Tyler Arndt started working for his father’s plumbing company when he was 7-years-old, holding pipe while his father stapled it down to the floor for a radiant heating application. Jeff McCann was set to go to college when he spent one summer working for his grandfather’s plumbing company in the U.S. Virgin Islands — one summer was all it took to change the course of his career. Audrey Monell grew up in her family’s plumbing and HVAC company and helped with the office filing and taking out the trash. Today, she is president of that same company.

What do Arndt, McCann and Monell have in common besides working in the plumbing industry? These three individuals are among our inaugural class of Next Gen All-Stars, recognizing the next generation of the plumbing industry who are doing their part to make a difference.

I’ve heard all the millennial stereotypes out there, including how we younger employees need our hands held and pats on the head. The truth of the matter is everybody likes to know their hard work is appreciated — and that they’re doing a good job. In the continuing struggle to find workers for the trades, companies must find new ways to attract and retain the next generation if they are going to survive. And employee recognition might be one of the easiest strategies in the effort to attract and retain.

According to a Gallup study, only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days. At any given company, it's not uncommon for employees to feel that their best efforts are routinely ignored. Further, employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they'll quit in the next year, Gallup reported.

Workplace recognition not only motivates employees, it also boosts morale and employee engagement, and has often been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to a higher retention, the Gallup study noted.

Earlier this year, we asked you — our readers — to nominate someone 40 or younger deserving of recognition. Someone who brings new skills, ideas and strategies to overcome challenges and meet demands in the plumbing industry. We were blown away by the number of nominations received, making narrowing down our list quite difficult. The individuals chosen represent the best and brightest of the next generation in all areas of the plumbing industry.

From a journalist’s standpoint, these are the stories I love to tell. I love talking to young plumbing apprentices, company owners and product managers and hearing about their origins. While many of these stories share a similar theme of how they got their start in plumbing and HVAC, each individual has charted their own path to be where they are today. And there lies one of the industry’s best-kept secrets — the opportunities are endless.

Click here to see our inaugural class of the plumbing industry’s Next Gen All-Stars, and please join us in congratulating them for a job well done!