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This month, Tom and Steve take a look back at the events that influenced the PVF industry in 2018, as well as a peek into what’s in store for PVF Roundtable (PVFRT) members this year.
Tom M. Brown: As we look forward into 2019 with this issue, a look back on the accomplishments of 2018 is appropriate. We made many significant moves to better serve our industry and, specifically, our readers.
Steve, first I want to thank you for your many contributions not only to this publication but for your time and effort given for the betterment of the PVF business.
Steve Letko: I appreciate it, Tom. As we start a new year, one of the biggest PVF industry issues of 2018 was the 301 tariffs imposed by President Donald J. Trump. These tariffs regarding steel, steel pipe, welding fittings and forged-steel flanges have had a positive impact on the domestic manufacturing sectors of our great economy.
Our domestic manufacturers were confronted with a deluge of unfairly priced products imported from all corners of the world, forcing many to close or downsize their facilities. Items critical to the nation’s defense were, and in some cases still, no longer made in the United States.
With the imposition of these tariffs, the manufacturing sector is making new investments, including the reopening of steel mills, modernization of manufacturing facilities and construction of new manufacturing plants — evidence of the positive impact of the long overdue correction to the unfair practices of offshore producers.
The Weldbend Corp., for example, has made a huge investment in new equipment to produce cold-formed carbon steel, low-temperature and high-yield tees. This is an investment of $20 million for a huge press the weighs in at about 1.3 million lb. and is the only piece of equipment of its kind in North America.
In addition to the tariffs, a coalition of domestic manufacturers was successful in their petition against China and Malaysian manufacturers for circumvention and anti-dumping of carbon steel butt-welding fittings. These circumvention schemes enabled manufacturers in China to avoid special import duties as high as 183 percent.
The PVF Roundtable has been amazingly successful in raising money for scholarships for the trades. The shortage of skilled workers, qualified welders, pipe fitters, crane operators, electricians and truck drivers is at a critical stage, presenting damaging constraints in the construction industry.
The successes of the scholarship programs sponsored by the PVFRT and the Mike Rowe Foundation are promoting the trades as alternative career paths for young students.
TMB: In 2018, we welcomed some familiar faces to The Wholesaler magazine. We welcomed Ruth Mitchell as editor in chief, who came to us with more than 23 years of industry knowledge and experience. We welcomed back Morrie Beschloss as our “Industry Emeritus,” and we coaxed Diane Spangler back onto our sales and marketing team for all TMB publications.
We are excited at how these familiar faces bring a great deal of industry knowledge, connectability and familiarity not only to the magazine but to the industry.
SL: You hit a home run when you decided to bring Ruth Mitchell on board. I worked with Ruth during her tenure at the American Supply Association (ASA) for many years as a business owner, as well as my association with The Weldbend Corp.
Ruth is well-educated, possessing exceptional organizational skills. She is well-connected and well-respected in the PHC, HVAC and PVF industries. During her tenure at ASA, she developed personal and professional relationships with key people in each sector of the industries.
Morrie Beschloss and I have a very close relationship. We converse weekly on economic and industry-related issues. Morrie brings The Wholesaler a plethora of knowledge covering world history, economic development, political events that are pertinent to all sectors of the PHC/PVF industry and trade issues specifically related to the PVF industry.
Morrie’s depth and breadth of knowledge of our industry’s history were gained through his experiences as an executive of leading valve companies and his leadership in various industry associations. His experience cannot be duplicated. He is truly an industry icon without an equal. He will be a valued asset to the magazine for years to come.
Diane Spangler and I have been friends for many years. Diane is a talented, well-organized, insightful and true professional person. When she left The Wholesaler, Diane created a vacuum that proved to be difficult to fill. I am pleased you have been able to coax her back into the family.
TMB: The PVF Roundtable continues to grow during 2018 and as an organization has become premier within the industrial PVF sector. Steve, your contributions, the capable leadership of president Joe Pro and all the other volunteer board members have led the group’s very successful events.
SL: The PVF Roundtable continues to grow in membership, particularly due to the popularity of the networking sessions. These meetings are held on a quarterly basis and draw decision-makers from all sectors of the PVF Industry.
Meaningful relations have been developed through a platform designed to accommodate the meeting of new contacts and information-sharing for all disciplines comprising the PVF Industry.
The networking sessions have grown to an average of more than 400 people per meeting, at times exceeding 500. The October meeting had Mike Rowe (of “Dirty Jobs” fame) as the keynote speaker. The more than 600 registrants exceeded the capacity of the Norris Business Center that could only accommodate 500 for a sit-down dinner, so we had to change venues.
The annual PVF golf tournament continues to be a tremendous success that we have scheduled a new venue to accommodate the growing number of participants. The 2018 tournament generated $80,000 for the scholarship program.
Sponsorships for the tournament are tax deductible as it is a PVF Roundtable Charitable Foundation function and complies with 501(c)(3) requirements for deductible contributions.
The 2018 Trout Blast was a blow-out success and generated $100,000 for the scholarship program.
The volunteers for these events are truly the heroes of the PVF Roundtable who work tirelessly without pay to make these events successful and enjoyable for the participants.
TMB: Last year, the PVF Young Professionals division really took off and had great momentum.
SL: The success of the PVF Young Professionals is amazing. Their networking events have all been extremely well-attended; the skeet-shooting event was a fantastic success. The PVFRT board is very impressed by this group and its leaders. These are the people who are the future leaders of The PVF Roundtable and will guide the PVFRT to even greater successes.
TMB: The PVF Roundtable has raised thousands of dollars toward its scholarship fund. What was the final number raised through volunteers and from company donations?
SL: The PVF Roundtable Charitable Foundation awarded scholarships totaling $250,000 for year 2018, thanks to the efforts of our fabulous unpaid, energetic and devoted volunteers.
The 2018 contribution brings the PVF Roundtable’s scholarships to a total of more than $775,000. We are looking to achieve the more than $1 million goal in total scholarship funding in 2019.
TMB: A huge highlight for the PVFRT was the fall meeting and Weldbend’ s sponsorship. Mike Rowe was sensational! The evening was first class and memorable. Jim Coulas and family hit a home run.
SL: Mike Rowe’s contribution to the October PVF Roundtable was a fantastic success. Weldbend Corp., and the Coulas family, were the sponsors of the event — a sit-down steak dinner second to none. Steaks were brought in from Chicago for this event under the instructions from James Coulas Jr., ensuring that guests were served the highest-quality meal for such a special event. Also, each guest received a hardcover edition of Mike’s book, Profoundly Disconnected.
Mr. Coulas invited the PVF Roundtable board of directors to meet with Mike in a private setting. During the meeting, the Coulas family presented a check to the PVF Roundtable Charitable Foundation for $75,000 for the scholarship fund. The Weldbend donation was the largest donation ever made to the foundation.
TMB: We have given the highlights from last year, and now we are off and running in 2019. What are the plans and initiatives the PVF Roundtable has set for the new year?
SL: The PVF Roundtable will hold four meetings during the year. The May meeting will coincide with the PVF Golf Tournament. The tournament will be held at The Woodlands Country Club as we have outgrown The Sweetwater Country Club’s facility.
The October event will include a networking session followed by a dinner with Terry Bradshaw as the keynote speaker.
The Trout Blast will occur on the Thursday and Friday following the October meeting. New accommodations are being made to make this event even more enjoyable. Here’s hoping for good weather and good fishing!
The first three networking events will be at The Bell Tower on 34th in Houston. The venue for the October meeting is yet to be determined. Please refer to the PVFRT website at www.pvf.org for event registration and schedules.
TMB: Looking forward to a great 2019. Happy New Year!