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PHC: Before we talk about your upcoming role and PHCCCONNECT, how is PHCC doing as an organization and what are some of its programs and resources you think best help plumbing and HVAC contractors?
JM: PHCC is doing very well these days. We’ve made some real progress in meeting the goals related to our five-year strategic plan—all designed to position PHCC members as the best choice for professionalism, reliable products and knowledgeable service.
To help our members address the workforce development challenges they face, we focus on providing the type of resources that can help them be known as “Employers of Choice.”
We continue to add to a multitude of resources they can use to find, train and retain the skilled workers they need. They can access a variety of tools at PHCC’s online Workforce Development Center, and also take away ideas at numerous in-person education and networking opportunities at the national, state and local levels.
In addition, through a new Education & Training Department, we’re developing a full range of business management-focused education and training programs and resources that members can access to help them be strong business owners.
PHC: What are a few vital issues facing the plumbing industry right now, and how is PHCC taking a leadership role to address those issues and challenges?
JM: The number of attacks on licensing come to mind first. For example, PHCC was very concerned about the recent licensing battle in Texas.
We worked hard behind the scenes with our strong chapter in Texas to fight for continued regulatory oversight and were very relieved when Gov. Abbott announced a two-year extension of the state licensing board. We were honored to participate in the June 14 Plumber’s Rally at the state capitol, where plumbing professionals stood in solidarity to first and foremost protect the public’s health and safety of Texas citizens and its environment.
We anticipate more situations like this may arise in other states and stand ready to battle any future moves to remove the regulatory oversight of the plumbing profession.
Of course, the lack of qualified workers still is a major challenge for our members. In addition to providing tangible resources our members can use in their businesses, PHCC continues to advocate on Capitol Hill about the need for legislation that supports workforce development, including career and technical education.
We’ve had some successes, such as the 2018 passage of the $1.2 billion Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Education Act with additional funding over the next five years. Current priorities include providing regular input to the Department of Labor’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, stressing that current apprenticeship standards must remain in place; and engagement with policy makers at the Department of Labor and Congress to push for greater flexibility in apprentice-to-journeymen ratios.
We also strive to increase our influence on key workforce issues by collaborating with other industry organizations on several coalitions. There is definitely strength in numbers.
PHC: Let’s talk about the PHCCCONNECT in October. Tell our readers what’s in store for them in Indianapolis.
JM: We are really excited about this event, which will be held Oct. 2-4 in Indianapolis, a great host city. There will be more than 20 education sessions, a cutting-edge Product & Technology Showcase, two industry tours (Delta and Chemours), the always-popular QSC@CONNECT and two days of plumbing and HVAC apprentice contest action.
I think our members are really looking forward to hearing the keynote presentations from PHCC member Rich Trethewey of “This Old House” and economist Connor Lokar, who is back by popular demand.
We’re pleased to co-locate again with the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society and include a special radiant and hydronics education track provided by Radiant Professionals Alliance. Overall, I think it will be a great experience and that attendees will really enjoy that famous “Hoosier Hospitality.”
PHC: What do you hope will be the main takeaways from this year’s PHCCCONNECT?
JM: The program has been designed to give attendees the know-how to strengthen their businesses today—and prepare for what’s ahead. Whether it’s learning about best practices in workforce development, the latest technologies, or proven business management strategies, we hope everyone leaves Indianapolis with valuable perspectives that they can put in place when they get back to their offices.
PHC: As you prepare to move into the role of president, what are some new initiatives or goals set in place for your term and beyond?
JM: I’ll work toward achieving the goals of current PHCC strategic plan, which have been a steady focus of the PHCC leadership over the past five years. Then, at the January 2020 PHCC Board of Directors’ meeting, we’ll set aside time to identify goals for our next five-year plan. I look forward to being part of that process.
PHC: What are you looking forward to most as president?
JM: Being able to give back to an industry that has given me so much.
And working with my peers to move PHCC into the future.
PHC: What have you done in the last year to prepare for this new role?
JM: I attended various local, state and national conventions and trade shows and networked with other contractors in PHC trade and other trades.
I also read various trade publications to keep up to date on trends and activities in the industry. I also have been exposed to the duties of PHCC president during my time as a PHCC zone director, national vice president and president-elect, and look forward to assuming the role of president of our great association.
PHC: What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received in life that has allowed you to be successful and pay it forward with your involvement in the industry?
JM: Always surround yourself with people smarter than you. It’s hard to learn if you think you are the smartest person in the room.
PHC: What advice would you give the new generation of plumbing, heating and cooling contractors as they start their careers?
JM: Get involved in trade groups such as PHCC. There is a wealth of knowledge in these groups to be shared. And you will also make some great friends.
PHC: As technology continues to advance and make its way into every industry, what role do you see it playing in the plumbing, heating and cooling industry? And, how should contractors adjust?
JM: I think the use of technology will continue to grow in the PHC industry. We see all sorts of technology being adopted in all sectors of the construction industry. It can be frustrating for contractors to try to keep up with all that’s available—and implement it effectively in their companies—as other priorities always compete for their attention, time and money.
To manage technology effectively, contractors need to stay up to speed on the options that can work best for their company, devote enough funding to purchase and implement it, and also be sure there is time dedicated for the employee training (including yourself!) needed for it to work the way it is intended.
It can be very helpful to share technology “lessons learned” with other contractors who have similar businesses. I’ve seen and heard numerous valuable technology-focused discussions—in-person and online—take place among members of PHCC and PHCC’s Quality Service Contractors about software do’s and don’ts, trends and best practices that have helped me make good decisions for my business. I encourage any contractor to join an organization that provides a network of support and information. Everyone benefits from those kinds of conversations.
PHC: Last but certainly not least, tell us about your business and how you ended in the PHC trade?
JM: I’ve had my business for 29 years. We do mostly residential plumbing and HVAC service, replacement and some new construction. We currently employ 19 people.
I always liked building things and trying to figure out how they worked. After working in another construction trade, I had a relative in need of help in his plumbing and HVAC company, and I thought that looked a great opportunity. Thirty-five years later I know I made the right choice.