Our association’s 44th annual meeting, which is now in the books, evidenced an evolution from previous enclaves, with more changes on the way both in content and delivery. Congratulations to PMI staff and my choice as recipient of the 2018 President’s Award, Jodi Stuhrberg. Another well-executed meeting at the wonderful Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz.
We all should hold our heads up and give ourselves a round of applause for the manufacturing work we all do, day in and day out as U.S. plumbing manufacturers. As I looked out over the members during this final annual meeting for me as president, I am in awe of the manufacturing muscle we all exert on the plumbing industry (not least of which the PMI economic impact data validates in hard numbers).
While not being boastful but with humility, ours is a wonderful sector of manufacturing we all take seriously for the health and safety of our plumbing systems. Our manufactured products are one of the core elements in the life of modern buildings. We continue as manufacturers to push the envelope for socially sustainable products and water efficiencies. Each and every one of our members knows the satisfaction, challenge, frustrations, and yes, disappointments of manufacturing plumbing products and seeing them perform as an integral part of daily family and business life. As manufacturers, we need to continue to tell our story in the hopes that we can attract and pass on our legacy for future U.S. manufacturing employees.
As I walk our manufacturing floor at Sloan, just as I’m sure my fellow members walk theirs, I see generations of people working day in and day out, to produce goods that enhance life, help to raise their families, and bring ever more quality products to our society. Not everyone is cut out for a job in manufacturing, but as we learned about future technologies at our fall meeting, the future of manufacturing technologies is quite exciting, with promise of quantum advancements. As we all adapt and evolve, and continue to tell our story, manufacturing jobs will attract those special talents that will keep plumbing manufacturing strong and PMI the leading association.
In preparation for the days ahead, PMI has new Board of Directors members including Carol Baricovich of InSinkErator and John Finch of Masco Corporation; both will be a great counsel for 2019 Board President Nate Kogler of Bradley Corporation. Nate, along with Joel Smith of Kohler Co. and Todd Teter of Moen Inc., will be enabling leadership for PMI members as the association moves into its 45th year.
I would like to thank my board over the past two years for all their time, support and assistance, as well as Barbara Higgens and Kerry Stackpole for their seamless transitioning of the PMI helm. The PMI core staff – Jodi, Matt Sigler and Ann Geier – have been unwavering in their professional duties during this time. Members should be proud of their professionalism and dedication to moving the association forward. I have been proud to have collaborated with them in my duties as your PMI president.
I would like to take this time to thank you the members of PMI who have reached out to me and encouraged, commented and opinionated for the advancement of this special association. We are a much stronger group for your participation.
Lastly, I would like thank Sloan Valve Company President and CEO Graham Allen for his support to me during my service to PMI.
Manufacturing production increased 0.3% in October, rising for the fifth straight month to the highest level since June 2008, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. The sector continues to see strong growth overall, with manufacturing output up 2.7% over the past 12 months.
Regional manufacturing shows continued expansion and mostly positive outlooks. The Consumer Price Index rose 2.5% over the past 12 months. Consumer spending remains a bright spot in the American economy. The Small Business Optimism Index conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business fell back 0.5% amid concerns on business expansion, sales and earnings.
One of the sharpest challenges continues to be the skills gap. Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute report that between 2018 and 2028, manufacturers will have more than 4.6 million jobs to fill as the result of retirements and new jobs due to natural growth. As manufacturing becomes more advanced, the competition for skilled labor will intensify.
This year, at the 44th annual PMI Conference in Litchfield Park, Ariz., we featured a home builders panel that included Bob Flaherty, division president, Toll Brothers; Fred Hermann, Phoenix division president, Meritage Homes; David Viger, regional president, Richmond American Homes; Andy Warren, president, Maracay Homes; and Connie Wilhelm, chief executive officer, Home Builders Association of Central Arizona. Beyond the challenges of building in one of America’s most arid regions, the limited availability of skilled labor has fueled several innovative training programs including a partnership with the Arizona Department of Corrections to provide job skills training to inmates closing in on their release dates. More than 200 former inmates have been hired into the residential construction industry over the course of the past year and half through this initiative.
The housing market continues to struggle even in a booming economy. The October residential building starts data show privately owned housing at 1,228,000, which places starts 2.9% lower than the same period last year. Building permits were 6% lower. The NAHB Housing Market Index dropped eight points overall in November. Home builders have become more skittish in recent months, citing higher building costs, shortages of labor and buildable lots, and increased regulatory costs alongside higher interest rates on mortgage loans. The other drag on home building is the lack of construction productivity growth, which has remained flat while overall worker productivity has grown by 3 points since 1993.
In our business, the challenges are equally vibrant. Consumer confidence, a major driver of the retail home improvement marketplace, has remained strong and should continue to support healthy retail spending by consumers as they begin gearing up for the holiday season. Homeowners continue to pursue home remodeling projects, especially those improving energy efficiency and modernizing kitchens and bathrooms. As America’s housing stock reaches an average of 40 years old, remodeling is expected to grow by 7% in 2019 and 5% in 2020. In many areas, the shortage of buildable land has resulted in a “gold rush” of property acquisition and teardown. In and around greater Washington, D.C., developers are buying up $700,000 homes and replacing them with newly built homes that hit the market for $1.5 million and up.
Anticipating markets is a game of three-dimensional chess. The diversity inherent in differing regions, states, counties and cities all reflect a need to look closely at the underlying demographics, incomes and lifestyles found in differing degrees. While the migration from colder climates to warmer ones still holds true, a new migration from major urban centers to “second cities” has taken a solid foothold as well, especially among millennials and Gen Xers. It’s no accident that one of America’s most popular home improvement shows – Fixer Upper – centered around the home of the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas.
You most certainly could be forgiven for wondering what other trends are emerging in the markets you serve that are actually opportunities dressed in work clothes. So many new ideas emerge from unexpected places. In Jack Uldrich’s keynote, Business as Unusual—The Big AHA, delivered at the PMI Conference, he highlighted dozens of new innovations and pointed to strengthening your sense of awareness to help identify the critical ones. A case in point is the smartphone app, STREEM, which allows contractors, plumbers, electricians and others to use on-demand HD video and communication to scope out service requests before dispatching someone to address the problem. While it’s likely even this innovation will be impacted by self-assessing sensors and Internet of Things alerts, the concept opens a new pathway.
In similar fashion, Amazon’s move into brick and mortar retailing with “cashier-less” checkout opens up new doors to the way we’re used to doing business. According to Uldrich, Amazon intends to open 3,000 of these stores by 2021. The exponential growth in the application of 3D printing technology—additive manufacturing—now includes tires, sneakers, water faucets and even housing. Technologies designed to sense micro-variations in water pressure and flow offer the potential to catch leaks before major water damage occurs.
While it’s easy to be mesmerized by so many new ideas, it’s important not to become jaded to all the change you see around you. While there are a multiplicity of conversations taking place every day about smart cities, the chats are almost all about technology and communications-first designs to spur the future. Yet, conversations about the future of smart government, smart manufacturing, smart digital citizens, smart health, smart farming, smart buildings, smart energy, and smart transportation rarely include thinking about smart water initiatives. Which might just lead you ask what opportunities lie in a smarter, smart city?
Approachable. Professional. Exacting. Self-effacing. Unflappable. Always there. Loyal. Humble. These are only several words PMI Board of Directors President Pete Jahrling used to describe Jodi Stuhrberg, whom he honored by presenting her with the 2018 President’s Award. In sum, “she gets it done,” he said.
While accepting her award, Jodi was speechless. “It’s a pleasure to be part of the team, part of the PMI membership,” she said. In her self-effacing manner, she said, “I do my job.”
PMI board member Joel Smith said that Jodi “makes up for all our shortcomings.” Long-term co-worker and PMI Technical Director Matt Sigler said “it’s her drive to make each annual conference better than the last. She is getting the credit she deserves for all of the things she does behind the scenes to keep the organization moving forward.”
PMI communications team member Judy Wohlt said Jodi is a “consummate professional and highly skilled manager. Jodi is always ready to help move projects forward, share beneficial information and encourage collaboration – all with a focus on serving members’ needs. She has a great attitude, even when juggling multiple projects and details, and is always ready with a suggestion or solution.”
New to PMI, Education Manager Emilee Hughes said she was impressed by how personable Jodi was with the members at the PMI Conference. “She gets really excited when she sees someone from PMI and genuinely cares about their well-being. It’s a great attribute to have,” she observed.
“Jodi keeps us all on task,” said PMI communications consultant Ray Valek. “I take it as a challenge to do something before Jodi reminds me to do it. And if I forget, she’s always there to remind me.”
PMI Administrative Assistant Ann Geier said “every day Jodi brings positive energy and enthusiasm to PMI. She will always go above and beyond what is required and does so with patience and poise. We are very fortunate to have Jodi as a part of the PMI team.”
PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole called Jodi “a consummate professional. Focused and self-driven with a clever, creative flair, Jodi wrangles the toughest challenges and problems facing members and delivers thoughtful, comprehensive solutions. She was born with the ‘responsibility gene’, which means she takes every task seriously, works to deliver the best outcomes, and is keen on follow-up. The best part of all of this, is she still finds time to take herself lightly, all the while taking the work she does for PMI and its members very seriously.”
For the technical track at the 2018 PMI Conference, PMI was honored to have three great presenters: Patrick Gurian, associate professor, Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department, Drexel University; Peter Mayer, P.E., principal, Water Demand Management; and Andrew Whelton, associate professor of civil, environmental and ecological engineering, Lyles School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University.
Patrick Gurian began the session with his presentation titled: “Water Quality in Buildings,” which is based on the EPA-funded project that is looking to identify risk factors and develop decision support tools for managing water quality in building plumbing systems. During his presentation, Patrick made the following key points:
When maintaining water quality in buildings, there are several competing factors:
- Opportunistic pathogens vs. scalding
- Disinfectant residual vs. disinfection byproducts
- Water quality vs. water conservation
When engineering a building plumbing system for operational success, consider:
- A water temperature of 55 to 60 degrees Celsius to prevent friendly conditions for opportunistic pathogens
- Regular maintenance of thermostatic mixing valves
- Avoiding oversized piping
- Self-draining shower hoses
- Drain on-demand water heaters and seldom-used lines
- Internet of Things (IoT) applications for sensing and flushing
Further research needs:
- Required flow and temperatures to control opportunistic pathogens
- Impacts of on-demand, tankless water heaters on water quality
- Impacts of thermostatic mixing valves on water quality
- Flushing impact and required frequency
Next, Peter Mayer presented on “Water Demand Trends, Efficiency and the Future of Urban Water Use.” Peter was the lead author for the Water Research Foundation’s “Residential End Uses of Water” studies published in 1999 and 2016 and a key contributor to the companion “Commercial and Institutional End Uses of Water” study. In his presentation, Peter made the following points:
- Based on the Residential End Uses of Water Study (Version 2), indoor water use decreased per capita by 15.4% from 1999 to 2016 due to significant reductions in water consumption with toilets, clothes washers and dishwashers.
- With 100% use of high-efficiency fixtures and appliances, indoor household water use could drop 35% or more to below 40 gallons per capita per day.
- Further efficiencies in water use can be found with outdoor irrigation, leak detection, advance metering, right-sizing plumbing and water loss control.
Finally, Andrew Whelton presented on “The Most Monitored Home in America: Plumbing for Innovation and Prosperity.” Andrew is the principal investigator of the EPA-funded project that’s purpose is to better understand and predict water quality and health risks posed by declining water usage and plumbing fixture and fixture fitting low flow rates. Andrew made the following points in his presentation:
- The ReNEWW House (Retrofit Net Zero Energy, Water and Waste), which is a focus of the EPA-funded study, is continuously being monitored for water flow, pressure and temperature at the service line and at all plumbing components. In addition, drinking water is being monitored for chemicals and microbials.
- Monitoring has revealed more than 30,000 individual water quality measurements and over 600 million online plumbing-related measurements.
- Regarding disinfection byproducts, total trihalomethane (TTHM) levels were consistently greater within the house than in the city water entering the house.
- The concentration of TTHMs was highest in cold water piping during the warmer months and in hot water piping during the colder months.
- Over 98% of TTHMs were generated within the house.
Regarding the field study of an USGBC LEED middle school to determine how drinking water chemical and microbial parameters changed from summer to fall in 2018, the following findings were made:
- The copper drinking water action level of 1.3 mg/L was exceeded from June to October.
- Discarding the first 250 ml of water or flushing 1.5 L of water at each location (three to five minutes) did not consistently reduce copper levels.
- Point-of-use water treatment devices are needed to control copper levels.
Terrific speakers and timely topics provided great highlights from this year’s conference; it will be hard to beat. However, don’t be surprised if I say the same thing next year after our conference Nov. 4-7, 2019, at the Don CeSar Hotel, St. Petersburg, Fla. Don’t miss it!
Native Americans from the Ho-chunk and Hopi tribes welcomed PMI Conference attendees to Arizona with chants and dancing representing the journey through life. This ceremony was a fitting beginning to a conference that demonstrated how PMI has evolved over the years to meet members’ changing needs.
Master of ceremonies Thom Singer encouraged member engagement through the meeting, serving as he said as “an advocate for attendees” who provided feedback and relating the proceedings to the conference theme of “connect, collaborate and advocate.”
Keynote speaker and futurist Jack Uldrich discussed how emerging technologies are causing exponential change in our society, comparing it to the difference between DSL and current bandwidths. Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other technologies are already disrupting the plumbing manufacturing and building industries. “Today is the slowest rate of change we will ever experience,” he said.
Warren Tenney, executive director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA), discussed how his organization works daily to assure safe water to a population living within an arid urban landscape. He thanked PMI members for their innovations in water-efficient plumbing.
In a first for PMI, a home builders panel gave attendees an overview of their marketplace for building and labor in Arizona. Participating were Bob Flaherty, Toll Brothers; Fred Hermann, Meritage Homes; David Viger, Richmond American Homes; Andy Warren, Maracay Homes; and Connie Wilhelm, Home Builders Association of Central Arizona.
In the last session of the conference’s first day, the topics were tariffs, trade and Brexit with Salim Bhabhrawala, U.S. Department of Commerce; Yvonne Orgill, Bathroom Manufacturers Association (U.K.); and Marisa Walker, Arizona Commerce Authority.
Environmental journalist Tara Lohan led off the second day with a presentation about challenges facing the nation’s water resources and solutions that protect water and provide other environmental benefits. Legionella expert Joseph A. Cotruvo, Ph.D., educated attendees about water system management practices that can prevent this waterborne pathogen that causes Legionnaire’s disease.
During the Advocacy/Government Affairs session, recent legislative victories and challenges ahead in 2019 were discussed by PMI consultants Jerry Desmond and Stephanie Salmon; Jim Buster, Southwest Resource Strategies; and PMI committee co-chairs Michael Martinez of Delta Faucet and Martin Knieps of Viega.
Veronica Blette, chief of the EPA’s WaterSense program, thanked PMI members for helping WaterSense achieve authorization through the recent passage of America’s Water Infrastructure Act. She also recognized PMI members for their contributions that enabled the EPA to sunset its WaterSense labeling specification for pre-rinse spray valves, which saved American businesses more than 3 billion gallons of water between Sept. 2013 and Dec. 2018.
Arizona State University Professor Peter Fox and CleanBlu Innovations CEO Markus Lenger discussed water efficiency and sustainability, emphasizing innovations in water treatment and reuse. Sean Reilly of John Dunham & Associates explained how PMI’s economic impact data were compiled and encouraged members to use the data in discussions with elected officials and regulators.
During the membership meeting, PMI Association Manager Jodi Stuhrberg was recognized with the President’s Award and Mariana Nicolae of Sloan Valve Company for her many contributions to PMI during her long career as she nears retirement. “I am very proud to be a part of this organization,” Mariana said.
The last day’s outreach and communications track featured members of the media joining committee co-chairs Mary Ahlbrand, Delta Faucet Company, Amy Scherer, Speakman Company, and PMI communications consultant Ray Valek for a discussion of hot and under-the radar topics and media trends. Media participants included Jen Anesi-Brombach, chief editor, Plumbing & Mechanical; Bret Jaspers, senior field correspondent, KJZZ Radio; Tara Lohan, The Revelator; and Ashlei Williams, editoral director, Plumbing Engineer, and chief marketing officer, PHCP Pros.
PMI’s Board of Directors voted to approve Sprite Industries, Inc., as the newest manufacturing member of PMI. As the creator of the first non-carbon shower filter, Sprite is a leader in shower filtration technology and filtered shower products, including shower filters, heads and handles, and baby shower products. With headquarters in Corona, Calif., the company also operates a lab, manufacturing facility and warehouse in Corona, and runs a dedicated manufacturing plant in China.
“PMI is hitting all the right notes when it comes to plumbing regulations, legislation and standards, and they provide the strong voice we need to be well represented in the industry,” said David Farley, CEO of Sprite. “We’re looking forward to having a long relationship with PMI as well as contributing our knowledge of shower filtration technology standards.”
Sprite joins the growing list of PMI manufacturing and allied members, who together produce 90% of all U.S. plumbing products and represent more than 150 brands. Its membership will offer Sprite the opportunity to contribute to PMI’s advocacy efforts for plumbing product performance and innovation in water efficiency and savings, sustainability, public health and safety, and consumer satisfaction. The company also will be encouraged to participate in PMI’s work on crucial legislative and regulatory issues affecting the industry and to offer input on plumbing codes and standards.
“We’re delighted to welcome Sprite Industries as our latest PMI member and look forward to their contributions in support of our vision of safe, responsible plumbing,” said Kerry Stackpole, PMI CEO/executive director.
Established in 1974, Sprite Industries, Inc., began manufacturing electronics, water instruments, drinking water filters and filtration accessories and in 1987, introduced the ShowerMite, the first non-carbon shower filter. Family owned and operated, Sprite is a premier authority in shower filtration technology, manufacturing, marketing and sales, producing more than 50 shower filter products and earning more than 30 U.S. and international patents, including patents for proprietary filtration technologies. For more information on Sprite, visit spritewater.com.
To learn more about the value of PMI membership, eligibility, and how to join, please visit PMI’s website at safeplumbing.org/become-member.
Ben Franklin once said that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Emilee Hughes has taken on her new role as PMI’s education manager with a similar philosophy, ready to refresh and expand PMI’s professional development efforts.
“My position was created to advance the organization’s strategic direction,” she said. “The PMI Board of Directors saw a lot of opportunity in the education space to help members grow their professional skills and further deepen their industry knowledge.”
With a specialty in online training, Emilee said she is looking forward to creating classes and programs for PMI members that are interactive, fun and full of practical information that can be applied on the job immediately.
While she’s still getting her feet wet, Emilee was able to dive into all things PMI at the 2018 PMI Conference in November, meeting staff, board and many members and immersing herself in several of the sessions. “It really was a great way to absorb a lot of information quickly right at the start of my new position,” she said.
Her first order of business will be to complete a needs assessment with members to delve deeper into topics of interest and then develop a strategy to address those needs. Emilee said she and the PMI staff have already discussed launching what is unofficially being called “PMI University,” an online portal where members will be able to find a variety of classes to suit their development needs. The university also will offer some face-to-face courses, including a potential emerging leaders’ summit for rising stars in the industry and a CEO symposium for c-level executives, she added.
In the meantime, she said members should keep an eye out in December for the latest codes and standards program, which Matt Sigler, PMI’s technical director, has been working on.
Emilee joins PMI after serving in several education management roles at the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) with the most recent as director of curriculum development. She earned her Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) credential from the Association for Talent Development, which covers all aspects of expertise in training adult students.
“I’m still learning about PMI and would really enjoy talking with any members who would like to share their ideas on professional development with me,” Emilee said. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 847-481-5500, extension 106.
PMI members elected Nate Kogler president of the 2019 PMI Board of Directors at PMI’s 44th annual meeting of the membership held during the PMI Conference last week. The director of product management at Bradley Corporation, Nate succeeds Pete Jahrling, director, product engineering and intellectual property at Sloan Valve Company, who served as board president in 2017 and 2018. Pete will continue to serve on the board as immediate past president.
Nate said PMI leadership will work to expand educational opportunities for members and use new technologies to share information. Collaboration will be key, he said. “None of us is smarter than all of us. We will build on the collective knowledge of our members and on the power of our relationships. Engagement, enthusiasm and support will drive us.”
Pete noted the strong commitment of the board members. “I enjoyed every minute of working with a great group of people who served on the board beside me,” he said. “It was an honor to serve as the president of this healthy, dynamic and forward-looking organization. I certainly benefited from the support and guidance of my fellow board members.”
Joel Smith, director – new product engineering at Kohler Co., was elected as vice president and Todd Teter, vice president and general manager - U.S. wholesale for Moen Inc., will serve as secretary/treasurer.
Elected as directors at large were Chip Way, director of OEM sales at Lavelle Industries, and Michael Miller, director of product partnerships at LSP, who will serve their terms through 2019.
Two new directors will serve two-year 2019-2020 terms. They are John Finch, principal engineer at Masco Corporation, and Carol Baricovich, director - global brand communications, government relations, and marketing/business development at InSinkErator.
“I hope to apply my innovation experience to help create and execute new solutions for PMI, including identifying a couple of new actionable efforts that both engage and provide great value to PMI members,” John said.
Carol stated that she looks forward to becoming an effective board member by focusing on areas where her expertise can make a difference. “We’ll work together with members to navigate the ongoing challenges of ensuring safe, responsible plumbing – PMI’s mission – with a continued focus on sustainability and also encourage members to draw on the organization’s many resources and benefits.”