By Todd Teter, 2021 PMI Board of Directors President, House of Rohl
As I come to the end of my term as president of the Plumbing Manufacturers International Board of Directors, I’m grateful for the trust and confidence the PMI membership has showed in me, to lead this extraordinary organization. And what a year it has been.
This year clearly illuminated the incredible value of PMI membership and the strength, resiliency and capabilities of our industry and association. Facing the headwinds of the COVID-19 pandemic, the plumbing manufacturing community – represented by PMI – continued to make a strong economic contribution, delivering more than $85 billion to the U.S. economy.
In addition, so many of you, and your companies, were asked to protect your fellow citizens by masking up, reporting for duty, and pivoting to produce personal protective equipment like face shields, masks, and other health and safety gear. In some cases, you emptied your storerooms of much-needed supplies like latex gloves, work caps, disposable masks, and other items essential to keeping our first responders safe and helping those in the medical community to deliver the life-saving care so many needed.
When COVID-19 vaccines became available, you stepped up again, to assure that your colleagues and friends had access to this potential life-saving solution to a virus that has ravaged the entire globe. Now for many of us, this was no surprise. Time and time again, our industry and our association has stepped up to address the pressing and evolving needs of society, whether that’s by providing clean water, meeting the demand for greater water efficiency, mitigating water damage caused by errant water leaks, or perhaps simply helping folks find a way to relax and wash away the stress of the day. Our products protect health and safety, yet they also inspire, comfort and brighten people’s lives. Our industry rises every day to assure that those going about their regular day have access to safe, responsible plumbing. Always.
When I started out on this adventure, I had three goals in mind: one, advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I); two, accelerate membership value to increase engagement; and three, focus on the art of the possible. Throughout the year, our board’s focus on the important and urgent issues before us yielded extraordinary results.
We began a collective journey to address the need for greater DE&I in the work of our association and industry. We strengthened our industry coalitions to bring sensible reforms to lead-in-water legislation, trade and tariffs, the EPA Lead and Copper Rule, and the Department of Energy showerhead rule. We created a coalition of industry partners in the building, retail, wholesale and plumbing industries to shape and successfully affect California legislation impacting our products. We supported sensible rules for interstate trucking to help ease supply chain problems, and we pressed for greater accountability from online marketplaces that are sometimes the source of counterfeit, stolen or non-compliant plumbing fixtures and fittings.
While I look forward to welcoming my colleague Martin Knieps to the president’s chair, I want you all to know that I have enjoyed this opportunity to serve you and our association. As Martin well knows, there’s still work to do. As we move forward into 2022, the board is framing the work our association will do to address climate change through a series of Zero Waste initiatives. When it comes to climate change, none of us has the solution, but each of us has a part to play. The opportunity to lead, and the ability to make a difference is at hand. I’m looking forward to that work and our collective efforts to make a meaningful difference for our industry, community, and world at large. If any team or group of people can do it, it’s this one.
I thank my team and colleagues at Moen and the House of Rohl for their unwavering support while I was otherwise engaged with PMI business this year. I’m not the only one who has busy days; however, I am grateful to them for all of their efforts under difficult circumstances. I’m also grateful to all PMI members, the board, and the PMI staff for sharing your thinking, your ideas, and your advice with me throughout this year. The future is bright!!!
By Kerry Stackpole, FASAE, CAE, PMI CEO/Executive Director
As we wind up a challenging yet successful year, my thanks to Todd Teter on his outstanding year as president of the PMI Board of Directors and to the rest of our board, committee co-chairs, and professional staff and consultants for their outstanding work. I have learned so much from all of you and am so grateful for our partnership in delivering meaningful value to PMI members.
There were bittersweet moments for me personally this year, too. During the same meeting that PMI presented the 2021 President’s Award to former PMI board president Peter Jahrling of Sloan Valve Co., we said goodbye to another former PMI board president and long-time PMI member, Paul Patton. Pete and Paul were part of the team responsible for bringing me aboard at PMI. I could not have asked for two more talented leaders and thoughtful guides throughout my onboarding and beyond. During this difficult time, I extend my sincere condolences to the Patton family. I will always be grateful for the guidance and support Paul provided when I joined PMI in 2017.
The success of PMI is found in three things – people, process and products. Translated into action, this means – as Jim Collins so ably articulated in his book “Good to Great” – having the right people, in the right seats, on the bus that drives your organization to its goals. It means having clear, effective processes in place to assure the work gets done efficiently, and finally, it means having the products and services that meet the needs of your customers or in the case of PMI – you, our members.
PMI’s professional team represents your company across the frontiers of advocacy, technical issues, codes and standards, public awareness, and education. On Capitol Hill in Washington, PMI added its voice in support of rolling back China tariffs and in opposition of fees proposed by the Federal Communications Commission on manufacturers who use the unlicensed spectrum for Internet of Things devices. We also pushed back against the Virgin Resin Excise Tax contained in the budget reconciliation package and advocated for the passage of the National Apprentice Act of 2021 to assure a strong future workforce.
PMI took a leadership role on various other critical issues, as well, providing input into revisions to the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule and National Electrical Code. We garnered member support for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Plumbing Research Act, gained appropriation funding for the continuation of the WaterSense program, and successfully led the call to roll back Trump-era showerhead rules. We issued a new edition of the Domestic and International Privacy Guidebook to help you and your company navigate the latest rules and supported the funding of lead service line removal contained in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed Congress on Nov. 5.
In California, PMI created a coalition of building, retail, wholesale, and plumbing organizations leading efforts to successfully negotiate the framework for AB 100 – new legislation designed to speed the arrival in California of faucets and fixtures that meet the new Q1 standard in NSF 61 2020. Because state-level situations like this one are becoming more common, PMI will be stepping up our engagement at the state level to assure your perspectives are incorporated into the new ideas, legislation and regulations coming from the 50 state legislatures.
PMI leaned into learning in 2021. During the pandemic, we stepped up our online offerings, delivering webinars providing economic, technical and regulatory, trade, and professional development information. We launched PMI On-Demand E-Learning, a self-driven program with a two-part introduction to codes and standards, and continue to maintain an online library of industry resources including presentations from PMI conferences dating back to 2013.
Two other relatively new offerings – the PMI Aspiring Leaders Program and the PMI CEO Thinking Forum – continue to gain traction, providing new perspectives on leadership and stretching our perspectives into the future. The new programs are in addition to our PMI Legislative Forums in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento; PMI Manufacturing Success Conference; and biannual Emerging Water Technology Symposium co-hosted with the American Society of Plumbing Engineers, Alliance for Water Efficiency and IAPMO.
As we look toward 2022, PMI is leaning into diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) – meaning more than ever we are seeking the engagement of new people in the activities of our industry and association. DE&I doesn’t mean only more women and people of color – it means more of everybody, including you. PMI welcomes your involvement and voice in 2022 – and we’ll do everything we can to earn your participation. Have a happy holiday season and best wishes for a healthy and successful 2022!
By Judy Wohlt, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
Identifying personal biases, encouraging self-education, and implementing inclusive policies can help plumbing manufacturers achieve meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) results. Having empathy and finding common ground with colleagues can help, too.
DE&I expert Risha Grant provided these and other insights on how to accomplish lasting DE&I success during her Nov. 16 keynote presentation at the PMI21 Manufacturing Success Conference.
The solution starts with inclusion. “We hire people based on their spark, which is usually their diversity. But when they begin to have a diverse mindset, we don’t think that they’re so cool anymore,” said Grant, founder and CEO of Risha Grant LLC, a diversity consulting and communications firm.
She suggested that companies focus less on cultural fit and more on cultural additions, allowing individuals’ unique experiences and viewpoints to be considered.
Identify biases, switch off autopilot
Grant pinpointed unconscious bias as the most pervasive issue that companies and communities are facing when working to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.
She explained that unconscious bias becomes automatic. “It comes from living through the past hurts, pain and experiences of the people who raised us,” she said.
To overcome biases, people must first identify their Bias Synapse (BS), a term Grant coined to describe how our brains go on “autopilot” when dealing with biases. Once we learn bias toward an entire group of people, it unconsciously influences the rest of our interactions with those people, she said.
As an example, Grant discussed people with tattoos, piercings and dyed hair, whom she said represent a significant percentage of the job market. An aversion to hiring those folks would shrink a company’s job candidate pool while losing diverse, skilled workers.
The number one way most people deal with bias is by avoiding certain groups of people – in the hiring process, while socializing at a party, or even when sitting next to them on an airplane, Grant explained.
“That’s why it’s important to assess our BS because if we don’t, we will continue to avoid hiring people who don’t look like us,” she said. “Ask yourself: Who makes me uncomfortable and why? Then, identify the reason you’re uncomfortable.”
Education and conversation lead to action
Companies that want to improve and change diversity issues must go beyond talking about them and act.
One way is to self-educate and get to know people based on your own experiences – not from those imprinted on you by your family, friends and the media, she said.
Once you identify your biases, start seeking people who fit those biases, then take them out for coffee and get to know them, she suggested. Start with colleagues who seem to get overlooked in meetings or who don’t speak up. Grant asked, “Who is on your team that you can become an ally for – that you can help give a voice to?”
She recommended that companies commit to hiring diverse candidates by setting measurable goals. For example, spell out what percent of new hires will be men, women, people of color, and people with diverse backgrounds.
When recruiting from colleges and universities, partner with diverse student groups that represent LGBTQ individuals, Hispanics, women, or people of color, Grant stated. Tap into professional organizations, such as the National Society of Black Engineers.
Develop inclusive policies that focus on belonging, zero tolerance, and anti-retaliation, so workers know the company will back its words with actions, Grant added.
PMI members can view Grant’s and other PMI21 presentations here: tinyurl.com/bddxrync
By Ray Valek, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
Plumbing Manufacturers International announced the election of Martin Knieps as president of the 2022 PMI Board of Directors during PMI’s 67th Annual Meeting of the Membership on Nov. 17. The senior director of operational excellence at Viega LLC, Knieps succeeds Todd Teter, senior vice president and general manager of the Professional Plumbing Group House of Rohl North America, a division of Moen Inc. Teter will remain on the board as immediate past president. The meeting was held during the PMI21 Manufacturing Success Conference in San Diego.
In addition to Knieps and Teter, the other members of the 2022 board will be board vice president Sal Gattone, LIXIL; board secretary/treasurer Chip Way, Lavelle Industries; and at-large directors Daniel Gleiberman, Sloan Valve Co.; Cambria McLeod, Kohler Co.; Bob Neff, Delta Faucet Co.; and Belinda Wise, Kerox, Ltd.
In his acceptance remarks, Knieps said he was honored by the confidence placed in him by the membership. He emphasized PMI’s abundant room to grow by embracing the opportunities created by products using Internet of Things and artificial intelligence technology and by addressing challenges posed by climate change. “Nobody does the work alone and your participation makes all the difference,” he said.
Knieps thanked Teter for his contributions as the 2021 PMI board president by presenting him with a California state flag flown over the capitol in Sacramento. He also announced that the 68th Annual Meeting of the Membership will be held as part of the PMI22 Manufacturing Success Conference from Oct. 24-27, 2022, at the Omni Louisville Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.
In remarks summing up 2021, Teter recognized PMI member companies that joined during the year – Brasscraft, Elkay and Dornbracht, announced the acceptance of Uponor as a new manufacturing member in 2022, and welcomed prospective new members and 16 first-time conference attendees. He presented the PMI President’s Award to Pete Jahrling, director, design engineering, Sloan Valve Co., and former two-term PMI board president.
Teter also praised PMI volunteers and member companies for stepping up during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect public health and safety and to assure that PMI could accelerate value to members during a difficult time. In 2022, as PMI members begin a new initiative to address climate change by setting a goal of zero waste, Teter said, “none of us has the solution to climate change but each has a part to play.”
In his state of the association report, PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole congratulated Teter for his leadership during a challenging year and expressed his delight in seeing all the attendees in person. “The success of PMI is found in three things – people, process and products,” he stated. Stackpole held a moment of silence in memory of Paul Patton, a former PMI board president, and spoke of his distinguished contributions to PMI and the plumbing manufacturing industry. He also reviewed PMI’s accomplishments, its coalition partners, and the issues the association tackled during 2021.
After stressing the importance of increasing engagement with PMI among employees of all PMI member companies, Stackpole presented the PMI Ambassador Award to Cambria McLeod, a senior staff engineer at Kohler Co., 2022 PMI board member, and 2021 co-chair of the PMI Water Efficiency and Sustainability Committee.
By Judy Wohlt, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
Science journalist Chelsea Wald has a vision she describes as “loo-topia”, in which everyone around the world has access to healthier, more sustainable toilets.
Advances in research, additional funding and new, innovative solutions give her hope that the world is moving closer to her vision, she told an audience of Plumbing Manufacturers International members during her presentation at the PMI21 Manufacturing Success Conference.
The author of “Pipe Dreams: The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet,” Wald shared her experiences researching the book. She talked about her travels to Haiti, Indonesia and the Netherlands, where she observed promising toilet technology, such as container-based sanitation. She also discussed the psychological aspects of changing peoples’ minds about toilets for better public health.
While toilet sustainability and usage are improving, Wald said that billions of people globally still use unsafe toilets and are exposed to untreated sewage. She pointed to issues causing roadblocks in the United States and abroad: not enough public toilets, aging and chronically underfunded infrastructure, and the inequities experienced by rural communities and poor countries.
“The toilet plays a role in nearly every societal and environmental ill because it’s so embedded into our lives,” she said. “It’s not the cause of these ills, but it can exacerbate them.”
Stark contrast between advanced and poor countries
To show the stark sanitation differences throughout the world, Wald described the primitive circumstances in Haiti, with no sewer systems, and the Netherlands, where new water infrastructure technology is developing at lightning speed.
In Haiti, where pit latrines are the norm, Wald saw progress with better, safer toilets – and in the way residents view sanitation. For example, she shared details about a container-based sanitation solution that uses dry toilets with pails to catch and contain excrement. The system not only offers a healthier, more private result, but also treats the raw sewage so it can be turned into compost to enrich Haiti’s depleted soil.
In contrast, she illustrated the more advanced sanitation progress in the Netherlands. There, innovators are creating products and systems that can more efficiently recover nutrients, energy and heat from sewers while reducing pollution, water and energy use.
For example, Wald described a pilot project in a city near Amsterdam that removed toilet paper from the sewage stream, dried and sanitized it, and turned it into cellulose. The cellulose was added to asphalt to pave a bicycle lane.
“This is a particularly viable solution where treatment plants are overloaded,” she said. Instead of expanding existing treatment plants or building larger plants, the new cellulose process can make room in existing sewers in areas with growing populations.
Waste innovations could help solve climate crisis
Wald said that as she was writing her book, she discovered increasing numbers of research groups and entrepreneurs working to offer better toilets and systems that help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Wald explained how extreme weather events that produce flooding and droughts exacerbate the inefficiencies in some centralized sanitation systems. She noted that people with access to limited water supplies might have to choose between drinking or flushing their toilets.
If public and private entities start using the full potential of the toilet, Wald noted their efforts could produce substantial sustainable benefits and products. Wald said she uses one such product – urine-derived fertilizers for houseplants and gardens – in her home in the Netherlands.
Other products overcoming the “yuck factor” might include dinner plates made from recycled, used toilet paper and food made from bacteria grown on gasses from wastewater treatment plants. “We might eat chicken or fish fed with fly larvae raised on feces or other organic waste, too,” she added.
PMI members can view Wald’s and other PMI21 presentations here: tinyurl.com/bddxrync
By Ray Valek, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
Ted Ma asked all attendees to text the message “I believe in you” to a person of choice about halfway through his keynote presentation at the PMI21 Manufacturing Success Conference. “They are four of the most important words in the English language,” he stated.
Through this simple act, PMI members made a positive impact on those important to them while getting kind words back in return.
Expressing belief in others – and investing yourself in their success – captures the essence of mentorship, Ma said during his presentation “Mentorship Moments: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others.”
What is a mentorship moment?
Ma defined a mentorship moment as “a conversation or experience with a trusted advisor that causes one to think or act differently.” These moments shift our perspectives by causing us to see ourselves differently. Often serving to introduce new knowledge or tools, these moments are sometimes turning points. “They are small investments in time that make a big impact,” he explained.
How do you create mentorship moments? Ma invited PMI Board of Directors member Belinda Wise of Kerox, Ltd., to the stage and asked her to talk about mentorship moments during her career. Wise spoke of a man she knew first as a supplier, with her as the customer, and then later as an employer. “He trusted me from the beginning; the respect was there, he valued what I could do, he valued my knowledge, and he trusted me. He invested in me personally,” she said.
Earlier in the presentation, Ma made the distinction between a leader and a mentor, saying that leadership is generally about the role a person has within an organization while mentorship is about relationships. Some leaders “are so focused on the results, they neglect the relationships,” Ma explained. “They manage their teams, but they don’t lead them.” He spoke of a mentor in his life, a man named Darnell, who was “the one” – a person who changed the trajectory of his career.
The traits of a good mentor
According to Ma, there are five traits of a good mentor: 1) setting a positive example as a role model, 2) being an active listener who lends an ear to understand, not only respond, 3) having empathy – an open mind and heart, 4) trustworthiness – being truthful as well as transparent, and 5) being a lifelong learner by maintaining a beginner’s mind. He quoted the late McDonald’s leader Ray Kroc, who said “you’re either green and growing or ripe and rotten.”
Ma quantified the return on investment of mentorship by sharing the results of a research study he conducted among a sample of 1,000 employees. He said 71% of employees surveyed said mentorship led to improved performance, 68% said mentoring made them more engaged at work, and 64% said mentoring positively impacted their careers.
Mentorship gets rave reviews from employees, Ma said, by improving their performance and inspiring loyalty. Using the recent “Great Resignation” labor shortage as an example, he said many employers were able to get employees to stay at work during the pandemic because they developed strong relationships with them. From a leader’s perspective, mentorship enables you to leave a legacy and helps with succession planning, develops mastery because one must relearn skills to teach them, and provides a fresh perspective to see situations through a new and different lens.
Who needs you to be ‘the one’?
He urged attendees to invest, assign and assess in their mentoring activities. “Invest your belief, your experience and resources in others,” he said. He asked participants to challenge those they are mentoring by assigning tasks or projects that get them out of their comfort zones, and to assess their progress regularly. “Ask questions that require critical thinking and self-reflection to answer,” he suggested.
As he completed his presentation, Ma asked PMI21 attendees to create a mentorship moment with a person in their organization within the next 48 hours. “My mentor Darnell created multiple mentorship moments with me. Working with him taught me that mentorship changes lives,” he emphasized. “He helped me become a better leader, a better friend, and a better father. His influence didn’t just impact my life; it also created a positive impact on the people around me. He was ‘the one’ for me. Now it’s up to you to be ‘the one’ for someone else.”
Ted Ma’s full PMI21 presentation can be viewed at tinyurl.com/bddxrync
By Stephanie Salmon, PMI Washington, D.C., Government Affairs Representative
Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) commends Congress for coming together to pass the historic, bipartisan infrastructure package, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Nov. 15.
PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole said PMI welcomes the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), H.R. 3684, the largest investment in the nation’s infrastructure in decades. “The act sets in motion critical steps to modernize our nation’s aging infrastructure and includes significant investments in our drinking and wastewater systems,” Stackpole said. “Investing in and modernizing our nation’s infrastructure is critical to the long-term economic growth of the country and will vastly improve access to clean drinking water and improved sanitation.”
The IIJA makes generational investments of more than $550 billion in new spending for priorities such as water infrastructure, roads, highways, bridges, ports, airports, rail, transit, pollution mitigation, as well as for upgrading the energy grid, broadband, cybersecurity, and more.
The water infrastructure portion of the package includes more than $50 billion in funding for rural towns and cities, as well as for Native American and underserved communities. PMI advocated for the act’s water efficiency, conservation and water reuse funding, as well as for significant improvements for water and wastewater systems to be covered by the law, including:
- $48.4 billion over five years for drinking water and wastewater spending.
- $15 billion to support lead service line replacement.
- $200 million in funding to address lead testing and remediation in school and childcare center drinking water systems.
- $48 million for national water reuse programs and $1 billion in funding for western water recycling programs. It also creates a Water Reuse Interagency Working Group.
- $400 million for water efficiency for western states through the Water Smart grant program under the Bureau of Reclamation.
- $10 billion to help drinking water and wastewater systems address emerging contaminants like PFAS and to allow the purchase of certified point-of-entry or point-of-use filters and filtration that will help to remove harmful drinking water contaminants.
- $3.5 billion for construction of new sanitation facilities for Native American communities, including water, wastewater and solid waste systems.
PMI thanks every lawmaker of the House and Senate who cast a vote for this sweeping infrastructure package. “We look forward to the implementation of the IIJA, which will support key public works projects for water systems in most need and provide jobs and economic growth at a critical time,” Stackpole said. “We congratulate President Biden on his efforts to make Build Back Better and infrastructure renewal the centerpiece of his administration’s first year in office.”