By Kerry Stackpole, IOM, FASAE, CAE, PMI CEO/Executive Director
John Lennon wrote, “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.”
With all matter of natural disasters impacting the United States – catastrophic fires, hurricanes and COVID-19 – it might be sensible as Lennon suggests that “we pull back from life.” In reality though, that’s not how people with passion and excitement get things done. It just isn’t.
The 19,000-plus firefighters battling wildfires that have burned more than 3.6 million acres across California surely bring passion to their work every day. America’s healthcare professionals who have collectively witnessed more than 200,000 COVID-19 deaths surely bring heroic levels of empathy, caregiving and passion to their medical mission.
Law enforcement professionals working tirelessly to protect their fellow citizens find a moment to take a knee in a show of support for peaceful protesters marching against racial injustice. In the end, it is recognizing that “compassion, tenderness, patience, responsibility, kindness and honesty are actions that elicit similar responses from others,” as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley wrote.
A deep-rooted passion to deliver high-performing and safe plumbing products is only one of the reasons members of Plumbing Manufacturers International supported new NSF 61 2020 drinking water standards tightening lead leaching allowances for plumbing products. It is also why – after negotiating a progressive pathway for manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers – we supported California AB 2060 (see story on page 7). It’s hard to imagine anyone celebrating the death of a lead reduction bill in today’s world. The research on the hazards of lead to human beings are plentiful and convincing. The American Academy of Pediatrics says none is the lead level considered safe for children.
Modern literature and daily life are full of lead references. The notorious mafia hitman Crazy Joe Gallo used to say those he murdered “died of lead poisoning.” You might have recollections of being told to “get the lead out,” oftentimes a parent’s shorthand for hurry up and get moving. Then there’s “having a lead-foot”– something police radar guns tend to notice. It’s pretty common to hear people say they need their coffee “fully leaded” – but if it was, that really wouldn’t be so great.
Which makes the United States National Library of Medicine digital exhibit, “This Lead Is Killing Us,” a history of citizens fighting lead poisoning in their communities, so compelling.
The stories the exhibit tells reflect the history of American modernization, the growth of automobiles, and the emergence of the new consumer culture following the end of World War II. Ads from the National Lead Company in a 1923 edition of National Geographic sang the praises of lead in plumbing, rubber gaskets, ball washers and paint. The gasoline industry added lead to fuel to improve car performance. To improve durability and drying time, paint manufacturers added lead pigment to household paints. Lead was a popular ingredient because of its malleability and corrosion-resistant properties.
While the dangers of leaded gasoline were known in the 1920s, it wasn’t until the 1980s, a decade after Congress passed the Clean Air Act, that leaded gasoline was eliminated in the U.S. In Chicago in the 1950s, an entire social movement was borne from the hazards of lead paint in public housing. In 1973, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now Health and Human Services) published “The Flake and His Secret Plan,” a story about how chips of paint conspire to get rid of children. It’s fair to say the story doesn’t show the paint industry in a very positive light.
At the 2017 PMI Conference, our keynote speaker Bruce Vincent told his family’s story about engaging with the social contract issued to businesses that operate in America. The social contract holds that all businesses operate under an unwritten contract with the society as a whole, in which the society allows the company to do business under the condition that its actions benefit society. In his case, it was the family’s logging business, however, as he pointed out, there are many others. Tobacco products, alcohol, plastic grocery bags, and paper were all once considered staples of modern society until their social contract came into question.
Which brings us back to the quintessential need for new thinking, new ideas and innovation, something in which the plumbing product manufacturing industry truly excels. At your association, we hear the excitement, passion and acceptance of new ideas, and new ways of thinking. We witness the clear-minded efforts of our industry’s women and men to imagine a healthier, safer and more innovative future for society’s children, parents and families. Most importantly, amidst the serious global health pandemic putting the safety of all peoples at risk, we witness our industry’s deep commitment to doing its part to uphold our social contract. As Benjamin Franklin so famously said, “Well done is better than well said.”
Current title and employer: Senior Administrator Product Compliance, Fortune Brands Global Plumbing Group (FBGPG).
Length of time in the plumbing manufacturing industry: 31 years, all with Moen/FBGPG.
My days continue to be exciting as we deal with product innovations, market expansions, corporate growth, and the never-ending changes of plumbing requirements.
My proudest plumbing manufacturing career achievement: I helped achieve a favorable resolution to the California Proposition 65 litigation; my work helped me earn the first of several Moen Corporate President’s Awards.
I started a career in the plumbing manufacturing industry because: Moen was searching for color measurement and analytic laboratory expertise. My experience in lithographic printing and pharmacology research provided a unique skill set. The development of drinking water legislation and standards fit well with my background in pharmacology. This was the beginning of the NSF Standard 61, Section 9, and California Proposition 65, which are still key industry issues today. Moen also provided the opportunity for me to complete my bachelor’s degree and obtain my master’s degree.
What is your current role in PMI? What do you hope to accomplish in this role? I am an advocate for the creation and orderly evolution of drinking water standards and actively participate in those issues by being a PMI member and providing a historical perspective.
I promote PMI within my company by: Connecting colleagues with the information and educational resources available through PMI, such as on-demand e-learning, webinars and the PMI Aspiring Leaders Program.
Our PMI membership delivers the following benefits to my company: We benefit from PMI’s advocacy and influence as a voice of the industry in the marketplace, the information shared and educational support on the never-ending changes of plumbing codes and regulations, and the established network for the industry to work with legislators and regulators.
Best career advice I ever received: There is something to be learned from everyone. Every encounter is a learning opportunity.
I’m currently reading: Articles and periodicals about the impact of COVID-19 on communication transactions in society and its long-term impact on culture and social interaction. This interest stems from my background in communication. I have a master’s degree in communication.
My favorite movie: “Life is Beautiful.”
When I face a challenge at work (or in life): I keep calm and carry on. There is always a way to overcome a challenge. I stay focused on the next step and keep moving forward.
In my spare time, I enjoy: Spending time with my husband, John, and our son, Collin, who is 16. We enjoy being outdoors – walking, bicycling, enjoying the backyard and flower gardens. Any opportunity we get on a sunny day is spent in our Mini Cooper convertible on a country road adventure. I’m also an advocate for autistic children and their families. As a parent of a non-verbal autistic child, I have dedicated my life to being his voice in the world. I’m founder of the Severely Funny Autism Group, a private Facebook group to help families of autistic children connect around the globe and laugh at things the rest of the world cannot understand. I’m also a champion of autism family issues at forums, such as OCALICON, an international autism conference held by the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI).
Nov. 19: PMI’s General Membership Meeting. This annual gathering of PMI members will feature addresses from PMI Board of Directors President Joel Smith and PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole; the elections of the new board president, board members and committee co-chairs; a financial report; awards and recognitions to outstanding members; and more!
Dec 1: PMI Aspiring Leaders Program. PMI20 keynote speaker Rachel Hanfling will moderate a meeting of PMI’s up-and-coming leaders. To be focused on developing communication skills that help you get ahead, this one-of-a-kind, innovative training opportunity inspires creativity and innovation among your top talent. Register yourself or nominate other high-potential employees today for this outstanding leadership development opportunity. This two-hour program will inspire the ability to see and think differently, foster self-awareness, and instill a growth mindset. Bundle and save! Get a discount on registration when you bundle PMI20 with the PMI Aspiring Leaders Program.
By Judy Wohlt, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
The plumbing manufacturing industry has some great stories to tell – and PMI wants to help tell them. They involve examples of constant innovation to improve water efficiency, as well as efforts to provide excellent jobs that strengthen local economies and deliver opportunities for workers with diverse backgrounds.
To help excavate those stories and find answers to the industry’s biggest marketing challenges, PMI is recruiting the brightest marketing minds within its membership to form PMI’s new Industry Marketing Committee.
“We as a board have agreed that we need to broaden our marketing communications, telling our industry’s great stories on our terms,” said Joel Smith, PMI Board of Directors president, Kohler Co. “Every one of our member organizations has talented marketing teams that we can tap to help with our efforts.”
Planning to meet quarterly, the committee also will provide a new way to engage members on the marketing side of plumbing manufacturing – to balance out the well-established and extensive advocacy, education, and technical focus already in place within PMI, he added.
Prioritizing issues and adding member value
PMI’s Industry Marketing Committee will explore how plumbing manufacturing is evolving and changing and delve into many topics, such as identifying the industry’s public persona and social responsibility interests, how to best communicate the marvels of the manufacturing process, and how to best showcase the industry’s value.
Among the new committee’s tasks will be to consider what is important, meaningful and of value to PMI members as part of the collective industry, said Todd Teter, PMI Board of Directors vice president, House of Rohl. “We understand how critical it is to get member input so that we can prioritize what will be the most impactful with this committee’s efforts,” he added. “We will help enable our members’ success by the work this committee does.”
Teter and Smith confirmed that PMI needs to continue being an active voice to advocate for member companies, influence policy affecting plumbing manufacturing, and communicate positive stories about how members contribute to protecting public health and safety and improving water quality and conservation.
Teter noted that the committee also should explore how the industry prioritizes diversity and inclusion and how to best collaborate with other organizations either within the industry or tied to it. He asked: “How do we create a more powerful influence in the industry by partnering with these other organizations?”
Getting in on the action
Joining the committee offers many benefits: the chance to network with industry peers, gain a fresh perspective on marketing, improve job and leadership skills, and learn about the broader industry.
“It’s a great opportunity for PMI members working in marketing or product management to look beyond their company’s product line and think big picture,” Smith said. “And know that you’re contributing to the greater good of our industry. We will turn out more great ideas working together than staying in our silos.”
PMI members interested in joining PMI’s new Industry Marketing Committee should contact PMI Association Manager Jodi Stuhrberg at email@example.com.
The PMI20 Manufacturing Success Conference attendees will receive wisdom and valuable insights from speakers covering topics of interest.
Nov. 10, 2 – 3:10 p.m.
Keynote Speaker Rachel Hanfling: “The Language of Leadership”
Every organization needs leaders to deliver important messages, especially during times of economic uncertainty. To help prepare for her keynote session, Hanfling wants to hear from you about the leadership communication challenges your organization faces. She will incorporate answers to your questions and challenges into her presentation. How has the pandemic impacted communication within your organization? How has remote working affected morale? What can you do to build relationships and rapport during a difficult time? What can you do to be a more effective leader? Send your challenges and questions to PMI Education Coordinator Stephanie Lass at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nov. 10, 3:15 – 4 p.m.
Jim Ellis: “Election/Political Update”
Less than a week after Election Day, Ellis is sure to provide PMI20 attendees his take on how the results will affect the legislative and regulatory environment. Ellis is the creator of The Ellis Insight and the senior political analyst for the Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). He reports on trends, characteristics, and tendencies in American elections for political action committees, associations, and legislative advocacy firms.
Nov. 11, 2 – 3 p.m.
David Stepp, Evan Y. Chuck and Robert Clifton Burns: “Trade Updates”
Stepp, Chuck and Burns – three members of the Crowell & Moring law firm – will provide the latest updates and post-election forecasts on trade issues, including tariffs, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), customs and compliance matters, and more. The trio has collective international experience dealing with export controls and regulations, economic sanctions, cross-border transactions, global supply chain and e-commerce strategies, country of origin marking, and more.
Nov. 11, 3:10 – 3:50 p.m.
Dr. Andrew Persily: “Measurement Science Research Needs for Premise Plumbing Systems”
Dr. Persily will provide an overview of a paper he recently co-authored on the measurement science research needs of premise plumbing systems. The chief of the Energy and Environment Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Dr. Persily will explain how pressures to improve water efficiency and increasing awareness of the importance of building water quality have led to the recognition of significant knowledge gaps in premise plumbing system design, installation, operation and maintenance.
Nov. 11, 3:50 – 4:30 p.m.
Dr. Steven Buchberger: “Hunter’s Curve Meets March Madness: Estimating Peak Demands in Premise Plumbing Systems: The Final Frontier”
Dr. Buchberger’s research focuses on urban water resources and hydrology, with recent emphasis on estimating peak water demands in buildings through the development of tools such as the Water Demand Calculator. A professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Buchberger has authored over 130 archived publications and directed $11 million in research projects, since joining the faculty in 1988.
Nov. 12, 2 – 2:50 p.m.
Panel discussion moderated by Ashlei Williams: “COVID-19 and the New Norm”
Farnsworth is president of the Farnsworth Group, Inc., a research-based consulting firm serving the information needs of companies in the home improvement, residential building, and commercial construction industries. His expertise includes category management, store positioning, market segmentation analysis, and hybrid market concept development. Prior to launching the Farnsworth Group, Farnsworth served as vice president of marketing and director of research for the National Retail Hardware Association (NRHA).
The founder of Distribute Consulting and the Remote Work Association, Farrer starts, strengthens and leverages virtual workforces to solve corporate and socioeconomic concerns. A global thought leader on the topic of remote work, Farrer collaborates with businesses and governments to eliminate virtual worker discrimination, prevent policy retraction, increase remote job accessibility, train distributed leaders, and design economic initiatives. She also shares her expertise as a Forbes contributor, subject matter expert for business education curricula, and virtual software product advisor.
Hammock’s national practice focuses on all aspects of occupational safety and health law. As the co-chair of the Littler Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group, Hammock works closely with employers to help them understand and implement safety and health management systems. He represents employers during OSHA inspections and rulemaking proceedings. He also defends employers against OSHA enforcement actions.
Williams has been telling stories for business, philanthropic, minority and academic audiences for a decade. The chief marketing officer for PHCP Pros and editor of Plumbing Engineer, she earned her master’s in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School and bachelor’s in English from Spelman College.
Nov. 12, 2:50 – 3:15 p.m.
Dr. Steven Soifer: “Conditions of Public Restrooms in Light of COVID-19”
Dr. Soifer is the co-founder and former CEO of the International Paruresis Association and president of the American Restroom Association. He is an advocate for safer and more private bathrooms. He co-authored “Shy Bladder Syndrome: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Overcoming Paruresis” (2001), which is in its tenth printing. He revised that ground-breaking book, titled “The Secret Social Phobia: Shy Bladder Syndrome (Paruresis)” (2017), which is available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audible versions.
Nov. 12, 3:20 – 3:45 p.m.
Dr. Leanne M. Gilbertson: “Assessing the Impact of Silver in Shower Heads on Opportunistic Pathogen Abundance and Resistance”
Dr. Gilbertson will discuss her research to examine the effect that silver, embedded in shower fixtures, has on water disinfection. An assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Gilbertson’s research group is currently engaged in projects aimed at informing the sustainable design of emerging materials and technologies proposed for use in areas at the nexus of the environment and public health. Her research has been recognized and is supported by the National Science Foundation.
Nov. 12, 3:45 – 4 p.m.
Christian Cotichini and Steve Rader: “NASA Lunar Loo Challenge”
The co-founder and CEO of HeroX, a crowdsourcing ideas platform for problem solvers, Cotichini will discuss the platform’s partnership with NASA to meet the Lunar Loo Challenge. He has more than 20 years of experience leading startup and high growth technology companies.
Rader serves as the deputy director of NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI), which is working to infuse challenge and crowdsourcing innovation approaches at NASA and across the federal government. CoECI focuses on the study and use of curated, crowdsourcing communities that utilize prize and challenge-based methods to deliver innovative solutions for NASA and the U.S. government.
By Megan Dilley, Sunny Ziemer & Bret Farrer at Distribute Consulting
There’s a difference between sending your team home with laptops to ensure continuity during a global pandemic, and setting your business up for sustainable remote work success. Whether you’re in the midst of figuring out your return-to-work plan or working to optimize your virtual infrastructure, read on for important considerations to ensure your business is poised to succeed.
What does sustainable remote work look like?
Sustainable remote work looks opposite of how many businesses have been operating during the pandemic, and in many cases, to no fault of their own. Increased levels of anxiety, depression, isolation, and burnout are plaguing workers around the world as they try to find their ever-changing “new normal.” For many, balancing life and work has never been harder, as they juggle child care, distance learning, and long hours. Vacation? Forget it. This is not a normal work-from-home situation. Smart companies can’t see what the future will hold, but they can see that to be successful, they need to elevate remote work to a key business strategy. They must commit to becoming a sustainable virtual organization by focusing on six pillars for remote work success: workforce, infrastructure, workplace, culture, management, and compliance. These six pillars optimize virtual operations and policies to protect and support your workforce, ensuring business continuity.
What’s a remote work policy and why do you need one?
Remote work policies provide your workforce with the keys to the kingdom, giving remote employees the information they need to be empowered and successful. They provide much needed structure for distributed teams, including explanations of how and why remote work is available, organizational charts and directories, performance expectations, culture and rituals, and more. Lack of access to information leads to silos that leave remote workers in the dark and without the empowerment they need to work autonomously. Many companies don’t know that the absence of a remote work policy is illegal. If you have an existing remote work policy, you’ve made a big step in the right direction. If you don’t have a policy yet, add it to the top of your list. Having a strong remote policy will lead to happier, healthy, more productive workers, and help your company avoid costly legal and compliance issues.
How to decide between a hybrid and fully remote model
A massive organizational change like going remote takes months and in some cases years of proactive planning to execute. COVID-19 lockdowns threw proactivity out the window as companies around the world quickly reacted to the emergency situation, with a plan to go home and hopefully come back within a couple weeks. Seven months later, we’re still at home, and we don’t know if and when we’ll be going back. Companies of all sizes and industries are seeing the benefits of working from home; they are ready to make remote work a part of their operating models to see the full effects of the cost savings, productivity increases, and countless other benefits afforded by having a distributed workforce.
Many companies are now considering a hybrid model, whereby some of the workforce is in an office, warehouse, manufacturing facility, or other central location while others work from home. For the manufacturing industry, a fully remote model for the entire workforce is unlikely to be a relevant solution given the amount of machinery needed for business operations. However, evaluating how much time office workers spend on a computer will guide you in deciding if and when workers need to be in the office to perform their work effectively. In most cases, the answer is: location is irrelevant. As you consider a hybrid model that makes sense for your company, be careful to avoid issues of discrimination, and build an infrastructure with remote-first values, so your team can be successful regardless of where they work.
Download Distribute Consulting’s Remote Work Policy Checklist to run an audit on your existing policy, or use it to build your policy from the ground up. For more information on sustainable remote work models, contact Distribute Consulting at email@example.com to schedule a Q&A for your leadership team.
By Judy Wohlt, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.
Like a major stage production, managing the legislative process of bills affecting the plumbing manufacturing industry involves many actors, deep preparation, and ample activity behind the scenes. That was the case recently as the California State Legislature considered AB 2060, legislation which in its original form proposed to place into law a Jan. 1, 2021, effective date for the proposed NSF 61 (2020) standard.
PMI worked closely with California Assemblymember Chris Holden, the bill’s author; legislators and committees in the state capitol; other stakeholders; the executive branch of state government; and environmental groups sponsoring the bill to achieve a positive outcome for its members and the industry.
While AB 2060 will not move forward in 2020, the bill was amended to include PMI’s provisions moving the effective date for 100% compliance to Jan. 1, 2024, which would have allowed wholesalers, distributors and retailers to move products off their shelves and make other critical preparations. PMI’s work helped protect plumbing manufacturers’ interests while enabling bipartisan solutions to reducing lead content in plumbing fixture fittings used to provide drinking water.
The amended bill, including key revisions made through PMI’s efforts, passed unanimously in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. However, the bill was subsequently held in the Senate Appropriations Committee because of budget issues within state agencies caused by various factors, including implementation costs, COVID-19 and the wildfires, according to PMI’s Technical Director Matt Sigler.
Preparation, feet on the ground helped PMI jump hurdles
Since early 2019, PMI had anticipated that a bill such as AB 2060 would be introduced, Sigler said. The legislation was a follow-up to Holden’s California AB 2370 in 2018, which requires lead testing of drinking water in child day care centers, and California AB 746, which requires lead testing of drinking water in schools.
California AB 2060 was designed to synch with the recently published NSF 61 (2020) standard, which will reduce the maximum allowable amount of lead leached during product testing from five micrograms (5µg) to one microgram (1µg). PMI worked with its manufacturing members and the NSF Joint Committee on Drinking Water Additives - System Components to help establish the new, lower lead testing requirement for plumbing fixture fittings used to provide drinking water.
When AB 2060 was introduced in February 2020, the two sponsors and many of the bill’s supporters were pursuing the original aggressive timeline contained in the bill. Plumbing manufacturers would have been mandated to have all drinking water fixture fittings available in the California marketplace meet the new requirement by Jan. 1, 2021. PMI and industry allies asserted that manufacturers needed three years and a Jan. 1, 2024, deadline to properly manufacture, certify and deliver all products to the marketplace.
The three-year timeline was necessary for several important reasons. With only nine certifiers in the U.S. and more than 50,000 residential lavatory and kitchen faucet models available in California, re-certifying all those products to the new standard by Jan. 1, 2021, wasn’t possible, Sigler said. In addition, “retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and other stakeholders would have been required to withdraw products from the California marketplace, which would result in significant business losses and market disruption during a difficult economic time,” Sigler said.
He added that PMI’s three-year timetable gave manufacturers the option and incentive to bring products that met the new standard to market before Jan. 1, 2024, to gain a competitive advantage.
Preparing for an initial face-to-face meeting with Holden and the bill’s sponsors in March 2020 was a crucial step in the process. Talking points and a manufacturing/certification timeline for the meeting were carefully created with input from the following PMI teams: California Task Group, CA AB 2060 Working Group, Technical and Government Affairs Committees, and Communications. PMI members also participated, and the meeting initiated five months of discussions and extensive negotiations.
Those efforts were informed by insights from Jerry Desmond, PMI’s long-time California government affairs consultant. He continually provided PMI with access to information and influencers. “Because Jerry has great relationships and intimately understands how the system and process works, he got us to the right people at the right time,” Sigler said.
Trust, strong relationships set stage for cooperation
PMI’s reputation to back its efforts with action and keep industry allies involved in the process set the stage for the cooperation needed to protect manufacturers’ interests while fulfilling the environmental community’s requests.
“It came down to trust with the environmental community and proving that we mean what we say, and we do what we promise,” Desmond said. PMI and the industry had already proven their credibility in California – with the appliance efficiency regulations adopted by the California Energy Commission in 2015, and with the phasing in of high-efficiency toilets and urinals as part of CA AB 715 in 2007, he said.
PMI’s multi-tier advocacy efforts, through which everyone worked with their industry counterparts, was another key to success. For example, Desmond said that PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole worked directly with his CEO counterparts at other industry associations while Sigler coordinated with his technical colleagues. “We had dialogue at every one of those levels and will continue to keep it going,” Desmond added.
Since AB 2060 did not pass, should the industry anticipate a new, similar bill to be introduced next year? Desmond said PMI should know more this fall. In the meantime, PMI members can manufacture plumbing fixtures and fittings meeting the new NSF 61 standard and market them in California. “The goal of Assemblymember Holden and the bill sponsors is to ensure compliant devices are installed in California’s childcare clinics as soon as possible,” he stated. “Their goal is still achievable, even without legislation passing, but due to PMI’s commitment to the protection of public health and a competitive marketplace.”
Sigler added: “This bill was moving very fast and we needed consensus on our position, strategy, talking points, and timeline quickly. Kerry Stackpole and PMI’s Board of Directors understood the urgency and worked hard to get agreement, support our collective membership, and get us to the finish line.”