“As of 2015, millennials encompass a majority of the workforce, over half of them are already managers with decision-making authority and direct reports. Despite this rise in rank for many, their success is overshadowed by the fact that they just do not see the promise of purposeful, values-based careers.”
– Deloitte, ‘The Millennial Majority Is Transforming Your Culture,’ (2017)
In 2010, U.S. Census Bureau reports detailing demographics of millennials sparked various business agencies and research entities to learn more about those born between the early 1980s and early 1990s. Various reports have been released over the past decade, many of which center on the sheer size of the millennial generation and its presence in the modern workforce. Millennial-mania did not escape the PHCP industry, as associations, companies and investors have started efforts centered on young professionals. Yet, employment gaps in the trades remains a pressing issue.
To help the industry understand millennials’ interests and needs, recruit future professionals, and build camaraderie across age groups, PHCPPros introduces its inaugural “PHCP Millennials On The Move” series! Meet those making a mark in plumbing, heating, cooling and piping and hear their recommendations for retaining their professional talents and finding others just like them.
Regional Sales Manager Northeast, Liberty Pumps
With more than a decade of experience in the industry, Michael Carfagno has learned the business behind manufacturing plumbing products. Through various career opportunities, he has helped organizations identify and sell new products based on market research, customer polling and market demand. Coming on board with Liberty Pumps in 2016, Carfagno has taken his market area to another level by building strong relationships with customers and reps. His positive outlook and attitude have been key to his success as sales manager for the Northeast region. Prior to his current role, Carfagno served as a business development associate, assistant sales manager, and product analyst at Bradford White. He studied at St. Joseph's University.
What can the PHCP industry do better in recruiting young professionals and fostering a work environment to meet their needs?
I find that my growth in our industry has been enhanced through contact with professionals from all age groups. I have interacted with many of the legends in our trade. That experience, combined with the network generated within my age group, has been very beneficial. As an older millennial, I appreciate the new ideas and concepts that the younger generation is providing. As many aspects of our industry are becoming modernized with new efficiencies, perhaps a PHCP tech symposium would connect all age groups and bring them together. Topics at the symposium could include logistics, sales tools, data management, purchasing and stocking programs, e-commerce, and advertising.
Owner, Carter's My Plumber LLC
Carter’s My Plumber is a third-generation, family-owned plumbing company. The founder’s son and grandson, Kelson Carter, run the business today. The company specializes in services for residential and light commercial applications including water heaters, sump pumps, floods, faucet and toilet repairs and installations, gas lines, water and sewer lines, leaks, garbage disposals, and water treatment and conditioning. Carter started learning the plumbing trade upon graduating from high school in 2009. He worked with his dad and grandfather to learn plumbing installations. Carter went on to trade school while still running his own truck with the company. After perfecting his skills and earning his plumbing license, he moved into the operational side of the business.
What can the PHCP industry do better in recruiting young professionals and fostering a work environment to meet their needs?
The PHCP industry should be a united front in building public awareness about the value of the trade profession. Making the public aware of the value of a trade career will create the momentum to encourage younger generations to get into the trades. Kids are impacted by their parents at an early age when it comes to choosing a profession. Starting at a young age to build kids’ mindsets about the trades is the first step. The more knowledge the younger generation has about the value, professionalism, salary potential and rewards of having a skill, the higher the probability of them choosing a career in the trades. The more value conveyed about the trades in the public’s eye, the more highly regarded the profession will become. For centuries, the role of a father was to train his child to have a skilled trade. It was the source of income and financial prosperity. Over the years, the transition of mindset has been that going to college will make all your dreams come true financially. However, in reality, it’s harder today than ever for the college graduate to find a high enough paying job to pay back student debt. The more the PHCP industry can advertise and build awareness to the younger generation about the pros of being in the trade, the higher chance they will choose a trade at the point of high school graduation. The PHCP industry needs to target the younger generation starting in the elementary school years. Plus, the PHCP industry needs to target the parents and grandparents who encourage their children to choose certain professions. It’s up to us as millennials in the trades to set the bar higher in our industry by displaying the value and integrity of being a skilled professional.
Senior Engineering Design, HOK
An active member of the plumbing engineering community, Jeremy Charmchizadeh is a senior engineering design professional at HOK. Charmchizadeh became active in the industry when he was in college through the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE). In 2013, he earned a B.S. in Architectural Engineering from Kansas State University. In April, he passed the plumbing engineer exam, and he passed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam in 2012. With expertise in mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering, he has worked at Henderson Engineers, Inc., Integrated Consulting Engineers, and DBR Engineering Consultants, Inc. Currently at HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm, he collaborates with 1,700 colleagues to design buildings and spaces that respond to the needs of people and the environment.
What can the PHCP industry do better in recruiting young professionals and fostering a work environment to meet their needs?
Work with the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) to create student chapters at colleges and universities across the U.S. that offer an ABET-accredited Architectural Engineering program.
Technical Project Specialist,
Building Technology, REHAU
As a mechanical engineer with more than 12 years of experience in the HVAC industry, Saeed Danesh’s focus is energy efficiency and comfort in high-performance buildings. A versatile HVAC system designer, Danesh joined REHAU in 2013 working on radiant heating and cooling, snow and ice melting, plumbing and geo-exchange systems. In 2018, he was promoted to be a specialist. Expanding his design experience, his responsibilities include a focus on developing the market by educating engineers and commercial contractors. From schools to senior living and autism centers to airports, he is helping support western Canada’s radiant market as it moved toward higher energy efficiency and comfort targets. Prior to REHAU, Danesh worked at TANVIR TARH Limited, SHAR Limited and LG Electronics. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Energy Engineering from Azad University. He is currently pursuing his PE designation with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (EGBC). Active with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) British Columbia chapter, Danesh delivered a radiant cooling tech talk at the 2019 ASHRAE Vancouver Island Chapter annual trade show. He also leads frequent presentations on radiant heating and cooling for engineering firms throughout western Canada. Additionally, Danesh currently serves on the advisory team of “RAD tool development,” an initiative of the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at University of California Berkeley.
An effective presence in academic environments, such as colleges and universities, where most of the young graduates are planning their future career. Also, facilitate career development by offering interactive programs and offer overseas seminars or even tours to help explore how this industry works in other countries. Social events and fun activities will also go a long way.
Applications Engineering Supervisor,
A creative and empathetic problem-solver, Catherine Diluzio is an applications engineering supervisor for the Siteworks Division at Zurn Industries. In her role, Diluzio chooses to lead her team by the example of her own hard work and dedication. Her work involves managing and coordinating the work of engineers, local drafters, and teams of foreign and overnight drafters located in India and China. Her division is newly formed with a specific focus on developing and growing the company’s trench drain product line. Diluzio is helping to create and implement new programs and strategies to support the division, including process changes regarding quality and speed of customer interactions and the creation of customer drawings. She has been with Zurn since 2016, previously serving as applications engineering supervisor for the Rough Plumbing division. Before Zurn, she worked at FMC Technologies as a mechanical engineer and supervisor for its Penn State Design Center. She came to that company initially as a mechanical engineering intern for two years while earning her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Penn State Behrend. An engineer by day, Diluzio is a performing artist by night as a first soprano with the Erie Philharmonic Choir. She is also involved in the community as a Parish Advisory Board member at St. Jude the Apostle Church and a volunteer for Penn State’s Women in Engineering Day and other STEM programs.
In order to recruit and retain young professionals, companies need to be creative with the benefits that they are providing to their employees. Gone are the days of pensions and spectacular healthcare coverage that were previously all you needed to retain your employees for the long haul. To make your company stand out, you need to come up with creative ways to attract young professionals, and I believe that you get the most “bang for your buck” when you provide benefits that support young families. This could encompass everything from optional flex hours that allow for parents to more easily accommodate the needs of a sick child, all the way up to offering partially paid compensation to ease the burden of maternity and paternity leave, with the inclusion of adoptive parents. Showing your employees that you care about their families proves to them that they can have a successful career alongside a successful personal life, and that is going to attract young professionals to your organization. I am passionate about growing my career and becoming a strong leader in my company in the same way that I am passionate about growing my family and being a good mother to my sons. A company that allows me to do both is a company I want to work for.
Director of Industrial, Gulf Coast,
WOLSELEY Industrial Group
Since 2013, Chris Fadden has been a part of the WOLSELEY team. From pipe, valves and fittings (PVF), to general maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) supplies and supply chain management services, WOLSELEY provides peace of mind to its customers across North America. At WOLSELEY, Fadden has served as Gulf Coast Area Sales Manager Senior National Manager of Oil & Gas Midstream, and Industrial Sales Manager of Ohio Valley. Prior to WOLSELEY, Fadden worked in Outside Sales at Macomb Pipe and Supply. Fadden studied Business Administration and Management at Mount Union College.
I think we as an industry can really increase awareness in our field with soon-to-be young professionals through tradeshows, college recruiting, etc. At WOLSELEY, we have started “WIG U.” This program begins with a college recruiting process where our business unit focuses on recruiting soon-to-be graduates with industrial distribution and business backgrounds. Upon interviewing and being selected, these new hires spend five months training in all aspects of our business including: operating systems, pipe, fittings, flanges, valves, automation, warehousing and MTRs. Another area of focus is internal advancement and training. We focus on providing our associates with continuous training and development to help further their industry knowledge and career. Young professionals are looking for a career not a job. We want to focus on attracting and retaining these professionals with good benefits, promotion-from-within opportunities, and an overall fulfilling lifestyle that creates a positive work-life balance.
Plumbing Technical Leader, Plumbing
Lead Engineer, Henderson Engineers
A leader in the plumbing engineering community and at Henderson Engineers, Lohr describes his leadership style as results-oriented, concentrated, respected and energetic. With more than a decade of experience in designing plumbing systems, he has expertise in domestic water, sanitary, vent, natural gas, and compressed air in addition to medical gas, high-purified water, laboratory gases, and fire protection systems. His expertise centers on his ability to consistently deliver high-quality projects within budget. In his current role at Henderson Engineers, Lohr provides guidance, mentoring, concept design, quality control, and leadership for more than 40 plumbing engineers and designers, predominantly on healthcare and laboratory projects. Prior to working at Henderson Engineers, Lohr served in various roles at Affiliated Engineers, CDM Smith, and KJWW Engineering Consultants. He earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Military Institute, and holds PE, CPD, LEED AP BD+C and ASSE 6020 certifications. In the industry, Lohr is involved with several volunteer associations and has assumed multiple leadership roles. In 2018, he was appointed as the national American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) Young Professional Liaison. With his local ASPE chapter in Phoenix, Lohr is also president and vice president of both the Technical and Legislative committees. Additionally, he is the co-chair of the Piping Industry Progress and Education (PIPE) Medical Gas Committee. Lohr also volunteers outside of the industry with St. Theresa Roman Catholic Parish of Phoenix, St. Theresa Catholic School of Phoenix Boys Soccer Team, and the Arizona Association of Defense Counsel (AADC). Lohr also engages in public speaking at conferences across the country as well as lectures at various higher education institutions.
For our industry to improve our outreach to young professionals, we need to do a better job of outreach on college campuses. We also need the leaders in our industry to actively seek out ways to interact and engage with smart young engineers. Big Tech constantly finds ways to stay in front of the best potential recruits, both at the college and new graduate level. Big Tech managers, such as Julie Zhou from Facebook, speak at conferences specifically to find potential employees. When industry leaders embrace emerging media to make themselves available it offers more avenues to interact with young professionals and make meaningful connections. I think the best thing the PHCP industry can do for young workers to foster the best environment to meet their needs is to treat them the same as everyone else: professionally. I think millennials are perhaps more vocal about wanting feedback, but I have yet to meet someone in the industry, regardless of age, who doesn’t want to improve themselves. In fact, many experienced folks that I’ve given feedback to welcome that when it is delivered professionally. Of course, you always have the possibility of bad apples, but let’s not broadly brush an entire generation on the basis of one example. In my opinion, it’s less about a generation thing; it’s more about communicating more effectively and understanding how to communicate with people individually. Every young generation challenges the generation that is older – it is a story as old as time. The key to me is keeping it all about the relationship between both parties, not about someone’s age, background or any other external factors. Keep in mind there are three types of power: role, expertise, and relationship. Basing directives on seniority (i.e. role power) makes people resentful. Basing it solely on expertise requires the other person to think you are an expert. But, if you base it on a relationship, that's way more powerful than the previous two! Feedback in a relationship is always going to be a bigger driver than perceived power from role or expertise.
Mechanical Engineer, BL Harbert International
An engaged leader, in her current role at BL Harbert International Blair Minyard conducts design and constructability reviews and reports utilizing multidiscipline coordination efforts for a self-performing international construction company. She also supports jobsite mechanical systems construction through procurement and schedule logistics. Wearing another leadership hat, Minyard is also an adjunct professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Engineering, In the classroom, she instructs professionals and students on introductory BIM applications and processes. Throughout her career, Minyard has also held professional roles at Central Station Inc. (CSI), SSOE Group formerly CRS Engineering, Inc., Robins & Morton’s P&I Division, and Jefferson State Community College. She earned at bachelor of science degree in Advanced Science, Civil Engineering & Mechanical Engineering at University of Alabama at Birmingham, associate’s degree in Construction & Building Science Technology at Jefferson State Community College, and associates degree in Computer Aided Design and 3D Modeling at Wallace State Community College. Minyard also holds the following certifications: PE, CPD and CDT. Active in the industry, she is a member of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and International Code Council (ICC). With ASPE, she is currently the vice president of Education on the National Board of the society, as well as the president of the ASPE Alabama Chapter. In her community, she also founded the Birmingham BIM User Group’s Autodesk Group in 2016, and has served on the Jefferson State Community College Professional Advisory Committee for Construction & Building Science Technology since 2011.
It really comes down to a couple of things. First, there is training! Young professionals are seeking out knowledge that is not offered in other places such as formal education. They also have a desire to know how design meets application through hands-on experiences. Second, in order to fully embrace younger professionals, the industry must adapt to the way young professionals communicate within the industry and with each other.
General Manager, Pipe Wrench Plumbing,
Heating & Cooling, Inc.
In her role as the general manager, Whitney Mitchell is gaining leadership training at a multimillion-dollar company with 2019 revenue projected at over $10 million. As one of the youngest women to hold the executive position in a male-dominated industry, she is a representative for millennial and women of opportunities in PHCP. Pipe Wrench Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, Inc. was originally founded in 1998 by Mitchell’s father. She started working at the company in 2006 at age 18 years old. She would work six days per week in customer service, accounting management, and human resources. Mitchell continued into accounting management and eventually transitioned into office management, service management, and finally to her current role as general manager where she oversees all aspects of operations. Mitchel is also active in the community as a member of the Board of Directors of the Better Business Bureau of East Tennessee and as a member of the local chamber of commerce. She additionally volunteers with Second Harvest, Habitat for Humanity, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
A key strategy for recruiting more young professionals would be to educate them that working in this industry offers a viable career option with retirement plans, healthcare benefits, and paid vacation. Plus, there are many opportunities for professional growth and career advancement. Flexibility with work schedules and a family-friendly work culture are other key benefits in fostering a work environment for young people, especially for those with children.
Financial Planning and Analysis Manager,
Hirsch Pipe & Supply Co., Inc.
An experienced analyst, Bryce Moore enjoys numbers and working with large financial data sets. In his current role as manager of Financial Planning and Analysis at Hirsch Pipe & Supply, Moore creates and manages departmental budgets and forecasts for 27 cost centers. Using financial models, he evaluates strategic options, including business acquisitions, sourcing decisions and operational changes. Moore’s previous professional roles with Hirsch included Product Marketing and Finance Analytics and serving as a Financial Analyst. Prior to Hirsch, Moore was the accountant at Flightline Products LLC. He is currently pursuing his MBA with a focus on Entrepreneurship at California State University, Northridge. He earned a bachelor of science in Mathematical Science from University of California, Santa Barbara and an associate’s degree in Accounting from Santa Monica College.
Participating in college or high school job fairs while having clear advancement paths would be helpful. If prospective employees can see a sustainable future with an employer, the job becomes much more attractive. If all they can visualize is an entry-level position, they are likely to select another industry.
Vice President of Administration,
Mid-City Supply Co., Inc.
Dan New’s history with Mid-City Supply dates back to his high school days when he worked in the warehouse. After graduating from college, he explored opportunities as an Outside Sales rep at Cintas, personal banker at Chase Bank, and Marketing Associate at Discover Financial Services. Then, in 2010, New returned to Mid-City Supply as a Warehouse Associate. Working his way up in the company, New has served in Inside Sales, then as Marketing Manager, vice president of Operations, and now as vice president of Administration. In his current role, New oversees the majority of the internal functions of the company’s branches and Elkhart, Ind. warehouse. He also supervises accounting, IT, credit, pricing, internal auditing and marketing. New earned a B.S. in Marketing & Operations Management at Indiana University and a MBA at Indiana University, South Bend. He is also involved with the American Supply Association (ASA). When he’s not busy at work, New enjoys watching sports, being active, and spending time with his family.
The younger generation today is all about communication. In recruiting, have a vision for where they can go in the company and communicate that with them in an honest fashion. Tell them what it takes to get there and give them realistic timelines so there aren’t any surprises later. Communicate your culture. For many young people, culture is as important as anything else in choosing an employer. Once young employees are on board, have an education and training plan and ask what they want to learn. Young professionals want to grow personally and professionally. Give regular, honest feedback. At our recent ASA Emerging Leaders group conference one of the speakers, Jordan Montgomery, said, “Honest conflict holds more value than dishonest harmony.” Younger generations want to know how we’re doing. Let us know where we excel and where we can improve. And, the words “thank you” can go a long way. Communicate what’s going on in the company. We want to know the larger picture and how we contribute to it.
Showroom Manager, Kitchen + Bath Design Studio
An experienced professional in the wholesale industry, Jessica Schussler is the showroom manager for Kitchen + Bath Design Studio, the showroom of Lion Plumbing Supply. Schussler has nearly a decade of experience in the decorative plumbing. A strong sales professional, she started working for Lion Plumbing Supply as a receptionist. She took the role and hit the ground running, now known as one of the most energetic and hard-working leaders in the company. As a dedicated and involved member of the industry, Schussler founded Luxury Products Group’s Youth Executive Officers (YEO) group. Schussler attended school at Florida International University. When not at work, she is at play as a sports fan. Schussler has volunteered with youth football and cheerleading programs in Fort Lauderdale. She is also a full-time fan of the NFL Miami Dolphins.
It starts with the current leaders understanding what a healthy and happy workplace environment means to us, and how things have changed from when they were first getting into the industry. There needs to be a heavy focus on career development so that we feel confident that this isn’t another dead-end job. My generation wants stability; we want long-term. Promoting the longevity of the PHCP industry and showcasing that it remains relevant, necessary, and unable to be taken over by robots, means something to the generation who understands that technology is replacing so many other jobs. Holding periodic reviews to discuss the good and the bad, highlighting where we did well, and setting goals for where we need to improve, all show that a company is investing in us, which in turn makes us want to invest ourselves back and plant roots where we are comfortable, but not bored. We are the fastest evolving generation to adopt technology and run with it, yet the PHCP industry is so far behind the tech curve in how we function and operate on a daily basis. Recognizing the future of the industry and accepting that the “good ole days” of getting things done in this industry have shifted will allow our predecessors to take advantage of the benefits that the younger generations bring to the table. Our tech savviness and ability to multitask makes us more profitable and efficient than any other generation ever was, yet too often I see industry veterans shying away from embracing that. Encouraging better teamwork, making sure the current leaders are teaching and mentoring, not just managing, and helping to develop the skills that will ultimately replace them one day, and creating an atmosphere that is comfortable, but challenging, will allow the inevitable transition to start. I do like what I do, but I love my job and it’s because of my #TeamLion family. Selling toilets isn’t something anyone grows up wanting to do, yet because of the opportunities I’ve been afforded like traveling to trade shows, buying group meetings, networking events, manufacturer trainings etc., along with the friendships I have made in this industry, added to the comfort and flexibility I have at my company, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Accounting Supervisor, Zoom Drain of
Philadelphia and Surrounding Suburbs
Hardworking and highly-motivated, Maryem Wain prides herself on having excellent communication, organization and numeracy skills. As an accounting supervisor at Zoom Drain,
Wain manages accounting functions, assists the accounts receivable team in collecting payments, helps the accounts payable team with bill payments and general ledgers adjustments, supports the controller with maintaining asset lists and creating note payables for leases and loans, and aids in general customer service, payroll, human resources, sales and marketing functions. Prior to joining the Zoom Drain team, she was an accounting clerk, bookkeeper, data entry officer, and accounting clerk. Wain earned a B.S. in Accounting and Finance at Virtual University, Lahore. She is fluent in English, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.
There is definitely a shift in demands and expectations from the workplace and work environment from the younger professionals. Besides promising growth in career and company, being provided adequate training to excel in their expertise, being provided good benefits, pay-rate and incentives millennials also want to create a work-life balance. We care about diversity in the workplace. Young professionals want to be represented. We want to know what company leaders care about. We evaluate if we learn and grow with a company.
Executives need to create the company culture that not only values learning and development, but also creates a diverse workforce to help attract and retain employees. Employees should also be provided with a clear career path by providing them with skilled mentors and introducing new technology to keep them interested. The most important part, in my opinion, is communication. Frequent feedback is needed to not only learn more about an individual’s career goals but also to let them know that the company cares about their personal growth.