After eight months of "courting," the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors - National Association announced Ward Mfg. as its sixth addition to the Professional Product Line.

Blossburg, Pa.-based Ward will celebrate its 75th anniversary in September. Its product line will be sold through PHCC to plumbing contractors, regardless of membership, and not to home centers. The PHCC PPL logo will be marketed on the boxes of Ward's line of corrugated stainless steel natural gas piping and other products.

"The two philosophies and visions meshed well," said Tom Gleason, Ward's vice president of marketing and sales, during a press conference in July. "PHCC-NA can get Ward's message across to wholesalers. We don't want the homeowner dealing with natural gas pipe fittings."

He said training is essential in professional product installation, and finds that home stores are not concerned with quality or education.

Training and education are a growing part of the PPL, which was developed in 1997 to address the increasing amount of competition that threatened independent contractors. A training certificate must be presented, and each contractor must sign an agreement to ensure installers are properly trained with Ward's growing line of pipe fittings.

Ward joins five other PPL manufacturer partners: Anaheim Mfg., Bradford White, Delta, Hammond Valve and Water by Design.

PHCC-NA negotiations continue this year with other manufacturers and New products will be announced soon, according to the PHCC-NA.