ShopTalk

Electronic mixing valves are a rapidly growing technology for domestic hot water systems. The reliability and serviceability of the Caleffi LEGIOMIX® make it a great fit for new construction and replacement work. How can engineers and plumbers best utilize the latest in electronic mixing valve technology? What tips from the design and installation phases help Read more

Electronic mixing valves are a rapidly growing technology for domestic hot water systems. The reliability and serviceability of the Caleffi LEGIOMIX® make it a great fit for new construction and replacement work. How can engineers and plumbers best utilize the latest in electronic mixing valve technology? What tips from the design and installation phases help streamline the process? Cody Mack and Dan Firkus will walk the Coffee with Caleffi™ audience through this emerging sector of mixing valves at the next webinar on Thursday, Sept. 29 from 12 noon – 1:00 p.m. CDT.

Mack has nearly 20 years’ experience as installation contractor, service technician, application engineer, training manager and now product manager for Caleffi. Our audience will appreciate his thoughtful yet humorous content delivery combined with his practical, common sense product approach.

Firkus has 25 years’ of field experience as an installation contractor plus three years of application engineer experience at Caleffi, assisting wholesalers, engineers and installers. Recently promoted to OEM Sales Manager, his well-rounded and realistic technical background provides a firm foundation for our audience.

The monthly educational webinars are free and are intended for engineers, contractors, designers and wholesalers. A Certificate of Attendance is emailed to attendees following the event for continuing education audits.

Please visit our website at www.caleffi.us for schedule details and registration.

The Lowe’s MVPs Pro Rewards and Partnership Program is a new approach that flips traditional loyalty programs on their heads to deliver real solutions and benefits Pros need to succeed. The new program comes at a time when 90% of Pros say it’s important that retailers have valuable loyalty programs, and according to new findings from Lowe’s, Pros also voiced Read more

The Lowe’s MVPs Pro Rewards and Partnership Program is a new approach that flips traditional loyalty programs on their heads to deliver real solutions and benefits Pros need to succeed. The new program comes at a time when 90% of Pros say it’s important that retailers have valuable loyalty programs, and according to new findings from Lowe’s, Pros also voiced the need for retailers to bring more than rewards to the table.

Lowe’s MVPs Pro Rewards, available in select regions and nationwide gives Pros a committed business partner in Lowe’s. Complementing Lowe’s strong credit offerings (5% off every day on eligible purchases, to 0% interest for 60 days for Lowe’s Business Advantage accounts), Lowe’s MVPs Pro Rewards offers new and existing loyalty members benefits including:

  • Lowe’s e-gift cards earned when Pros spend in-store and online on eligible purchases**
  • Access to business resources helping Pros tackle back-of-house operations
  • Exclusive offers for rewards on eligible paint purchases** and free select snacks or drinks** at Lowe’s stores
  • A chance to win incredible prizes like Ford F-Series trucks that serve as many Pros’ mobile offices and custom-built local advertising packages***
  • A simple mobile and online user experience allowing Pros to track and claim rewards even when sending a crew member into the store
  • And, coming soon, MVPs Bonus Points that can be used for additional exciting rewards helping Pros invest in their businesses and themselves

“We’re deepening our partnership with Pro customers because when they succeed, we succeed,” said Tony Hurst, Senior Vice President Pro, Services and International. “Lowe’s MVPs Pro Rewards is another big step in Lowe’s continued Total Home strategy when it comes to the important Pro customer. We are committed to a true business partnership mindset to help Pros as they grow their businesses and their futures.”

Nearly 90% of Pros say it’s important for retailers to have valuable loyalty programs as Pros also voiced the need for retailers to offer solutions to propel their business forward, according to Lowe’s first annual Lowe’s State of the Pro report, found online at Lowes.com/StateOfThePro.  An industry-leading study, the report contains insights from Pros and their customers, detailing the state of the home industry and trends in homeowner improvement plans, and priority projects in 2022.

For more information on the latest for Pros, please visit Lowes.com/Pro.

One of the most noteworthy impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the national labor shortage and the widespread media attention it has earned. According to Newsweek, there were 10.4 million job openings in the United States in September, but fewer than 8 million unemployed workers. That gap has placed enormous stress on the overall Read more

One of the most noteworthy impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the national labor shortage and the widespread media attention it has earned.

According to Newsweek, there were 10.4 million job openings in the United States in September, but fewer than 8 million unemployed workers. That gap has placed enormous stress on the overall economy, from manufacturing and distribution to the retail and service sectors, as suppliers struggle to meet consumer demand.

For those in the skilled trades industries, this story is familiar. They have faced a chronic version of the overall labor shortage for decades.

Demographic challenges and misconceptions

The average age of skilled workers is now 43, according to one estimate from Angi. With fewer young people entering the trades every year, the situation is expected to get worse. The approaching wave of baby boomer retirements will only add to the problem.

For manufacturing, construction, and field service companies, the skilled trades crisis poses major ongoing challenges. It’s hard to maintain productivity and customer service while you’re understaffed or experiencing frequent turnover. Projects are often delayed because workers aren’t available. Revenue is lost for multiple reasons: worker inexperience, inefficiency, long work hours, or jobs that have to be postponed or turned down.

Unfortunately, many high school students and recent graduates who might thrive in the trades never consider a career in those industries. The message that college is the only path to success has become ingrained in our culture in the last 30 years. Despite the rising cost of higher education and the increasing number of students who never earn a degree, the college journey has eclipsed all other options.

In addition to highlighting the labor crisis, recent circumstances have demonstrated that manufacturing, distribution, and residential and commercial service jobs are a critical part of the national economy. These industries played a key role in public health and safety during lockdowns and periods of social distancing and quarantines. Many products and services provided by the HVAC and PHCC industries proved to be essential during the pandemic and have remained critical economic drivers as communities have reopened.

This national spotlight on the essential nature of the trades offers an opportunity to reorient public perception and correct the misconceptions that have contributed to the skilled trades labor gap.

Closing the gap

In response to the growing labor gap, trade organizations have partnered in recent years with vocational schools, employers, manufacturers, and public agencies to promote the trades as a viable alternative to a four-year degree. Their combined efforts are focused on the many immediate advantages offered by a skilled trades career:

  • High wages
  • On the job or employer-funded training
  • Lack of student debt
  • Immediate available positions
  • A wide variety of vocational options and career trajectories
  • Entrepreneurial opportunities

Additionally, advocates and thought leaders are making the case for other long-term strategies that will create a more effective and reliable talent pipeline. Among those ideas is diversification. Many communities have traditionally been underrepresented in the trades; focusing recruitment, outreach, and marketing efforts in those communities can build trust and allow the trades industries to connect with vibrant new pools of talent.

Immediate solutions

Those efforts, however, will take time to pay off. In the meantime, employers are still faced with a labor crisis of historic proportions and the urgent need to operate efficiently in order to remain competitive in this challenging economic climate.

In order to maintain productivity throughout the remainder of the pandemic and during recovery, many employers are looking for immediate solutions. While there is no magic bullet that will compensate for a labor shortage, there are a number of new and emerging tools available that can help companies boost efficiency and productivity so they can continue to deliver results for their customers.

The pandemic has focused a spotlight on the importance of the technology revolution that was already underway among skilled service providers. Some of the major technology trends and developments that have been accelerated by the pandemic and its fallout are:

  • Mobile and remote capabilities: As COVID-19 forced many employees across multiple industries to work cohesively without a physical office, technician mobile apps and other remote technologies have become invaluable to commercial contractors of all types. Today, various mobile applications give teams remote work capabilities that weren’t possible a decade ago.
  • Modular construction: The modular construction market is seeing an increase in business, which is in response to combined cost-effective construction technology and labor shortages. Modular and offsite construction continues to grow and contribute to less expensive housing and commercial construction. In addition to their convenience, other benefits of modular projects include the ability to more effectively regulate worker safety within ventilated and climate-controlled workspaces. These advantages also further help workers comply with social distancing guidelines.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence (AI) is capable of lowering the cost of construction and service while helping teams successfully plan and schedule projects. AI is frequently used in software to conduct analyses and simulations in a variety of hypothetical situations and environments. In turn, AI is invaluable in developing new safety protocols and minimizing the risk of workplace injuries. Its role is expected to continue to rise in response to the workforce shortage exacerbated by COVID-19 shutdowns.
  • Integrated software solutions: The number of contractors who still rely on pencil and paper or spreadsheets for record-keeping and accounting has steadily dwindled over the last decade, and sharply declined during 2020. Simply switching from manual job management to an enterprise solution can generate major gains for most businesses. A single all-in-one platform is critical for efficiency; requiring technicians to move back and forth between multiple apps not only takes up precious work time, it can serve as an obstacle to adoption.
  • When actionable data from across departments is collected and accessible in real time, all parties involved in a project benefit. Up-to-the-minute insights and transparent communication empower purposeful, immediate decision-making and fast, accurate execution.

Resolving the labor shortage that has challenged the skilled trades will be a win not only for the industries involved. The long-term strategies currently being deployed will expand the choices available for young people and dismantle the preconceived notion that a college degree is required for success. By opening up opportunities for vocational training and apprenticeships in place of a university program, we can ensure young people are on the right track from the start. Presenting the trades as a viable option could also help reduce the national burden of student debt and alleviate college dropout rates.

In order to find and implement a comprehensive solution, it is imperative that we examine and assess our educational pipeline and deliver an authentic message about the advantages and opportunities of skilled trades careers. Innovation is the key to ensuring America’s workforce is prepared and supported.

For more information on this subject, visit www.buildops.com.

A.O. Smith, a leading water heater manufacturer, has donated 200 water heaters for Waverly, Tenn. flood relief efforts. The units will be provided to flood victims who are still rebuilding eight months after storms ripped through the town on Aug. 21, 2021. “At A. O. Smith, we are deeply committed to supporting our local communities,” Read more

A.O. Smith, a leading water heater manufacturer, has donated 200 water heaters for Waverly, Tenn. flood relief efforts. The units will be provided to flood victims who are still rebuilding eight months after storms ripped through the town on Aug. 21, 2021.

“At A. O. Smith, we are deeply committed to supporting our local communities,” said David Chisolm, vice president of marketing and customer experience. “Hot water is such a basic life necessity. We hope the donation of these units will allow this community to rebuild more quickly while lessening the financial burden. We also hope that this will inspire other companies to step forward with additional donations to assist in rebuilding the Waverly community.”

In August 2021, treacherous storms swept through the Waverly community claiming 20 lives, including several children. Hundreds of homes were damaged, and some residents have even had to purchase trailers and RVs to live in while their homes are being repaired. Of the homes that were destroyed or severely damaged, 80% of them are owned by people ages 70 or older, and most of those homeowners are living on social security wages.

“The past eight months since the flood have been incredibly difficult, but Waverly is a resilient town,” said Waverly resident, Susan Hodges. “When our family began rebuilding, we had no idea how long the process would take or just how expensive it would be. We’re grateful for the money we’ve saved by not having to purchase a water heater, but the impact of A. O. Smith’s donation goes beyond that—it’s a huge step toward making our home livable once again, and it’s raised our spirits along the way.”

FEMA helped support the community at the beginning of its redevelopment phase immediately after the flooding, but the extensive damage has continued to put pressure on homeowners. Community members have worked relentlessly to help their neighbors, friends and family in the area recover from the devastation. Hodges has two adult children living in Waverly whose houses were destroyed by the flood. She has spent the last eight months assisting them in their complete home renovations.

“The Waverly community has worked tirelessly to help neighbors and friends rebuild from this tragedy. We are so thankful for the water heater donation from A. O. Smith,” said Kaye Thomas of First Baptist Church Relief Efforts. “Water heaters are an essential item that many of our homeowners could not afford without the help from A. O. Smith. This donation truly gave the Waverly community a renewed sense of hope in what continues to be a long road to recovery. It will allow our community to continue to push forward in recovery efforts as we rebuild.”

The units were delivered to the First Baptist Church in Waverly earlier this year, and roughly 100 units have already been distributed to families in need. Distribution and installation will continue in the coming months.

Blaklader’s introduces its new Hi-Vis Softshell Jacket that is wind- and water-resistant for use during shoulder seasons or for layering. It features reflective details and tape on the body and sleeves, adjustable Velcro sleeves, front zipper pockets, adjustable collar, detachable hood, extended back, and adjustable hem with drawstring. CERTIFICATION Not certified according to CSA-Z96 MAIN Read more

Blaklader’s introduces its new Hi-Vis Softshell Jacket that is wind- and water-resistant for use during shoulder seasons or for layering. It features reflective details and tape on the body and sleeves, adjustable Velcro sleeves, front zipper pockets, adjustable collar, detachable hood, extended back, and adjustable hem with drawstring.

CERTIFICATION

Not certified according to CSA-Z96

MAIN MATERIAL

92% polyester, 8% elastane, 3-layer softshell, waterproof, windproof, breathable, stretch, 8 oz

FUNCTIONALITY

Dark color field in high grime-exposure sections, Wind and waterproof material, no taped seams

DETAILS

Shoulder sections in contrasting color
High collar
Removable hood
D-ring
Good surface for transfer

FRONT CLOSURE

Robust one-way plastic zipper

POCKETS

Chest pockets with zipper and D-ring
Front pockets with zipper

FINISH

Extended back, Adjustable hem with drawstring
Adjustable sleeve end with velcro

REFLEX

50 mm wide reflective tape, Reflective details, Reflective tape on body and sleeves

The jacket is available in men’s and women’s cuts. www.blaklader.com