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Plumbing & Mechanical Professionals of Virginia Chairman James S. Steinle Atomic Plumbing 1377 London Bridge Rd Virginia Beach, VA 23453 757-464-2934; Fax 757-363-8403 firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice Chair Michael Hurt Long’s Corporation 11215-G Lee Hwy Fairfax, VA 22030 703-323-1776; Fax 703-385-7446 email@example.com
Past Chair Theresa Dagenhart Long’s Corporation 11215-G Lee Hwy Fairfax, VA 22030 703-323-1776; Fax 703-385-7446 firstname.lastname@example.org
INSIDE THIS ISSUE Chairman’s Report - Jim Steinle 4 Introducing - Susan Milhoan, PMPVA Executive Director 6 HR - Top Ten Rules Every Supervisor Should Know
PMPV Committee Reports Laurie C. Crigler, Legislative Chair 14 Randy Baldwin, Communications Chair 16 Matt Kemp, Industry Committee Chairman 17 Jason Richard, Apprenticeship & Education Chair 18 Dan Foley, Networking & Mentoring Chair 19 PMPVA Spring Golf Tournament
Committee Chairs Laurie C. Crigler L & D Associates, Inc. 935 Good Hope Church Rd Aroda, VA 22709 540-948-6230; Fax 540-948-5617 email@example.com
Jason Richard Parrish Services 7865 Coppermine Drive Manasass, VA 20109 703-656-2008; Fax 703-656-2006 jrichard@ParrishServices.com
Randy Baldwin Frugal Rooter, LLC 10476 Business Center Ct. Manassas, VA 20110 703-580-5325; Fax 703-392-6343 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Foley Foley Mechanical, Inc. 8390 Terminal Rd., Unit 1 Lorton, VA 22079 703-339-8030; Fax 703-339-8031 email@example.com
Matthew Kemp Aireco, Inc P.O. Box 414 Savage, MD 20763 703-209-7386; Fax 301-953-1962 firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director Susan Milhoan PMPV-VAPHCC P.O. Box 6 Centreville, VA 20122 800-947-7450; Fax 800-947-7415 email@example.com
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SPRING 2013 Volume 78 / Number 1 Senior Editor - Ali Wines Image is the official magazine of the Plumbing & Mechanical Professionals of Virginia and is published four times annually. PMPV does not necessarily endorse any of the companies advertising in this publication or the views of its writers. Image is designed and published by Blue Water Publishers, LLC. Articles and information published in this magazine may not be reproduced without written consent of the PMPV or Blue Water Publishers, LLC. The publisher cannot assume responsibility for claims made by advertisers and is not responsible for the opinions expressed by contributing authors. For more information on advertising, contact Jim Aitkins, Blue Water Publishers, LLC, 22727 - 161st Avenue SE, Monroe, WA 98272 360-805-6474 / fax: 360-805-6475 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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CHANGE IS HAPPENING
Jim Steinle Chairman
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reetings to all of my friends and industry colleagues! As we continue to move through 2013 we see change all around us – starting with your own PMPV Board of Directors! We also see change in business ventures (both opening and closing) and we are always taking actions and/or making changes in the spirit of time! Now, in the spirit of managing time – I would like to give you a brief update on some of the important changes that are happening in and around PMPV! Let me start off with an introduction to our newly hired Executive Director, Ms. Susan Milhoan. Susan brings to our Association an abundance of experience, expertise, and exciting new ideas that will take this Association well into its 100th Anniversary; and yes, the State’s Plumbing Heating & Cooling Association will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2023. This year is our 90th Anniversary, and what better way to move into a new year than with new and exciting talent throughout the board. That said, I would also like to introduce to our readers our newest Board Members and the committees they will chair. Randy Baldwin, the Plumberologist is the owner of Frugal Rooter, and he will chair the Communications Committee. Jason Richard, of Parrish Services will replace Mike Hurt as the chair of the Education and Apprenticeship Committee. Mike Hurt will move into the Vice Chair position. These three gentlemen are all active individuals and will be able to provide great input to help the association continue to move forward into the next century of business. Friends, I would also like to share that we lost a good local supplier in the Tidewater area a couple of months ago. The George G. Lee Company, which had been in business for more than 85 years, closed its doors. We are certainly sorry to see them go, but many of their good employees have ventured to other local suppliers where they are still helping our industry every day. This just goes to show you how resilient our industry is and how well our industry partners work together. Without the team behind the counter and the inside salespeople, all the support that comes with the products we buy would be lost. We, as contractors could never survive without their support and it is definitely appreciated by us all. Finally, as “TIME” is at an all-time high, where you spend your time is most important; and you must spend it wisely. It’s not only important for your business, but the industry trade in which your livelihood comes from. Therefore you must participate and support your local association whenever you can. We can accomplish so much more as a group than as individuals. It is very rewarding and can also be fun at the same time. If you would like to participate and support any of the trade associations such as, PMPV/PHCC, or QSC, please give me a call and let me know. It won’t take much “TIME” to convince you why it would be well worth your time.
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Susan Milhoan PMPV Executive Director
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t’s hard to know exactly what to say when writing to introduce yourself. There’s always the risk of saying too much, too little or the wrong thing entirely. And then there’s the possibility no one will read it anyway. But in my brief association with the leadership of the Plumbing and Mechanical Professionals of Virginia (PMPV), I believe I have joined an association with a unique, dedicated, and committed group of professionals who are helpful, candid and sincere. I am a big believer in the wisdom of Aesop’s Fables. The lessons are simple, wise and easy to apply. You may have heard the one about the guy who buys a donkey with the hope of getting some work done around his farm. The new donkey immediately aligns himself with the fattest and laziest animal in the barnyard, leading the farmer to the conclusion that “you are known by the company you keep.” Of course, the opposite is true as well: working with people who care about their business and their industry and the publics they serve implies that you have common concerns. I am honored to be affiliated with a group such as PMPV and I hope you will find that I share your belief in hard work, the value of fair play, and the importance of continued education. In the months ahead I hope to meet as many of the members as possible. I certainly hope to contribute to the success of the organization and by extension to the success of your operations. I know the workings of associations and intend to learn as much as I can about your businesses, your issues, your challenges and your concerns. I appreciate any insight you might offer! As we move forward, I hope you will feel comfortable telling me what you think both the good and the bad. It is my hope that by learning from you I can help advance PMPV in terms of membership, operational efficiencies, and visibility. I appreciate the trust of the PMPV Board and the valuable guidance offered by them and Ali Wines and Jody Hibbs. Thank you for this opportunity.
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HR – Top Ten Rules Every Supervisor Should Know
ongratulations on your promotion to supervisor! You have demonstrated a set of technical job-related skills that qualified you to become a supervisor. In your new job as a supervisor you will oversee and guide the work of a team of people. But there’s more to it than that. As a supervisor, you are now charged with knowing and following a number of policies, procedures and regulations that are Human Resources related, “HR” for short. But what do we mean? What is “HR” anyway? HR refers to a collection of activities related to the people of a company or organization. It involves managing people and the workplace and typically includes: recruiting and hiring, administering compensation and benefits, training, complying with regulations, and managing job performance and behavior in the workplace. When properly attended to, good HR practices enable employees to contribute at their highest level to achieve the business’s goals. Even if your company has a designated HR manager, “HR” is really a shared responsibilities that relies heavily on informed line supervisors aware of the key role they play in getting the work done effectively, safely, and to standards. This is true for all companies whether large or small. As a supervisor, you need to know that along with “best practices” in HR, there are also several federal and state laws that govern certain workplace actions. To help protect yourself and your company, you need to learn about employment laws and your responsibilities as a supervisor to comply with these laws. With a nod to David Letterman, this article offers a brief introduction to a top ten list of HR “rules” that all supervisors should know and heed. Drum roll please! 10. Know Your Company Policies. If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed the employee handbook; now’s a good time. If your company doesn’t have a handbook, be sure you understand the practices of your company. Pay particular attention to policies regarding vacation and other paid or unpaid leave available to employees. You will also want to know how the company handles employees who are absent or late to work. The watch word here is “consistency.” Company policies need to be applied consistently to all employees. If you let one employee get away with coming in late, but come down hard on another employee, you could find yourself defending a discrimination claim.
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9. Personal Information is “PERSONAL.” As a supervisor you will have access to, and may become aware of, personal information about your employees. You have both a legal and ethical responsibility to safeguard and keep confidential all personal information on your employees. This includes information that may make your employees vulnerable to identity theft such as social security numbers, names and addresses, driver’s license numbers, and banking information. It also includes protecting an employee’s privacy by not discussing their family issues or health information regardless of whether it is volunteered by the employee or disclosed on employment records such as insurance enrollment forms. 8. There Are Legal and “Illegal” Questions. If your role as supervisor includes interviewing candidates for employment or making promotion decisions, you need to know that there are certain questions and lines of inquiry that could give rise to a discrimination claim. No questions should be asked that would reveal a persons’ race, gender, religion, marital status, age, disabilities, ethnic background, country of origin, or age (“Are you married?”, “Any kids?”, “What do you do on the weekends?”). And depending your state, there will be other protected groups. For instance, in California an employer may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and in the District of Columbia, employers are prohibited from making adverse employment decisions on the basis of political affiliation. Sticking to job-related questions is your best bet. You may think a question is just a friendly attempt to establish rapport but you may inadvertently solicit personal information that is not jobrelated. For example, what’s wrong with asking someone where they are from? Seems like a polite question; we ask people that all the time in our everyday lives. True enough, but if the answer is, India, China, El Salvador or some other country, you have just set yourself up for a potential discrimination claim if you do not hire the candidate. They may think they were not hired because of their country of origin. 7. Employees Have Rights. Whether there are Union employees in your company or not, all employees have certain rights under a variety of federal laws. You should be aware of these rights
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to be sure you do not violate them and expose your company and yourself to legal liabilities. The details of all the laws regarding employee rights are beyond the scope of this article, but in general they encompass employee rights related to job safety and health protection (OSHA), equal employment opportunities (EEO), overtime and minimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), family and medical leave (FMLA) and polygraph protection. A summary of U.S. labor laws can be found on the Department of Labor website at http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/ lawsprog.htm. You should familiarize yourself with labor laws along with the Labor Law posting requirements that inform employees of their rights under U.S. laws (See http://www.dol.gov/ compliance/topics/posters.htm) In addition to federal employee rights laws, you also need to be aware of any state laws that cover employees. Visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/state.htm website to learn about employee rights in your state. 6. Equal Employment is the Law of the Land. Equal employment laws apply to both applicants for jobs and current employees. These laws are at both the federal and state level. As a supervisor you are prohibited from making employment decisions based on race, color, religion, sex, age or national origin of the employee. These are known as “protected classes” under Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws. Employment decision under EEO laws includes hiring and firing decisions along with, assignments, pay, training and promotions decisions. In practical
terms, this means that if you only send your male employees for additional HVAC training or give the best work assignments to only one race, you could find yourself responding to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) based on an employee’s complaint. 5. Employees Deserve Feedback. Whether positive or constructive, your employees deserve to know when they are meeting expectations or performing below par. Too many supervisors and managers fail to give their employees feedback or they only give one kind of feedback. But research has shown that feedback, both motivational and formative, is most effective when given separately. To do their best, employees need both. Motivational feedback is also described as “positive”. Tell your employees what he or she did well. This can reinforce good performance and increase the likelihood that it will be repeated. It can help your employee feel confident in their work. Formative feedback is “constructive” as opposed to “negative”. When you tell your employee what could be done better the next time, you are providing constructive feedback. This can help shape (construct) the performance you want to see and increase the likelihood of improvement in performance. Formative feedback is offered to build an employee’s competence in a work task. You will be best served in your role as supervisor if you develop the habit of providing both types of feedback consistently. Be as specific as you can when providing feedback. Try to identity exactly what you liked or disliked about your employees
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work. “Good job!” is easy enough to say, but try breaking that down: “I really liked the way you took the extra time to move that stuff to get to the unit. You made it a much safer work area.” Your employee will know that you value safety and it’s worth a little extra effort to move obstacles. 4. It is Illegal to Hire “Illegals”. All employers, under federal law, are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all employees within three days of the date of hire. This verification is done by completing a I-9 form provided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As a supervisor, you may be asked, on behalf of your company, to examine the documents that must be presented by each new employee. These documents serve the purpose of verifying a person’s identity and eligibility to work in the United States. If an employee is not able to present acceptable documentation within three days of their date of hire, their employment must be terminated. 3. Hire Right, Fire Right. In spite of strong hiring practices, you may still be faced with a decision to terminate an employee’s employment. The goal of all terminations is to have the employee leave the company with dignity and without filing a lawsuit. Your first obligation is to confer with your manager to determine your company’s policies and practices regarding terminating employees. If you are in a union environment, you need to make sure you learn the details of the contract regarding terminating union employees. The union contract will most likely outline a number of actions required before a decision to terminate will
we supported by the union. This may include showing evidence that you provided coaching, counseling, training and discipline in an attempt to address the issue before making the decision to terminate employment. If your company is an “at-will” employer, your company is legally allowed to terminate employment with or without cause and with or without notice to the employee. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. It’s a good practice to follow the same kind of progressive path often found in union contracts. The courts like to see that you provided feedback (and warnings) to your employees and gave them a fair chance to improve. Avoid saying the dreaded words, “You’re fired!” in the heat of the moment. Your employee may respond by filing a wrongful termination suit against you. Instead, check your company’s policies on suspending an employee and then take the time to investigate to get all the facts. Make sure the facts support your decision. Remember, “Fire in haste, repent in court!” 2. Employees Are People Too. Employees leave their jobs because of their bosses more than any other reason. As you face the people challenges inherit in any workplace, remember, it’s not just a tool box that comes to work every day – it’s a whole person. “He doesn’t respect me” is a phrase we hear all too often when an employee is asked about their boss. And no doubt, you want your employees to respect you also. But what does that mean? Do you share a common definition of respect in the workplace? At your next staff meeting, set aside some time to discuss the question, “What does it mean to show each other
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respect on the job?” First, listen and value the ideas and opinions of each person; acknowledge any concerns and challenges they may be facing; and, ask for suggestions on how you can help to address issues. Establishing respect in the workplace is not only common sense and courteous, there are laws that regulate certain workplace conduct that you need to understand. As a supervisor you take on the added responsibility to ensure that you and your colleagues behave appropriately toward one another. Creating or allowing a hostile, intimidating or harassing environment can subject you to personal liability if a claim is made. You must not look the other way if you know of or should have known that someone is being illegally harassed, intimidated or discriminated against. The work place is no place for a “boys will be boys” philosophy. 1. You Are the Company. Perhaps the most significant thing to know as a supervisor is that you are the Company. Your staff will view you as management and the courts may view you as the Employer. This has significant implications. As a supervisor you may be held personally liable for what you do and what you fail to do on behalf of your employees. You may be held personally responsible for allowing an alleged discriminatory practice to occur, for contributing to it, or for ignoring it altogether. Remember too, that the supervisor is usually the bearer of bad news. You may be called upon to announce cut backs, reductions in hours or terminations. This can make you an easy target to be named
in a wrongful employment action claim or lawsuit. And it is not just discrimination laws. You may also be held liable for violating an employee’s rights by not properly paying wages, disallowing certain types of leave, failing to notify employees of their rights or interfering with an employee exercising their legal rights. Personally liable means you can be held personally responsible in a civil action brought by an employee. As a supervisor, you may be a named party to a lawsuit or administrative action either individually or along with the owners or senior management of the company. If a judgment goes against you, you may be required to satisfy the judgment through your personal assets which could include your house, personal belongings, bank accounts, investments and other assets. This article introduced you to the “people” part of your job as a supervisor. You are encouraged to take the steps to learn more about the concepts, laws and strategies discussed in this Top Ten list. Learning more about and heeding these HR “rules” will go a long way toward making sure your experience as a supervisor is richly rewarding and not a pain in the pipes! ￼ This content was developed for the PHCC Educational Foundation by TPO, Inc. (www.tpo-inc.com). Please consult your HR professional or attorney for further advice, as laws may differ in each state. Laws continue to evolve; the information presented is as of April 2012. Any omission or inclusion of incorrect data is unintentional.
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COMMITTEE REPORT: Legislative Committee By Chairwoman, Laurie Crigler
s I write, the General Assembly Session of 2013 is almost at the end. I have been following, with great interest, HB1645, introduced by Delegate Bob Tata. This bill changes the tradesman license renewal period to every 3 years instead of every 2 years. This bill makes sense since our codes change every 3 years and the renewal would coincide with that time period. It passed the House of Delegates and the Senate unanimously and is now ready for the Governor to sign it. There were also two Mechanic’s Lien bills that we watched. HB1436 (Del. Purkey) stated that if there was no Mechanic’s Lien agent on the permit, and the contractor needed/wanted to perfect a lien, then the contractor had to notify the property owner at least 30 days in advance of perfecting the lien. This was cumbersome and not particularly effective and really did not encourage contractors to use their lien rights and we were pleased to see this was left in the Senate subcommittee of Courts of Justice. HB1913 (Del. Surovell) has passed both houses and added information to the Mechanic’s Lien notice to include the contractors’ company name, license number and expiration date. This is great because if this information cannot be verified by DPOR, a lien cannot be perfected. This means that if the “contractor” wanting to perfect a lien is not licensed, that “contractor” cannot perfect a lien. HB1801 (Del. Danny Marshall) cleaned up the way consumers can use the Transaction Recovery Fund. It added a clearer definition of what documentation is needed to be able to file against a contractor through the Transaction Recovery Fund. It also eliminated the requirement for there to be an IFF (Informal Fact Finding). Currently, that is required and Board members must conduct this IFF and a court recorder is required to be present. Many times, (I am told by Eric Olson, DPOR Executive Director of the Board for Contractors), the contractor being charged doesn’t show up and the expenses of having a Board Member and a court recorder there mount up. If a contractor doesn’t show up to defend himself, the expenses
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are still incurred. This bill allows the Board to send notification of a charge and puts the onus on the contractor to schedule a hearing. That should help in curbing expenses which is something the Governor is trying to do. Speaking of expense being cut… the main issue I have been following is a potential regulatory change. The Governor asked ALL departments to try to cut expenses. The DPOR Board for Contractors, our regulatory board, responded by submitting a Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) and part of the NOIRA is to eliminate the Continuing Education Units (CEU) for plumbing, HVAC and gas tradesmen (no other trades - just those three). In PMPV’s opinion, this does not make any sense. The CEU’s give our tradesmen a leg up on the code changes that are instituted every 3 years, keeps them current and maintains professionalism - not to mention helps to keep our Virginia citizens’ health and safety protected. There was a 30 day “Public Comment” period that ended on February 27th. Thanks to the “Alert” sent out to the industry by PMPV, many of you submitted your comments to the Board for Contractors. They will now accumulate all the public comments and decide how to go forward. For all of you, industry wide, who made your comments, thank you. It is important for our regulatory agencies to understand how we feel so they make good decisions. At this point, they will either, go forward and make a “proposed regulatory change”, nix it or change the “intended regulatory change”. This will happen on April 8th at the DPOR Board for Contractors Tradesmen Committee meeting (2pm) and April 9th at the full DPOR Board for Contractors meeting (9am). We will be following this closely and keep you updated. When they decide on what they want to propose, there will be another “Public Comment” period. So stay tuned….. more to come!!!! Remember to join PMPV/VAPHCC, a professional organization which looks out for the public AND the industry. Be part of the solution!
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COMMITTEE REPORT: Communications Committee By Communications Chairman, Randy Baldwin
y name is Randy Baldwin, and I am proud to announce that I will be serving as the new Chairman of the Communications Committee for PMPV/VAPHCC. I am very excited to share my many experiences with this worthwhile organization and I look forward to serving all of its members during the next 2 years. I am always available if needed, and I welcome any ideas any of you may have. As I learn my new role as your Communications Chairman I want to also share with our members how my journey into the industry began! My plumbing career actually started at age 16 where I was hand digging septic system installations as a native North Carolinian. At age 19, I decided to change my career path by enlisting in the United States Navy, but as fate would have it, I seemed destined to become a plumber. I was assigned to the Sea Bees; the Navy’s engineering and construction corps. Upon reporting there, I was asked if I had any construction skills. After admitting that I had been working as a plumber for the past several years, that’s exactly what they had me do. Over the next six years, I worked as a plumber on four different continents before leaving the Navy in 1999. My final duty station was located in Washington, DC, and upon leaving the service I decided to settle down in Northern Virginia. I then went to work for one of the world’s largest plumbing companies, where my military work ethic helped me become the most highly paid and respected technician in the entire organization. At this point in my life, while feeling the time was right for me, I ventured out on my own and founded Frugal Rooter in 2004. In the nine years since its founding, Frugal Rooter has enjoyed both growth and financial success. The company now services both residential and commercial customers in Northern Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland. I am also very proud to share that in 2012 I was awarded Virginia’s Plumbing Contractor of the Year. In my spare time I have also managed to [ 16 ] IMAGE | Spring 2013
become very active in the Northern Virginia PHCC chapter as well as the State PMPV board. I look forward to what the future holds for this great association and I am excited to be among those leading the way to a better, brighter, healthier tomorrow. If you are interested in joining the Communications Committee and helping to better our message both among colleagues, politicians, and consumers – please let me know! We can navigate the future together!
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COMMITTEE REPORT: Industry Committee By Industry Committee Chairman, Matt Kemp
Investing in the future 2012 is behind us and as we move into a new cooling season
your technicians, sales force and management teams are vast. Trade associations, distributors, online and third party companies all offer a wide array of training classes. Whether its code training, specific products and new technology training, sales and marketing classes and management and business resources look to the people you do business with everyday. It is a good idea to take the time and go through the process your consumer would when evaluating whether to purchase a new piece of equipment or your services. Visit the online sellers and consumer organizations and know the questions they will ask when they call. Stay current on technology and industry changes that affect our business everyday. George W Bush once said “You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow.”
what new policies have you implemented that will differentiate your business from the competition? What new skills have your technicians learned that keeps them one step ahead of the industry? What new skills have you learned or adopted to make you a better tradesman? With the endless posturing and uncertainty in Washington, an unstable economy and what looks to be a long fight over spending and budget cuts have you positioned your business to thrive while others struggle? Despite the happenings in Washington and Richmond and all political opinions aside we must continue to move our businesses forward. Having a dynamic and progressive plan for our companies and our industry will be critical to our combined success. As you continue to read in this magazine, training is vitally important to the future of our industry. As our customers continue to become more Maryland and Virginia Listing “educated” and do more research before Zoeller: they buy having a trained and informed Sump, Sewage, Grinder Pumps up to 7.5 HP, Basins, Controls & Accessories workforce is a necessity. With websites, Zoeller Engineer Pumps: publications and even complete Sump, Sewage, Grinder Pumps and Pumping Stations up to 100 HP, Basins, Controls & Accessories government agencies dedicated to Flint & Walling: walking a consumer through buying Submersible & Jet Pumps for wells. Constant Pressure & Booster Pumps a product or service “bringing your A Clarus: game” has taken on more meaning than Advanced Treatment Systems, Effluent Pumps, Septic Tanks Filters, Recirculating Media Filters, Controls & Accessories ever. The more you can differentiate Mustee: your company from your competition Shower Bases, Laundry Tubs, Mop Sinks, Tub/Shower Wall Kits, ADA Grab Bar & Fold-up Seats the higher your close rates will be. This Schier: includes having a post purchase process Grease Interceptors, Oil Separators, Solid Interceptors, Acid Neutralization Tanks Custom Process Systems Quick Fittings/ProBite: in place as well. Rarely does a purchase Push to Connect Fittings. No-lead, Low Lead and Copper end on install day. Satisfaction or Outdoor Shower Company: dissatisfaction with a product or service Stainless Steel Outdoor Showers Systems & Accessories comes when your customer has the opportunity to evaluate whether they Virginia Only Listing made the right choice. Having a plan in State Water Heaters, Symmons, Insinkerator, Chicago Faucets, Accor, Guardian, Oatey SCS, Harvey, and Woodford place to touch your customers after they Praxis Industries: buy; to answer their questions, address Aquarius, American Whirlpool & Comfort Design concerns and resolve any issues and to Please see Web Site for Links to all Factories and full list of Associates ask “what could we do better” is not only Web: www.virginiamarketingassociates.com welcomed but will improve your referral MD PH: 1-301-432-5028 F: 1-301-432-5721 | VA PH: 1-804-569-0360 F: 1-804-569-0361 business. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com The resources available to train Spring 2013 | IMAGE
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COMMITTEE REPORT: Apprenticeship & Education Committee Apprenticeship & Education Committee Chair, Jason Richard
y name is Jason Richard, and I am pleased to announce that I will be serving as the new Chairman of the Education & Training Committee for PMPV/ VAPHCC. I am very excited to bring my many talents to this worthwhile organization and I look forward to serving all of our members during the next two years. I also welcome any ideas and participation with regard to making the committee thrive. To share a little about myself, I was born, raised, and graduated high school in Bremerton, WA. After high school, I enlisted in the United States Navy for a two-year commitment, and while in the Navy I made a West Pac tour, which included Dubai, Thailand, and Hawaii. I was also awarded Airmen of the month in April 1994. In 2000, I moved to Charles Town, WV to be closer to some of my family, and start a new career. And yes, it was then that I found the career change I was looking for and became a plumber! I began working for Parrish Services located in Northern Virginia in October 2000 and haven’t looked back or ever second- guessed my decision! I worked for Parrish Services from 2000 to 2006 and spent the first six months as a helper while learning plumbing, gas work, and HVAC service. Once I got into my own service truck I continued to work hard to excel in plumbing services and gas work. After the 1st year of running a service truck I became a lead gas installer; and in 2003 I was promoted to Plumbing Supervisor. In 2006 I decided to expand my horizons and left Parrish Services to go to work for A-Master Plumbing, which was a small company based out of Amissville, VA. Working for A-Master Plumbing was a great experience for me and I was able to see first hand a lot of different work that Parrish was not doing. Ironically, I came back to work with Parrish Services in 2008, and in April 2009 I was promoted to Plumbing Manager at Parrish Services, which is the position that I currently hold. I have been an active member of the PMPV/VAPHCC for the last 13 years now, and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. I was just voted Vice President of the Northern VA Chapter, as well as Chairman of the Apprentice and Education Committee of PMPV. I’m looking forward to my new adventures with this great association and I’m excited to share my ideas with you all.
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COMMITTEE REPORT: Networking & Mentoring Committee By Networking & Mentoring Committee Chairman, Dan Foley
Closed for Christmas
had a trying two weeks between December 20 and January 2. I love the holidays as much as anyone, but this has always been a difficult time to be in the heating business. My schedule is stressed to the limit as many of my techs take off this time of year just as we are trying to complete a physical inventory count of the shop and trucks. Service calls continue to roll in due to cold weather. DHW tanks and heating systems are stressed to the limit. All the while, holiday guests and clients are home to observe any knock, noise, bang or other idiosyncrasy of their mechanical systems. This year was particularly rough as I was breaking in a new service tech and my two lead techs were off. Situation #1: The Saturday before Christmas, a high-profile client lost heat in two boilers, as well as DHW. I responded that day and found a failed circulator pump in one and a bad ignition and boiler control module in the other. All I had were my hand tools — no parts. The boilers were identical so I swapped the good parts to get one boiler operational and informed the client we would be back on Monday, Christmas Eve, to complete the repair. My goal on Monday morning was to have my available crew work for half the day in the shop completing inventory with one tech available to catch emergency calls. We were also going to track down the part required to complete the boiler repair. If all went as planned, we would all be headed home by noon. If only… I needed to track down an OEM ignition module/boiler control that was specific to that particular boiler. Supply house #1 (the primary distributor of this boiler) did not have it at any local branch. Supply house #2 also did not have it in stock. Both checked with the manufacturer, who confirmed they had it but no one was working in shipping. The earliest it would ship was Wednesday with a Thursday delivery, if I wanted to pay for overnight shipping. My client would be without heat and DHW in part of their home for almost a week, over the Christmas holiday — not acceptable. I called back to supply house #1 and asked them to open a stock boiler and let me rob the part. No go. The reality was that this was not a boiler I typically used and I lacked the
leverage to demand this course of action. Finally, my rep from supply house #2 saved the day. While he did not have the part, he located one of his dealers who did have the part. When all else failed, I knew I could count on a fellow contractor. He gave the part to my tech with instructions to mail him a check. I was so impressed with his trust that I hand-wrote a check and mailed it that day. This runaround ate up several hours and we did not arrive on the call until after 1:00pm. My client was very grateful we found the part and restored the heat and DHW. Unfortunately, my tech and I did not finish the call until almost 3:00pm. So much for working a half-day. I was about three hours late for a Christmas Eve celebration. It’s the price we pay. Lucky for me and my on-call tech, Christmas Day was quiet and uneventful. I thought the worst had passed. I thought… Situation #2: By the Wednesday after Christmas, I figured businesses would be back open with at least a skeleton crew, as we were. I figured wrong. I called a third supply house for some fittings and materials for a boiler replacement that was scheduled for the following day. The counter man informed me that they had the parts but that they could not be picked up until Friday as they were closed for inventory. I would have preferred he didn’t even answer the phone. Knowing that the parts I needed were on the shelf but that I could not have them because inventory was not yet complete caused a slow burn inside of me. Rather than react on emotion, I called my sales rep and calmly explained the situation. Being a professional, he did the right thing. He pulled the parts I needed and gave them to my driver. He then handled the paperwork on his end so as to not cause inventory shortage. Situation #3: Also on Wednesday after Christmas, a client returned home from a week away to find her home at 48°F. We had just installed a new heat pump system over the summer. She had her elderly parents with her and was forced to put them up in a hotel. Needless to say, she was not very happy. I handled this one myself, along with one of my techs. We found a control board not functioning in the air handler. The poorly designed control board had a transformer hard-soldered directly to the board. Vibrations from the Spring 2013 | IMAGE
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motor caused the heavy transformer to break the solder joints creating intermittent operation. The new control board had the transformer mounted separately to resolve this problem. Again, this was an OEM part that had to come from the manufacturer. I called the local rep to order the part. He informed me the manufacturer was closed until January 3! Keep in mind that this was December 26 and we had just installed this system about six months earlier. My client had no heat and was already pretty chapped. No way was I going to tell her she would not have heat for another week. Long story short, several phone calls later, my rep located a part at another distributor in New England and shipped it to us red label. We had the heat back on the following day. While not exactly happy, my client was grateful we had restored her heat and she could now retrieve her parents from the local hotel. Situation #4: At 4:00pm one afternoon, I sent my driver to a fourth supply house to pick up a part my tech needed to take care of a “no heat” call. Knowing D.C. traffic, my driver smartly called ahead to confirm the part was there and to let the company know he was on his way. My driver arrived in the parking lot at 4:32pm and found the door locked. They closed at 4:30pm. He knocked and the counter worker came to the door and pointed to the closed sign. Now remember, he called ahead to let them know he was coming. He even suggested that they go ahead and ring it up and print the ticket to save time. No dice. His persistent knocking finally got the counter worker back to the door. The counter worker informed him that the only way he could get the part was to sign an additional ticket for a $100 after hours re-opening fee. Knowing we needed the part, my driver signed the ticket and got the part. He figured he would let me deal with it in the morning, which I did. My point in re-telling these four stories is not to blame anyone or to suggest that my company is better at solving problems than everyone else. We are not. We make plenty of mistakes. What I do want to highlight is my company’s “common sense” policy. My company has rules and policies so that we can serve our clients in a fair and orderly fashion. This covers about 95 percent of the situations my employees find themselves in and serves them well. When a special situation arises that may go against company policy, I encourage my employees to do what they feel is the right thing to do. Fix the problem first and make the client happy. In almost every case, they make the right call. When they don’t, we discuss the situation, [ 20 ] IMAGE | Spring 2013
decide what a better solution may have been, learn from it, and move on. But I refuse to let rigid company policies get in the way of common sense and good customer service. If you are a manufacturer or distributor and you are in the heating business, you cannot shut down for two weeks over the holidays and expect ongoing support from your dealers and customers. We stock the majority of operational parts for our primary equipment brands but we service many more brands. Even for our primary brands, it is not possible to stock every part. We rely on our distributors, reps and manufacturers to support us. It is reasonable to have a client wait a day while a part is ordered and delivered. It is not reasonable to wait for over a week for a part in the dead of winter. No one wants to work over the holidays, but there are workarounds. If a tiny company such as mine can rotate the on-call duty to take care of our clients, it is not unreasonable for large manufacturers to do the same. Or don’t and complain about how bad business is these days. Dan Foley is president and owner of Foley Mechanical Inc., based in Lorton, Va. FMI specializes in radiant, hydronics and steam systems, as well as mechanical systems for large custom homes. He can be reached at 703/339-8030 or at dfoley50@ verizon.net.
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Bradford White Means American Jobs
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Why Would You Buy Any Other Brand? With no bailouts or special favors needed, Bradford White continues to invest in the future of America. We have you, the professional installer and wholesale distributor to thank for it. Because of your support, we remain an American-Owned company providing American-Made products through Wholesale Distribution for Professional Installation. These ideas work. With the help of a high quality product and practical innovation, we’re building for the future. As proof of this, Bradford White Corporation is growing. In Middleville, MI, we’ve modernized systems and equipment throughout the Bradford White factory. New construction projects include a 100,000 sq. ft. expansion and a 18,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art training facility. Our subsidiaries are growing as well. Laars Heating Systems added a new customer training center and additional factory space while Niles Steel Tank increased capacity with investment in process equipment and tank lining technology.
It all means more American jobs. Of all our innovations, that may be the most important of all.
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