2016 October – November

President-elect Donald Trump’s stunning election victory on November 8 is expected to lead to significant shifts in the nation’s financial and regulatory policies that affect the U.S. construction industry. With a Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representatives, changes in other federal policies, such as immigration, may also affect plumbers, heating and HVAC contractors “We have Read More

President-elect Donald Trump’s stunning election victory on November 8 is expected to lead to significant shifts in the nation’s financial and regulatory policies that affect the U.S. construction industry. With a Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representatives, changes in other federal policies, such as immigration, may also affect plumbers, heating and HVAC contractors

“We have seen a continuing increase in federal regulation in the past eight years,” said Jim Tobin, chief lobbyist, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in a pre-election interview with Perspective Media. “Today, a full 25 percent of the cost of a home is due to the regulatory impact at the local, state and federal levels.”

During his campaign, Trump called for a temporary moratorium on new regulations. “We need to give our American companies the certainty they need to reinvest in our community, start hiring again, and expanding businesses,” he said on his website. “I will cancel immediately all illegal and overreaching executive orders and our most intrusive regulations, like the ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule.” That would be followed by a thorough review of “burdensome regulations that are not necessary,” he said.

On the other hand, Trump’s call for tighter restrictions on immigration could have an impact on the construction sector, which relies heavily on foreign workers in many regional markets. Tobin said immigrant labor constitutes about 22 to 25 percent of the U.S. construction workforce. “We need to create a cohesive immigration policy that goes beyond the issue of undocumented workers,” Tobin said.

A focus on jobs

One of Trump’s campaign themes was a promise to create millions of new jobs and accelerate the growth of the U.S. economy. In his speeches, Trump said he would fulfill that pledge by reducing non-defense spending, lowering taxes and imposing penalties for companies that move overseas.

“We will reduce taxes across the board, especially for working and middle-income Americans,” Trump said during the campaign. “We will ensure the rich pay their fair share, but no one pays so much that it destroys jobs or undermines our ability to compete.”

Reducing business tax rates would be a boost to the contracting sector, which is dominated by small companies. Many contractors would also applaud a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare,” which imposed requirements on employers to provide health insurance to their workers. Repeal of Obamacare – with that employer mandate – is likely to be a top priority in 2017 for the new administration and GOP-controlled Congress.

Another issue facing the new administration is reauthorization of the national flood insurance program, which is set to expire in September 2017. “There were no policy discussions on flood insurance during the campaign,” Tobin said. “But natural disasters, like the summer flooding in Louisiana or Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina, are going to continue. We feel this is an incredibly important program for the country.”

Federal energy policy

President-elect Trump has called for making America energy independent, while protecting clean air and water.   In terms of policies, that may translate into greater production of traditional fossil fuels, and less of an emphasis on alternatives, such as solar power.

“We will unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves,” Trump said on his website. “We will open onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands, eliminate the moratorium on coal leasing, and open shale energy deposits.”

He also called for encouraging the use of natural gas and other energy resources that will reduce emissions while also lowering the price of energy. “I want to eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production,” he said.

However, what that energy policy change means for manufacturers and installers of water heaters, boilers, air conditioners and other household appliances remains to be seen. There may be fewer incentives for developing energy-saving technology, but cost factors and consumer market demands also come into play in manufacturers’ product decisions. It’s possible we may see a decrease in demand of specific products and technology in certain sectors, and a rise in demand of others.

2016-election-results-for-construction

An increase in housing starts?

Prior to the election, the National Association of Home Builders forecast a 10.1 percent increase in housing starts in 2017, rising to 1.258 million from 1.143 million this year (see chart). Much of the increase would be in the single-family segment, rather than multifamily housing.

The NAHB also projected a small rise in the Federal Reserve rate, along with an increase in the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage from 3.56 to 3.79 percent.

However, the U.S. and global financial markets, as well as consumer perceptions, could change that forecast. Those financial and market forces will also shape the outlook for the commercial contracting industry in the coming year.

For example, a potential downturn in the stock market could make it more difficult for large, publicly traded homebuilders to finance new subdivisions, rental apartments and condominiums. That could create market opportunities for smaller builders and other contractors who finance their projects using their own resources or loans from local banks.

Homeowners who have lost investment funds and feel their financial futures are uncertain are less likely to purchase new homes or invest in renovations, such as kitchens, baths or add-ons. On the commercial side, the same issues will have an impact on the office, industrial and retail markets, perhaps leading to a slowdown in new construction.

If Trump’s policy on jobs and regulations boost the economy as he predicts, we could see a boom in commercial construction and the housing market to follow if we see an increase in jobs.

In any case, the short- and longer-term impact of Trump’s administration on the contracting sector will become clear in 2017 and even more so in 2018. And as Tobin said, “Homebuilding is a huge driver for the nation’s economy, and NAHB will continue have access to the White House and Congress in the coming year.”

 

When Mid-City Supply set out to install two restrooms to service new office space, Saniflo’s above-floor plumbing solution eliminated the need to undertake a complicated concrete drilling project, saving the business 12 hours in labor. by Tony Bara The city of Elkhart is an oasis of people amidst the sparsely populated countryside of north-central Indiana Read More

When Mid-City Supply set out to install two restrooms to service new office space, Saniflo’s above-floor plumbing solution eliminated the need to undertake a complicated concrete drilling project, saving the business 12 hours in labor.

by Tony Bara

The city of Elkhart is an oasis of people amidst the sparsely populated countryside of north-central Indiana. Known for its railroad museum and nicknamed the “RV Capital of the World,” Elkhart embodies the rustic charm of the American Midwest.

An Elkhart mainstay since 1947 has been Mid-City Supply Company, a family-owned wholesaler that deals primarily in plumbing, HVAC and refrigeration supplies. Besides Elkhart, the company has six other locations scattered throughout Indiana and Michigan.

Growth has been a constant for Mid-City Supply throughout its history. The company currently boasts around 100 employees. When the main branch in Elkhart outgrew office space, something had to be done. “We looked at various places to put new office space, including the front of the building and the warehouse. We finally settled on putting it upstairs near some existing training classrooms,” recalls Dan New, Vice President of Operations and the third generation of family management at Mid-City.

Naturally, the new office space needed new restrooms to save employees the hassle of running up and down the stairs. The decision of which plumbing system to install was rendered relatively quickly, according to New. “We really did not want to drill through the concrete floor to install the plumbing,” he says, “As a result, we turned to a solution that we have been stocking at our supply house for the better part of 10 years — the above-floor plumbing option from Saniflo.”

Above-floor plumbing systems eliminate the need to break through a concrete floor to install drainage below. A macerator or a grinder located behind the toilet reduces the waste into a slurry and pumps it through small-diameter tubing straight to the drain line. Above-floor plumbing systems, which can also handle drainage from sinks, tubs and showers, can be used to create restroom and bath facilities in garages, basements, attics, warehouses — anywhere conventional plumbing might prove difficult and therefore costly to install.

Ryan Hendershott, a licensed plumber with Schreiner & Sons and the installing contractor on the Mid-City job, says the restroom application was well-suited to an above-floor installation. “In this case, short of choosing a different location for the restrooms altogether, above-floor plumbing was the least-complicated solution, due to the concrete being there.”

New ended up choosing the Sanibest Pro heavy-duty grinding system for both the men’s and women’s restrooms. The 1-HP grinder can pump up to 25 feet vertically when it is installed below the sewer line; or nearly 150 feet horizontally to the sewer stack. It is specifically engineered to handle the accidental flushing of larger sanitary articles and other items a conventional plumbing system might struggle to handle. “Working in a commercial setting, we wanted to ensure that anything we flushed, intentionally or unintentionally, got taken care of,” explains New.

Straightforward Installation

Beginning in August 2015, the Elkhart installation came on the heels of another above-floor plumbing project in Mid-City’s new Kalamazoo branch last spring. “We were confident in our decision to choose this plumbing solution after our experience in Kalamazoo,” notes New.

To minimize the level of flushing noise in Elkhart, Hendershott installed the grinder unit behind the wall. He also installed the elbows for the pump’s ejection line at a 45-degree angle and used 3/4- inch pipe. “The smaller the pipe’s diameter, the less noise it will tend to make,” explains Hendershott.

Located on the building’s second floor, the unit pumps the waste slightly upward before gravity takes over and moves it to the drain line. A below-floor installation would have been significantly more labor-intensive and expensive, not to mention messy. According to New, by choosing the above-floor option, Mid-City Supply cut installation time by 12 hours.

Overall, the Elkhart installations went smoothly and without any major complications. It took roughly five hours to complete the job per restroom. “There were no hiccups, especially with the Kalamazoo installation under our belts,” affirms New. “A successful installation really comes down to two things: the type of application and the plumber’s experience. We had a fairly straightforward application and an experienced plumber, so there were no issues.” The bathrooms were finished in October 2015.

New is pleased with the units’ performance since the installation. “Above-floor plumbing is certainly a niche category, but this brand is the best within that category, and the installation turned out great” he comments. “Some plumbers are still hesitant to switch to this style of plumbing, preferring conventional methods that they are more comfortable with. Nevertheless, above-floor plumbing has certainly proven itself to be simple, reliable and cost-effective many times over

By Siobhan Ashleigh How many horror stories have you heard about home contractors who didn’t do their job well? Invoice2go, a mobile app that allows small business owners to track work and get paid, recently conducted a study of 803 US homeowners that revealed more than 75% of people have had a negative experience working Read More

By Siobhan Ashleigh

How many horror stories have you heard about home contractors who didn’t do their job well? Invoice2go, a mobile app that allows small business owners to track work and get paid, recently conducted a study of 803 US homeowners that revealed more than 75% of people have had a negative experience working with contractors for home projects. Such terrible experiences have inspired consumer watchdog websites like Contractors From Hell.

According to the homeowners’ survey, a job badly done was the top reason for dissatisfaction, but not the only concern. For plumbing contractors, even if you do a job well, there’s a lot more to giving your client a positive experience, including communication, accurate billing, and convenient payment methods. Every plumber must establish trust with their clients. How? Ranking 2nd in the survey, a full 30% of homeowners cited lack of communication as a reason for their negative experience. To build trust, good communication is essential. Here are 5 tips to help you stay connected to your clients every step of the way:

Be upfront about the job’s timeline and any potential hurdles

Plumbing contractors aren’t traditional employees, so your client won’t be privy to every aspect of your business. Make sure you have more than a verbal contract and handshake. Prepare a contract that specifies deadlines and contingency plans in case something goes wrong. You can hire a lawyer to do this for you, or use an online template to help you build one, like this on Rocket Lawyer.com.

Be professional, but be yourself

From “How to Build Customer Trust” on Inc.com:  Jerry Acuff, author of The Relationship Edge: The Key to Strategic Influence and Selling Success says “Every meeting should be a conversation, not a sales pitch. Spend at least half of every customer meeting listening. And make certain the conversation is substantive and about real business issues, not just office patter or sports chit-chat.” However, do get to know your clients. Be curious (to a point) about their lives outside of your business relationship. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How are the wife and kids?”

Provide a professional estimate before agreeing to take on the project

When clients are hit with unexpected expenses, chances are they won’t be calling on you again. This means you need to do your homework and be prepared well ahead of time with all expenses. Look beyond your own business – make sure any subcontractors you work with are also upfront about costs so you’re not having to pass on those surprise expenses to your client.

Use visuals

Most clients are tech savvy nowadays, so attach photos to emails to show your progress on the project. Use a receipts capture app to attach photos to all receipts. Be ready to break down all costs (materials, time, overhead, etc.) to clearly show what your client’s money is going toward.

Love what you do                                                                                                                               Former MLB player and manager Tommy Lasorda said, “If you love your job, you haven’t worked a day in your life.” If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing as a plumbing contractor, then why are you doing it? Sure, you’re going to have bad days. But overall, you should feel good about what you’re offering. When you value what you do, clients will pick up on your commitment and passion. It will further open your mind to meeting exactly what they need.

As a plumbing contractor, you must work at establishing trust right off the bat with each client you serve. Good communication is vital for this to happen. When you’re honest and open about every step of the project, clients won’t be left in the dark, wondering if you were their best option. Leave them with no doubts and no reason to not contact you again!

Do sweat the small stuff

Plumbing contractors don’t have a well-known company name behind them to help gain a client’s trust. When you work for yourself, you are the face and brand behind the company. So it’s all on you to ensure clients that you have what it takes to get the job done right.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “The devil is in the details.” That’s especially true for a plumbing contractor. Even the smallest of details can mean the difference between gaining or losing a loyal customer. According to a recent survey of 803 US homeowners, the top behaviors that positively reflect the credibility of a service provider are small things we might take for granted:

  • Cleaning up after a job – 85%
  • Showing up on time – 84%
  • Presenting a professional estimate – 78%
  • Collecting and providing receipts – 61%

You might be thinking this should be common sense, but when your schedule is full and you’re juggling family, budgeting, recordkeeping, and all the other nuances of your work/life balance, it’s easy to let some of these things slide. How can you ensure these simple things are rarely (if never) overlooked? Here are some tips.

  1. Clean up (and work) smarter, not harder – Before you begin a job, designate a specific place for all your tools and equipment so they’re not scattered all over the job site. This goes for tech-based jobs too. Laptops, headsets, thumb drives, CDs, etc. – keep them within reach so you don’t have to be up and down looking for them, which wastes time and adds needless frustration. For more physical jobs, clean up as you go if at all possible. Also, make sure you have the proper equipment to clean with. Think ergonomic, dependable equipment that doesn’t require a lot of fuss. This article from Dan MacLeod shares ten important principles when it comes to ergonomics on the job.
  2. Being prompt is not old-school – There’s no such thing as being fashionably late when it comes to a small business owner’s work. Woody Allen is credited with saying, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Make it a point to always be on time. Be careful with scheduling jobs in the first place so you’re not overbooking yourself. It’s better to have a little down time between jobs than to have so much work you can’t make the client’s deadline. Use calendar apps on your mobile devices to set alerts ahead of start time so you’re not caught off guard and have plenty of time to prepare and travel if necessary.
  3. The power of a good-looking estimate – In the old days, handwritten estimates on carbon-copy paper were adequate. Not so much anymore. In the digital age, you need to be prepared to send estimates that are not only accurate, but look professional. Apps like Invoice2go allow you to do just that. You can add your company’s logo and email (or print) your estimate and send it to your client. Even better, this video shows how you can easily convert estimates to invoices with the same app so you don’t have to do everything twice.
  4. Don’t toss the receipts – For most of us, our first impulse is to toss receipts into a purse or wallet, where we plan to fetch them later, but lo and behold, they’re often lost to the ages. Designate a spot to store paper receipts for your job, like a zip pouch or other secure container and put in your receipts the moment you get them. If you just hate dealing with paper, use receipt capturing apps on your mobile devices to take digital photos of them. Either way, you’ll always know where they are so you can easily show the client where their money is going. Remember, transparency with billing is crucial to gaining a client’s trust.
  5. Don’t forget the legal stuff – In a perfect world, we could work and handle everything in our own bubble, but that doesn’t provide you any legal protection should you need it. Make absolutely certain your business is legit on paper – your business name is registered with the state, you’ve got a tax ID number and any necessary licenses and permits. That way, you’ve got some security should you ever come to a legal dispute with a client. The Small Business Administration has some great advice about these legal necessities.

While a job well done is the most important goal, don’t neglect the little details. Just one lost receipt or late deadline can keep you from securing more work. So, pay attention to the small stuff to establish more credibility, and the big stuff will be that much easier.

About Invoice2go

  • Invoice2go is a mobile app that makes it easy for small business owners to track work and get paid.
  • It’s the number one grossing business app in more than 50 countries
  • Used by more than 200,000 customers to send $1 billion in invoicing every month
  • Customers: Used by every type of business owner. (Contractors from landscapers, plumbers, electricians, and construction workers, to independent businesses like dog walkers, makeup artists, DJs and caterers, etc.)
  • Available in 11 languages
  • Website: https://invoice.2go.com

invoice2go-app

Back in 2012, Scott Smith had a vision and philosophy about serving customers. After becoming a master plumber several years he was looking to take his 20 years of experience as a master plumber to start his own business and make that vision reality. He, his wife, Trina, and his daughter, Anja, would complete a Read More

Back in 2012, Scott Smith had a vision and philosophy about serving customers. After becoming a master plumber several years he was looking to take his 20 years of experience as a master plumber to start his own business and make that vision reality. He, his wife, Trina, and his daughter, Anja, would complete a trio of experts to serve the greater Greenville, South Carolina area. They hold fast to their motto in every detail and with every customer: “The Plumbers who keep their promises.”

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Plumbing Perspective spoke with Scott’s daughter and All Clear Plumbing’s Marketing and Business Development Specialist, Anja Smith, to understand what has made their company so special and able to grow so rapidly. “My favorite analogy for the three of us is the three-legged stool.” said Smith. “We each stand as a pillar in our strength as a team member. There is very little overlap in our capabilities, but together, we are unshakeable.”

Between the partners there are very few weaknesses and where there are, they have designed the company to utilize one another’s strengths for the business to run like a well-oiled engine.

Scott acts as their master plumber, field manager, estimator, and training leader. Having a master plumber is the ultimate puzzle master in the field for All Clear Plumbing as they view service plumbing somewhat like a puzzle, with pieces behind walls or underground. “Sometimes you just need that level of expertise in the field.” said Smith.

Scott’s also very involved in shaping the direction of the company as it relates to the mission and the execution of jobs. All Clear Plumbing’s values really come from his vision of how a plumbing company should be run. That being said, he does not have that same experience on the business side. So, when it comes to finances, marketing, and human resources, they rely on the special expertise of Trina and Anja.

Philosophy in action

As amazingly simple their concept is, it’s probably their number one secret of success. “We keep our promises.” Said Smith. “If we say we are going to fix it for X price, we do. If we say we are going to be there, we are. If we say we will call, we do. Any time you enter into a transaction, you are making a promise. The customer promises to pay you in exchange for the promise of solving their problem. That is basic commerce. Yet, it is amazing how often we are someone’s second or third attempt at fixing a problem and we hear, “Yeah, but are you actually going to show up?” Never mind on time, just are we going to show up! It really boggles my mind how people run businesses this way, but it happens.”

It’s something that All Clear Plumbing drills into their employees too. They are making promises to the customer and they take that seriously. Employees understand how sacred the schedule is because the company’s promise is on the line. And All Clear Plumbing keeps them. And they don’t do maintenance contracts or anything similar because it doesn’t fit their culture or philosophy of keeping their plumbers free from becoming salesmen.

From an employee’s perspective, All Clear Plumbing is a bit of an anomaly in their market. They exclusively serve the plumbing market with a mix of both commercial and residential services. They pay their employees hourly wages, have a full benefits package, and most importantly, work as a team. Their highly skilled employees are motivated to practice their craft in plumbing, not sales.

“That honestly doesn’t exist at another company in town. In some markets, that may not be anything special. But around here, the commissioned “technician” model prevails in service.” said Smith. “This often leads to “competition for pay” and outsourcing independent plumbers with 1099 status for many other contractors.”

It’s exactly this difference in employee motivation that creates such a different experience for their customers. “We have a fair hourly rate because we hire good, experienced plumbers who work efficiently and effectively. Customers don’t have to worry that a plumber is going to come in and push a service they don’t need.” Said Anja. Bonuses are structured around productivity rather than sales. In fact, needless upselling is a fireable offense as noted in their handbook.

One of the ways All Clear Plumbing conveyed their value to customers from the beginning was to let them know that they have plumbers, not technicians. “Since South Carolina doesn’t have any licensing for technicians in the state, that dialogue We hire plumbers, not technicians has hit home with our community.” Smith said. “We also like to say that the title “technician” is pronounced with a silent “sales” at the beginning.”

A focused vision to keep their promises

Most services they perform are via commercial work through residential property managers and specialized plumbing services for restaurants and banks. Commercial customers have a higher volume of need and are interested in forming a vendor relationship with All Clear Plumbing. Anja does a great job pursuing these relationships through various networking strategies and knows the payoff over several years will be multiple jobs. “It just makes sense for us and our available resources. The best way to ensure we can keep our trucks busy full time is a focus on recruiting commercial customers.” said Smith. Most of their residential customers come from word of mouth and online review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List, where they have a fantastic reputation that speaks for itself.

In addition, their focus is on service and they stay clear of performing remodel or new construction work. “If it involves the phrase “rough in” we aren’t interested.” Smith said. That can be hard to describe to customers, but in order to keep their “promises” they have to manage their schedules effectively. For instance, with five trucks on the road, if half of their crew is tied up on a remodel job for four to eight hours a day, three days a week, this offers very limited flexibility in the trucks they can run calls with which makes their response time to emergencies longer. “My schedule is too tight for my call volume. In order to serve our customers well, we need to have the scheduling flexibility that service plumbing demands.” added Smith.

A growing fleet with experience and technology

Including the three owners, they currently have 11 employees and growing. In fact, they are growing faster than they ever imagined. They have 5 service trucks, three apprentices, a manager’s truck, two full time office workers, and one part time office worker and looking for someone to join their office team because the call volumes are becoming unmanageable for one person to handle. They may add a sixth service truck soon as well. But the last time it took them six months to find a skilled plumber to fit their philosophy on serving customers.

They are also working with an organization in town to put together an internship program for summer. Perhaps taking upper class high schoolers coming in for three to four weeks and working about 40 total hours, mostly in the field but also in the office and in community relations.

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For a company of their size, they have a lot of fun toys as well. “Early on, we knew who we wanted to be able to go up against and what their capabilities were. We had to be able to go toe-to-toe, and that has created a culture around technology application. So, that includes everything from back of house operations to locating equipment, leak detection, hydrojet, camera inspection machines … the works.” said Smith.

There’s a few technologies they have considered but have passed on because their market volume doesn’t make sense. They don’t buy new technology just for the sake of it. “We visit the trade shows and go to local seminars to keep up with the curve, and then spend our budgets well.” she said.

Training and education is also highly important to All Clear Plumbing. However, continuing education is not a requirement in the state, so the opportunities aren’t as good as they are in other states. “We have a US Department of Labor approved apprenticeship program, so there are internal clinics that we do for that. But for our more experienced plumbers, we rely on demonstrations at our local supply houses and keeping up with trade publications.” said Smith. This lack of opportunity though is one of the reasons they became a founding member of their state Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors Association chapter. Smith sits on the PHCC board and helped shape the strategic mission of the organization. Education is the chapter’s number one priority.

Adding value to the community

All Clear Plumbing has a rather unorthodox approach to marketing. Their goals boil down simply to this: adding value in the community. To them it’s not about writing sponsorship checks, but by being present and a leader in the community. So, not only do they join community groups including the local chambers, they are active in them, participating in luncheons and volunteer at events.

Probably their most out-of-the-box idea to date is their podcast. Smith noted, “As I was trying to figure out how to be a better referral partner to our commercial customers as well as provide value for the community, this weird idea struck me to start a local podcast.”

“I created a locally focused podcast, not about plumbing, but about our area. It’s about uncovering the best kept secrets, things to do, resources, non-profits, and the topics vary. I interview local professionals who I trust to provide excellent advice and insight and every single episode is sponsored by our company, complete with a plumbing tip of the week.” added Smith.

It’s a long-term strategy for All Clear Plumbing. Building an audience takes a long time but it meets the goal of adding value to the community while being a good corporate partner to their commercial customers. “It’s a win-win-win for everyone, and a ton of fun to pull off.” she said.

They started their company with a passion and a drive to be “the plumbers who keep their promises”. This philosophy has grown their business so rapidly they are reaching a threshold where processes and procedures matter to sustain this high volume effectively and efficiently. It’s about fine-tuning to make sure they are running like well-oiled engine. Their focus thus far has been on external consistency and building a nearly flawless reputation. Now they are working to make sure internal processes are in order so they will always maintain their now famous reputation of keeping their promises.

Showcasing Our Industry’s Past and Future, you need to visit The Plumbing Museum, dedicated to the history, progression, and advancements made in our industry, the plumbing trades. There’s a museum dedicate to nearly everything under the sun, why not for plumbing? After all, where would we be in the world without the health benefits of clean Read More

Showcasing Our Industry’s Past and Future, you need to visit The Plumbing Museum, dedicated to the history, progression, and advancements made in our industry, the plumbing trades. There’s a museum dedicate to nearly everything under the sun, why not for plumbing? After all, where would we be in the world without the health benefits of clean water and proper sanitary systems?

Located in Watertown, Mass., it began back in 1979 when Russell Manoog took his father’s vast collection of antique plumbing products to start the American Sanitary Plumbing Museum. It has since gone over several transformations. Under the direction and vision of J.C. Cannistraro, along with the operational help of the Plumbing & Heating Contractors Association of Greater Boston, the Plumbing Museum was substantially upgraded in 2007 within a stunning, fully renovated ice house.

Plumbing Perspective reached out to Linda Veiking at The Plumbing Museum to discuss its history and role in the industry. “The museum is dedicated to the heritage of the plumbing industry and is driven by its mission to educate generations young and old about work in the trades.  There is no other Plumbing Museum in this country, and I don’t believe there is another in the world that I am aware of.” Said Linda. The Plumbing museum is a great place for young people to learn about the importance of sanitation and the need for people in the trades. There is a growing shortage of young people entering the trades to become skilled plumbers and the museum is a great bridge to help encourage and inspire children and even young adults to enter the trades to become a plumbing professional.

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The museum’s traffic has steadily increased over time being featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal in December 2013, local TV in Boston, and will be featured in an upcoming episode of “Mysteries at the Museum” on the Travel Chanel. The museum not only receives plumbers and tradesmen from all over the country, they are regular hosts to “Technical High Schools, senior citizen groups, elementary schools, and the Cub Scouts.” added Veiking. In addition, “We have hosted many corporate meetings, baby showers, wedding showers, birthday parties, holiday parties and believe it or not we have had 3 weddings here.”

The nostalgic atmosphere of the museum showcases items from the eighteenth century including a washdown flush toilet, a Kohler electric sink, and a vintage earth closet. “Some artifacts are from the 19th century right up to today’s modern toilet that I say “does everything but cook your supper for you.” Adds Veiking. There’s a unique library full of educational and entertaining books, catalogues, and trade journals throughout the history of the plumbing trades.

The Plumbing Museum is greatly supported by multiple private and corporate sponsors such as the Kohler family.  “We held a gala three years ago and picked three of the High Schools that came to visit and asked their teachers to make a “Wish List” of things they would like in their classroom that the schools were just unable to buy for them. Through our sponsors and vendors, we were able to fulfill all the items that these teachers had on their lists.  We were also able to contribute money to “Building Pathways”, a pre-apprentice school for the trades. You should have seen the look on these kids’ faces when we brought these modern up-to-date tools and machines for them to work with. It was just heartwarming.” Said Linda. “We will be hosting another gala in 2017 and again, pick three different schools to help through our various sponsors and vendors.”

Future growth is still anticipated for the museum. “We are now planning an exhibit about the “Importance of Sanitation”, not only in our county but for countries around the world. There are 2.6 million people in this world today without any sanitary means and it’s 2016!” Said Veiking.

They also recently launched the Manoog Family Artist in Residency Program, a new cultural initiative designed to support careers in both the arts and trades. The program provides artists with the financial and physical resources needed to explore the relationship between art and industrial technology. Named after the founding family of the Plumbing Museum, the Manoog Family Artist in Residency Program offers artists the opportunity to harness their passion and creativity to produce meaningful artwork, develop their skills and give back to the community, all within the space provided by the Plumbing Museum and its partner organization J.C. Cannistraro. By the end of each residency, artists will develop lasting artwork for themselves, the museum, and the community. It helps the museum fill its mission of building awareness for the plumbing industry.” Artists are provided with full access to studio workspace, fabrication and welding resources, materials and a cash award.

So the next time you are in the Boston area, make sure you check out The Plumbing Museum. It’s a key piece in the history and future of or industry. It’s available seven days a week for events and group visits. Contact Linda Veiking at 617-926-2111 to plan your next visit.

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