PMI stayed focused on advocating for the plumbing manufacturing industry, even after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Working closely with members, PMI addressed issues relating to lead testing in California, tariffs, WaterSense and USMCA, as well as COVID-19. PMI adapted to the new normal of remote working and virtual meetings quickly, hosting the June 24 Virtual Legislative Forum and making plans to hold the 2020 Manufacturing Success Conference virtually from Nov. 10-12. PMI welcomed a new allied member, a new Board of Directors member, a new committee co-chair, and a new employee. Read more about PMI’s accomplishments during the first part of 2020!
Great optimism and enthusiasm for 2020 was challenged by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. PMI and its members collectively joined together to respond to an unfortunate situation with resolve and resourcefulness, keeping production lines moving as much as possible while implementing workplace precautions to keep workers safe. PMI continues to advocate for the interests of its members as issues related to COVID-19 are considered on international, national, state and local stages.
- Achieving the “essential” business designation. Working within a coalition including the Leading Builders of America, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, PMI worked to ensure that plumbing manufacturers and their suppliers were deemed to be “essential” businesses during periods of business closures related to COVID-19. This effort resulted in the continued operation of PMI member manufacturing facilities. PMI contacted Vice President Mike Pence, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the governors in about 10 states where PMI member facilities are located. In a similar effort in Mexico, PMI worked with NAM and U.S. government trade officials to urge Mexico to recognize manufacturers as essential businesses and keep PMI member facilities open. Stephanie Salmon, PMI federal government affairs consultant, spearheaded this work.
- Protecting health and safety. PMI member companies responded to the COVID-19 crisis by implementing precautions to protect employee health and safety and by encouraging remote working. Some members manufactured personal protective equipment or other kinds of supplies for healthcare workers. Others donated resources, expertise, meals or time to assist those at the frontline of the pandemic. PMI members also created awareness of the importance of hand washing and donated a percentage of sales proceeds to relief organizations. PMI Communications covered this response in monthly Ripple Effect articles.
- Advocating for economic relief and liability protections. PMI advocated for additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program in a COVID-19 relief bill. PMI urged Congress and the Federal Reserve to include nonprofits and industry-based trade associations organized under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code in the Main Street Lending Program. PMI is actively involved in a coalition to secure federal COVID-19 liability protections for manufacturers as part of the next COVID-19 relief package.
- Posting and amplifying helpful information. As the economic and social weight of the pandemic descended upon America, PMI posted and amplified on its website and PMI social media COVID-19 resources developed by the PMI team, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), and other sources. PMI also surveyed members about the impact the pandemic was having on their businesses and used this feedback in developing and choosing these resources.
- Ramping up webinars and distance learning. PMI contributed to the development or promotion of five webinars specifically related to COVID-19 and encouraged distance learning about plumbing codes and standards and important industry issues during the remote working period. Jodi Stuhrberg, PMI association manager, worked closely with industry allies to organize these webinars, which are still available for viewing by PMI members.
- Providing economic forecasts. Quarterly PMI Market Outlook reports give PMI members a snapshot of recent economic activity and forecast how the pandemic will likely affect plumbing manufacturing and related industries in the near future.
PMI Progresses Toward Achieving Workable Effective Dates for Calif. AB 2060
PMI advocacy efforts have resulted in amendments to Calif. AB 2060 (Holden) that accomplish PMI’s objective of making the measure’s effective dates workable for plumbing manufacturers and their wholesale, retail and distribution partners. Matt Sigler, PMI technical director, and Jerry Desmond, PMI California government affairs consultant, worked closely with PMI’s Technical and Advocacy/Government Affairs Committees to achieve PMI’s goal.
With the legislation still requiring California Senate approval, AB 2060 was amended to include a tiered, three-year compliance timeframe starting six months after the January 1, 2021, effective date of AB 2060 and concluding on Jan. 1, 2024. Wholesalers, distributors and retailers will have three years, until January 1, 2024, to turn over their inventories to products complying with the legislation.
This timeframe will enable plumbing manufacturers to transition rapidly to provide licensed child care centers, schools and other Californians with faucets and other endpoint devices that are compliant with the pending NSF 61 2020, which will reduce from 5 micrograms (μg) to 1μg the maximum allowable amount of lead to be released during product testing from endpoint devices used for cooking or drinking.
This outcome was achieved through the integrated effort of PMI’s Advocacy/Government Affairs Committee and Technical Committee and PMI Communications. Their collaboration created “The Road to Q 1μg” brochure, letters and emails to legislators and their staff, and a template letter PMI members could use to communicate support for the amendments to AB 2060. PMI worked with the NSF Joint Committee on Drinking Water Additives – System Components to add an optional, more stringent requirement for lead release for Section 9 devices in NSF 61 that will become mandatory for all third-party certifications beginning January 1, 2024.
Prior to these amendments, AB 2060 would have established a January 1, 2021, effective date for endpoint devices being required to have a Q value of 1μg in accordance with NSF 61 2020 and would have required commercial kitchen devices to comply with a 1 liter draw sample. Other onerous proposals, including California-specific labeling requirements and extensive reporting, are also being avoided.
Washington Post Story on Product Testing Features PMI's Kerry Stackpole
For his Washington Post story, reporter Todd Frankel asked several plumbing manufacturing industry experts, including PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole, to respond to President Donald Trump's remarks earlier this year about the performance of toilets and showerheads. Stackpole stated that turning back the clock on water-efficiency regulations would be wasteful, and that "we're not hearing lots of complaints about showers and shower heads." The story attracted more than 350 comments, which were overwhelmingly positive about plumbing product performance.
During the first half of 2020. Stackpole was also interviewed about WaterSense by Water Quality Products and Hardware Retailing, USMCA by Modern Distribution Management, COVID-19 by Water Quality Products and the U.K.’s Bathroom Manufacturers Association, and thought leadership by CEO Update. PMI news, including stories or releases about COVID-19, WaterSense, AB 2060 and the PMI Virtual Legislative Forum, were picked up by Construction Links, Contractor, the Daily Herald (Chicago), HVAC/P, JD Supra, Kitchen and Bath Business, KJZZ Radio Phoenix, Manufacturing Close, Mechanical Hub, PHC News, PHCP Pros, Plumbing & Mechanical, Plumbing Perspective, PM Engineer, and Supply House Times.
PMI Annual Report 2020: Standing Together to Create Profitable Outcomes
It is easy to forget the plumbing products manufacturing industry is in the early stages of a massive digital transformation. As PMI's 2020 Annual Report shows, this important work continues unabated. The report serves as a summary of how PMI has served its members, as well as a way of showcasing PMI to potential new members. The shared passion of the PMI staff and the more than 600 volunteers who lend their expertise to the debates, discussions and decisions that drive PMI's innovation engine represents an invaluable partnership. Special thanks to the PMI members who allowed us to feature their photographs and quotations. PMI Communications team members Maureen Baird, Ray Valek and Judy Wohlt collaborated to produce the report.
Members-Only Content Available to All Employees of PMI Members
The access page to members-only content was the fifth most viewed page on the SafePlumbing.com website during the first six months of 2020, with 2,863 views. The members dashboard was the 10th most-viewed page, with 1,070 views.
While most of the website’s pages are available to the public, the members-only pages offer valuable content on the latest industry issues. This content can be accessed by any employee of a PMI-member organization. This member benefit has always been the case, and it’s easy to register for access and have an employee’s name added to the PMI Membership Directory. Contact Jodi Stuhrberg, PMI association manager.
UL Becomes PMI's Newest Member
PMI welcomed its newest allied member: UL – a trusted partner for the testing, inspection, and certification of water infrastructure and plumbing products, offering expertise with a global reach. UL's goal is to provide comprehensive resources that help demonstrate safety, sustainability, quality and performance while enhancing brand reputations in the market.
Bob Neff Joins PMI Board of Directors
Bob Neff has filled the open seat on the PMI Board of Directors. Neff is the product compliance and regulatory manager at Delta Faucet Company. In this role, he leads the compliance and regulatory team at Delta in new product development and sustainment. He began his career at Delta in 2012 as a lab technician. Since then, he has contributed in other roles as a product compliance specialist and staff product compliance engineer. He graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering technology.
Ned Dickey Becomes Co-Chair of the PMI Technical Committee
Ned Dickey, product compliance manager at Hansgrohe North America, has become a co-chair of the PMI Technical Committee, replacing Bob Neff, who has joined the PMI board. During his career, Dickey also worked for PMI members CSA Group and Moen, Inc. He has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Cleveland State University.
Stephanie Lass Joins PMI As Education Coordinator
Stephanie Lass has joined the PMI team as an education coordinator, reporting to Jodi Stuhrberg, PMI association manager. She previously worked as the education administrator for the Association Management Center and the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association, where she developed online course content and managed monthly online webinars. One of her recent accomplishments involved creating a recertification course for pharmacists, managing everything from speakers to content reviews to building the online course in the association's education portal. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Webster University.
PMI Continues to Voice Serious Concerns About Tariffs
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 President Donald Trump and to members of Congress and the United States Trade Representative (USTR); the group also launched digital ads and videos that highlight the impact of the trade war on consumers and producers in the United States.
PMI continues to advocate in opposition to the Section 301 List 3 tariffs, which began at 10% in September 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, including the recently announced exclusion extension process for the List 3 tariffs to PMI members.
PMI is also an active member of the National Association of Manufacturers China Task Force and United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Coalition. PMI recently signed onto a coalition letter to Congress urging a legislative fix to the merchandise processing fee drafting error in the USMCA Implementing Act that, if unchanged, could result in the payment of millions of dollars of fees on imports into the U.S.
PMI updated the “USMCA Rules of Origin: A Primer for Manufacturers” brochure, which summarizes changes to rules of origin made by the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA), which went into effect on July 1, 2020. PMI Communications worked with members and industry experts to develop the brochure.
PMI’s DC Legislative Forum Goes Virtual
Participants in the PMI Virtual Legislative Forum on June 24 gained valuable information about federal infrastructure legislation, as well as on critical housing and trade issues impacting the plumbing manufacturing industry. PMI provided a customizable letter that members could use to urge local lawmakers to advocate for the infrastructure legislation. All content and resources can still be viewed and used.
National Association of Home Builders chief economist Robert Dietz provided an economic analysis and forecast of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on home and apartment building. Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation and infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, provided an update on various transportation and water infrastructure legislation. Trade lawyer Nicole Bivens Collinson reviewed the dynamics of U.S.-China tariffs, the USMCA, and the impact the pandemic is having on supply chains.
PMI Working Group Comments On Consumer Satisfaction Data
PMI formed a working group and submitted formal comments on July 24 to EPA’s request for feedback on whether the agency should include consumer satisfaction criteria in the WaterSense program guidelines and specifications.
Should the EPA revise existing specifications or create new product specifications in the future, PMI stated that it believes that gathering customer satisfaction data is one consideration that should be taken into account during the performance criteria evaluation process.
In a Federal Register notice published on April 10, the EPA communicated that it completed a review of WaterSense product performance criteria and decided not to make any changes in WaterSense specifications for tank-type toilets, high-efficiency lavatory faucets, flushing urinals and showerheads. This review was required by America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA), the 2018 law that statutorily authorized WaterSense. PMI had been on record of opposing any changes to the specifications without scientific data to show that further efficiencies would not contribute to waterborne disease outbreaks and/or water quality problems in building plumbing systems.
PMI Works to Include Continued Funding for WaterSense 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 continued funding for the WaterSense program in the fiscal year 2021 budget. The full House approved a broader House Appropriations Committee bill containing this language in July. Many thanks to House supporters, including subcommittee chair Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and ranking member Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio). The Senate has not yet acted on its budget measure. The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2021 budget, for the fourth year in a row, recommended the elimination of the WaterSense program. WaterSense operates on an annual budget of only $3 million.
The Virtual PMI20 – Moving from San Diego to a Screen Near You
The PMI20 Manufacturing Success Conference, Nov. 10-12, promises to be a digital experience filled with three days of member-focused, content-rich insight. The meeting will feature keynote speaker Rachel Hanfling, an Emmy-nominated TV producer for Oprah and Anderson Cooper, along with compelling presenters on current topics, innovative networking opportunities, and tantalizing sponsorship options. Members can look forward to a volume and quality of learning true to PMI's mission, delivered through the latest virtual technology.
With PMI20 as close as your computer screen, join the many members and guests expected to participate virtually over the three-day program. Enjoy the convenience of devoting a few hours each day to PMI20 learning and networking while staying on top of your job responsibilities.
Mark your calendar for PMI20 today! The PMI Aspiring Leaders Program also will be held virtually in the weeks following PMI20. Jodi Stuhrberg, PMI association manager, and Stephanie Lass, PMI education coordinator, are heading up this effort.
PMI CEO Thinking Forum Rescheduled for April 20-21, 2021
Designed with the specific challenges facing the plumbing manufacturing industry in mind, the PMI CEO Thinking Forum was rescheduled to be held April 20-21, 2021, in Washington D.C. The forum will be an interactive seminar exploring leadership philosophy, vision and imagination. Emphasizing timeless leadership lessons from the Battle of Gettysburg, the largest battle ever fought in North America, the forum will provide new insights about how to lead a productive, innovative and empowered workforce. The experience will challenge executives to consider how they function as leaders and give each of them the opportunity to write a personal leadership philosophy that will help set expectations for their teams.
PMI Technical Committee Keeps Watchful Eye on Efficiency Standards
The PMI Technical Committee submitted written comments to state regulatory bodies regarding appliance efficiency standards for faucets, showerheads, toilets and urinals in Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts and Oregon. Additional written comments were submitted to the California Building Standards Commission and California Division of the State Architect regarding accessibility requirements that applied to plumbing products, and to ASHRAE regarding multi-showerhead provisions in their 189.1 standard.
PMI persuaded the National Research Council of Canada’s Standing Committee on HVAC and Plumbing to revise the 2020 National Plumbing Code of Canada to allow water closets to be mounted to the floor and to adopt water temperature control requirements that benefit manufacturers of mixing valves.
Through the insistence of PMI, the New York State Legislature passed a measure that corrected the maximum pressure rating for showerheads sold in the state, beginning January 1, 2022, to align with industry standards.
PMI’s Legislative Tracking Reports update these activities every two weeks.
PMI Influences Shower Slope Code in Calif., Takes Positions on Water Use
PMI advocacy efforts in California were successful in keeping the maximum floor slope to ½ inch rather than ¼ inch for accessible showers proposed by the Division of the State Architect. The Building Standards Commission adopted new codes that will take effect on July 1, 2021. In addition, PMI continues to be engaged in a Water Use Studies Workgroup that is preparing recommendations on new urban water efficiency standards to be submitted to the legislature at the beginning of 2021. PMI’s objective is to ensure that maximum water usage rates are not lowered and that an indoor recycled water mandate is not established.
PILC Reviews New NIST Report, Grapples with Water Safety and COVID-19
The Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition, a plumbing industry resource group with 32 organizations as members, met virtually on May 14 to discuss critical industry issues and key challenges facing plumbing product professionals, especially issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group was co-founded by PMI, IAPMO, and the American Society of Plumbing Engineers and is co-convened with the Alliance of Water Efficiency.
Among the key discussions was the newly released study from the National Institute of Science and Technology - “Measurement Science Research Needs for Premise Plumbing Systems.” This report serves as a tool for any organization or institution that may plan, administer or execute research programs that influence premise plumbing systems.
PMI Staff Gets Immersed in KBIS 2020 Experience
Checking out new plumbing and design innovations, visiting PMI members and member booths, and hosting the PMI Power Break and Briefing attended by about 30 members and guests were just a few activities the PMI staff checked off their long to-do lists at this year’s KBIS 2020, which took place Jan. 21-23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. More than 31,000 attendees gathered to network, get inspired and learn about the latest kitchen and bath trends.
PMI staff members, including PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole, PMI Association Manager Jodi Stuhrberg, and PMI Technical Director Matt Sigler gave the soles of their shoes a good workout as they explored the 1 million-net-square-foot space, which hosted 600 exhibitors, including many PMI members.
PMI Sponsors 20th Annual Crystal Vision Awards Breakfast
As part of Design & Construction Week, PMI sponsored the 20th Annual Crystal Vision Awards Breakfast on Jan. 22 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, where PMI member LIXIL won the Crystal Vision Partnership Award. The award recognizes LIXIL for supporting the Storehouse Program of World Vision with consistent and significant plumbing product donations, which included more than $250,000 worth of supplies in 2019, and for promoting the program and event. The mission of The World Vision Storehouse is to help children and families struggling with poverty in the U.S.