By Kerry Stackpole, FASAE, CAE, PMI CEO/Executive Director
What if your company CEO was the most trusted person among company employees? Among citizens in your community? In the United States or around the globe? If you are the CEO, what if it was you?
There are more than a billion mentions of CEOs on Google. CEOs going to jail and CEOs threatening to “axe” mediocre staff. CEOs who are the best performing executives in the world. CEOs accused of sexual harassment and misogyny. CEOs who are activist leaders. There are debates about the merits of female CEOs in a world overwhelmingly populated by male CEOs. There are stories of high-profile companies with low-profile CEOs. All manner of debate, dialogue, conversation and confounding analysis.
None of it explains the recently released 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, which reveals trust has changed profoundly in the past year. People have shifted their trust to the relationships within their control, most notably their “employers.” Globally, 75% of people trust “my employer” to do what is right.
- 58% of employees look to their employers to be a trustworthy source of information about contentious societal issues.
- 67% of employees expect employers will join them in taking action on societal issues.
- 71% of employees believe it’s critically important for “my CEO” to respond to challenging times.
- 76% of the general population concur – they say they want CEOs to take the lead on change instead of waiting for government to impose it.
Stephen Kehoe, chair of the reputation practice at Edelman, points out that “in the face of heightened expectations on CEOs to step into the trust vacuum left by government, pressure is on them to do more – and quickly – to invoke a sense of certainty, reassurance and confidence with employees as well as the general public.”
If, as Kehoe writes, “CEOs must clearly also consider the significantly heightened expectations on them to be advocates for change in a world that is still confused and uncertain,” a critical question remains. How does a CEO lead in a world that is “still confused and uncertain?” As writer Kirsten Ludowig cleverly noted, “For CEOs, uncertainty is the only certainty.”
One of the gifts to come my way during the holidays was Michael Ventura’s book “Applied Empathy, The New Language of Leadership.” Ventura writes about significant improvements in customer satisfaction and new business opportunities when companies deploy empathy as part of their overall product and service development cycles. Consumers are increasingly savvy about what makes truly great products and services. Under the right circumstances, when asked to contribute their ideas and opinions, consumers – residential and commercial alike – will happily share their insights.
In our business, the momentary discomfort of a cold toilet seat brought about several new innovations to warm things up. The commercial application of automatic flush toilets, hands-free faucets, towel dispensers, hand dryers, and even those nifty paper dispensers next to the exit door, so customers don’t have to grab the door pull bare handed, reflect empathy for the concerns (and fears) shared by travelers, hotel guests, and consumers. While most of us believe our sense of empathy is well-developed, there are always lessons to be learned. The effort by U.S. airlines to shrink the size of the standard airplane bathroom from 48 inches to 24 inches wide may be distancing empathy for and from travelers.
If empathy is a critical component of leadership, so too is performance. In seeking to assess the best performing global CEOs, Harvard Business Review (HBR) examined companies in the S&P Global 1200 Index. The top 100 roster is full of well-known brands from around the globe—Marriott, Salesforce, JPMorgan Chase, Disney, Northrup Grumman, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Microsoft, Accenture, and 92 other firms.
With the rise and potency of populism in the global political environment, business leaders in the plumbing fixture and fitting manufacturing space are facing the reality of tariffs and a long-term trade war. While the Trump Administration has dialed back some of its more extreme rhetoric on trade with China, the ideological fault lines between U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer remain a concern. Asking HBR’s high performing CEOs for their take on how best to manage this uncertainty was instructive. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon pointed out that, “If you want the right public policy, you have to be an advocate…you can’t be parochial. You can’t talk only about that one little regulation that’s going to help your company. You need to talk about tax policy, trade, immigration, technology.”
Plumbing fixture and fitting manufacturers will have that opportunity and more during PMI’s Washington, D.C., Legislative Forum and Fly-In, May 7–8, 2019. The perspective of CEOs and senior executives will be heard during legislative briefings and visits to members of Congress over the course of a day and a half on the Hill. There’s a lot to talk about and a lot more to be done.
By Ray Valek, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
As PMI extends its welcome and congratulations to the members of the 116th Congress, the association is prepared to advance a legislative and regulatory agenda focused on fair trade, increased investment in infrastructure and workforce training, and assuring safe drinking water.
In letters to all members of the House and Senate, PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole noted, “Plumbing manufacturers look forward to working with you and the members of the 116th Congress as you craft policy solutions that will help our nation’s economy and manufacturers thrive.”
In the months ahead, PMI will be reaching out to many of the 90 new House members and 9 new senators, as well as new committee chairs. In addition, PMI will be working with PMI member companies to host plant tours, said PMI Federal Government Affairs Consultant Stephanie Salmon. “Hosting plant tours is a vital step in helping PMI build relationships with legislators and key members of their staffs. These tours showcase our member facilities’ manufacturing process and products,” she emphasized.
The letters from PMI highlight the need for continued bipartisan action to ensure the international competitiveness of plumbing manufacturers. PMI remains very concerned over the harmful consequences of the Section 301 tariffs on $250 billion worth of imports from China, particularly on plumbing manufacturers, their employees, consumers, and the home building and home improvement sectors. PMI urges the Congress and Trump Administration to reexamine the impact of the tariffs, which serve as a tax increase on the American consumer and put jobs at risk.
March 2 looms as the date when the Section 301 tariff rate may increase from 10% to 25% as the U.S. and China pursue an agreement on issues including forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, and cyber intrusions and theft.
PMI urges federal lawmakers to bolster investment in the nation’s aging infrastructure, including drinking water and wastewater systems, and invest in the next generation of skilled technical workers. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ current Infrastructure Report Card, America’s infrastructure scores a D+.
The United States must fill nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs over the next decade, and many of those jobs may go unfilled unless federal workforce training and educational programs receive adequate funding. The U.S. plumbing manufacturing industry, along with their wholesale and retail partners, directly provides more than 193,000 good paying jobs and over $10 billion dollars in wages nationwide, contributing to the economic health of each state in the union. Overall, the plumbing fixture and fittings industry contributes $85.5 billion dollars to the American economy – about four-tenths of 1% of America’s gross domestic product, according to economic data compiled by PMI safeplumbing.org/advocacy/economic-impact.
In the federal regulatory arena, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans on codifying the Reduction in Lead in Drinking Water Act in 2019. PMI has already submitted comments to the EPA while continuing to monitor this process. The EPA is also drafting revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule, with a draft expected to be released in 2019 with a final rule scheduled for 2020. An EPA white paper provides an overview of the issues under consideration (tinyurl.com/y9lho5z3), and the Trump Administration issued a multi-agency plan to reduce lead poisoning in children (tinyurl.com/ycaz9fcl).
By Judy Wohlt, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
Every year, PMI aims to offer members a PMI Conference with talented, informative speakers and dynamic and beneficial committee sessions, with the ultimate goal of providing information and tools that can help member companies move forward and grow. With the 2018 PMI Conference in the rearview mirror, staff has already begun planning for the 2019 PMI Conference – with a focus on delivering even more value to members.
“We stepped up our efforts on innovation at last year’s conference by adding an emcee and changed up the structure by eliminating the traditional committee meetings and replacing them with speakers and moderated panels,” said Jodi Stuhrberg, PMI association manager. “We plan on applying the successes and lessons learned to this year’s conference.”
Members responded positively to the changes, offering the following feedback about the moderated panels gathered from the 2018 PMI Conference survey:
“I thought these went well. It was obvious that a lot of thought went into making them run smoothly. Sometimes you see panels which just end up being a bunch of presentations at the same time, but these were true Q&A panels.”
“The panel discussions were outstanding. Please continue in this format.”
“Nice way to change the overall look and feel of the topics.”
Another crucial part of the conference is choosing the right mix of speakers who will support the conference theme, which is developed by the PMI Board of Directors. The staff typically looks for three types of speakers:
- Keynote speakers who can motivate and bring an innovative perspective while looking to the future;
- Technical speakers who can inform and offer insight on the challenges facing the plumbing manufacturing and fittings business; and
- Those with a unique business perspective who can provide additional creative, applicable ideas.
“We want speakers who are compelling, thought-provoking and who can share great ideas that our members can adopt and adapt to their business situations,” said Kerry Stackpole, PMI CEO/executive director.
The 2019 PMI Conference, Nov. 4–7 at Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, Fla., will present an opportunity to host speakers from the Florida university system, which offers many prominent researchers and scientists, Kerry added. Florida’s building boom and its impact on infrastructure, plumbing engineering and water resources are also likely topics in 2019.
Several members said PMI is on the right track when choosing speakers and shared their thoughts about the last conference in the survey.
Feedback on keynote speaker Jack Uldrich, a well-recognized global futurist, speaker and author of 11 books, who discussed “The Big A-ha: How to Embrace Today’s Trends to Create Tomorrow’s Opportunities,” included the following:
“It was a nice way to open the meeting – by getting people to think about the bigger picture.”
“Loved his presentation.”
“Really enjoyed this speaker.”
Another member said the following about speaker Markus Lenger, CEO of CleanBlu Corporation, who addressed “Smart Cities and Water Reuse”: “Great speaker. Really tied in well with futurist keynote topics.”
Kerry added that many suggestions for speakers come from members and PMI committees and the staff welcome member input and ideas. Have you seen a great speaker you think would be suitable for the 2019 PMI Conference? Please email your suggestions for consideration to Jodi at email@example.com.
Current title and employer: Import logistics specialist, Delta Faucet Company.
What is your current role in PMI and what do you hope to accomplish? I am a co-chair of the PMI Commerce Committee and hope to use my experience and knowledge as it relates to import customs compliance to help navigate within the current environment.
My first job: I worked for a small retail store that sold everything you could possibly need to play – or be a fan of – soccer. Being a part of a small company, I got a little bit of experience in a lot of difference aspects of the business from working on the retail floor, to inventory control, to purchasing.
Length of time in the plumbing industry: I’ve been with Delta for 6 years now.
My proudest plumbing manufacturing career achievement: Before working with Delta, I worked in international purchasing for a small furniture manufacturer. That position grew into all things international, so I took on the international logistics and customs compliance as well. Having no idea what I was getting myself into, I found that I actually enjoyed the customs compliance piece of it and made it my mission to learn as much as I could in the field. After a lot of hard work and studying, I got my brokerage license, which helps in my position at Delta, especially in the current environment with all of the tariff and trade war issues.
My hidden professional talent is: Research. I like to dig for needed information that helps solve a problem.
Advice I’d give someone just starting a career in the plumbing manufacturing industry: Be patient! There’s a lot to learn and it’s a fast-paced, constantly changing industry.
I started a career in the plumbing manufacturing industry because: The home improvement industry is one that has been an interest to me for a while. Personally, I almost always have a home improvement project going on, so working in an industry that is heavily involved in home improvement has been enjoyable for me.
About my family: I have been married to Mike for almost 10 years. We are both from Cincinnati, Ohio, originally, and now live in Indianapolis, Ind., with our two Great Danes, Stella and Norman.
In my spare time: I love to be outside, no matter the weather. I enjoy doing yard work and I love to take the dogs to the park. I’ve taken up photography as a hobby as well and it’s fun to take pictures outside.
I’m currently reading: “Hiking the Wonderland Trail.” Our vacations are usually spent in the national parks. This year, we made it to Rainier and Olympic national parks in Washington state; Redwood National Park in California; and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. While at Rainier, I decided I wanted to hike the Wonderland Trail, so I bought the book and started reading up on it. Some day!
Best advice I ever received: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn new things. Whether in your career or personal life, never stop growing.
My favorite movie: Dead Poets’ Society
By Judy Wohlt, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
Plumbing manufacturers who import materials and products from countries outside the U.S. are required to follow certain origin of goods laws, rules and regulations, including those under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), enforced by U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP). Determining the country of origin for a product can affect many factors, including a company’s marking requirements and rate of duty to be paid.
For plumbing manufacturers that produce goods in Mexico and Canada containing Chinese materials, a new ruling could increase the possibility of being reviewed and challenged by CBP – and potentially being required to pay Section 301 retaliatory duties.
The new ruling deals with the relationship between the NAFTA Marking Rules and the Section 301 duties applied to products imported from China. Issued in September 2018, the ruling – involving electric motors from Mexico manufactured by Johnson Electric – states that the NAFTA Marking Rules can only be applied for country-of-origin marking purposes, but not for determining origin for paying duties under the Section 301 tariffs on certain Chinese imports. According to CBP, when “considering a product that may be subject to antidumping, countervailing, or other safeguard measures, the substantial transformation analysis is applied to determine country of origin.” The ruling letter can be viewed on CBP’s website (rulings.cbp.gov/ruling/H300226).
“This new ruling is taking people by surprise. It is significant because it clarifies previous rulings and directs that a substantial transformation analysis – not the NAFTA Marking Rules – governs origin determination as it relates to Section 301 tariffs,” said Terry Polino, a partner in the international trade group at Arent Fox LLP, who recently presented a trade webinar to PMI members on navigating the new Section 301 tariffs.
The ruling also means that companies, including plumbing manufacturers, are exposed to a higher risk of review and challenge by CBP for producing Mexican or Canadian products that incorporate Chinese materials subject to Section 301 retaliatory duties, she added. That review risk is because substantial transformation analysis is a more subjective test, leaving room for CBP to interpret the origin of a product and its parts – regardless of where the product was last processed. For example, a company may use a few Chinese parts or materials to assemble a product in Mexico, concluding that the product should be considered originating from Mexico, Terry said. However, those few Chinese parts may be interpreted by the CBP as being key or “substantial” to that product’s function, requiring the company to pay the special 10% or 25% Section 301 duties – instead of normal duties.
Elton Perkins, co-chair of PMI’s Commerce Committee and director of global sourcing at Fluidmaster, said that determining country of origin for products can be easily misinterpreted. He said that Section 301 tariffs and establishing country of origin is generally not an issue for his company because its supply chain is clear on origin of materials. “However, when we import materials from China to add to a product, such as a toilet, to be finished in Mexico, and then move the product back to the U.S., that’s when we really have to analyze and ask ourselves, is it a Mexico product or are we carrying it over with the China origin superseding?”
A lot of grey area can exist when determining a product’s country of origin, Terry said. Hiring an outside expert to help make the determination and offer an opinion based on experience and expertise in trade issues can help companies avoid the cost of getting it wrong. “Using an expert who provides an opinion is considered exercising due diligence, ensuring a good result and helping a company avoid being penalized by the CBP,” she remarked.
To address member concerns about this issue, PMI is currently working on creating an overview of the rules that help establish origin of a product or good.
In addition, PMI recently joined onto the Americans for Free Trade coalition letter to Congress along with nearly 150 organizations representing U.S. manufacturers, retailers and farmers. The letter stressed the impact of tariffs in all 50 states. PMI has stated that it remains very concerned over the negative impact of the Section 301 tariffs of 10% on $250 billion worth of imports from China, including a wide variety of plumbing products. PMI testified this summer in opposition to across-the-board tariffs as they serve as a tax increase on the American public and consumers.
By Pete DeMarco, Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Research, IAPMO
Reprinted with permission from Contractor magazine, where the article was first published. View it online at tinyurl.com/ybkgmnod
Legionella is big news again. It certainly was a big story in 1976 when a major outbreak of a mysterious illness occurred during an American Legion convention at a Philadelphia hotel. The resulting investigation led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) produced television drama and cover stories in both Time and Newsweek magazines. Ultimately, public health officials identified the culprit bacterium that caused the disease and named it “Legionella.”
Today, new outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease and Legionella contamination continue to be reported in the United States and around the globe. For example, in late January 2018, preliminary test results showed the “possible presence” of Legionella bacteria in a “dead leg” of the water system at the Illinois Capitol Complex in Springfield, Ill., according to the State Journal-Register. Instances like this prove that more research is needed on identifying the best strategies for preventing future outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease from the water in our premise plumbing systems.
Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) recently released new content, “Just the Facts: Legionella and Water Supply Systems,” discussing the threats posed by this waterborne pathogen and the need to continue advocating for water system safety. Compiled using many scientific, industry and other resources, the document also examines industry standards developed to control the bacteria and key ways to prevent Legionella growth. This report is an excellent resource for anyone looking to obtain a working knowledge on the current status of the Legionella issue and the challenges faced by water utilities and the plumbing industry to keep our water systems safe.
Understanding key elements for growth
First, it is important to understand the key elements that can provide the ideal environment for Legionella growth in a water system. They include the following, from PMI’s report:
- The longer water sits in a system or piping in a system, the greater likelihood the water disinfectant will dissipate over time, leading to pathogen growth.
- When biofilm, a sticky substance created by bacteria, forms on the inside wall of water supply piping, it protects Legionella from heat and disinfectant.
- Legionella growth is enabled by lukewarm water temperatures, usually in the range of 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
- A “dead leg” is a portion of a plumbing system that is stagnant or has rare flow of water in the pipes.
- Today’s lower flow rates, consistent with modern plumbing fixtures and appliances, have led to longer transit times in water utility distribution systems. As a result, water is arriving at buildings, especially at the outer fringes of the system, with little or no residual disinfectant. This contributes to the potential for pathogen growth in the premise plumbing system.
- With increased use of rainwater catchment and graywater systems in buildings, cross connections between potable and improperly maintained non-potable water sources can introduce Legionella into the potable water supply system.
Once it grows, Legionella can potentially be spread by any component in the plumbing system that generates an aerosol or a fine mist of water. Large complex plumbing systems, like those in hospitals, retirement communities and cruise ships, are most often associated with outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease and are especially problematic for at-risk people with compromised immune systems.
Developing a strong safety plan
The most comprehensive way to reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks is to design, implement and regularly update an overall building water safety plan. The plan should be based on an engineering audit of a building’s water system, consider any potential hazardous conditions and potential areas of pathogen growth for that system, and include industry best practices to prevent Legionella contamination.
In 2015, ASHRAE published the international standard, “Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems,” ASHRAE 188. This American national standard establishes minimum risk management requirements to control the transmission of Legionellosis in water supply systems.
Design also plays a major role in mitigating the growth of Legionella in plumbing systems. Section 8 of ASHRAE 188 details the need to properly document a building’s plumbing systems design, identify areas of potential pathogen amplification, and eliminate features that can contribute to potential outbreaks, such as dead legs. Section 8 also details system disinfection best practices, the need for commissioning and periodic re-commissioning of building water systems, and more.
The codification of ASHRAE 188, along with its complementary Guideline 12, will go a long way toward addressing the potential for future outbreaks. Enforcement will require a coordinated effort from both health and building code officials. New York City has already taken the lead by adopting portions of the standard for controlling Legionella in cooling towers – in response to a major outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2015.
New pipe sizing methods for premise plumbing systems also will play a part in mitigating Legionella growth. Recent research conducted by the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), IAPMO and the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQ-RF) has led to development of the first statistically based update to the Hunter’s Curve pipe-sizing method since the 1940s. The new method considers the greatly reduced flow rates and consumption values of plumbing products and appliances, allowing for the use of smaller diameter pipes in plumbing systems. This results in a shorter water dwell time in the plumbing system and higher flow rates that work to better scour interior pipe walls and inhibit biofilm growth. This method also provides for shorter hot water delivery times and greater water and energy efficiencies. The new sizing method, along with an easy-to-use Water Demand Calculator, appear in the appendices of the 2018 Uniform Plumbing Code and the 2017 WE-Stand water-efficiency standard.
Currently, the scope of the pipe-sizing research only applies to residential buildings, but researchers are confident it also can be effectively and safely applied for non-residential buildings. What’s lacking are explicit data on how water is used in non-residential buildings. IAPMO is working with PMI and other industry partners to advocate for the National Institute of Science and Technology, where Hunter’s Curve was originally developed, to once again engage in this issue by working with industry stakeholders to research how water use with the new pipe-sizing formulas can be applied and codified for non-residential buildings.
We have indeed come a long way since 1976. However, much research remains to be conducted and building owners and facility managers will need to be educated on the new and emerging strategies that will help reduce the risks of future Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.
To view PMI’s “Just the Facts: Legionella and Water Supply Systems,” visit the PMI website at tinyurl.com/y7kuengj.
By Judy Wohlt, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
With dual showerheads and larger showers growing in popularity, more Americans are able to celebrate National Shower with a Friend Day each year.
Officially introduced in February 2015, the national observance was meant to educate the public – with a bit of humor – on the benefits of showering in clean, filtered water.
While some may see the holiday as a bit risque, showering with a friend can be a great way to save water. Installing a WaterSense showerhead can help save water, too – up to 40 gallons per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense website.
Recent research shows that Americans are upgrading and expanding their showers to accommodate more than one person. About 28% of people who remodeled their master bathrooms have added two showerheads – up from 21% two years ago, according to a 2018 Houzz bathroom study. Other shower upgrades included body sprayers, mood lighting, digital controls and built-in sound.
The larger, tricked-out showers of today have come a long way from the simple water basin and pull-chain models used in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The first modern mechanical shower, invented and patented by William Feetham in England in 1767, used a pump that pushed cold water into an over-head receptacle that was released with the pull of a chain and then cycled again for re-use. Showers were viewed as a water-saving measure over baths, which typically required about 6 – 8 buckets of heated water, according to a post in Jane Austen’s World blog.
A 2003 New York Times article reported that in 1940, only 55% of homes with plumbing had what the government deemed a ‘’complete system’’ with hot and cold running water, a flush toilet, and a tub or shower. In 2000, 99% of all homes had those features.
In the 2000s, showers went digital, using innovative technology that allows consumers to do things like talk to and direct their showers. PMI member companies have introduced features such as Wi-Fi connectivity and voice-controlled showers that can remember presets for temperature, music, lighting, steam and shut-off. Learn more about member products here: tinyurl.com/ybpsr9sy
Those who observe Shower with a Friend Day, started by New Wave Enviro, a shower and drinking water filter company based in Denver, Colo., may have done so with a nod to the ancient Greeks, who pioneered communal showering with systems that used pumping techniques to raise water above-head. Or, they may have celebrated simply because they wanted to have fun and save water.
The initial offering of PMI’s new on-demand e-learning initiative, “Part 1: A Primer on Standards, Regulations, Codes and Conformity Assessment,” is now available to PMI members and non-members.
The course allows registrants to learn the basics on standards, regulations, codes and conformity assessment for plumbing manufacturers at their convenience. Carefully curated for today’s plumbing manufacturing professional by PMI Technical Director Matt Sigler, the course content can serve as an industry introduction for new hires, as well as a refresher course for professionals looking for an update on the many requirements. An optional 25-question exam tests comprehension.
“PMI is working to develop both online and in-person training opportunities for plumbing manufacturing professionals,” said PMI Education Manager Emilee Hughes (firstname.lastname@example.org). “For this first course, our new online e-learning tool will save travel expenses, and we expect to introduce Part 2 of this offering in March.”
- Describe product standards and their role in the plumbing industry
- Introduce various regulations that impact the plumbing industry
- Identify the model codes used in the plumbing industry
- Define conformity assessment, identify third-party certification agencies and marks of conformity
- PMI members: $119 (a discount of $50! Contact Emilee for the discount code)
- Non-members: $169
- Group discounts available
Go to safeplumbing.org/codes to register.