By Pete Jahrling, PMI Board of Directors President, Sloan Valve Company
We participated in the annual Washington, D.C., Fly-In June 13 and 14 with all of us having collectively petitioned 18 Congress member offices and the Department of Energy. Our messaging this year was not as urgent as in some years’ past, so this year we concentrated on building upon staff relationships and, in some instances, meeting with actual legislators.
Nothing is more important for industry reputation than in-person meetings between legislators and companies that actually manufacture in their state or district. We gave strong association pitches for funding WaterSense, addressing the decaying water infrastructure and plumbing trades worker shortage in the U.S., strengthening NAFTA, and promoting the NIST Plumbing Research Act. We were well prepared with statistics from the previous day’s presentations conducted at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) D.C. office.
The day on the Hill is pretty compact, but coordination and a central rallying point just off of Capitol Hill makes for efficient logistics and recon with staff on how the meetings went. I would encourage members to take advantage of these fly-ins and see for yourself how engaged legislators are to hear from MANUFACTURERS. I get inspired every time we take our reputation “up to the Hill.”
As usual, PMI staff made the appropriate appointments, prepared the messaging, and planned for some brief training before we were all on our “appointed rounds.” Our breakfast keynote speaker was Congressman Ken Calvert (Calif.-42) who gave us a well-rounded take on all that is happening in Washington D.C. in an open no-questions-barred exchange. My thanks to the congressman for his tenured perspective.
In yet another example of PMI on the move, PMI is closing our long-standing association offices in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Our new office at 1750 Tysons Blvd., Suite 1500, in McLean, Va., puts us in close proximity to our industry’s regulators and the legislative arena in Washington, D.C.
For years the PMI Board of Directors has contemplated downsizing our underutilized headquarters location (not that it didn’t have times of multiple industry and PMI functions) that had generous meeting and office spaces. With digital technology being what it is today, and PMI already having some distributed staff working from remote offices, the time to redeploy association resources by eliminating lease and occupancy expenses and investing in support of virtual office technology has come. Staff and Kerry Stackpole, CEO/executive director, put together a plan, worked on the logistics/legal aspects, and implemented the move.
I would like to thank Kerry and his staff for realizing this move and, of course, my 2018 PMI Board of Directors for their support.
By Kerry Stackpole, FASAE/CAE, PMI CEO/Executive Director
We are watching them achieve it. In a darkened corner of the room. Nobody thought it was possible. No one wanted to be involved in the effort. The risks are immeasurable. Yet here they are – doing it!
It almost doesn’t even matter what “it” is anymore. The reality is more and more individuals, artists, scientists, engineers, marketers, and entrepreneurs are taking risks and finding ways to de-construct pieces of previously aggregated enterprises to create new approaches and vital business tools. They’re doing it successfully. They’re doing it repeatedly. They’re changing the world right before our eyes.
And so are you. American plumbing fixture and fittings manufacturers have created over 27,000 WaterSense products including more than 15,000 faucets, 6,500 showerheads, and 3,100 toilets. On a combined basis these fixtures and fittings have saved 631 billion gallons of water in 2017 alone. WaterSense products have reduced energy needed to heat, pump, and treat water by 367 billion kilowatt hours. That’s enough energy to supply a year’s worth of power to almost 25% of all homes in the United States.
The early economic research on our business is equally promising. In early 2018, PMI commissioned a detailed economic study of our industry and the results are impressive. Our industry has outposts in 41 states. Plumbing fixture and fittings manufacturers contribute $85.4 billion dollars to the American economy – that’s about four-tenths of 1% of America’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Plumbing fixture and fittings manufacturers generate more than $13 billion dollars in annual output. We provide almost 30,000 jobs and over $2.1 billion dollars in wages. When you include the jobs created by PMI member products with wholesalers, retailers, and industry suppliers, plumbing fixture and fittings manufacturers support 302,000 additional jobs across the supply value chain with a payroll of $15.5 billion dollars.
If you ever wondered if you’d have a job that would challenge you every day, well it seems, you’ve come to the right place. During the preparation for our Capitol Hill visits a few weeks back, Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), told us the manufacturing sector has added more than 895,000 jobs since the end of 2010. He expects manufacturers will create at least another 700,000 jobs by the end of the decade. With the coming wave of retirements, U.S. manufacturers say they’ll need to fill as many as 3.5 million jobs over the next 10 years.
Job openings in the manufacturing sector recently soared to the highest reading since January 2001, with 451,000 openings in April 2018. Overall, the pace of manufacturing job openings has trended higher, consistent with the tight labor market. While generation of new jobs is nearly always welcome news, the gap between the number of manufacturing workers and available manufacturing jobs—often a result of the fact that there simply are not enough qualified applicants to fill them—is a serious problem for manufacturers. Indeed, manufacturers cited the inability to attract and retain talent as their top concern in the latest NAM survey.
As the data show, the problem isn’t jobs; the problem is finding the human capital to fill them. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The bill reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act through fiscal year (FY) 2023. PMI released a statement of support for the bill’s passage and during our visits to Capitol Hill, we encouraged members of the U.S. Senate to pass the measure promptly. The authorization provides $1.13 billion in initial funding rising to $1.21 billion in FY 2023. The concept of strengthening career and technical education to align more closely with the needs of the labor market is at the heart of the legislation.
As the U.S. House and Senate contemplate the July 4th recess, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the extraordinary work of Stephanie Salmon, PMI’s federal advocate; Jerry Desmond, our man on the Hill in Sacramento; and the numerous contributions of Matt Sigler, PMI’s technical director. This talented trio has worked tirelessly to help federal and state legislators see the value, wisdom, and enormous efficiency of WaterSense products.
During the course of the past two years, the Trump Administration has proposed zeroing out the WaterSense budget. And for two years running, PMI in concert with other groups, has managed to get funding reinstated. Our latest Executive Fly-In, led by Stephanie Salmon and her team, gave PMI members the opportunity to thank leaders in the House and Senate for their support. The California Executive Fly-In gave us a “leg up” as well. Keeping these relationships well-tended and alive is more important than ever. It’s often said that in politics “if you aren’t seated at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” PMI has a seat at the table.
A number of state legislators have proposed establishing new water efficiency standards. While some proposals mirrored practices used in other states, some were decidedly hearing their own drummer. The PMI team tackled these challenges head-on. We provided technical guidance, information about existing water-efficient fittings, and recommendations for the adoption of proven standards and water-efficient products. While not everyone fully shares our perspective, it’s encouraging to see clearer heads have prevailed in these discussions. PMI holds true to the value of providing clear, concise, and accurate information about our members’ products and industry practices in all of our interactions with regulators and legislators.
PMI is in the zone. Our goal is to be the trusted advisor at the table. We’re committed to promoting your interests in pursuit of the optimum outcomes and well-reasoned solutions to problems facing customers, communities, regulators, and policymakers. Said more simply, PMI works for you.
When Jeff Zeman was growing up, his grandma taught him how to get the last bit of egg out of the shell with a swipe of her finger. She also showed him how to mix vinegar and water to clean the house – instead of using store-bought cleaners in plastic bottles that would end up in the trash.
Jeff attributes those early eco-friendly lessons to paving the way for his more than 20-year career in plumbing product sustainability.
“Most people think sustainability is about giving things up, but it’s really about doing things better and getting improved value,” said Jeff, who is finishing a four-year term as co-chair of PMI’s Water Efficiency and Sustainability Committee.
During this time, the committee worked on some exciting – and vital – projects that brought the industry together on environmental impact calculation guidance for plumbing fixtures and fittings, Jeff said. “My company and a competitor, both PMI members, were using different rule sets to explain product environmental impacts to customers. We both very quickly saw the drawback to that,” he said. With more customers expecting these data, the industry saw the opportunity to influence product certification organizations to follow a consistent approach using guidance documents, he added.
The manager of product sustainability engineering at Kohler Co., Jeff said success came when PMI members united and approached the certifiers to develop the same assumptions for products, such as how many times a low-flow toilet might be flushed per day. “It was an investment for individual PMI members to appreciate the implications of these assumptions and create a consensus, but we all knew it would be better for our customers and the industry. It was about empowering customers to make better choices,” Jeff stated. The committee’s work produced two Product Category Rule Guidance documents, enabling customers of PMI members to use environmental product declarations to understand the sustainability impact differences between products.
The committee’s sustainability guidance work has earned a positive reputation in other industries. As co-chair of the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment (ACLCA) Industry Committee, Jeff has been asked by the ACLCA leadership to share PMI’s consensus-building efforts on product rules with their members. The ACLCA is a nonprofit membership organization that connects representatives from many industries on environmental life cycle assessment issues. “This makes me proud of our results and very proud to be part of PMI,” Jeff said.
At Kohler, Jeff and his team bring a sustainability perspective from start to finish in the product development process, so it can become a meaningful advantage for customers, he said. He added that using some materials, such as cast iron for fixtures, can be misunderstood as a less sustainable choice. Jeff offered a recent example of a project completed by Kohler manufacturing and product development teams for a Montana park lodge to refurbish about 100 cast iron tubs and sinks installed a century ago. “It turned out that these cast iron tubs just needed a new enamel glass coating, so the base casting could continue to serve its original purpose for another 100 years,” he said. “It’s a great example of making a better initial investment with a long-term, systems view.”
Continuing to salvage items built long ago is a theme that runs through Jeff’s personal life, too. He and his wife, Mandy, and their two kids have restored their 1887 Victorian home with Kohler products like the Iron Works historic bath tub. He noted that Mandy, a certified public accountant, works in the same office the original homeowner used as his office. “As with the example my grandma set for me, we’re teaching our kids to respect items and materials and to think about the effect of their actions on the environment a bit more,” he added.
Over the past two decades, PMI has built a strong framework of alliances, resources and technical knowledge. These collective assets benefit all members, as they shape and advance toward common goals.
As industry leaders in producing safe, reliable and innovative water-efficient plumbing technologies, PMI’s members recognize the importance and value of networking, learning and sharing through PMI. Members also have helped PMI earn its role as a thought leader on key public health issues, including preventing Legionella and taking a safe, responsible approach to lead in plumbing.
Through its many alliances in the plumbing and related industries, including strategic partnerships with counterpart organizations in Canada, Mexico and other nations, PMI helps members gain insight on international industry issues and learn about new technologies and manufacturing processes.
“By partnering with others in our industry, PMI has created an amazing leadership position by focusing on important issues, like WaterSense and lower flow rates,” said Mary Ahlbrand, channel manager, Delta Faucet Company. “We also walk such an interesting line of setting aside any company and competitive differences to not only work as a team focused on the interest of PMI as a whole, but actually becoming friends and collaborators.”
Others associated with the industry, including water and energy commissions and water utilities, often turn to PMI for technical assistance and guidance on important water efficiency and water safety issues. Valuable knowledge from those relationships is regularly shared with PMI members, such as the case study, “Collaborating on a Commitment to Sustainability”.
“PMI has been an outstanding partner in many ways, but especially in helping us reach out to manufacturers about how the WaterSense standards will work and what their responsibilities will be as part of the new legislation,” said Chris Piper, government relations manager, Denver Water, commenting on how PMI helped the agency get Colorado Senate Bill (SB14-103), Phase in High-Efficiency Water Fixture Options, signed into law.
In addition, PMI’s leadership and staff works closely with members represented on PMI’s Advocacy/Government Affairs, Technical and Outreach/Communication Committees to successfully advocate, represent and defend members’ interests on high-priority legislative issues, including water efficiency, recycled water and water infrastructure.
Activities include PMI’s participation in the Washington, D.C., Executive Forum and Fly In and Sacramento, Calif., Fly In, where PMI leaders, members and staff meet with regulators and legislators to discuss the issues and share PMI’s technical expertise. During the recent Sacramento Fly In, a PMI delegation met with 10 members of the California Senate and Assembly and with California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister to discuss a range of issues impacting plumbing fixture and fittings manufacturers. At the D.C. Fly In, PMI members and staff discussed issues including WaterSense, NAFTA and the manufacturing workforce shortage with legislators and government agency staff.
PMI also provides several events for professional development, networking and exchanging information, including the annual PMI Conference and participation in PMI member committees. These committees give members the opportunity to join the discussion on many important topics from codes and standards, to international trade relationships, to the challenges of indoor recycled water use.
“I regularly share highlights from PMI conferences and events with my NSF colleagues and staff who are happy to hear about the latest trends, legislation, and codes and standards, which gives context to our work at NSF while keeping them engaged in the plumbing industry,” said Terry Burger, principal engineer in mechanical plumbing at NSF International.
Hear directly from several members about the benefits of PMI membership by watching member value videos on YouTube.
For more information about joining PMI and to complete a membership application, please visit the PMI website.
Delta Faucet Company recently gave its employee wellness and engagement efforts a shot in the arm with upgrades to its global headquarters in Indianapolis.
The changes, including a sunlit environment, enhanced fitness center and new outdoor spaces, are part of Delta’s ongoing commitment to the well-being of its employees. They are also part of a growing trend: two-thirds of organizations now say that well-being programs are a vital part of their employment brand and culture, according to a Deloitte 2018 Global Capital Human Trends article.
Since the 1980s, Delta has focused on the well-being of its employees, offering fitness training services, massage therapy, and an on-site gym and basketball court. The company also partially subsidizes healthy menu options in its recently completed employee café.
Today, the newly remodeled fitness center provides workout equipment and space for group exercise classes as well as flexible class times to fit employees’ schedules. Weather permitting, fitness sessions are also offered in a separate outdoor area, and a one-mile trail loops through the landscaped grounds so employees can take a walk or run to decompress during the workday. Employees also get to try out various Delta faucets and showerheads in the locker rooms and provide feedback on their performance.
“Our noon hour workouts are like a recess, it takes you back to your childhood,” said Susan Peters, senior retail innovation manager at Delta. “There are a lot of people from different departments, which offers a fun opportunity to get to know colleagues outside of what you do on a day-to-day basis.”
Delta also sponsors contests to promote employee wellness, like tracking time working out and eating healthier. Last year, the team started a closed Facebook group to encourage employee fitness where employees track their time, post photos and use the hashtag #myworkoutiseverywhere to earn extra vacation days and other prizes. Class participation has increased more than 25% since 2016 and over 200 Indianapolis-based employees have participated in the program in 2018.
“As a company, we are committed to establishing an environment where employee wellness remains top of mind,” said Jill Ehnes, vice president, human resources at Delta. “Whether it’s a midday basketball game or a mindful stroll around the outdoor trail, healthy habits have been found to enhance productivity, as well as inspire both personal and professional growth in our employees.”
In addition to all the fitness center upgrades, Delta installed new windows to bring more natural light into the remodeled building. Sliding glass panels open from the café to an exterior patio with two fire pits, creating open space for employees to enjoy the outdoors. A second-floor balcony provides seating areas for meetings or for employees to get some fresh air and work on their own.
By Kerry Stackpole, FASAE/CAE, PMI CEO/Executive Director
While only 17% of Americans approved of the way Congress is handling its job in the May 2018 Gallup poll, visiting with America’s elected leaders face to face shows a different side of the story. It’s clear members of Congress struggle to craft coalitions of fellow elected leaders to address the big challenges facing our country. They also show a surprising amount of optimism about the potential for delivering strong outcomes.
During PMI’s annual Executive Forum and D.C. Fly-In held on June 13-14, visits to congressional offices yielded a good bit of insight on what’s to come. Work is progressing on infrastructure bills, and funding for workforce career training is seeing forward motion in the U.S. Senate. The big questions on immigration and reform of the U.S. immigration system seem to be stymied by a wide difference of opinion on what solution works best.
PMI members asked Congress for support of the NIST Plumbing Research Act of 2017 (H.R. 301/S. 2027), a bill that would direct the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) to conduct research of “premise plumbing” to promote new and innovative technologies that improve safety, systems reliability and water efficiency in homes and businesses. We also continued our push for a permanent fix to the funding of the EPA WaterSense program.
PMI members were able to visit with 18 members of Congress including representatives Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), and David Scott (D-Ga.), plus staff from the offices of Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), and Frank Pallone(D-N.J.). PMI members also held visits with legislative staff in the offices of Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
Crossing the Continent
Mark Twain famously said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” As an active participant in international forums, PMI brings its views and perspectives to bear on industry events and gathers fresh perspectives on the needs, challenges, and opportunities with a fresh perspective. Gathering with our colleagues at the 2018 CEIR Congress of the European Taps and Valves Association is a case in point. The Congress held in Italy from June 6-8, 2018, illuminated the hard work of European countries in developing international plumbing standards and a consistent water label protocol. The intersection of 28 different countries and a still nascent regulatory process at the EU Commission means the challenges are more real and in some cases more harsh than one might expect.
The CEIR Congress also illuminated the many opportunities available in the Middle East marketplace and the continuing growth of the European fixtures and fittings industry, now a €4 billion market.
The cleverness and resourcefulness of the Europeans was on full display during a visit to one of Europe’s largest foundries. The EGM Group foundry in Brescia produces an enormous volume of copper, brass, and bronze using recycled metals collected from across the continent. The business leadership now in its 6th generation has demonstrated an amazing resourcefulness in their production systems, distribution network, and access to customer marketplaces.
Over the next decade, the U.S. faces a potential shortage of about 2 million workers needed to fill manufacturing jobs, according to research from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, with 80% of manufacturers reporting a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants.
The shortfall, largely a result of the recent growth in manufacturing and a potential wave of Baby Boomers retiring, offers plenty of opportunities for young people, women and individuals from diverse backgrounds to start a career in the field.
PMI members report a talent shortage in the industry – from production level, maintenance and technician positions, to machinists, engineers and industrial designers. To compete globally, plumbing manufacturers require high-quality workers, as well as a strong technical workforce.
PMI favors better coordination among educators, federal and state governments, and the private sector to recruit secondary and post-secondary school graduates with the necessary job training to fill vacant manufacturing positions.
At the June D.C. Fly In, PMI members urged Capitol Hill legislators to support the Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act (H.R. 2353). This legislation would reauthorize Perkins loans, increase student participation in work-based learning opportunities, and promote the use of industry-recognized credentials and other recognized post-secondary credentials. PMI also favors increased investment in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which would expand funding for the Perkins State Grant Program (Title I) in the fiscal year 2019 Labor and Health and Human Services appropriations bill.
PMI member Kohler Co. has developed a co-op program to train and place many college students in permanent roles. “I started as a co-op student in college, which led to my engineering career at Kohler,” said Jeff Zeman, principal engineer of product sustainability engineering at Kohler. “I’ve carried that experience with me throughout my career. We prize co-ops as a pretty big part of our talent pipeline, especially with our sustainability program, which is a newer field with a lot of younger talent.”
PMI member companies have opened their doors to students and others to draw attention to the roles manufacturers play in their communities and to underscore the economic and social significance of manufacturing. For National Manufacturing Day, Sloan Valve Company hosted students and visitors from local high schools, colleges and the Village of Franklin Park, Ill., for a presentation and plant tour. Viega LLC hosted tours of its facilities in McPherson, Kan., for about 200 students and members of the public.
Manufacturers contributed $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2016, accounting for nearly 12% of the national gross domestic product, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). In addition, NAM reported that for every $1 spent in manufacturing, another $1.89 is added to the economy, making manufacturing the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.
- Early Bird Registration Discount Register by July 31 and save $100! PMI is also offering a special rate for spouses.
- Location The Wigwam Resort is a premiere site for both business conferences and personal relaxation. Located west of Phoenix in Litchfield Park, the Wigwam provides the perfect setting for daily activities ranging from gaining the latest industry knowledge to watching the sunset.
- Global Futurist Jack Uldrich Best-selling author Jack Uldrich will give a keynote speech about technology, change management and leadership. His work is based upon the transformational principles of unlearning, or freeing yourself from obsolete knowledge and assumptions as a strategy to survive and thrive.
- Legionella Expert Joseph Cotruvo This water, environment and public health consultant will deliver a keynote presentation about how this waterborne pathogen can be better controlled and why water system managers should make Legionella prevention a priority.
- Networking PMI Conference attendees will be immersed in a professional environment of individuals who have both common and complementary interests. The contacts you make during receptions, meals and special events will extend your influence within your organization and beyond.
- The Latest About WaterSense Having received strong support from Congress during 2018, the WaterSense program continues to impress and make a strong case for permanent funding. We will share the latest news about this voluntary program that promotes water-efficient and high-performing plumbing products.
- Commerce and Trade With tariffs, NAFTA and other trade issues making the daily headlines, a panel of experts will discuss the impact of politics and regulation on the global plumbing manufacturing marketplace.
- Advocacy/Government Affairs California and Washington, D.C., remain the hotbeds of legislative and regulatory activity pertaining to plumbing manufacturers, but other states with water shortages are becoming more influential. Hear the latest from experts in this area.
- Outreach/Communications Participate in a panel discussion and provide input about PMI’s future aspirations, social media, and the challenges facing the plumbing manufacturing workforce.
- Technical Expertise A mainstay of PMI, technical experts from member companies will discuss a range of issues relating to codes, standards and regulations, including recycled water, potentially hazardous materials or chemicals, packaging, and product certification and labeling requirements.