A spirited discussion on employees, benefits and bonuses took place between Joe Waskiewicz, John Perry Sr., Ken Secor, John Perry Jr., Robert Ely, and many others.

Though this was billed as the “Last Waltz” of Wetstocks, it's hard to imagine the gathering of more than 110 Wetheads will remain strangers.

Over the course of the three-day event in early June in Bloomington, Minn., attendees were catered to first as savvy business owners and industry professionals, then as loyal customers of the trade, and finally as peers during roundtable discussions and networking opportunities, which has been the heart of Wetstock since its inception in 2002.

On day one, Uponor Wirsbo's training expert John Barba gave a full-day sales seminar for a packed ballroom at the Hilton Minneapolis/ St. Paul Airport hotel (just a short drive from Wirsbo's manufacturing facilities and the Mall of America).

“Nobody wants to go to a 'selling' seminar,” Barba said to his captive audience. “But if you take money for a product or service, you have to sell. That's the business of contracting.” Through his easy style and uncanny ability to explain terms in applicable ways, Barba's course was one that many attendees were glad they were present for.

Among Barba's tips for understanding the selling process, especially in radiant jobs:

  • Your customers' buying habits most of the time mirror your own; and it's not always about price.

  • Listen and ask questions twice as much as you talk during the selling process.

  • You must believe you're worth your selling price. Nonverbal actions or lack of confidence are picked up on by buyers.

  • You cannot cut your price and “make it up in volume.”
The following day, Wirsbo opened up its doors to its training center in Apple Valley, Minn., for its first Contractor Appreciation Days event. Factory tours were given, and a trade show showcased the company's latest products, such as the D'Mand® hot water delivery system and the proMIX™ 701 injection mixing system. Visitors were able to speak with product managers and ask questions about application and design.

At the silent auction and casino, guests could gamble Wirsbo chips to win prizes, including an iPod Shuffle, autographed sports memorabilia, golf clubs and promotional apparel. That evening, Wirsbo sponsored a dinner at the hotel.

On the final morning of Wetstock, Wetheads from around the country once again came together to informally, but passionately, discuss industry and business concerns. As breakfast was served, tables already were filled with banter and debate about best practices and new technology.

A table headed by Robert Bean discussed marketing hydronics, while solar power, radiant cooling and system piping were tossed around at others. One of the largest-grouped tables concerned “employees,” but the topic included owner leadership, recruiting and hiring, as well as benefits and bonuses.

Also, a water treatment chemicals presentation by Rhomar informed attendees about solutions for cleaning hydronic systems. A wiring demonstration by Alex “the Wire Nut” Marx helped with troubleshooting controls.

A Wethead silent auction and 50/50 raised $4,200. The proceeds went to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. More donation opportunities arose when attendees were able to take a picture with the Carlson-Holohan Award, which goes to the individual who represents the best of the industry in not only the technical side, but the humanity side as well.

Bean is the latest recipient, and he conveyed to the room the impact receiving the award has had in his business and in his life. “It's been a way to teach and give back,” he said.

Though event founder Dan Holohan will be putting Wetstock on hold to pursue other events and opportunities, most attendees feel the gathering will continue some time down the road. As absence makes the heart grow fonder, Wetheads will continue to meet daily on The Wall at www.HeatingHelp.com.