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Nearly 1,300 people attended the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association’s PHCCCONNECT2022, the trade group’s annual convention and tradeshow, featuring 130 exhibitors, including 74 new exhibitors, Oct. 5-7, in Charlotte, N.C..
“This is our time to build on real relationships and forge new partnerships with our plumbing, heating and cooling family,” said PHCC-NA President Joel Long, at the opening breakfast of the convention dubbed, “Paving the Way for Construction Collaboration.”
Once again, the event was packed with not only exhibitors, but seminars and general sessions as well as the chance to see 18 plumbing and 10 HVAC apprentices compete in the PHCC Educational Foundation’s National Apprentice Contests, which, as always, took place right on the tradeshow floor.
And on a related note, more than 150 high school students from the Tar Heal State attended a special orientation, watched the apprentices demonstrate their skills and had the chance to meet with vendors and contractors. In addition, a new event this year called the Rising Leaders Summit drew 60 attendees for a special full-day of learning and networking with NexGen leaders, including an Ask Me Anything with Tony Bertolino, Bertolino Plumbing and 2021 PHCC Plumbing Instructor of the Year. Another session featured four young leaders who talked about their experiences to date and plans for the future.
Attendees had a choice of 28 educational sessions spread out over the course of a few days as well as general sessions featuring executives from Bradford White; Kohler; Rheem; Milwaukee Tool; and Federated Insurance. Interestingly, the Quality Service Contractors held its own version of the popular “TED Talks,” at its booth, which featured a series of 15-minute interactive discussions focusing on emotional intelligence in the workplace as well as a variety of resourceful tips for doing business more effectively.
As always PHCC’s Chuck White, vice president, regulatory affairs; and Mark Valentini, director, legislative affairs, presented their regular update on all things legislative and regulatory. Plus, the duo gave a stand-alone session on electrification that packed a large meeting room.
One of our favorite sessions, the Workforce Development Breakfast, is always a highlight and didn’t disappoint this year. This year the panel featured Larry Jones, president of Universal Plumbing, Augusta, Ga., who is featured in the first episode of the latest season of American Plumber Stories. The docuseries, created by Pfister Faucets, profiles the lives of plumbers throughout the United States to help attract and recruit the next generation of plumbers.
“We need to show young people this is what it can be like,” Jones said, “This is the life you can earn for yourself. We need to tell young people that it’s OK to work with your hands.”
Jones described how he grew up in a home with no indoor plumbing. The family had to draw water from a hand pump – and that very pump is on display at Jones’ business.
“I am content to be an American plumber,” Jones added.
Best of the best
For brevity, we’ll focus the rest of our feature on recapping the “best of the best” – the awards given at the Awards Luncheon, which is held on the show’s last day. We’ll be brief and still won’t be able to list all the award winners. We encourage everyone to head to www.PHCPPros.com for more details on many of the people and organizations who have dedicated their work to bettering the PHCP community:
Chip Greene Earns Col. George
D. Scott Award
The PHCC presented its highest honor to its Past National President Charles “Chip” Greene’s decades of dedication to the industry and the association.
As a third-generation plumbing contractor and second-generation business owner, Greene learned from his father best business practices and the importance of being involved in the industry that provides your livelihood. For 30 years, Greene has continued his father’s legacy, faithfully devoted to his family, his employees, his community, PHCC—National and the PHCC of Georgia chapter.
Chapter leaders agree that Greene’s greatest legacy in Georgia was the creation and success of the PHCC of Georgia Academy 501(c)3 and the chapter’s first-ever technical training facility, centrally located in Macon, Ga. Through Greene’s leadership, the academy’s facility was renovated after COVID to accommodate two classrooms, a large hands-on lab space, and a tools warehouse.
“Chip’s influence as a servant leader in the community supported the donation of classroom chairs and tables from local school districts, facility services from local peers in the construction industry, and generous equipment donations from industry partners who know and have worked with Chip for decades,” explained PHCC of Georgia leaders in their nomination of Greene.
Ray Toczylowski Named 2022 Plumbing Contractor of the Year
Ray “Toz” Toczylowski, owner of Marine Services Co., Manassas, Virginia, was named the 2022 Plumbing Contractor of the Year, sponsored by Delta Faucet.
After serving in the Marine Corps, Toczylowski carried on his family’s tradition to the trades and worked for other contractors in Northern Virginia before starting his business in 2014.
Today, Toczylowski leans heavily on his Marine Corps training, leading by example and asking nothing of his team members that he would not do himself, making sound and timely decisions, training employees as a team, and ensuring each task is understood, supervised, and accomplished.
“Every chapter should be fortunate enough to have someone on their team like Ray,” said PHCC of Virginia Executive Director Susan Milhoan. “He is a quintessential Marine, and we have benefitted from his energy, drive, dedication, creativity, and passion.”
Mike Giordana and Butch McGonegal Share 2022 HVAC Contractor of the Year Honors
Mike Giordano and Francis “Butch” McGonegal of United Air Temp, Lorton, Va., shared the HVAC honors with the award, sponsored by Rheem Manufacturing Co.
Giordano joined the company as part of United Air Temp’s Leadership Program with a freshly minted psychology degree.
“Mike’s success stems from his vast management and human resources expertise, along with his calculated ability to deploy key resources that drive organizational growth,” said Susan Milhoan, PHCC of Virginia executive director.
Partnered with McGonegal, United Air Temp has grown exponentially in the past decade. Today, the company has more than 700 employees with operations in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Leveraging organic growth, strategic acquisitions, and savvy business acumen, United Air Temp revenues have increased 500 percent over the last decade.
Granite Corp. Wins Safety Award.
Federated Insurance gave its 17th annual “Safety First! PHC Contractor of the Year Award” to Kevin Purnell and Mike Levenseller, co-owners of Granite Corp, Oakland, Maine.
The award recognizes a PHCC contractor who takes advantage of Federated’s risk management assistance to effectively implement sound risk management practices. Each year, hundreds of clients are eligible to receive this prestigious honor, but it was Granite Corp’s continued dedication to keeping safety a top priority that help them stand out.
The company’s 56 employees embrace a culture of safety as they continually review projects as a team, identify potential risks, and work to ensure proper training and safety protocols are followed every step of the way. The business makes use of Federated’s risk management resources regularly, including Federated new DriveSAFE, a telematics solution for clients that is geared toward impacting employees’ daily driving habits through motivation, knowledge and awareness.
Paul Hallam of Indiana Named 2022 Plumbing Instructor of the Year
Paul Hallam, Mechanical Skills Inc., Indianapolis, was named the 2022 Plumbing Instructor of the Year, sponsored by Milwaukee Tool.
An experienced classroom instructor, Hallam and the apprenticeship training program had to rely on some “out-of-the-box” thinking to transition to online instruction following the pandemic. While most online courses are self-paced and teacher-less, Mechanical Skills created a face-to-face Zoom environment to mirror a conventional classroom experience. In addition to teaching technical aspects, instructors also had to get creative to pique interest, encourage participation, and motivate their students.
In that spirit, Hallam created a Facebook group, encouraging students to share photos highlighting on-the-job accomplishments and “you gotta see this” moments. On this platform, he also includes fun photos and links to enhance the learning experience and maintain engagement.
Hallam communicated regularly with his students via email and social media and established a strong personal rapport with them. He begins his classes sharing real-life experiences and encourages his students to share theirs.
John McCuen Jr., Named 2022 HVAC Instructor of the Year
John McCuen Jr., a plumbing and HVAC instructor for the Philadelphia Suburban PHCC registered apprentice program for the last 15 years, was named the 2022 HVAC Instructor of the Year, sponsored by Milwaukee Tool.
In addition to the PHCC apprentice program, McCuen has been an instructor at Delaware County Technical High School for the last five years. With McCuen at the helm of that program, enrollment has nearly tripled.
“John cares about his students; he is more than their instructor,” shared the Philadelphia Suburban PHCC nominator. “His students confide in him for advice with life challenges they are facing.” And, “his job placement for graduating students is exceptional.”
A tough taskmaster, McCuen demands responsibility and a positive attitude from his students. He reminds them that rewards come to those with good work ethics and that both employers and customers appreciate professionalism and quality service.
McCuen also promotes the importance of being part of PHCC as a student, employee, and perhaps eventual business owner. As shared by PHCC President Long during the awards ceremony, “whether teaching at a PHCC meeting or talking to parents or with contractors, John champions the importance of supporting the industry and the skilled workforce that ensure the safety of our water and indoor air quality.”
The conference also highlights apprentices joining the PHCP community as well as their instructors:
• Nick Santmyer, Davken Mechanical, Virginia Beach, Va., named the 2022 Plumbing Apprentice of the Year.
Santmyer, who recently graduated from Norfolk Technical Center in Virginia, is an “idea guy,” said Tony Bertolino, plumbing instructor at Norfolk Technical Center and PHCC’s 2021 Plumbing Instructor of the Year. “From day one, he was an inquisitive and insightful plumber, often staying after class to talk more about the trades and help me pick the room back up for the day time students. Nick’s enthusiasm for plumbing has only grown since then.”
Nominated by PHCC of Virginia, Santmyer is described as being flexible and knowledgeable and embracing opportunities to problem-solve. Earlier this year, he placed second in Virginia’s Plumbing Apprentice Competition and was named PHCC of Virginia’s Plumbing Apprentice of the Year.
• Troy Bryant, Pioneer Heating & AC, Knoxville, Tenn., named the 2022 HVAC Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by Rheem.
A 2020 PHCC Educational Foundation scholarship winner, Bryant completed his apprentice training in May 2022 from the Knoxville PHCC Apprentice School.
“Troy had the second-highest grades in school this year and always showed up on time for class looking and acting professional,” said Beth Killen, executive director for PHCC of Tennessee. “As an apprentice, he is constantly and consistently looking to improve and be the best HVAC professional.”
Bryant says he entered the profession because he enjoys working with his hands and believes there is always something to learn or get better at so he can do more to help his customers. His “can-do attitude” and willingness to help other students has garnered him the respect of fellow apprentices, instructors, and company supervisors.
Sponsored by PHCC member Gordy Noe of Pioneer Heating & Air, Knoxville, Tenn., Bryant is skilled in all aspects of HVAC maintenance and service and has “excellent skills.” Noe added that Bryant is a “quick learner … highly efficient … very knowledgeable.”
The luncheon also recognized the hard work put on display by the next generation of skilled trades men and women on full display during the plumbing and HVAC apprentice contests.
In the plumbing contest, Jack Elsbecker, Midwestern Mechanical, Spencer, Iowa, took first place, followed in second place by Scott Hicks Jr., TD Industries, Houston and in third place by Alex Estevez, B Wagner Contracting, Allentown, N.J.
In the HVAC contest, Sebastian Uhde, Magnolia Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, Washington D.C. took first place, followed by Harrison Bosler, Howe Inc. in Sioux Falls, S.D. in second place and Sean Reed, Reddick and Sons Manassas, Va., in third place.
A dedicated team of contractor volunteers arrived two days before the competitions to assemble the competitor test benches, distribute the materials and supplies and setup the testing areas. They monitor the competitions, evaluate the apprentices’ work and provide constructive feedback on each competitor’s performance following the event.
In related news, the PHCC Educational Foundation announced a total of $155,500 in scholarship awards to 59 students who are enrolled in a trade school; apprentice programs or college with studies directly related to the PHC industry. In addition, the Auxiliary Scholarship Committee awarded $31,100 to 10 students.
Also, the Foundation announced that it raised more than $280,000 during the PHCCCONNECT through its Invest in Your Future Campaign. With matching funds from InSinkErator, Ferguson, Moen, NIBCO, and SupplyHouse.com, plus A. O. Smith, Bradford White, Federated Insurance, Rheem, Scorpion Home Services and Viega, the Foundation far surpassed its fundraising goal for this year’s campaign. The Foundation also extended a special thank you to NIBCO, which provided $35,000 donation in celebration of the Foundation’s 35th Anniversary.
In other Foundation news, Cindy Sheridan, the Foundation’s chief operating officer, announced her pending retirement before PHCCCONNECT2022.
In other PHCCCONNECT2022 news, the PHCC Political Action Committee fundraising reception raised more than $30,000 and celebrated PHCC’s many advocacy achievements. More than $30,000 was raised for the PAC. PHCC also recognized PHCC of South Dakota for the 2022 PHCC Grassroots Excellence Award for its advocacy work on preserving building codes and licensure, and New York PHCC for the 2022 PHCC Legislative Excellence Award for their work fighting back against natural gas bans in the Empire State.
Next year, PHCCCONNECT2023 will be held Oct. 25-27 in Cleveland, Ohio. Look for more details as they are confirmed at phccweb.org/connect. l