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The Pro Squad
To market, install and service the Phyn Plus devices, Uponor relies on its Pro Squad members, currently about 3,000 professional plumbers who have joined the network since it began in 2017.
Professionals interested in joining the Uponor Pro Squad ranks apply for consideration via a dedicated website. After being accepted into the program, authorized installers receive comprehensive training related to proactively promoting, effectively selling and expertly installing the Phyn Plus device.
Uponor purposefully rolled out the product in 30 initial target markets across the U.S. and Toronto. These markets are urban areas that the company has identified as having the highest prevalence of leaks, water usage and aggressive water conditions. Targeted cities include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Washington, Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Toronto and Minneapolis, among others.
“While we have more strategic partners in certain cities,” says Casey Schmid, senior marketing manger at Uponor, “we are also seeing interest and people around the country raising their hands every day more and more wanting to become involved with the program and get Phyn Plus in their businesses.”
As we noted in our main feature, the Phyn devices have been mainly marketed for the residential market. Undoubtedly, that’s a growth market. As a Wall Street Journal story recently related, water damage to homes is increasingly a result not from weather-related flooding outside the home, but rather leaks from faulty plumbing inside the home.
One in 50 homeowners filed a water damage claim each year between 2013 and 2017, according to Verisk Analytics, a risk assessment firm used by many insurance companies to manage probabilities of claims. Insurers faced a $13 billion water damage bill from insuring homes in 2017. Claims for water damage average about $10,000, according to the report.
“Wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes catch headlines, but the reality is that the number one kind of risk that the everyday consumer has is a water claim,” Jon-Michael Kowall, an executive at insurer USAA, told The Wall Street Journal. “It is lurking in the house.”
“In Florida, water damage becomes a mold issue very quickly,” says Pro Squad member, Ken Jackson, general manager of Aqua Plumbing & Heating, based in Sarasota, Florida. “Depending on the type of claim, a lot of condos and large home are starting to lose their insurance coverage.”
Contributing to the rising risk, more homeowners are putting their laundry room upstairs. Leaks and water damage from these upper units can cause extensive damage as they move from the upper floors to the lower ones.
“We’ve been teaching our techs to educate homeowners on these issues, particularly when they’re in a condo building, for example, with beautiful wood floors,” Jackson adds “Nobody ever pays attention to washer machine hoses and no one ever knows when they will blowout. With condo towers, it doesn’t just take out one condo, it can take out 10.”
Also, the rising number of aging homes with old pipes is causing damage to many homes. But even homes built in the early-2000s can generate big claims since they often have far more appliances with water connections. And in luxury homes, wet bars, water filtration systems, extra bathrooms and other features create as many as 40 points of connection into the plumbing system.
In another pilot program, reported by The Wall Street Journal, USAA is having 6,000 policyholders test water-detecting sensors. Also, AIG and some other insurers are offering premium credits for policyholders who use technology that can help detect water leaks.
“That’s been our big selling point,” says another Pro Squad member, Dave Thomas who runs Sliver Tree Plumbing & Heating, based in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. “Install the product today and avoid a catastrophe tomorrow.”