The kitchen sink being attendees, that is. PHCC CONNECT, this past October 25-27, was set up for one of those “best-ever” shows. Beautiful downtown Cleveland was the backdrop to very a good week of meetings, connections, site visits and much more. Oh, and the weather didn’t hurt either, with temps lingering in the mid-70s.
RIDGID, Oatey, Moen and Merit Brass all call the “City that Rocks” home, or close to it anyway, and they each offered a bus trip to visit their respective HQs. Contractors visited their location of choice and all benefitted from their site visits.
The opening keynote, “Growth Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone,” was presented by a compelling Ken Carter whose story blew up on the big screen as “Coach Carter,” played by none other than Samuel L. Jackson. The story of his 1999 season as coach at Richmond High School is the basis for the film. Throughout his life and tenure as a coach, he has inspired and guided numerous lives of young men to reach their highest potential. His “no non-sense” approach to getting things done is the force that has sustained him to have the tremendous positive influence that he currently possesses.
One of our favorite annual events at PHCC CONNECT is the Plumbing and HVAC Apprentice Contest. A total of 21 plumbing and 11 HVAC apprentices from across the U.S. competed for top billing. The Plumbing Apprentice Contest winner was Cody McDonald of Van Contracting, Inc. in Columbia City, Ind. He was sponsored by the International Code Council.
The HVAC counterpart apprentice winner was Jacob Lee of P1 Service in Lenexa, Kan. He was sponsored by RIDGID.
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 and PVC and corresponding joining methods.
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.
Adjacent to these apprentices diligently working on their assignment, a Product & Technology Showcase buzzed with activity surrounding the lates in tool technology, kitchen and bath, and water heating and heat pump tech.
Seminars and breakout sessions included a Government Affairs Update, Private Equity’s Interest in Plumbing Industries, DOE Standards for Water Heating Products and an Open Roundtable with Union Affiliated Contractors.
A strong session on Women in Industry: “Unlocking Potential and Breaking Barriers: Fostering Success for Women in the Trades through Gender-Inclusive Practices in Recruitment, Retention, and Engagement,” featured some of our personal friends, including Linda Hudek, LH Plumbing Services, Fairfield, Ohio; Ashley Martin, Executive Vice President, NIBCO; and Cassie Pound, co-owner of Quality Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In today’s ever-changing business landscape, strengthening the contractor/wholesaler channel is critical to survival. A recent general session at PHCC CONNECT drilled deep into the conversation. This session, “Collaborative Connections: Strengthening Supplier-Contractor Relationships for Success,” featured RobertGrim, Senior Vice President, Global Sales, InSinkErator, Mount Pleasant, Wis.; Scott Robertson, President, Robertson Heating Supply Co., Alliance, Ohio; Dan Callies, President, Oak Creek Plumbing, Inc., Oak Creek, Wis.; Kathryn Poehling-Seymour, President and CEO, First Supply LLC, Madison, Wis.; and JasonPritchard, Co-Founder, PriCor Technologies, Seattle.
And many, many more worthwhile seminars were offered. In fact, PHCCCONNECT2023 education sessions had been approved by OCILB (Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board) for 19 CEUs.
So, mix in some fun nights out with Oatey, RIDGID and PHCC’s receptions “Ohio Night House of Blues” and its closing event at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, and, of course, connecting with industry peers, and you had the recipe for one kick-ass event.
Next year’s PHCC CONNECT will be held in Birmingham, Ala. Of all places, I sure hope that words gets around about the event. It’s worth the time, but more people need to come experience it, Birmingham or not.