might eventually affect the rest of the U.S. and then set strategies accordingly.
The historic and unprecedented drought in California in the last couple years has driven the governor and legislators to continually seek ways to decrease water use by plumbing products. As a result, Jerry has been helping PMI deal with several issues, including advocacy efforts on the specific provisions of proposed water-efficiency standards for certain types of products while protecting public health and safety. PMI developed easily understood materials with strong technical information backed by science that Jerry and the team used to engage with legislators considering appliance efficiency regulations.
Indoor recycled water use regulations in California, considered during the past year within the “2016 Intervening Code Adoption Cycle,” are among new issues Jerry said has been a “priority process and effort” that has reinforced PMI as the go-to organization for the industry. “We’ve been able to build quite a coalition, using our relationships with the state’s departments of housing, community development and water resources; third-party certification groups that belong to PMI; PMI member companies; and many other key stakeholders,” he said. Their mutual goal is to remove the requirement of using recycled water for indoor toilets and urinals in residential and commercial construction. “We explained our case, including the need for more research on how recycled water might negatively affect public health, as well as a toilet’s components and operation. We’re cautiously optimistic that we have bought some time for these issues to be explored,” he said.
At the core of Jerry’s work are relationships and determination. “It’s gratifying to take a difficult situation where emotions are high and false claims may be circulating, understand the obstacles, tap into my relationships, and then clear a path to get a rewarding solution for PMI members,” he said.
A lifelong California resident, Jerry now runs the family law business his dad Jerry Sr. founded. He said he could not imagine living anywhere else, since Sacramento and the surrounding area offer the best of California – from trails along the Sacramento and American rivers, where he enjoys many bike rides, to the Sierra-Nevada mountains in Lake Tahoe, where Jerry looks forward to hiking and taking in the scenery. He also added that “while legislative and political battles can be challenging, it certainly helps strike a work-life balance when you get to live in a state filled with great wine, culture and experiences.”
In “The Spirit of Collaboration,” current and prospective PMI members will meet at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Sonoma Wine Country for the 2017 PMI Conference. This relaxing, yet stimulating venue will be the backdrop for four days of thought-provoking presentations and valuable networking.
Monday, November 13
Conference registration begins at 3 p.m., with the all-member Welcome Reception starting at 6 p.m. Earlier that day, the Board of Directors will meet with the Strategic Advisory Council (SAC). A brief reception for VIPs and first-time attendees will precede the Welcome Reception.
Tuesday, November 14
Following opening remarks, the conference’s first keynote speaker, Doc Hendley, will talk about his Wine to Water non-profit group, which has dug, repaired and sanitized drinking wells for 25,000 people in five countries. His presentation will cover how he aims to do more to help the 1.1 billion people worldwide who lack access to clean water.
In the other morning sessions, the Water Efficiency and Sustainability Issue Committee will host Dr. Markus Lenger, the co-founder, CEO and chief science officer of CleanBlu Corporation. Next, Mary Ann Dickinson, the president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, and John Koeller, principal, Maximum Performance (MaP) Testing and Koeller and Company, will provide an update on the PMI/AWE-commissioned “Saturation Study of Non-Efficient Water Closets in Key States.”
After lunch, the Commerce Committee will feature Gary Stanley, director, Office of Materials, U.S. Department of Commerce. Also, Dr. Paul Sturman, research professor and industrial coordinator, Montana State University, will provide an update on the research he was commissioned to do for PMI.
At 3:30 p.m., buses will begin loading for a trip to the DeLoach Vineyards for a tour and dinner to conclude the first full day of the conference. Space is limited for this unique event, so be sure to purchase a ticket when registering for the conference! A ticket for this event is not included in the registration fee.
Wednesday, November 15
This morning’s keynote address will be delivered by Bruce Vincent, who will bring insights gained as a logger and advocate for responsible environmentalism and rural communities to the 2017 PMI Conference.
Following the keynote will be dual track sessions for which attendees choose to attend either the technical or outreach/communications track, according to their specific industry concerns.
The technical track panel will include Bob Raymer, P.E., technical director, California Building Industry Association (CBIA); Paula Kehoe, director of water resources, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; Gary Klein, Gary Klein and Associates; and Samir J. Abdelnour, associate, Hanson Bridgett.
The outreach/communication panel will convene discussions around task groups assigned to developing communication strategies around various aspects of PMI value. Ray Valek, president, Valek and Company Communications, will present on safety culture and thought leadership.
Wednesday’s afternoon sessions will include a report on the technical and outreach/communications tracks to the entire membership, as well as the Allied Member Committee Meeting. To complete the day, PMI members will conduct the Annual General Membership Meeting, where new officers and board members will be elected, members will be honored for their service, and new members will be recognized. The ceremonial “passing of the gavel” from 2017 PMI Board President Pete Jahrling, Sloan Valve Company, to 2018 PMI Board President Scott McDonald, Fluidmaster, Inc., will occur. The day will wrap up with a reception and dinner.
Thursday, November 16
We’re saving important content for last – so that you’ll enjoy Sonoma Wine Country and the company of your PMI colleagues as long as possible. The final day’s keynote speaker will be Commissioner Andrew McAllister, of the California Energy Commission. The conference will conclude with the Advocacy/Government Affairs Committee meeting with PMI government affairs consultants Stephanie Salmon (Washington, D.C.) and Jerry Desmond (California).
Not one to back down from a challenge, Carol Baricovich firmly believes that hard work and dedication can take you anywhere. Her early inspiration came from her older brother who beat the odds and made it into the NFL as a player and coach. Carol continues demonstrating that spirit today in her career and as a new PMI Commerce Committee co-chair, where she is beginning a deep dive into understanding the many trade and commerce issues facing PMI members.
Along with co-chair Erik Thiesen, Carol is leading the committee’s current initiative to educate members about a dozen issues, including rules of origin and conflict minerals, opening markets, and harmonization of world standards.
“I’m interested in asking members to tell us what aspects of trade and commerce they’d like to know more about, so we plan to survey them and also find out how they like to get information – whether through webinars with experts, newsletter articles, emails or some other method,” she said. In her position as director of global brand communications and government relations at the InSinkErator business unit of Emerson, Carol has experience selecting and booking experts and hopes to use that know-how to help PMI.
Joining InSinkErator 12 years ago as the company’s first channel manager, Carol launched its wholesale channel strategy and developed training programs for plumbers, customers, sales reps and others. Training has become a favorite part of Carol’s role, and she now leads the company’s e-learning initiative. “The insight obtained during my time in the wholesale plumbing channel was invaluable, including witnessing the challenges facing the industry and gaining an appreciation for what professionals deal with daily in this rapidly changing world,” she said. “Nobody works harder than they do.” Currently, Carol is creating an online training module based on a PMI workshop she attended on plumbing codes. She noted how “exceptional PMI workshops are for staying abreast of codes and regulatory issues.”
While her background and experience are rooted in marketing, public affairs and training, Carol is proud of helping InSinkErator, the world’s largest provider of garbage disposals for home and commercial use, change the building codes in Philadelphia, Pa., to mandate disposers in new construction. That win was the result of a large campaign she managed, proving how municipalities could use disposers to divert food waste from landfills to create renewable energy. She also helped educate the public on the environmental benefits of disposers and helped gain their inclusion in the National Association of Homebuilders’ Green Building Standard.
Outside of the office, Carol volunteers with the United Way of Milwaukee to coach disadvantaged women who want to return to work by helping them write new resumes, assess their strengths, and then target employers.
Speaking of targets, she also enjoys participating in shooting sports with her husband Keith, a skilled marksman. Raised in a family of “sports fanatics,” Carol said she naturally is driven to stay active and likes to work on her golf game whenever possible. That sports theme also runs through another of her hobbies as a novelist and non-fiction writer.
As a life-long student, Carol said she has a lot of learning to do in her work with PMI. “I’m ready to study the issues, learn how they may impact our members’ businesses and our industry, and then figure out how PMI can tap into our relationships with the U.S. energy and commerce departments and officials in Washington to bring the best solutions possible,” she said.
Recipient of the 2010 PMI President’s Award and international technical guru Klaus Fromme died of pancreatic cancer on July 7, 2017. He worked for over 30 years at Bradley Corporation and was an inventor and engineer who held nine U.S. patents. He loved his German heritage and helped keep it alive as president of Milwaukee’s German Fest for 15 years.
Klaus served as a Technical Committee co-chair and was profiled in the January/February 2010 issue of PMI News: goo.gl/cfRiAw
Read his obituary here: goo.gl/jrqDPT
Kerry Stackpole has been on the move in his first few weeks as PMI’s new CEO/executive director, immersing himself in the issues important to PMI’s members, getting to know the association’s leadership, and meeting key legislators.
His travels have included productive meetings with the California Building Standards Commission and California Energy Commission in Sacramento, where Kerry said, “They were actively engaged with us and we received a strong welcome in the model of deep respect and awareness that our association speaks for the industry.” He also met with several legislators who have supported PMI’s initiatives over the past several years and who expressed their gratitude for PMI’s contributions. These public officials said they are looking forward to engaging on upcoming issues, such as tub spout diverters, the use of recycled water, and water efficiency.
In addition, Kerry visited with leaders and members of the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating in Ottawa, Canada, a PMI ally and partner that collaborates on critical issues, including harmonization of plumbing codes and standards.
He recently talked with Water Quality Association (WQA) Radio about PMI’s support for the EPA’s WaterSense program and PMI’s hopes for an infrastructure bill. “We think the components of the infrastructure bill that address water efficiency and safety, and provide funding for the water utilities and the other water projects in the country, are certainly critically important,” Kerry said. “So, we’re enthusiastic about that.” (goo.gl/ERirLH)
Summing up his whirlwind tour, Kerry said it has shown how important it is for PMI to continue being the consistent, steady voice of the industry – as legislators come and go and issues continue evolving. “The fact that we can maintain – at the industry level – a constancy that might not always have been possible in a political realm is a real tribute to PMI’s board and staff, and Barb Higgens’ leadership,” he said.
The Board of Directors of Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) has voted to approve Haws Corporation as the newest manufacturing member of PMI. With global headquarters in Sparks, Nev., Haws Corporation is a leader in manufacturing drinking fountains, tempered water systems, hydration stations and emergency response products, including drench showers and safety eyewashes.
“Haws is proud to once again join the PMI membership. PMI is a valuable asset to creating a collective voice and encouraging collaboration within the industry. We are eager to participate and support the combined efforts and advocacy for quality safety equipment and drinking water systems,” said Haws Corporation CEO Tom White.
Haws joins the roster of PMI manufacturing and allied members, which collectively represents 90 percent of the U.S. plumbing product market. With its PMI membership, Haws will have the opportunity to contribute to PMI’s advocacy for water-efficient plumbing products meeting high safety and performance standards, as well as to lend its voice to PMI’s work on plumbing codes and standards and important legislative and regulatory matters affecting the industry. In addition, Haws Corporation employees will have access to all PMI publications, resources, studies and conference calls covering various topics, including technical issues, advocacy/government affairs, and outreach/communications.
“We’re pleased to welcome Haws Corporation as a PMI member and look forward to their insight and contributions supporting our vision of safe, responsible plumbing,” said Kerry Stackpole, PMI CEO/executive director.
The PMI communications team has added website functionality allowing the display of individual Ripple Effect articles on SafePlumbing.org. For this issue and all going forward, website search results will now include Ripple Effect articles, and social media posts and other communications will now be able to link to individual articles.
Right now, the individual listings go back to May 2017. These links take you to the July issue and to an individual July article:
In addition, we have added back issues of PMI News to the website archive. Search results will now include pdf versions of issues dating back to 1998.