For plumbing and HVACR contractors who are eager to discover proven, practical ideas to meet their business goals, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association (PHCC) is providing real insights, real solutions and real value at its annual PHCCCONNECT Conference and Product & Technology Showcase, which will be held later this month from Oct. 25-27 in Cleveland, Ohio.
“PHCC likes to offer locations in different parts of the country each year,” notes PHCC — National Association President Dave Frame, CEO of Bob Frame Plumbing Services, in South Bend, Indiana. “Cleveland was a perfect choice for the Midwest, with added convenience to a major airport for other travelers. Cleveland also was a draw because of our strong PHCC chapter in that state. In fact, PHCC of Ohio will host 'Ohio Night' at the House of Blues on Thursday, Oct. 26. Not only is Cleveland a very accessible city, we’re also very excited about all it has to offer, with miles upon miles of Lake Erie coastline, the Christmas Story House, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, West Side Market, the Great Lakes Brewing Company, and of course the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In fact, we’ll be gathering among the exhibits of rock legends at the Hall of Fame for the PHCCCONNECT2023 closing event!”
This year’s event theme is “People. Passion. Purpose.” The theme is a great reminder that CONNECT provides a great opportunity for plumbing and HVACR contractors to network with like-minded professionals and work on their businesses and the future of the industry, Frame explains.
“I’m a big believer in collaboration,” he says. “PHCC was founded by people with similar passions and a purpose to protect and advance their industry who knew they could gather and accomplish more together than they ever could do alone. That was 140 years ago, and — while technologies, practices, and regulations have changed significantly over the years — that is still the beauty of this association.”
New this year
PHCCCONNECT2023 will feature several new events for attendees. In addition to offering manufacturing tours at two local manufacturer partners — Oatey and RIDGID — on Wednesday, Oct. 25, there will also be a Women in Industry Luncheon. The interactive panel discussion will feature women in the plumbing and HVAC industries who will share personal stories, challenges and ideas for how the trades has and can become more welcoming and inclusive.
“This industry is attracting more and more women … and those women are incredibly successful,” Frame says. “In this association alone, we had a female win the HVAC National Apprentice Contest two years ago; we have women business owners; we have women chapter presidents and executive directors; we even have a woman as our CEO! But we have a long way to go in women being recognized as the norm in this industry, and not the exception … and we know that the more women are seen as successful contractors, the easier it is to attract them to the industry. That is why we’re offering this luncheon this year. Attendees will learn recruitment practices and strategies for retaining and engaging a more diverse workforce overall. Our thanks to the event sponsor Oatey and hosts, PHCC National Auxiliary and Women in Plumbing and Piping.”
On that same note of adding diversity to the trades, PHCCCONNECT will also feature a new session on diversity and inclusion, which will be held Wednesday afternoon.
“One of my goals as president this year was not only for PHCC to become a more inclusive organization but also to help ensure that everyone is represented in our industry’s future workforce,” Frame adds. “Creating a diverse, fair, and inclusive workplace is crucial for the long-term success of organizations. As a contractor, it’s important to understand why it’s necessary to build a welcoming and fair work environment. During this workforce development session, we have a DEI program manager from Kohler moderating an impressive panel of experts who will share valuable strategies and best practices on this topic.”
Additionally, PHCC will host a Workforce Development breakfast on Friday, Oct. 27 — something Frame is particularly excited about. “Contractors know that recruiting our future workforce means debunking some misconceptions about our industry. So during this workforce development breakfast, we’re going to share the ‘The Truth About the Trades: Dispelling the Top 10 Myths About Working in the Industry.’ Sponsored by SupplyHouse.com, this breakfast is not only going to include a live panel presentation, but we’ve also pre-recorded some interviews with industry contractors and other professionals about some of these myths. Using both platforms, we’ll share stories about some perceptions out there and show attendees how they can promote the truth about the plumbing and HVACR profession. As a bonus, a video will result that they can use to encourage future generations to embark on a career in the trades!”
There will also be a one-day Rising Leaders Summit during CONNECT, which will be held, Thursday, Oct. 26.
“This is, hands-down, the best opportunity contractors will have to give the rockstars in their company the confidence and tools they need to succeed,” Frame explains. “In one day, at one time, at one low price, these rising leaders will be inspired by the passion of a successful entrepreneur (and young rockstar himself!), will gain the experience of a QSC business coach who will address company scenarios everyone will want to hear, will profit from the knowledge of three successful company owners and PHCC past national officers, and will learn the strategies of a business performance mentor who knows a ton about accomplishing more with less. As a bonus, Summit registrants also can participate in the Product & Technology Showcase as well as attend receptions that evening, meeting one-on-one with peers, business owners, and other industry experts from around the country.”
Additional educational opportunities
Attendees can expect more than 20 targeted educational sessions on topics plumbing and HVACR contractors want most, from business management and leadership, to sales and marketing, to soft skills and technology.
“PHCC leans heavily on input from PHCC members and past CONNECT attendees to determine the topics for our educational sessions,” Frame explains. “We had an overwhelming response to our call for presentations this year, and ended up selecting more than 20 sessions that our plumbing and HVACR members wanted most. There’s really something for everyone, with sessions on business management, leadership, sales and marketing, technology, soft skills and next generation. We’re already hearing a lot of buzz about some of our technology and safety sessions, especially ‘Can We Chat … GPT?’ and ‘Data Driven Business Operations With AI.’ These contractors know they must keep up with what’s next to be competitive. Regardless of the topic, though, every year our attendees love that they walk away from these sessions with specific, practical takeaways that they can put into practice as soon as they get back to the office. I know I do!”
PHCCCONNECT will also have some fantastic keynote speakers this year. The first of which, will be Coach Ken Carter, portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson in the popular movie “Coach Carter.” A legendary basketball coach, entrepreneur,and business owner with a reputation for driving others to reach their full potential through hard work, Carter will deliver his hard-hitting advice about accountability, integrity, teamwork and leadership.
And, back by popular demand, PHCC’s second keynoter is economist Connor Lokar. “Our attendees love his accurate, proven, and analytical approach to understanding the economic environment and his insights on how they should respond. During his presentation this year — ‘Piercing Through the Noise’ — he will cover the status of today’s economy and provide the audience with clear direction on how to maximize revenue and profit growth,” Frame says.
Additionally, this year’s Product & Technology Showcase will be an unprecedented hub of activity, with world-class technologies with a “hometown” feel” — with new exhibitors, more technology, more plumbing and HVAC manufacturers, product demonstrations, education theaters, “QSC Talks” from a business coach and intimate one-on-one conversations with the leaders of exhibiting companies.
And, of course, the PHCC Educational Foundation’s National Plumbing and HVAC Apprentice Contests will be ongoing during the three days of the conference. For the 2023 show, there will be 20 plumbing apprentices and 12 HVAC apprentices competing in Cleveland.
“Inspiration flows both ways every year during the PHCC Educational Foundation’s National Plumbing and HVAC Apprentice Contests,” Frame says. “Contractors get to see the next generation competing for bragging rights (and cool prizes!), and the contestants get the experience of a lifetime meeting fellow apprentices from around the country and making priceless connections with contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, and other industry partners. It’s our way of literally fueling the future of our industry!”
Home field advantage
As part of the two tours being offered during PHCCCONNECT, Oatey and RIDGID have the benefit of hosting the event in their backyards.
“Oatey is thrilled to welcome PHCCConnect to our hometown,” says Katherine Lehtinen, senior vice president, marketing, Oatey Co. “We look forward to giving attendees an insider’s look at the world of Cleveland manufacturing as well as Oatey’s many innovations and contributions to the industry since its founding more than a century ago.”
As a Cleveland-based company, Oatey will be a part of a showcase of Cleveland hometown brands, joining forces with RIDGID, Moen and Merit Brass. The four brands will be positioned in the Cleveland Pavilion during the welcoming reception and Product & Technology showcase.
In addition to a tour of Oatey’s 160th Street manufacturing operations, attendees will enjoy a hands-on experience at Oatey University, the manufacturer’s training center for industry tradespeople. Oatey social media ambassadors Nick Parlet (@plumbingsk8r), Colin Luttrel (@colintheplumberllc), Rob Broccolo (@prodrains) and Evan Berns (@re.plumb) will be on hand at Oatey University to welcome facility visitors.
“That same day, we are proud to sponsor a Women in Industry Luncheon hosted by the PHCC National Auxiliary and Women in Piping and Plumbing,” Lehtinen notes. “I will be opening the event, which will include an interactive panel discussion, featuring women who work in the plumbing and HVAC industries. Panelists will share their personal stories, challenges faced, and thought-provoking ideas for how the trades can become even more welcoming and inclusive. I also plan to highlight The House That She Built, an organization whose mission is to help generate awareness of the skilled trades. The organization’s children’s book, also titled The House That She Built, educates young readers about the people and skills that go into building a home, telling the true story of a home built by all female tradespeople. Each luncheon attendee will receive a copy of the book and be asked to read it to a child in their life or a local elementary school classroom.”
Lehtinen adds that the Oatey team is looking forward to connecting with friends, new and old, and sharing what’s new from Oatey during the event.
Becky Brotherton, director of brand and engagement marketing for RIDGID, notes that RIDGID has been a big advocate and supporter of PHCC for decades at the national, regional and local levels.
“PHCC is a phenomenal organization that does so much for our industry,” she explains. “Their commitment to educating the next generation of plumbers aligns directly with our values, so we are thrilled we can continue to sponsor their apprenticeship programs as well as serve as an educational sponsor at the national level.”
With the PHCCCONNECT event in Cleveland this year, it also allowed RIDGID, which is headquarted in Elyria, Ohio, to expand its direct involvement in the show. “We’re so excited to have PHCCCONNECT in our hometown,” said Brotherton. ”We are taking full advantage of this year’s location with special events and hands-on opportunities that also celebrate our brand’s 100 year anniversary.”
RIDGID is sponsoring six apprentices during the Apprenticeship Contest this year. Those six individuals will receive $1,500 worth of RIDGID tools — what Brotherton calls a starter pack for their trucks. The manufacturer also donates the tools that will be used on the floor during the contest itself.
In addition to the contest, RIDGID is working with PHCC to help the organization get more younger members involved. The company is hosting a RIDGID Experience reunion, an invitation-only event during the show for previous RIDGID Experience attendees. “So far, our RSVPs are strong,” Brotherton says. “There’s an excitement about the reunion: we’re celebrating our 100 years, getting everybody back in Cleveland, and by the way, attending an important show: PHCCCONNECT. I really want our RIDGID Experience alumni to see the Apprenticeship Contest and what PHCC does – it’s amazing.”
Brotherton adds that RIDGID is really looking forward to connecting with all PHCC attendees and showing them what RIDGID has been up to.
“Everything we do is with tradespeople in mind,” she says. “The time we spend with them on the show floor, the welcome reception and the Apprenticeship Contest — all the feedback we get is paramount to what we do internally from an R&D and engineering side. So we really love our time with our customers. That and the special tour PHCC is allowing us to be part of — having them here on our home turf is going to be amazing. Often, when we have tradespeople come into our plant, they don’t want to leave. They love the grit, the smell and seeing the people that make the tools they use every day. Seeing that firsthand never gets old s. We’re really excited to be at the forefront of what PHCC puts on every year. We look at PHCC as a partner, and we’re a big advocate of what they do with the next generation of the skilled trades.”
Frame adds that there is literally something for everyone this year. The event will be held at the Westin Cleveland Downtown and the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, Oct. 25-27. For more information, visit https://phccconnect2023.eventscribe.net.