By Peter Jahrling, PMI Board President and Director, Product Engineering and Intellectual Property, Sloan Valve Company
Each manufacturing and allied member in this association looks at the world through a different lens, each with a short list of pending industry changes. There may be regulations surrounding manufacturing practices (and costs associated with these regulations), or changes capitalizing on plumbing industry product trends, such as water conservation (water reuse, rain water, low flow) and unintended consequences. They all involve degrees of change that affect our manufacturing. PMI facilitates this association among us.
In anticipation of changes over this coming year, PMI will conduct strategic planning for the current year in a “conclave” of the PMI Board of Directors, Strategic Advisory Council members, and staff and consultants at PMI headquarters in Rolling Meadows, Ill., September 26–27. This yearly event enables PMI to make any strategic course corrections in anticipation of changes affecting our members. A change in this year’s session will be Kerry Stackpole’s first involvement in our planning. If you have ideas you feel strongly about sharing, I would ask you to contact Kerry with your thoughts.
The PMI Conference theme, “The Spirit of Collaboration,” embraces PMI’s willingness to leverage other associations in common purpose to advance changes. I encourage all members to participate in this November event as staff has assembled a distinguished selection of presentations. The rowing team logo emphasizes coordination among these collaborative influencers and our membership.
As a matter of fact, PMI has numerous Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) and industry collaborations as evidence of our spirit of collaboration; take a look at them on our website. Our most recent MOU signing was with the American Supply Association (ASA) in July.
Check out the relevant initiatives on the PMI website and see how PMI has influenced changes for member objectives. PMI still strives to be a source of manufacturing information on various plumbing industry initiatives at the local, state, federal and international levels. Staff monitors changes that might affect member manufacturers and raises awareness for individual purposes or for formulating suggested PMI positions. For example, see the recent federal Water Efficiency Improvement Act legislation PMI and others have been working on that was introduced in the Senate — goo.gl/ZjaTdG. On the sustainability front, check out how Illinois is looking at introducing recycled water regulations (goo.gl/EyczAt). There is evidence that our industry landscape is changing with opportunities for the industry.
Keep on the lookout for changes, and be a part of our industry evolution: Safe, responsible plumbing. Always.
A sidebar relating to change – Scott McDonald, Fluidmaster Inc., announced his retirement in June. Scott was our PMI vice president and a key contributor to our CEO search and hiring of Kerry. Scott wishes us well and regrets his departure from PMI. I personally cannot say enough positive things about his contributions and assistance over the past years, and I wish him well in his retirement.
By Kerry Stackpole, FASAE/CAE, PMI CEO/Executive Director
Embracing the near win is an essential part of leadership. Since failure is rarely fatal in the business realm, savvy leaders experiment and willingly take risks. While failure can damage your self-esteem, and slow your career trajectory if not managed well, it can also be the springboard to success. Strengthening your ability to discern and manage risks in today’s increasingly complex environment is critical. Exploring organizational decision-making, dealing with failure, managing crises, demonstrating leadership, and avoiding preventable problems are among the biggest challenges. How do you avoid blind spots? What impacts your ability to prevent failures? There are proactive strategies you can use to learn new leadership and coping skills to both avoid and manage failure.
In so many ways, failure is the currency of progress. Takata is recalling 19 million airbags installed in cars and trucks by 12 different manufacturers. Norovirus, salmonella, and e-coli outbreaks at Chipotle Restaurants in 10 states sickened 334 people. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recalled 143 million pounds of beef from improperly slaughtered cows. America lost 21 NASA astronauts to training, pre-flight, and in-flight accidents, including the total loss of two space shuttles. Toyota Motor Corporation recalled 5.2 million cars for problems related to unintended acceleration. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin initially called for a voluntary evacuation in the face of a Category 4 hurricane bearing down on the city. Pharmaceutical giant Merck voluntarily recalled its worldwide stock of Vioxx, spurred by a study that found patients who took the drug for at least 18 months incurred more heart attacks and strokes. Failures, poor choices, and faulty decision-making seemingly surround us. But wait a minute.
Are we pushing the “F” word around a bit too much? Some think so. Indianapolis-based consultant Jeffrey Cufaude at Idea Architects notes that failure is bantered around too often to refer to things not turning out as we had planned. “Failures no doubt do occur,” he wrote awhile back. “They are a necessary cost of trying to innovate in significant ways not done before, but we can’t refer to every situation that doesn’t hit a target goal as a failure.”
If changing an unproductive habit, resolving a professional stumbling block, or making mistakes were as simple as being aware of them, we’d all be living perfect lives. For most, linear living is simply not possible. We live messy, imperfect lives in which mistakes, shortcomings, and outright failures are part of even the most joyous, successful, and exuberant lives.
Each of us makes dozens and dozens of decisions every day. It is easy to become complacent and overlook the incredibly complex dynamic that underlies each one. Many of our daily decisions are intuitive in nature – an apple is healthier than a candy bar. The interstate highway is slower in rush hour than surface streets. Revenues must exceed expenses to generate a profit. Our world is full of heuristics or “rules of thumb” by which we work.
To combat natural biases in decision-making, many organizations have expanded beyond mission and value statements to craft guiding principles intended to shape and influence individual and group decision-making. The $6.9 billion Australian firm LendLease, a leading retail and international property group under the leadership of its late chairman Stuart Hornery, did so. Hornery put a fine point on the effort, saying “if guiding principles are genuinely held and practiced throughout, the company will attract the best people to work for us, the quality of our work will attract the attention of customers, demand for our services will grow, and our global family will prosper – all of which contributes to delivering superior value for our shareholders.” Family-held businesses may not have shareholders in the legal sense – but clearly you do have stakeholders. Customers, legislators, regulators, legal, financial advisors and the communities you serve demand your greatest efforts and delivery of superior value.
When it comes to understanding risk and the complexity of change and decision, looking carefully at design thinking and systems theory can offer a valuable framework for understanding. Working from this framework offers the opportunity to examine your decision-making in the context of recurring patterns within the whole system and their relationship to sub-systems in motion throughout the organization.
So, what does any of this have to do with failure? Most of us believe we are capable of distinguishing between situations where we can safely rely on intuition from those that need more careful thought. Often, however, we are wrong – most of us trust our intuition more than evidence suggests we should. There’s a fascinating exploration of these challenges in Roger Shepard’s book Mind Sights: Original Visual Illusions, Ambiguities, and Other Anomalies (W. H. Freeman, 1990).
Failure does not occur in a vacuum. In most instances, a failure is the result of several, perhaps dozens, or even hundreds of decisions and choices made along the way. Sometimes, those decisions are enough to avoid outright failure but barely enough to create success. One of the great failures of leadership and management is that we tend to recognize and reward outcomes without much regard to the decision-making leading up to achieving those results. How much better would our successes or outcomes be, if we improved and assessed the quality of our decision-making along the way?
Creating a culture in which your team and colleagues invest time to think, decide and assess their actions is vital to the healthy operation of your company. Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, when asked about success, replied, “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.” If you’re thinking of failure as the enemy of success, it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure -- or you can learn from it.
So, go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Fix them fast. Because, remember, that’s where you’ll find success.
After 32 years with Kohler Company and 15 years as an active participant in PMI, Rick Reles retires on Aug. 31, 2017. He will be moving to east Tennessee – Fairfield Glade to be exact, about an hour west of Knoxville.
“It’ll be nice to get back to living in Tennessee, where I’ve lived before,” Rick said, explaining he’ll be able to enjoy spring, summer and fall there – but won’t miss Wisconsin winters. “I’m on the Cumberland Plateau, almost 2,000 feet up. Very nice area,” he stated, with lakes, golf courses, state parks, camping, kayaking and fishing.
Fairfield Glade will serve as his home as he spends more time on leisure and recreation, with his wife, April, and on his business ventures, which include an interest in a distillery located in Colorado, an internet merchandising business, and more. He plans to keep in close touch with his daughter, Marilyn, a budding hip hop artist and video producer in Los Angeles, and his son, Emerson, who is part of a management training program at Sherwin Williams in Madison, Wis.
A varied and enjoyable Kohler career
During his Kohler career, Rick’s responsibilities ran the gamut from vice president of sales to vice president of marketing for the global faucet business and general management of the kitchens and cast iron businesses. “I was fortunate to do a lot of things over those 32 years,” he recalled. “I’ve been involved in many growth initiatives and was able to spearhead them, particularly in new global markets. I thoroughly enjoyed that.”
Rick was in a corporate role running the talent function for three years. For the past year, working as a consultant, he has been helping with succession planning and coaching execs and managers moving into executive roles, he explained. “During my Kohler career, I have worked on strategic planning, facilitating growth sessions with different parts of the business, and helping with the entrepreneurial side of things.” He also was on the board of directors for the Lions Club and the Stephanie Weill Center in the Sheboygan, Wis., area.
A marketing and advocacy pioneer for PMI
For PMI, Rick was among the first members who began to help PMI look outward to external audiences, remembering that the vast majority of PMI’s work when he began his involvement concerned technical codes and standards and regulations affecting the industry. “What I see now is advocacy, marketing outreach, and the technical competency. Three legs of the stool getting equal time. I think that’s the difference. I think we’ve changed that way,” he said.
He estimated that his PMI involvement included serving as a committee co-chair several times, assisting along the way with the current PMI and Safe Plumbing branding, including the logo and website. “I was very involved in the front end of our outreach to a number of different PMI audiences. Very fortunate to be a part of the ever-changing, ever-growing, proactive marketing and outreach side of PMI,” he said.
How to take PMI to the next level
He envisions a bright future for PMI. “I think the model PMI has now is good. We need to take that to the next level. How do you reinvent yourself? How do you continue doing the right things that members currently find value in, but then also take it to the next level? I think that’s the challenge strategically.
“We’ve got to figure out what that next thing is, and where members want to go. I think PMI’s come a long, long way since I first started getting involved in it. How do we drive more awareness through social media and other outreach and communication channels and become more of a benefit resource for this industry and beyond? How does PMI benchmark against similar associations? PMI can set an example for other industries if we do it right,” he stated.
Rick said he still expects to be persuaded to help PMI from time to time, and can be contacted at Richard.Reles@gmail.com. “I’ve been involved in PMI forever so ring me up any time,” he said he told PMI Board of Directors President Pete Jahrling. “I’m glad to help. I can still be a resource even though I’m moving. If I can provide guidance, direction or help in any way, I’d be glad to.”
The allure of beautiful surroundings and wine will not keep PMI members away from the 2017 Conference’s enriching presentations and valuable networking. But these diversions can be enjoyed before, after and, to a certain measure, during the Nov. 13–16 conference.
In Honor of Barbara Higgens – An Evening of Celebration
On the evening of Nov. 13, immediately following the welcome reception, the President’s Dinner honoring Barbara Higgens, former PMI CEO/executive director, will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton, the 2017 PMI Conference’s location. The event also will include a recognition ceremony and entertainment. Few have done more to promote PMI’s dynamic vision of the future than Barb, who retired from her position at the end of June 2017. Be an event sponsor!
A beautiful and convenient location
The DoubleTree by Hilton is located in one of the most beautiful regions of Northern California. With its grounds featuring roses, vines and a herb garden used by the hotel’s chef, the DoubleTree echoes Sonoma Wine Country surroundings. Book your room by mentioning PMI’s special rate of $149 per night either online or by calling 707-584-5466. Hotel registration ends on Oct. 16.
The hotel is conveniently located about an hour’s drive from the San Francisco International Airport. Sonoma County offers a shuttle service (airportexpressinc.com) to and from the airport. Other transportation options from the airport to the hotel are also available. Please contact a PMI staff member if you have any dietary restrictions or other special needs.
Tour and dinner at DeLoach Vineyards
After the day’s sessions are complete on Nov. 14, buses will transport PMI members who have purchased tickets to a tour and dinner at the DeLoach Vineyards. Space is limited for this unique event, which is not included in the registration fee, so make your reservation today!
The PMI group will be greeted at DeLoach with a tour of the vineyard and then will proceed up to the guest house and pool patio for a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception. A harvest dinner including wine will be served in the great room overlooking the vineyard and will end with dessert in the Jean-Charles Boisset Lounge.
A pioneering producer and grower of pinor noir, chardonnay and zinfandel, DeLoach Vineyards has been operating for three decades in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. Since 2003, the vineyards have been owned by the Boisset family, which brought two generations of sustainable winemaking experience from Burgundy, France, to Sonoma Wine Country.
DeLoach has partnered with winegrowers equally dedicated to and passionate about eco-friendly farming practices and the production of high quality wines. Wine and Spirits magazine recently named DeLoach Vineyards a top 100 winery for the 12th time in its history.
Pre- and post-conference activities
Visit one of more than 400 well-known wineries, zip line through the Redwoods, visit the rugged Bodega Coastline or take in a world-class musical performance at the Green Music Center. With San Francisco and Napa Valley less than an hour away, you’ll have reason to extend your visit.
For everything you need to know about the 2017 PMI Conference, go to safeplumbing.org/2017conference
Science rules and data is king in John Finch’s world. A self-proclaimed “science engineering geek” with a degree in metallurgical engineering, John said he’s proud to serve as current co-chair of PMI’s Technical Committee.
Digging deep into important industry issues – whether they involve lower flow volumes or pathogen growth and water quality – never gets old for John, principal engineer at Masco Corporation, a global manufacturer of branded home improvement and building products, including Delta Faucet, Hansgrohe and BrassCraft. “There’s always fresh facts or a new angle to pursue when we work on PMI projects,” he said. “Of course, our goal is safety first and then our committee pursues the scientific data to prove our point with code regulators or legislators who may not always understand how changing one aspect of a code or regulation may adversely affect the rest of the plumbing system, or the plumbing products manufacturers.”
His latest accomplishment involves leading a team that created a proposal to add rainfall showerheads to the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program. Before Masco Corporation submitted the proposal to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for review, a committee of PMI members worked together to formulate testing data, including a modification to the test protocol specifically for rain showerheads and supporting test results. After public review through ASME, the proposal will be submitted to the EPA WaterSense program team for final approval and, if accepted, will benefit all PMI member companies that manufacture rainfall showerheads.
In addition, John and C.J. Lagan, Technical Committee co-chair, are helping manage a PMI study, under the direction of Dr. Paul Sturman of Montana State University, testing the hypothesis that low flow rates yield a greater proliferation of opportunistic waterborne pathogens, such as Legionella, in potable water and may create unsafe conditions.
As he enters his fifth year serving on PMI’s Technical Committee, John said he’s impressed by how far PMI has advanced from its technical origins to branching into advocacy and legislative issues – and how all three areas work so well together to support members and the industry.
Between his work with PMI, which helps him stay connected with key industry people and issues, and his 33-year career at Masco, John said he’s continually motivated and excited by the challenges that cross his path daily. “It’s rare to have a long career like I have. The beauty of working for Masco is that it’s such a diverse company so I always find interesting, fulfilling work to do, which is important to me,” he said. His work ranges from involvement in legal claims, to establishing regulations and codes, to testing product performance and standards – all under the laboratory services umbrella.
John recalled a career-transforming opportunity that came his way several years ago when he joined a Masco team to study “lifetime” finishes for door hardware and, eventually, plumbing fixtures. Acting as one of the technical leaders on the effort, John helped develop scratch-resistant decorative finishes using physical vapor deposition (PVD). “It changed the appearance and finish performance in the decorative hardware and plumbing industries and was a thrilling accomplishment for all of us,” he said.
John experienced another life-changing event when he and his wife, Veronica, adopted two brothers from Russia, Paul and Steve, now ages 11 and 13 respectively. They recently rounded out their brood with Charlie, an 11-month-old black lab puppy that John describes as “85 pounds of chewing force.” John’s family has lost count of the many shoes and slippers Charlie has gnawed through, but can’t imagine life without his endless puppy antics. John also volunteers as a Cub Scout master with his son’s local Boy Scout troop.
PMI and its members are working with a number of congressional offices on legislation to formally authorize and codify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense program.
According to Stephanie Salmon, PMI’s federal government affairs consultant, the program is an example of effective collaboration between industry and the government on determining voluntary water efficiency performance measures that can be used by consumers, industry and state and local governments. PMI and most of its members are WaterSense partners.
Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced bipartisan legislation, the Water Efficiency Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 1700), on August 2 with nine cosponsors. Portman was an original cosponsor of the bill along with the following senators: Gary Charles Peters (D-Mich.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
Since the program has not been formally authorized by Congress, the WaterSense program and budget remains at the discretion of the EPA administrator.
PMI’s advocacy efforts for the legislation included working closely with Congressional staff on legislative text, securing co-sponsors, sending letters of support to key senators, distributing a news release, and leading a Plumbing Leadership Industry Coalition letter (goo.gl/hreB4E) in support of S. 1700 that was signed by 15 coalition members.
The Udall/Portman bill text also will be used as an amendment to the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (S. 1460), a new Senate energy bill introduced on June 28. The broader energy bill has been placed on the calendar and can be called up at any time for a vote.
Since starting in 2006, the WaterSense program, a public-private partnership that encourages the voluntary use of water-efficient plumbing products, services and practices by consumers and businesses, has saved more than 2.1 trillion gallons of water and $46.3 billion in water and energy bills.
In addition to the Udall/Portman bill, PMI and its members continue to work with Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on the Clean, Safe, Reliable Water Infrastructure Act (S. 1137), making text changes to the bill. It also would codify the WaterSense program and expand the availability of resources for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects. PMI also worked with congressional staff on the Water Advanced Technologies for Efficient Resource Use Act of 2017 (H.R. 3248) introduced in the House by Matthew Cartwright (D-Pa.) with 23 co-sponsors on July 13.
PMI continues to advocate in the Senate for report language to be attached to the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Interior/Environment Appropriations measure calling for EPA to preserve and maintain the WaterSense program, which the Trump Administration budget slated for cuts. Thanks to the efforts of the entire plumbing manufacturing industry, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee issued a report for FY 2018 in July. Within this report, the Subcommittee “rejects the proposed elimination of the WaterSense program.”
The U.S. EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently deemed the WaterSense program “a sound model for voluntary programs” in an August 1 report titled “EPA’s WaterSense Program Demonstrated Success.”
The report evaluated EPA controls assessing the accuracy of the program’s annual accomplishments, as well as the program’s claims of water and energy savings. PMI and other participating organizations contributed to the program evaluation through interviews, surveys and written materials.
The OIG made the following recommendations in the report, asking the EPA and WaterSense program administrator to:
- Share WaterSense program management practices
- Adopt water savings as a performance measure
- Implement controls for partners to regularly reconfirm their commitment to the program
- Take steps to improve annual partner reporting
The EPA agreed with all recommendations and provided approved corrective actions and completion dates.
Over its first decade, the WaterSense program helped save 2.1 trillion gallons of water and $46.3 billion in consumer water and energy bills. In addition, more than 1,850 partners have joined the program since it started in 2006.
“With adjustments, the program will strengthen its potential for producing beneficial results,” the report noted.
An overview podcast and the full report are available on the EPA’s website: goo.gl/RVjymN.
PMI Association Manager Jodi Stuhrberg was honored with a Volunteer of the Year Award from the Palatine (Ill.) Rotary Club. She and Oktoberfest Gift and Raffle Basket Committee co-chair Jo Ann Pallay were each presented with the award by Hank Sobotka, the club’s president. A member of the club for three years, Jodi said “I enjoy the leadership role and participating in the Rotary’s efforts in giving back to the community.”
The club’s 10th Annual Oktoberfest Celebration will be held from Sept. 15–17 in downtown Palatine. More than 11,000 people are expected to attend. The club’s goal is to raise $50,000 or more to benefit philanthropic organizations in the community, such as veterans’ programs, The Bridge Youth & Family Services, Palatine Opportunity Center, Wings, Clearbrook, Journeys, and many more.