Last fall, IAPMO announced its CEO of 25 years, Russ Chaney, would be retiring at the end of the year, and former COO and Executive Vice President Dave Viola would succeed Chaney at the helm of the 95-year-old association. PM Chief Editor Nicole Krawcke had a chance to chat with the new CEO and discuss his priorities and goals in his new role.
PM: Tell me a little about your background and how you got your start in the industry?
DV: It all started with my father, who taught me the craft and instilled a love of plumbing in me. In college, I pursued a mechanical engineering degree to help better understand the design and theory side of plumbing and mechanical systems. I’ve worn many hats during my 35 years in the industry, and each has played a vital role in giving me perspective and preparing me to be IAPMO’s CEO. My work over the years has centered around the values and success of nearly every stakeholder group that makes up our industry. I worked for 20 years developing model plumbing, mechanical and water efficiency codes and standards, and evaluating products for compliance with these codes and standards. As technical director of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute (now Plumbing Manufacturers International), I represented manufacturers, whose interests were impacted by plumbing codes, product standards and regulatory/legislative matters.
PM: When and why did you join IAPMO?
DV: I joined IAPMO nearly 14 years ago as senior director of technical services. It was the only logical career choice for me, as it addressed my interests, core values and skills. IAPMO allowed me to expand my horizons, gain access to greater international opportunities, and directly touch people’s lives through IAPMO’s work to provide access to, and increasing the safety of, a building’s water and sanitary systems.
PM: What has been your biggest accomplishment during your tenure at IAPMO?
DV: Before COVID-19, I would have said it was developing the Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement — the nation’s first green construction code, now known as the Water Efficiency and Sanitation Standard (WE•Stand) — or working with outgoing CEO Russ Chaney in establishing IAPMO’s nonprofit organization, the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation (IWSH).
I now believe my biggest accomplishment has been working with Chaney in guiding IAPMO though the pandemic. Although we are not fully out of the woods yet, IAPMO is positioned very well for continued growth and success in the post-COVID-19 future. I am very proud of IAPMO’s work to protect and retain all staff, immediately and successfully pivoting to teleworking while maintaining and expanding upon our capabilities and high standards of service to our members and customers. Additionally, from the onset of the pandemic, IAPMO was one of the first organizations to discuss the outbreak and its impacts on our industry. We served as the voice of the industry while others were still assessing the crisis and devising a way forward.
PM: What is the No. 1 thing you hope to accomplish as IAPMO’s CEO?
DV: My primary goal is ensuring IAPMO is just as influential and financially healthy when the next CEO takes the reins as it is today. This includes continuing the great work that IWSH is doing to bring safe, potable water and proper sanitation to those who need it most. I’ve seen first-hand what a group of skilled, dedicated volunteers can do to improve people’s lives at Community Plumbing Challenges in both Nashik, India, and Diepsloot, South Africa.
PM: What positive attributes of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC) distinguish them from other model codes?
DV: In a word, leadership. IAPMO’s ability to garner the participation and support of the brightest minds in the plumbing and mechanical industries sets us apart and results in our codes having the most progressive provisions that address the industry’s current problems. This is evidenced in the Water Demand Calculator and Legionella content in the UPC and UMC, as well as the ability to develop a standard like WE•Stand, which is supported by the most impressive assembly of water and plumbing experts anywhere.
Our competitors’ codes embody such a large scope that it’s simply not possible for them to compete with us in terms of plumbing and mechanical leadership.
PM: Where do you see the greatest opportunities for growth for IAPMO in the next five years?
DV: Although we have seen a rise in nationalism and territorialism that has tempered growth expectations for many industries, we still see international opportunities for our products and services. We also see a great opportunity in supporting emerging technologies, especially those that work to address water quality, water scarcity and water safety.
PM: What is the biggest challenge IAPMO will face over the next few years?
DV: We anticipate local governments will face budget constraints that will slow the adoption of updated codes and result in the loss of jobs in the code official ranks.
Additionally, we need to change the growing sentiment that portrays code officials as the bad guys, as well as improve young people’s perception of the plumbing industry.
PM: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the plumbing and construction industries, and what has IAPMO done to help the industry during this time?
DV: The president and U.S. Department of Homeland Security identified plumbers and other tradespeople as “essential critical infrastructure workers.” Plumbers are on the front lines every day, whether in peoples’ homes or working in high-risk settings such as health-care facilities.
IAPMO responded immediately to provide leadership, access to resources and find solutions while much of the industry was still trying to assess the gravity of the crisis. We were one of the first associations to address the outbreak, releasing a whitepaper in March that examined the potential transmission of COVID-19 in plumbing sanitary systems.
Our COVID-19 Resources web page has some of the most comprehensive content available, including several guidance documents provided by IAPMO with information on how to keep plumbers safe.
IAPMO also brokered an agreement with the American Water Works Association (AWWA) to provide a guidance document on water stagnation and flushing, and is working on a Manual of Recommended Practice that will address how to maintain water systems and prepare for the next emergency that could result in building shutdowns.
PM: What legislative/regulatory issues should plumbing industry pros be concerned with in 2021?
DV: Legislation supporting workforce development is key to the future of the plumbing industry, as it faces a shortage that has far-reaching ramifications.
Governments need to invest in and improve the nation’s water infrastructure so that there is more uniformity in the quality of water being delivered to buildings.
We also support legislation requiring building owners and facility managers to manage building water system quality, especially in health-care facilities.
PM: If you had one message to give plumbing and mechanical contractors and engineers, what would it be?
DV: Get involved with IAPMO. We need to see what you’re seeing and hear what you’re hearing. Help us develop better codes and standards. Let us know what’s working well and what isn’t. Help us work for a better future for the industry!
PM: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
DV: Home improvement projects. I simply love breaking out the tools. I also enjoy cooking and grilling, and spending quality time with the family.
PM: What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?
DV: I love spy thrillers. Whether movies or novels — whatever I can get my hands on — I can’t get enough. I’m still mourning the loss of Sean Connery, who was the best James Bond of all.