This month, PHCC — National Association President to Dave Frame, owner of Bob Frame Plumbing Services, South Bend, Indiana will pass the torch Joe Cornetta, third-generation co-owner of Elmont, New York-based Cornetta Bros. Plumbing & Mechanical Chief Editor Nicole Krawcke had a chance to chat with Frame about what he hopes to accomplish during his term and the many opportunities for PHCC members over the next year.

PM: Where’d you get your start in the industry, and did you ever think you would be president of an organization like PHCC?

JC: I got my start in 2000. I was invited to hear a speaker, Mr. Dan Holohan, discuss steam heat. Dan was known as a local guru for steam heating, and we all worshiped him. I found out later that the meeting was held by PHCC of Long Island. I met with the PHCC of Long Island business owners and signed up shortly thereafter. The person who invited me to this was Sandy Meyerowitz, the father of Josh Meyerowitz, who is the CEO of

No, I did not think I would ever be president of an organization like PHCC. My initial goals were to learn as much as I could from PHCC business owners on how to better run my business. I am deeply indebted to them for the information and knowledge they shared with me.

I eventually ran for secretary of PHCC of Long Island and followed that trail that led to two terms as president of the PHCC of Long Island chapter. I am lucky enough to have as my best friend Hunter Botto (former PHCC national president), and I followed his shirt tails to national secretary and then ran for PHCC national vice president.

PM: What are the top three items on PHCC’s national legislative/regulatory agenda?

JC: Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) implementation and education — Contractors will be at the forefront of the heat pump rebate and tax incentive programs instituted by the IRA. We will be installing high-efficiency energy products including heat pump furnaces, heat pump water heaters, and in some cases, doing the electrical panel upgrades to accommodate building electrification. Contractors and their customers need to know how these programs work and the appropriate income requirements that qualify the customers for the program incentives. The government has put contractors in the position of having to set realistic expectations with consumers in a professional manner. It will not be good if a customer realizes that they don’t qualify for the full rebate based on their income or that there could be significant residual costs for purchasing and installing qualifying equipment after calculating the rebate. The only thing a customer might hear is that they can get a $14,000 rebate when it is much more complicated than that.

Workforce funding — We must ensure continued funding for programs that provide pathways to careers in plumbing and HVAC, including the Department of Labor’s registered apprenticeship program, Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), and Perkins Career and Technical Education (Perkins CTE). The JOBS Act allows Pell Grants for short-term job training that would be good for the HVAC workforce and we hope it passes. We must also push for tax incentives for employers who hire apprentices.

Responsible energy policy and consumer impact on electrification — As Congress explores ways to reduce carbon emissions, plumbing and HVAC contractors know better than anyone else the cost of forced electrification policies on consumers, such as the ability to keep homes warm and water hot during the winter months, and the unanticipated costs of fully electrifying homes. New York became the first state in the country to implement a statewide ban on gas connections in new construction, and the state comptroller’s office has stated that the state is far behind in meeting the demands of the climate goals it has set and the exorbitant costs that New Yorkers will absorb.

America’s energy portfolio must remain diverse and leverage the energy resources we have right here at home. Fossil fuels such as natural gas must be part of the solution; America can’t do it on renewable energy alone.

The impact of this legislation will have a tremendous negative effect on contractors here in New York. In fact, the PHCC of Long Island has joined a lawsuit, along with the PHCC of New York and the PCA of Long Island to fight back against the gas ban as part of an effort involving a broad array of stakeholders in the state. The legal team that successfully litigated California Restaurant Association v Berkeley will argue the case.

PM: Where do the greatest business opportunities lie for PHCC members over the next few years, and how is PHCC going to help them take advantage?

JC: The PHCC Business Intelligence Department reports that indoor air quality, energy efficiency, touchless/technology/products and heat pumps offer new business opportunities.

Here in Long Island, we will be viewing a home built with strict energy and installation standards that can run on electric, with gas as a back-up. Caleffi built a test home that we are going to visually check out online during one of our upcoming PHCC of Island chapter meetings. The home will be heated with hydronic hot water, a system that PHCC contractors install and maintain. This could be a tremendous boon for us, as it will be work that we are well trained to perform.

There is a common misperception that our industry needs to be trained on heat pumps. They already know these products. The technology is by no means new or revolutionary; the problem is we need more workers, period. They’ll need to be trained on heat pumps and everything else, just like the current workforce. Even as the market transitions to heat pumps, our workforce will still need to be versed in all sorts of energy sources. Gas systems will still need to be serviced and repaired, and if they’re replaced with a heat pump, workers will need to know gas systems in order to safely decommission them.

PM: What other areas of growth do you see for PHCC member companies?

JC: There’s a lot of discussion now about how new homes are built so tightly that there is a need to have fresh air coming in from the outside. This ventilation air must be conditioned and filtered efficiently to minimize energy consumption. Contractors should be looking to increase the use of Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) and Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) as a solution for consumers’ indoor air quality concerns.

PM: What are the biggest challenges PHCC members will face over the next year?

JC: Regulatory burden continues to be a challenge. There are changes coming to this industry from many federal agencies, DOE has proposed increases to water heaters, boilers, and furnaces. EPA has changes to EnergyStar, Global Warming Potential (GWP) ratings for HVAC and refrigeration, and the transition to new refrigerants. Most contractors do not have time to follow these issues but will soon be faced with multiple rule changes which can affect their business. PHCC is working to provide practical feedback to the federal agencies and to facilitate compliance education for its contractor members.

Workforce development is huge. PHCC is committed to developing the next generation. I am huge on Next Gen. In fact, right now we’re encouraging PHCC members to bring their future leaders to a “Rising Leaders Summit” at PHCCCONNECT2023.  We’ll also offer a “Women in the Industry Luncheon” featuring panelists who will share their personal stories of success. And, the Workforce Development Breakfast at CONNECT will focus on “Dispelling the Top 10 Myths About Working in the Industry.”

We need to reverse the stigma that the trades are not a lucrative and fulfilling career. This needs to happen in the home and then follow down the road to the career counselors and the teachers.

PM: How important are issues like workforce development and diversity for PHCC, and what is the organization doing to help its members succeed in these areas?

JC: Workforce development is one of the primary goals in the five-year PHCC strategic plan. And, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging is one of the Focus Areas for 2023. To help our members succeed in these areas, we have several workforce development education sessions planned at PHCCCONNECT2023. From recruitment practices to tips for retaining and engaging a diverse workforce, our members will learn proven strategies to tap into the full potential of their workforce and drive overall success for individuals and the company.

Finding and keeping workers is a huge challenge for p-h-c companies. Our organizations need to be more inclusive and we need to make sure that everyone is represented in our future workforce. Contractors need to tell their stories. Everyone can be successful in this industry.

PM: What is the No. 1 thing you hope to accomplish in your time as PHCC president?

JC: When I first ran for PHCC president, my primary goal was to make an impact on our communities and our industry by helping those in need. My intent was to encourage contractors and chapters to support local Habitat for Humanities, Tunnels for Towers and other organizations. This could include undertaking a project to install boilers in a home where the homeowner did not have sufficient funds, or donating other p-h-c services in communities. That goal has not changed, but what has changed has been the U.S. focus on gas bans. I need to focus on that challenge, as well. I will equally devote my time to promoting fuel choice across the country.

PM: What are some of your hobbies outside of PHCC and work?

JC: I love losing golf balls on any course that you invite me to. I find it to be the most rewarding and challenging sport I have ever played. Of course, I also enjoy spending time with my family — you never find enough time for that.

PM: What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

JC: I am extremely patriotic, to the point where anything related to protecting this country, protecting the principles established by the founding fathers, gets me very emotional. When we were attacked on 9/11, I was affected very heavily. I am a strong believer in what this country has to give and share and what we stand for.

I never fulfilled my dream of being a figure skater. I played hockey growing up, and as a young man, I played ice hockey. On the ice, I exhibited a talent for dancing around players who wanted to “check me” (a hockey term for “hit”), and realized that maybe I had a future as a figure skater.