Featured Articles

Navien enters non-condensing market with two new models On October 9th mechanical-hub.com was invited to the formal announcement of Navien’s newest tankless offering, the NPN [Navien Premium Non-condensing] series of tankless water heaters. Navien has held the number one spot for tankless sales in volume for condensing units, this is a first for them having Read more

Navien enters non-condensing market with two new models

On October 9th mechanical-hub.com was invited to the formal announcement of Navien’s newest tankless offering, the NPN [Navien Premium Non-condensing] series of tankless water heaters.

Navien has held the number one spot for tankless sales in volume for condensing units, this is a first for them having never before offered any non-condensing models in North America. When asked what the target market is for their new non-condensing models is VP Eric Moffroid stated “we are targeting the new construction, multi-family and retrofit segments of the market.” Moffroid went on to point out the many features that set Navien’s offering apart from other competitor’s models already in the market. “We are the best at stainless steel heat exchangers, we build them in-house and have multiple proven designs at work in homes and commercial properties all over the world. The NPN model line continues this concept with a totally new heat exchanger and burner system, all made from stainless steel in our factory in South Korea.”

All the details of the two models are shown by Navien’s National Training Manager Dave Hoskyn in the video below. If you have any questions please leave them here below.

The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association’s (PHCC) Educational Foundation is proud to announce the winners of the national plumbing and HVAC apprentice contests. The contests were held October 2nd & 3rd in Indianapolis, Indiana on the tradeshow floor during the PHCC—National Association’s CONNECT 2019 event. A total of nineteen plumbing and ten HVAC apprentices from Read more

The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association’s (PHCC) Educational Foundation is proud to announce the winners of the national plumbing and HVAC apprentice contests. The contests were held October 2nd & 3rd in Indianapolis, Indiana on the tradeshow floor during the PHCC—National Association’s CONNECT 2019 event. A total of nineteen plumbing and ten HVAC apprentices from across the nation took part in the contests.

The HVAC competitors were required to complete a written test, demonstrate proper brazing techniques and perform a hands-on diagnostic on an HVAC package unit, with system errors created by the Foundation’s contractor volunteers for the competition. The competitors also had to perform a pressure and leak test, demonstrate proper refrigerant recovery procedures and the ability to accurately take a variety of instrument readings.

2019 HVAC Apprentice Contest Winner Kyle Robert Dennis

2019 HVAC Apprentice Contest Winner Kyle Robert Dennis with Foundation Chair Craig Lewis and HVAC Contest Committee Chair Scott Balmer

HVAC Apprentice Contest Winners

  • 1st Place: Kyle Robert Dennis, Pipefitters Local 539/Yale Mechanical in Saint Francis, Minn., Sponsored by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).
  • 2nd Place: Nicholas S. Cruz, UA Local 393/Pacific Coast Trane in San Jose, Calif., Sponsored by Emerson.
  • 3rd Place: David Wark, Lee Company in Pulaski, Tenn., Sponsored by Rheem.

The plumbing apprentices were required rough-in a bathroom system. The set-up includes a toilet, sink and shower, complete with supply, waste and vent lines, plus cleanouts and extra features designed to test the contestants’ knowledge and skills. The test set-up includes a variety of pipe materials – cast iron, copper, PVC and PEX, and corresponding joining methods.

2019_Plumbing_Winner_Christopher_Redfern

2019 Plumbing Apprentice Contest Winner Christopher Redfern with Foundation Chair Craig Lewis and Plumbing Contest Committee Chair Jim Steinle.

Plumbing Apprentice Contest Winners

  • 1st Place: Christopher Redfern, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 553 in Staunton, Ill., Sponsored by RIDGID.
  • 2nd Place: Mark Morcos, Eastwick College of HoHoKus Trade School in Bushkill, Pa., Sponsored by Tyler Pipe.
  • 3rd Place: Carter M. Hagen, UA, Local 25 in Davenport, IA, Sponsored by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).

A dedicated team of contractor volunteers arrived two days before the competitions to assemble the competitor test benches, distribute the materials and supplies and setup the testing areas. They monitor the competitions, evaluate the apprentices’ work and provide constructive feedback on each competitor’s performance following the event.

The contests are made possible by the generous support of several industry sponsors who provide monetary support and in-kind material and tool donations. Sponsors for the 2019 competition include, with headline sponsors appearing in bold: AB&I Foundry; AHRI; A.O. Smith; Bradford White Corp.; BrassCraft Manufacturing Co.; Chemours, Copper Development Association, Inc.; Delta Faucet Co.; Emerson; IAPMO, Kohler Company; Mechanical Hub Media; Milwaukee Tool; North American Technician Excellence (NATE); NIBCO INC.; Oatey; PHCC-National Auxiliary, Reed Manufacturing Co.; Rheem; RIDGID; State Water Heaters; Tyler Pipe & Coupling; Viega, LLC; and Zoeller Pump Company

Milwaukee Tool made a major contribution to the Apprentice Contests this year by donating most of the tools needed by the contestants for the competition. This gift allowed the competitors to skip the trouble of shipping their own tools and to go home with a new set of tools to power their work long after the competition ends.

“I’m proud that we can present this opportunity for the apprentices to show off their skills,” reports Foundation Chair Craig Lewis. “The contests give these participants a chance to get away from home, be a part of a national event and see that how much support all of us in the industry are putting behind their success. It can be the experience of a lifetime. I am so thankful for the sponsors and the hard work put in by our volunteer committee members and staff in pulling it all together in a new exhibit hall every year.”

The Week in Review is a recap of the week — what’s trending, what’s breaking the internet on social, and what we’ve been up to. We’ll try our best to keep you up to date with the industry, social media and our travels. It’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks for the Mechanical Hub team Read more

The Week in Review is a recap of the week — what’s trending, what’s breaking the internet on social, and what we’ve been up to. We’ll try our best to keep you up to date with the industry, social media and our travels.

Week in Review: PHCC CONNECT, Legionella, Women in Construction, Skilled Trades

Jed Christner during the Plumbing Apprentice Contest at PHCC CONNECT.

It’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks for the Mechanical Hub team. The boys headed down to Indianapolis last week (Oct. 1-3) for the PHCC CONNECT Show. I have to say there was a nice buzz to the show, and every trade show booth we visited, we heard the same positive feedback. It’s always nice to see our friend from PHCC and other industry reps. We were also there to support our plumbing apprentice contestant, Jed Christener, from JRC Mechanical, Chesapeake, Va. This is something we are very passionate about—supporting the skilled trades push!

Week in Review: PHCC CONNECT, Legionella, Women in Construction, Skilled Trades

A plumbing apprentice contestant.

• To start the week, the Hub’s John Mesenbrink was in Boston for the 2nd Healthcare Symposium, hosted by Watts Water Technologies. The day was packed with critical information on the topic of opportunistic pathogens in water, especially Legionella. Shatha Salah, Environmental Manager at UAB Medicine, talked about the journey from recovering from a Legionella outbreak to developing a Water Safety Plan. Her experience includes four years of managing and implementing the ASHRAE 188 compliant water safety program that covers 19 healthcare buildings. “It’s important to get plumbers involved in a water safety plan since they are on the “front lines.” “The plumber’s role is important in protecting patients from water borne illnesses,” said Salah.

Week in Review: PHCC CONNECT, Legionella, Women in Construction, Skilled Trades

Shatha Salah

Other keynotes highlighted were Frank Sidari, Chief Consulting Engineer, Special Pathogens Lab, who cited a NASEM report that states, “Stronger policies are needed to protect the public against Legionnaires’ Disease.” Why the heck do cases continue to rise?

Dr. William Rhoads, Research Scientist, Va. Tech, touched on the idea of unintended consequences, when he said that sustainability in buildings may increase water age, which is the Distribution System Water Age + Premise Plumbing System Water Age, which can lead to more waterborne pathogens.

Finally, the Symposium featured Aaron Bock, PE, Plumbing & Fire Protection Discipline Leader Cannon Design, who says it is imperative to “educate building owners during the design phase.”

What’s interesting in all of this is why not be proactive and create the water safety plan instead of reactive when the damage is already done? Lives are at stake, potential lawsuits loom, and the overall negative press your facility might endure after the fact. It’s worth the proper investment to help mitigate against potential harmful water borne pathogens.

Week in Review: PHCC CONNECT, Legionella, Women in Construction, Skilled Trades

A look inside Navien’s live fire training lab at their headquarters in Irvine, Calif.

• Mid-week, the Hub’s Eric Aune headed out to SoCal to visit our friends at Navien. The attendees had a great time learning about a couple new products coming soon from Navien and touring their headquarters training center. “Navien had us out this week to their North American headquarters in Irvine, Calif., for the unveiling of two new products. We can’t say much more than that yet but watch our site and social channels on Monday for what’s new in tankless,” says Aune.

They have some interesting new things up their sleeves, but we can’t tell you until next week. Evidently, tankless will never be the same. What a tease!

• From the awesome department, Friday, October 4 through Sunday, October 6, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) successfully convened its ninth international Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference, the largest gathering of its kind in the world. More than 2800 tradeswomen representing 48 states and 10 provinces gathered in Minnesota to share experiences and best practices with fellow tradeswomen, to learn about new programs and opportunities in the industry, and to engage with top leaders from government, industry and the biggest fifteen international building trades unions.

The three-day conference, held over the weekend, featured a day of service with Haven House Ascension Place and Second Harvest Heartland, formal plenary sessions and over 25 workshops on a range of topics addressing unique and critical issues of tradeswomen.

Week in Review: PHCC CONNECT, Legionella, Women in Construction, Skilled Trades

Photo Credit: @UnitedSparkies

“This conference grows exponentially every year, and the impact is phenomenal,” said NABTU President Sean McGarvey. “NABTU is committed to empowering current and future tradeswomen as we increase opportunities for and retention rates of women in fulfilling union trade careers. Every day, we recruit more women into great union construction apprenticeships and careers, and these trailblazing tradeswomen are moving up in the top ranks of leadership. This conference is a celebration of these trailblazers and a testament to the growth of tradeswomen among our ranks.

Last Saturday afternoon, participants took to the streets of downtown Minneapolis for a parade and rally. The conference concluded on Sunday with a keynote speech by UA union International President Mark McManus and a panel on pathways to apprenticeship led by Arlene Dunn, Canada’s Building Trades Unions’ Director. For info, www.nabtu.org

• This week, AHR Expo announced its 2020 Innovation Award Winners. Danfoss, LG, Fresh-Aire IV were among some of the big winners. Check here for more, https://mechanical-hub.com/ahr-expo-announces-2020-innovation-award-winners/

• Finally, I’ve noticed a story shared on social media that is making headway. PBS shared a story titled, “After decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees, U.S. needs more tradespeople. (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/decades-pushing-bachelors-degrees-u-s-needs-tradespeople?fbclid=IwAR3NVI0nFrF4hdrc0EItmmeqj7YcAur1eF4Ia9hxE9uv70LaPT9PviVLyjI).

We are delighted to see that more “mainstream” media types are giving this important issue the coverage it deserves. Good on them. But it also reminds me that we at Mechanical Hub have been preaching this for the past 10 years!

Here is something I wrote five years ago, which, I think, still holds water.

https://mechanical-hub.com/path-to-the-trades-starts-in-the-living-room/

So … continue to preach the good word of the trades!

“Boilers are in my blood,” explained 44-year-old Shane Hall, a third-generation Weil-McLain representative. Hall, of Huntington, W.V., has been a Weil-McLain manufacturer’s rep for more than 25 years, but his involvement in heating and boilers stretches back much further. “My father and grandfather were both in the business, so I grew up in the industry,” Read more

“Boilers are in my blood,” explained 44-year-old Shane Hall, a third-generation Weil-McLain representative.

Hall, of Huntington, W.V., has been a Weil-McLain manufacturer’s rep for more than 25 years, but his involvement in heating and boilers stretches back much further.

“My father and grandfather were both in the business, so I grew up in the industry,” said Hall. “I like to say that I learned from the best.”

Weil-McLain Rep Shane Hall and his grandfather, Herb Godschalk.

Hall’s grandfather, Herb Godschalk, opened his heating company HL Godschalk & Associates in 1968 in Huntington and immediately began selling Weil-McLain boilers. The company handled both commercial and residential projects and installed numerous cast iron boilers and other heating and plumbing equipment across West Virginia.

“We’ve been selling boilers since way before I was even born,” said Hall. “Weil-McLain has a tradition of giving out die cast toy cars, and I remember receiving them as a child as gifts from my grandpa. Ever since I can remember, Weil-McClain has been a part of my life.”

Hall’s father, James Hall, began working with Shane’s grandfather in 1975. A young Shane Hall would help out with the family business as needed.

“My grandfather would pay me to assemble product catalogs, sweep the floor – whatever had to be done,” said Hall. “I believe he paid me a quarter an hour back then. I guess you could say I learned the business from the ground up!”

When Hall’s grandfather passed away in 1993, his father took over the company. Soon after, at the age of 19, Hall began working full-time with his dad.

“I started in the warehouse and worked my way up to inside sales and then outside sales and eventually took over the company,” said Hall.

Both Hall and his father witnessed many boiler product innovations, including the development of high efficiency condensing boilers such as Weil-McLain’s Ultra, and later, Evergreen units.

“They were really innovative products and helped move the entire industry forward,” he said.

Shane Hall and his father, James Hall.

Hall’s father ran the company until retiring in April 2007. Hall then took over and re-named it Hall Sales Agency.  After overseeing its growth for several years, he eventually merged it with Midwest Spec, a conglomerate of three other family-owned HVAC companies.

Today, Hall is a junior partner with Wickliffe, Ohio-based Midwest Spec and still manages the boiler business for the West Virginia territory. In 2015, Weil-McLain asked Midwest Spec to also represent them commercially in the expanded territories of Ohio, Kentucky and Western Pennsylvania, and Hall oversees that business as well.

“Weil-McLain is the only line my grandfather offered that I still sell,” said Hall. “We’ve had a lot of heating and plumbing lines and brands come and go over the years, but that’s the only that has been continuous for us since 1968.

“The only boiler line we sell today is Weil-McLain because the company has such a broad product portfolio ranging from small residential 70,000 BTU units up to large 8 ½ million BTUs on the cast iron side and for high efficiency from 70,000 BTU’s up to 3 million BTUs.”

Hall has overseen numerous residential and commercial installations including at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, West Virginia capitol complex, West Virginia University and countless other schools and colleges, churches and homes.

“We had a Weil-McLain boiler at a university that we inspected that at the time was 55-years-old and still functional,” said Hall. “The school had money in the budget to spend and thought it was a good time to upgrade the boiler. It was hard for me to see them pull it out after all of those years because it still worked like a champ!

“Weil-McLain produces high-quality, American-made products, and has always stood behind their line,” said Hall. “You can walk through the foundry and shake hands with the guys that are pouring the iron, and those guys will thank you for selling their product. Weil-McLain has touched so many lives over the years, including mine. It’s really special.”

Every year Mechanical Hub is honored to sponsor a PHCC Plumbing Apprentice Contest contestant. For this year’s PHCC Connect—Oct 2-4, Indianapolis—the Hub is excited to support Jed Christner, Chesapeake, Va. by way of Akron, Ohio. Christner was selected to compete in the PHCC competition by competing locally in Manassas Virginia. “I placed third, but due Read more

Every year Mechanical Hub is honored to sponsor a PHCC Plumbing Apprentice Contest contestant. For this year’s PHCC Connect—Oct 2-4, Indianapolis—the Hub is excited to support Jed Christner, Chesapeake, Va. by way of Akron, Ohio.

Christner was selected to compete in the PHCC competition by competing locally in Manassas Virginia. “I placed third, but due to unfortunate events, the winner could not make it; I was asked to represent the state of Virginia in nationals,” says Christner.

PHCC Apprentice Contestant Jed Christner, PHCC, PHCC CONNECT, plumbing, plumbing apprentice, skilled trades, HVAC, JRC MechanicalChristner is eager to go to PHCC CONNECT so he can learn from his peers to find better ways to possibly make the job easier, and to make great friends. “It also gives me a sense of excitement to compete against my peers, show and prove my own talents, which I have learned over the years from many plumbing mechanics, especially my teacher from VOTECH, Tony Bertolino,” says Christner.

Getting Started

Christner says he got started in the industry in a kind of a “non-typical” way. He transferred duty stations from Japan to Virginia Beach while in the Navy. Yet, after serving active duty in the Navy for almost 10 years, Christner was medically discharged.

Christner started a job driving a tow truck in Virginia Beach and, at the time, his neighbor was a plumbing manager for a company. “He asked me if I wanted better money and a way to earn a career. I didn’t ask any questions and said yes.”

Early on, “I rode with him in the morning to the office and he dropped me off at a job site and handed me a box of insulation and told me to get at it,” says Christner, “I picked it up naturally. Billy Batten became my mentor and I strived to be better than him, which probably will never happen, but it’s my own personal goal,” says Christner.

PHCC Apprentice Contestant Jed Christner, PHCC, PHCC CONNECT, plumbing, plumbing apprentice, skilled trades, HVAC, JRC MechanicalChristner is currently employed by JRC Mechanical, Chesapeake, Va., and works in the new construction division, which means he does everything from digging trenches to installing underground sanitary, storm, grease interceptor and water lines for new buildings. He installs above-ground domestic water, sanitary and mechanical piping systems for large commercial construction projects ranging from a few thousand to a few million dollars. He is also a plumbing supervisor/foreman.

In his spare time, Christner is an avid outdoorsman and he loves to hunt. “If I’m not hunting then I’m usually fishing or doing something outdoors. I also enjoy traveling with my wife and visiting new places or countries once a year,” says Christner.

Talking up the Trade

Plumbing trade highlights for Christner? He says he takes great pride in his work, especially after seeing the final product of his labor; The crew he works with; seeing different ways of performing the same task with the same end result; and learning every day.

When asked about any drawbacks, Christner says he doesn’t look at anything really as a drawback. “I look at them as a learning experience. The only and best way is to learn from your mistakes. Every day is a great day to be a plumber because we make money at being awesome!”

When giving advice to anyone contemplating the plumbing trade, or any trade at that, Christner says don’t question it and just pursue it. “Other than getting a big fancy diploma or degree, it is a great way to earn an amazing living while having fun. Just remember, everyone has to start at the bottom wherever you go. If you stick it out and prove your worth, you will go far and create a lifestyle that others will look up to and appreciate.”