By Kerry Stackpole, FASAE, CAE, PMI CEO/Executive Director
How disruptive is disruption? In the manufacturing environment, pre-emptive disruption is now a cornerstone of success in the marketplace. While many longstanding companies grew steadily over decades or centuries, some of the great American companies fell quickly.
If someone offered to sell you Netflix for $50 million, would you buy it? With a market cap of $160 billion, you’d be daft not to make the leap but as the story goes Blockbuster, the once-dominating video/DVD rental retailer, took a hard pass on that deal in 2000. Ten years later, Blockbuster went into bankruptcy and its collapse was cemented.
Eastman Kodak, the pre-eminent force in the photographic film business with a market share of 80 percent in America and nearly 50 percent globally, collapsed by its own hand. Kodak engineer Steven Sasson invented a digital camera in 1975. Sasson, quoted in a 2008 New York Times story, said management’s reaction was “that’s cute – but don’t tell anyone about it.” In 2015, the 131-year-old firm filed for bankruptcy protection, closing 13 manufacturing plants and 130 processing labs, and cutting 47,000 people from its payroll. It’s still a bumpy ride for Kodak as it seeks to dig out from $410 million in debt.
Are plumbing manufacturers ready for the next level of ideation, innovation and discovery? Measured by today’s marketplace, there have probably never been more innovations and bold designs in faucets, toilets, showerheads and other fixtures and fittings. Enterprise resource planning systems and robotics continue to advance manufacturing processes and have added considerable value. Additive technology – colloquially known as 3D printing – now provides the means to produce working prototypes of all sorts and deliver extraordinarily complex and beautiful faucets. While not necessarily suitable for mass markets at this stage, experimenting and leveraging these technologies serves a critical purpose to illuminate innovations and craft new possibilities.
There’s every good reason to be both optimistic and cautious. With “two sides of the same coin” ever present, it is worth noting current economic guidance offers both. While growth in non-residential construction is running strong, economists are still predicting slowing growth. Multi-unit housing starts are in decline with an expected rebound in 2021 and single-unit housing is slowing but expecting a solid rebound in 2020. The remodeling environment continues strong at the moment with a slowdown anticipated in the near term.
There are some cautions at hand. The United States International Trade Representative (USITR) announced on May 17, 2019, that at the direction of President Donald Trump, they are taking steps to further modify the action being taken in Section 301 related to the acts, policies and practices of the government of China. The Trump Administration is proposing modification in the form of an additional ad valorem duty of up to 25 percent on products of China, with an annual trade value of approximately $300 billion. You can find the products subject to this proposed modification classified in the HTSUS subheadings, along with deadlines for comments and testimony requests on the PMI website (tinyurl.com/y33fstyq).
In the latest round of state legislative sessions, there were 120 proposals focused on preventing lead in water, particularly in schools and child care centers. While many of these proposals did not make it into law, the question of how to address this issue has garnered a lot of attention. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ position is that zero lead exposure is the only safe level for children. National Public Radio launched “Do You Have Lead Pipes in Your Home,” an online resource for consumers seeking answers about lead pipes in their homes. The American Water Works Association, under the tagline “Together, Let’s Get the Lead Out,” has released a three-minute video designed to help consumers understand how to protect their households from the risk of lead in drinking water. The animation advises consumers to work with a plumber to identify sources of lead and to remove them.
Are plumbing manufacturers ready for the next level of disruption? With our industry’s extraordinary history of ideation, innovation and discovery, the answer is clear. Yes. Yes, we are.
By Genevieve Valek, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
While PMI members and guests enjoy 2019 PMI Conference activities and networking at an inspiring location in St. Pete’s Beach, Fla., featured speaker Lindsey Pollak will be providing inspiration as well. Lindsey will lead a workshop during the Aspiring Leaders Program on Monday, Nov. 4, and will open the conference with keynote remarks on Nov. 5. Lindsey’s presentation, titled “The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace,” will be a reflection of her book of the same title.
Lindsey is a New York Times bestselling author and leading expert on millennials and the multigenerational workplace. Her consulting clients and keynote speaking locations have included more than 250 corporations, conferences and universities. Her advice and opinions have appeared in media such as the Today Show, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN and NPR.
Lindsey also works with select brands as their go-to in-house expert and public spokesperson for all things millennial, including strategic planning, media campaigns and social outreach. As a LinkedIn ambassador for six years, she created and delivered webinars that trained over 100,000 people to advance their careers using the platform. Lindsey was The Hartford’s millennial workplace expert for four years and was chair of Cosmopolitan magazine’s Millennial Advisory Board for two years. Lindsey’s passion for mentoring young people goes back to her student days as a dorm residents’ advisor at Yale University.
Joel Zeff will be the emcee at this year’s conference, during which he will be incorporating his own keynote ideas throughout the conference. Joel’s central message – that organizations and individuals should celebrate everyday successes – increases collaboration, productivity, passion and innovation. Since 1997, Joel has spoken to audiences from Wells Fargo to Samsung and the Internal Revenue Service. Starting his professional career as a newspaper journalist and public relations executive, he realized his clients needed more than marketing and public relations strategy.
Joel takes a humorous approach to helping his audiences adopt new perspectives and reach professional success. He connects to his audience in a way that makes them laugh, and he doesn’t do it alone; volunteers from the audience join him on stage and play an integral role in an improvisation game – something most audience members have never done. Joel expects nothing less than the volunteers’ success in completing the game successfully. When he is not speaking, Joel expresses his creativity as an actor, writer and comedian, and has a book published, titled “Make the Right Choice.”
Those attending this year’s PMI Conference will be making the right choice. To be held at St. Pete’s Beach’s elegant Don CeSar hotel from Nov. 4–7, the annual meeting of PMI’s members will welcome attendees to a truly exceptional opportunity to engage, collaborate and innovate. We look forward to seeing you there!
Shawn Strausbaugh is this month’s winner of a PMI Pride gift card for engaging with PMI on Twitter and LinkedIn and contributing to PMI media outreach. Shawn is a director of plumbing, mechanical, fuel gas & swimming pools technical resources at International Code Council, Inc., an allied member of PMI. Shawn often amplifies messages of importance to PMI, his company and associated industries on social media. He also co-authored a bylined article with co-director Jim Cika, titled “Corrosion’s Link to Legionella in Plumbing Systems: Causes and Prevention” (tinyurl.com/yxhj6rfl).
Over the coming months, we plan to recognize more engaged PMI members! Do one or more of the following to qualify for a drawing:
- Participate in a PMI committee conference call or educational offering
- Create your log-in to members-only content at safeplumbing.org
- Share or comment on a PMI social media message
- Join the LinkedIn PMI Group page (tinyurl.com/y2xafhhk) or follow
@SafePlumbing (twitter.com/safeplumbing) on Twitter
- Participate in any other kind of PMI activity
Your participation in these activities will automatically enter you into the drawing. Thanks for being an engaged PMI member.
Current title and employer: President, International Code Council (ICC) Evaluation Service
My first job: I was a mechanical engineer designing components for portable, above-ground spas at a company called Sundance Spas, now a division of Jacuzzi. I was going to graduate school at the time and, as a result, days were long and full. The engineering experience I gained at that company was invaluable, and I still use some of that experience today.
Length of time in the plumbing products certification industry: I have been in the industry for about 34 years. Whether I worked for a manufacturer or for a conformity assessment body, product certification has always been a part of what I have done in one form or another for those 34 years.
My proudest career achievement: I have been lucky enough to be part of the growing International Code Council team that loves what they do. The Code Council helps save lives and I am proud of that. I am also proud of helping to build cohesive, successful teams during my career – based on the ability to create clear objectives that produce measurable results.
I started a career testing and certifying plumbing products because: I fell into it. A job opportunity came along, and it turned out to be a good decision to accept that position. Conformity assessment is important to manufacturers and code officials, and it helps give consumers confidence when purchasing products.
If I wasn’t in the plumbing products certification industry: I would have pursued two completely different career paths. One would have been getting a culinary arts degree to become a chef. I love cooking, regularly cook at home, and I’m good at it. My other choice would have been getting into the car-washing business because I enjoy detailing cars. In fact, I’m thinking about pursuing that when I retire.
What do you hope to accomplish through your PMI membership and involvement? My hope is – and has been – to help PMI and its manufacturing members resolve their product certification challenges. I’ve been working with PMI since 1994. Several years ago, I asked PMI to allow conformity assessment bodies to become PMI members. As a result, the Allied Member Committee was formed, which I chaired from June 2015 through 2016. Our accomplishments include creating material for a codes and standards workshop finalized in 2018 through the collective work of members, and helping to create sponsorship opportunities for allied members. As current chair of the Allied Member Committee, I am excited to be working on an issue concerning the International Accreditation Forum, developing a mandatory document for the evaluation of certification schemes.
What I’m currently reading: “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen. It is a great book that can help employees of any organization.
My hidden professional talent: I am highly motivated and passionate about getting things done. I operate from my inner drive where obstacles will not stop me, and I always try to find a rope to pull me toward the goal.
Best advice I ever received: Two stand out in my mind. One was from my first engineering manager on my first day of work at my first engineering job. He said he did not pay me to calculate things, he paid me to get results. Another piece of advice from another manager was to always do my homework when I go to meetings or public events no matter how trivial they appear. That has paid dividends many times over.
My favorite movie: “Apollo 13” is one that was impressive (albeit based upon a real-life event). It still amazes me how NASA was able to save three astronauts through ingenious problem-solving abilities. And who can forget “The Godfather?” Arguably the best movie ever made.
When I face a challenge at work (or in life): I focus, troubleshoot and try to calm my emotions. I also pray a lot.
About my family: My wife, Leanne, and I live in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and will be moving to Glendora, Calif., soon. I have three adult children.
In my spare time: I travel with my wife. We enjoy seeing new places and try not to go to the same place twice. We also spend some weekends on our boat, which is very relaxing. I do a lot of car washing, which is fun for me. Cooking is another hobby I enjoy. While I don’t have an extensive menu, my critics (family and friends) say I do it well. I believe that whatever people enjoy doing, they tend to do it well.
By Ray Valek, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
PMI voiced its opposition to the recent increase of List 3 tariffs on Chinese goods to 25 percent. PMI and its members also reiterated the need for congressional action in support of EPA WaterSense program funding, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and investments in America’s infrastructure as the trade association concluded its Washington, D.C., Legislative Forum and Fly-In held on May 7–8.
“The plumbing products manufacturing industry delivers for the American economy, contributing $85.5 billion in economic impact and more than 464,000 jobs. With so many young Americans making their first home-buying decisions, and the aging stock of homes ripe for remodeling and renovation, the administration’s increased tariffs only serve to push up housing prices and keep more families from achieving the American dream of home ownership,” said Kerry Stackpole, PMI CEO/executive director. “Couple that with increased costs for outfitting commercial, government and industrial construction projects brought on by 25 percent tariff rates, and it becomes clear these additional costs spell trouble for jobs and the economy.”
List 3 tariffs increase will harm the U.S. economy and worker
PMI is one of 150 organizations participating in the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland coalition, which has quantified the harm the tariffs are having on the U.S. economy. Stackpole said the tariffs have caused supply chain disruption, a hold on jobs growth, and higher costs within the plumbing manufacturing industry and related industries. A report from Trade Partnership Worldwide estimates that this latest increase to 25 percent will cost America nearly one million jobs. See PMI’s Tariffs issue brief.
EPA WaterSense program funding
With President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget recommending the elimination of the WaterSense program, PMI is asking congressional appropriations committees to provide instructions to the EPA to not cut the program, which has saved Americans 3 trillion gallons of water and billions of dollars in water and energy expenses over the past decade on only a $3 million annual budget. See PMI’s WaterSense issue brief.
PMI member companies have been leaders in developing water-saving technologies promoted by the WaterSense program, Stackpole said. WaterSense awards its certification label to products that are 20 percent more water-efficient than products meeting the federal efficiency standard and performing as well as or better than standard models. Nearly 28,000 water-efficient products carry the WaterSense label.
USMCA will promote economic and job growth
PMI strongly urges U.S. ratification of the USMCA, Stackpole said, with the continued success of U.S. manufacturing depending on North American partnerships. “Ratifying the USMCA will help plumbing manufacturers grow in the United States, compete globally, and support thousands of well-paying manufacturing jobs across the country,” he said. The North American commercial market is one of the most important markets for manufacturers in the United States. Canada and Mexico alone purchase one-fifth of the total value of U.S. manufacturing output. See PMI’s USMCA issue brief.
Infrastructural investment urgently needed
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card gives a D+ grade to the national infrastructure. Therefore, PMI encourages leaders in Washington to work in a bipartisan manner to increase investments in federal infrastructure programs, such as the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), Clean Water State Revolving Fund, Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and Water Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (WIFIA). See PMI’s Infrastructure Issue Brief.
PMI also calls for the issuance of tax-exempt bonds (similar to Move America Bonds or Build America Bonds) that provide state and local governments and private-sector purchasers with tax credits to attract non-federal investment in public infrastructure, as well as the establishment of a National Infrastructure Bank that would offer long-term, low-interest loans to finance projects that are larger than $100 million, achieve goals of regional or national importance, provide a clear public benefit, and are backed by an identified revenue stream that repays the loan.
Registration is now open for a new PMI online course featuring in-depth information on Legionella and water supply systems, backflow issues, and several other important plumbing subjects.
“Part 2: Standards and Topics in Plumbing,” open to both PMI members and non-members, has been re-vamped as an online course, offering a convenient learning environment and substantial enhancements to the course material. A follow-up to “Part 1: A Primer on Standards, Regulations, Codes and Conformity Assessment,” Part 2 is designed for plumbing manufacturing professionals with technical experience who would like a deeper dive into standards and other important topics.
New course material includes a discussion on how a water supply system can become contaminated with Legionella; how the weighted average lead content is determined in NSF 372 (Drinking Water System Components – Lead Content) for plumbing products such as faucets; and accessibility requirements that impact plumbing product manufacturers. In addition, the course will cover:
- Backflow and its causes, and the standards that pertain to backflow prevention
- Standards that regulate water temperature and the various valves used
- Minimum water quality standards and conservation requirements
- Accessible design and the fundamental provisions for design and installation
- Regulations affecting manufactured housing
- Legionella and water supply systems
- Background information on the major U.S. standard development organizations
Elida De Jesus, OEM associate with Neoperl – a PMI member, said she plans to register for the part 2 course to build on what she learned in the first course. “I’m looking forward to learning more about conservation requirements, since flow rates are constantly changing, and backflow, which is an issue in the industry,” she stated. Having started her position only a year ago, Elida said the courses also are helping her establish a solid foundation of industry know-how.
Emilee Hughes, PMI education manager, said the part 2 course is invaluable for anyone wanting to learn about the many standards and regulations for the plumbing industry. “Attendees will walk away able to design compliant products for common situations, and for specific purposes like manufactured housing and accessible design,” she remarked.
- PMI members: $119
- Non-members: $169
- Group discounts available
To learn more and register for parts 1 or 2, visit PMI’s on-demand e-learning page.
PMI has welcomed two new members to the PMI Board of Directors: Martin Knieps, of Viega LLC, and Michael Martinez, of Delta Faucet Company. Both individuals – past co-chairs of PMI’s Advocacy/Government Affairs Committee – will serve terms through 2020.
Located in Broomfield, Colo., Martin has been a PMI member since Viega joined PMI in 2015. He said Viega finds value in participating in discussions about industry issues and in helping to shape proactively both the discussion and the plumbing manufacturing industry’s response to challenges. Viega is a global manufacturer and distributor of cold-press pipe fittings for multiple systems suitable for residential, commercial and industrial markets, as well as in-wall flushing and radiant products. Martin said he believes he can bring his company’s perspective to the board’s discussions. “I’m excited to join PMI’s board and look forward to contributing,” he stated.
From his office in Indianapolis, Michael said his board position is the latest in various leadership roles over the course of nearly 20 years as a PMI member. In addition to serving with Martin as a co-chair, he was the co-chair of PMI’s Conformity Assessment Committee and of its Technical Committee. A Delta employee since 2011, Michael said he “enjoys working with like-minded individuals who put the betterment of the plumbing manufacturing industry first and work together toward common goals.” Michael is involved in several plumbing fittings and fixtures standards development committees: the American Society of Mechanical Engineers/Canadian Standards Association ASME A112/CSA B125 Joint Harmonization Task Group on Plumbing Fittings, the CSA B125 Technical Committee on Plumbing Fittings, and the CSA B45 Technical Committee on Plumbing Fixtures.
PMI Board of Directors President Nate Kogler, of Bradley Corporation, welcomed both new members. “All of us on the board anticipate excellent insights from Martin and Michael, and we’re eager to listen to them and learn from them,” he said.
By Judy Wohlt, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
Two events in June offer opportunities to promote and celebrate water in very different ways.
The United Nation’s World Environment Day gives everyone a chance to take action to protect the environment – whether by supporting clean drinking water, reducing pollution, promoting water efficiency, or recycling plastic. International Bath Day encourages using bath time as a way to inspire kids to discover and learn using their indoor “water lab,” according to the National Day Calendar website (tinyurl.com/yxgkwjlt).
PMI members and other businesses use events like World Environment Day, which takes place every June 5, to showcase their environmental sustainability efforts. There are plenty of ways PMI members and others can show their support by promoting clean water, water efficiency and water savings:
- Promote WaterSense plumbing products – toilets, showerheads and faucets that use 20% less water than standard products. Learn more about WaterSense toilets on the EPA website (tinyurl.com/yxbrjc8s).
- Use social media to share your company’s innovative water efficiency technologies and products or promote your World Environment Day event. Post a tweet tagging @UNEnvironment (twitter.com/unenvironment) or the UN Environment Facebook page (facebook.com/unenvironment) using the hashtag #worldenvironmentday.
- Support PMI’s safe plumbing and water advocacy efforts by sharing articles, studies and news releases, such as PMI’s recent news release calling for Congress to support WaterSense and invest in the nation’s water infrastructure (tinyurl.com/y499ppfq).
World Environment Day started in 1974 and has grown to become a global platform for public outreach with participation from more than 140 countries. It has helped raise awareness on emerging environmental issues, from plastic pollution, to human overpopulation, to drought and the need for water efficiency and savings. The event focuses on a theme each year that major corporations, non-governmental organizations, communities, governments and celebrities worldwide adopt to advocate environmental causes. To learn more about this year’s theme of Beat Air Pollution, visit the World Environment Day website (worldenvironmentday.global).
Everyone can celebrate International Bath Day on June 14 – and every day – by making bath time a fun, learning experience for kids and a relaxing retreat for adults.
The day commemorates the “Eureka!” moment of Archimedes, a Greek scientist, physicist and mathematician who lived from 287-212 B.C.E. He discovered that the volume of an object could be accurately measured by being submerged in water in his bathtub, according to the math department at Wichita State University (tinyurl.com/y3brapn6).
Like Archimedes, kids can discover the basic properties of physics, including floating, sinking, cause and effect, and empty versus full – while having fun in the tub.
Adults can benefit from baths, too. Studies have shown that a hot bath can lower stress and cortisol levels, soothe aching muscles, and even lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, according to an article in the Diabetes Times (tinyurl.com/yyg292wb).
By Genevieve Valek, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
When hearing the words “plumber,” “electrician,” or “engineer,” the first image that comes to my mind, even as a woman, is a male professional. Historically, men have held the majority of jobs in manufacturing, but women are catching up. As gathered by a 2017 Deloitte/Manufacturing Institute study of women in manufacturing, women made up 29% of the manufacturing workforce in 2016 and nearly half (47%) of the working population.
It’s clear that women represent a large population of untapped manufacturing talent. Many are breaking the glass ceiling and rising into leadership roles within the field. The entire industry is coming together to encourage more women to join the ranks. Praising the women who break boundaries and excel in their fields is one great way to do so.
Empowering women in manufacturing
For example, PMI member Brasscraft Manufacturing Company announced that it awarded its 2018 Robert M. Zell Award to Director of Continuous Improvement Sarah Jones. This award was created 28 years ago to recognize employees who deliver the highest quality and innovative products to Brasscraft’s customers. According to an article in Contractor magazine, Jones has been a key driver of Brasscraft’s continuous improvement (CI) culture and has used CI as a tool to drive many improvements into the business.
The EHS Daily Advisor’s Safety Standout Awards recognize companies and individuals who excel in making their workplaces safe. This year, the Young Safety Professional Excellence Award was awarded to Haws Corporation Quality and Compliance Manager Melanie Mayer. She successfully developed and executed safety and compliance procedures during her four-year tenure at Haws, a PMI member that manufactures hydration equipment and customized emergency response products. Without innovative and forward-thinking professionals like her, a strong standard for effective safety culture throughout the industry would not exist.
Other women from PMI member companies have made important contributions. Mariana Nicolae of Sloan Valve Company was recently recognized by PMI for her a long and dedicated career full of contributions to PMI. And, as a former member of PMI’s Board of Directors, Carol Baricovich, retired director of global brand communications, government relations, and marketing and business development at InSinkErator, brought her unique expertise to the table to help further PMI’s mission.