PMI successfully worked to achieve the goals of the plumbing manufacturing industry during the first six months of 2019. PMI voiced concerns about the impact of tariffs on PMI members, named two new members to the PMI Board of Directors, continued to gain approval on technical recommendations, opened registration for the PMI19 Conference, introduced new member benefits, enhanced the visibility of PMI through the media, and much more.
Advocacy and Government Affairs
PMI Welcomes 116th Congress, Highlights Industry’s Concerns
A letter welcoming members of the 116th Congress highlighted the plumbing manufacturing industry’s opposition to tariffs, the need to invest in national infrastructure and the training of skilled manufacturing workers, and the importance of water-efficient plumbing products.
Voicing Concerns About Tariffs, PMI Represents Its Members at USTR Hearing
PMI advocated in opposition to the Section 301 List 3 tariffs, which began at 10% in Sept. 2018 and increased to 25% in May 2019. These tariffs impact $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, including dozens of plumbing products. PMI provided frequent updates on the tariffs issue to PMI members and hosted a webinar on the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) recently announced exclusion process for the List 3 tariffs.
On June 17, PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole testified on the adverse impact an additional $300 billion of List 4 tariffs the Trump administration is planning to begin on Sept. 1 would have on manufacturers, their supply chains, workers and consumers, as well as on the construction and renovation markets. PMI and PMI member companies Moen, Pfister and Water Pik all testified in opposition to the tariffs, as part of the seven days of USTR hearings with over 300 witnesses. On hold as of the publication of this report, List 4 tariffs would include ceramic/porcelain toilets, urinals and sinks, as well as showerheads, plastic parts and stainless-steel racks for sinks.
PMI Promotes Free Trade Through Coalition Participation
PMI engaged with lawmakers and key staff on the tariffs issue while participating in the Americans for Free Trade Coalition of more than 200 trade associations spanning the agriculture, manufacturing, retail, technology, and oil industries. The coalition sent letters to the president, Congress, and USTR; launched a digital ad and videos that highlight the impact of the trade war in the U.S.; and hosted dozens of town meetings across the county. PMI is also an active member of the National Association of Manufacturers China Task Force and United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Coalition.
PMI Works to Include WaterSense Program in House Appropriations Budget Bill
PMI met with staff of dozens of congressional members in an effort to have the House Interior-EPA Subcommittee insert report language calling for the inclusion of the WaterSense program in the fiscal year 2020 budget. The full House approved a broader House Appropriations Committee bill in June containing this language. Many thanks to House supporters, including subcommittee chair Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and ranking member Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio).
Operating on only a $3 million annual budget, WaterSense has saved Americans 3.4 trillion gallons of water and $84.2 billion in water and energy expenses since 2006. The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2020 budget recommended the elimination of the WaterSense program.
D.C. Legislative Forum and Fly-In Provides PMI Members Briefings and Access
PMI members participating in the Washington D.C., Legislative Forum and Fly In on May 7-8 received briefings from policy experts on issues such as housing and construction, tariffs, the USMCA, infrastructure legislation, privacy and cybersecurity, and stainless steel, cobalt and nickel in the European Union and U.S.
Attendees visited lawmakers and staff in 25 congressional offices to advocate for the preservation of the WaterSense program, passage of the USMCA, and infrastructure legislation. Members highlighted concerns over tariffs, which harm plumbing manufacturers and consumers. PMI emphasized that China must be held accountable for its failures to meet its obligations under the rules-based international trading system, but using the American consumer as a means to punish China simply will not work.
California Advocacy Efforts Address Recycled Water, Consumer Privacy and More
At the May 14 California Legislative Forum and Fly-In in Sacramento, the PMI delegation held advocacy meetings with California legislators and executive branch officials on key policy issues such as parameters for the indoor use of recycled water, consumer privacy, single-use plastic packaging, green chemistry, and flushable wipes.
Through the first half of 2019, PMI:
- Disseminated and discussed with several water utilities the PMI guidance document intended to help them to produce recycled water that will not hamper the performance of residential and commercial indoor plumbing products that can be used with non-potable water, such as toilets and urinals.
- Developed and provided PMI members information about the California Consumer Privacy Act in advance of its Jan. 1, 2020, effective date. PMI identified issues and questions to be addressed to assist its members in complying with the act, opposed legislation that would have expanded the private right of action to alleged violations of any provision of the act, and closely followed numerous bills that would revise the requirements, as well as upcoming state regulations implementing the act.
- Opposed two measures that would require a 75% reduction in single-use plastics throughout the state by 2030. PMI supports measures to reduce plastic waste, and many of its members have established sustainability goals to use more recyclable packaging and increase recycling rates. However, the legislation uses “terms that are unclear and vague, establishes implementation timelines that are not practical, and provides CalRecycle with open-ended authority to impose new mandates on businesses operating in the state,” per a letter from a coalition opposed to the measures.
- Ensured that PMI member products would not be negatively impacted by legislation establishing performance standards and labeling requirements for flushable wipes.
- Opposed legislation that would unfavorably revise the state’s green chemistry laws, recommended the appointment of a PMI member company representative to a workgroup that will advise state agencies on new urban water-efficiency standards, and participated in preliminary meetings relating to the 2019 triennial code adoption cycle.
Martin Knieps and Michael Martinez Join PMI Board of Directors
Two new members were added to the PMI Board of Directors: Martin Knieps, of Viega LLC, and Michael Martinez, of Delta Faucet Company. Both individuals will serve terms through 2020. Read PMI’s news release. Other board members are Nate Kogler, board president (Bradley Corporation), Joel Smith, vice president (Kohler Co.), Todd Teter, secretary-treasurer (Moen Inc.), Peter Jahrling, immediate past president (Sloan Valve Co.) and Chip Way (Lavelle Industries).
Committee Heads Serve PMI Membership
PMI members beginning terms as committee chairs during 2019 include Lowell Lampen, Kohler Co. (Advocacy/Government Affairs Committee); Shahin Moinian, International Code Council - Evaluation Service (Allied Member Committee); Bob Neff, Delta Faucet Company, and C.J. Lagan, LIXIL (Technical Committee); Elton Perkins, Fluidmaster, Inc., and Liz Renfro, Delta Faucet Company (Commerce Committee), and Cambria McLeod, Kohler Co., and Daniel Gleiberman, Sloan Valve Company (Water Efficiency and Sustainability Committee).
PMI-Commissioned WaterSense Market Penetration Report Shared with EPA WaterSense
The percentage of American homes with WaterSense bathroom products has increased, but most residences still do not have these water-saving plumbing products, say the results of the 2019 U.S. WaterSense Market Penetration Report commissioned by PMI and published by GMP Research, Inc. PMI thanks all members that shared data with GMP Research. To demonstrate the tremendous upside in the market for manufacturers of WaterSense products, PMI shared the report with EPA WaterSense as the program reviews WaterSense product specifications in accordance with America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.
Comments Submitted to Regulatory and Standards Bodies Worldwide
The PMI Technical Committee submitted written comments to international, federal, state and industry regulatory and standards bodies on issues including ISO 31600 (a standard which looks to establish international appliance efficiency standards for faucets, showerheads, toilets and urinals), EPA WaterSense’s Notice of Specification Review, EPA’s Development of a Draft Water Reuse Action Plan, and state appliance efficiency standards. PMI was active in Washington, D.C., and Canada, as well as in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Nevada, Rhode Island and Washington state.
Industry Committees Vote in Favor of PMI’s Positions
At the April 2019 WE-Stand Code Hearings in Corona, Calif., 17 out of 20 code proposals (85% success) voted on by the Technical Committee were in favor of PMI’s positions. At the April 2019 UPC Code Hearings in Denver, 26 out of 34 public comments (76% success) voted on by the Technical Committee were in favor of PMI’s positions.
In addition, PMI:
- Persuaded the National Research Council of Canada’s Standing Committee on HVAC and Plumbing, in regard to the 2020 National Plumbing Code of Canada, to add text allowing water closets to be mounted to the floor and to revise water temperature control requirements to benefit manufacturers of mixing valves.
- Persuaded the City of Fort Collins, Colo., to increase the maximum flow rate of showerheads from 1.75 to 1.8 gpm; exclude hotel and motel rooms (and other residential occupancies) from the 0.5 gpm lavatory faucet requirement; exclude public lavatory faucets and sink faucets (kitchen faucets) from meeting WaterSense labeling requirements; and revise the definition for “dual flush” to reflect two reduced flushes and one full flush in accordance with industry standards.
- Persuaded the U.S. Access Board to accept PMI’s interpretation of grab bar length in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design; this interpretation benefits PMI members that manufacture grab bars.
PMI Conference and Professional Development
Registration for PMI19 Conference Opens
Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) opened registration for the PMI19 Conference. Focusing on “Manufacturing Success,” the conference will be held from Nov. 4-7 at The Don Cesar hotel in St. Pete Beach, Fla. This year’s conference will feature PMI’s first-ever Aspiring Leaders’ Program; keynote speakers Lindsey Pollak and Joel Zeff, who will also serve as emcee; and sessions on issues including multi-generational leadership, workforce development, sustainability, accessibility design, industry economic trends, trade and tariffs, consumer data protection, water reuse, lead in water, the EPA’s WaterSense program, technical topics, and much more.
PMI members' collaboration with PMI staff to create value has resulted in a new membership benefit that provides key economic trend indicators specific to markets in which a plumbing manufacturing business operates. The PMI Market Outlook provides insights on business cycles, retail sales, residential and commercial building starts, building material costs, wholesale trade, and business conditions across the plumbing manufacturing industry and U.S. economy.
PMI Launches On-Demand, E-Learning Courses
PMI's on-demand, e-learning course, “Part 1: A Primer on Standards, Regulations, Codes and Conformity Assessment,” can be taken at any time or place, at the convenience of the professional's schedule. PMI's Technical Director Matt Sigler and industry partners updated and reformatted the course's content, which is carefully curated for today's plumbing manufacturing professionals and is ideal for anyone new to the industry or desiring a refresher. No traveling is required because registrants access this program using PMI's new online e-learning tool. An optional 25-question exam tests comprehension.
A second course, “Part 2: Standards and Topics in Plumbing,” features in-depth information on Legionella and water supply systems, backflow issues and several other important plumbing subjects.
Webinars Keep PMI Members Current on Issues and Trends
Keeping PMI members current were webinars on the China tariffs, data privacy, WaterSense specifications, PMI Market Outlook, and California Energy Commission research relating to flow rates and hot water systems. Most of these webinars are still viewable by logging into the PMI website’s webinar page.
Outreach and Communications
New PMI Web Page Encourages Careers in Plumbing Manufacturing
To help spread the word about careers in plumbing manufacturing and add value for members, PMI has published a webpage listing the career-related website pages of its members, as well as members' LinkedIn company pages. Students and others looking for career opportunities are encouraged to peruse these listings to gain an understanding of the broad array of positions available and to apply for positions of interest to them.
New PMI@Work Blog Addresses How to Attract Talent to Manufacturing
The PMI@Work blog explores efforts to develop the manufacturing workforce for the future, particularly among PMI members. Featured so far have been members Bradley Corp., Brasscraft Manufacturing Co., Haws Corporation, InSinkErator, LIXIL Americas, Sloan Valve Co., and Viega LLC.
PMI Publishes Members-Only FAQ on Conflict Minerals
As a value-added service to PMI members, PMI published "Disclosure Fundamentals: Conflict Minerals and Plumbing Products." The report serves as a resource for plumbing manufacturing companies with questions about conflict minerals reporting, disclosure and compliance.
Produced exclusively for PMI members, "NAFTA Rules of Origin: A Primer for Plumbing Manufacturers" was developed to help PMI members better understand the basics of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Rules of Origin. The report can help members to determine the country of origin for products, as the origin of a product can affect a company's marketing requirements, rate of duty to be paid, and eligibility for special programs. Rules of origin can make international trade simple when all product parts are manufactured and assembled primarily in one country. However, when various elements of a finished product come from many countries, determining origin can be complicated and time-consuming.
Engagement with PMI Members-Only Website Content, Social Media Platforms Up
Due to improved members-only content and the switch to the new Membee system, visits to PMI’s members-only portal totaled 3,372 for the first six months of 2019 vs. 4,741 for the entire 2018. Social media engagement on Twitter is up with significant increases in comments, likes, shares and followers so far in 2019 compared to the 2018 pace. On LinkedIn, there has been sharp increases in members to the PMI Group page and to followers of the PMI Company page (352 new followers in last six months out of total following of 1,462).
Testimony to USTR, Other PMI News Gain Significant Media Coverage
PMI achieved significant media coverage of Kerry Stackpole’s testimony to the USTR (Asia Pacific Daily, Business Insider, China Daily, China Economic Net, China.org.cn, Congressional Quarterly magazine, Contractor, The Hill, Mechanical Hub, PHC News, Plumbing Engineer, Plumbing Perspective, Roll Call Online, Shanghai Daily, Xinhua News Agency, and U.S Chamber of Commerce).
Other news such as PMI Welcomes 116th Congress, New Board Members, New Online Courses, New Member Benefits, D.C. Fly In, House Appropriations Committee support of WaterSense, and EWTS Call for Abstracts were covered by ASPE Pipeline, Associated Press, Civil and Structural Engineer, Contractor, Industrial Supply Online, Kitchen and Bath Business, Manufacturing Close Up, MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) Middle East, Mechanical Hub, PHC News, Plumber, Plumbing & Mechanical, Plumbing Engineer, Plumbing Perspective, PM Engineer, Retrofit Online, Supply House Times, and Water & Wastes Digest.
PMI Pride Awards Recognize Member Engagement
PMI members can qualify for a PMI Pride prize drawing my participating in a PMI committee conference call or educational offering, sharing or commenting on a PMI social media message, joining the LinkedIn PMI Group page or following @SafePlumbing on Twitter, or participating in any other kind of PMI activity.