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Show Everyone's Face

I am appalled that a publication like PM or any Business News Publication would allow rhetoric like I read from Mark Evans ("Excellence Is Color Blind," Letters To The Editor, July 2001). His narrow-minded opinion or view that minorities who are plumbers are unlicensed and few in numbers is unfounded and simply prejudice to black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific, Islamic and female licensed contractors.

The statements that Julius Voss makes in his letter are true ("Where Are The Contractors Of Color?" Letters To The Editor, July 2001) and can be proven from past issues of PM.

PM is a great source of information to the plumbing and heating trade. All contractors, master plumbers and journeymen should subscribe and benefit from its invaluable product, trade and uplifting trade image information it provides. All of America's people should be able to see themselves in a publication that concerns their livelihood.

I am and have been in the plumbing industry all my life. I am a second-generation plumbing contractor with experience dating back to the 1950s. My father is retired from contracting and is now a plumbing designer/engineer in California. I possess a Los Angeles Journeyman's License, a P.I.P.E. Journeyman's license, a California C36 Plumbing Contractor's license, a State of Virginia Master Plumber's license, State of Virginia Master Gas Fitter's license, a State of Virginia Fire Sprinkler Fitter/Fire Alarm license, an EPA Certification for Refrigerant Transition & Recovery, a Virginia State Contractor's license, and am certified as a Virginia State Minority Business Enterprise.

I am sure Julius Voss and I both have more than what it takes to be in PM, and dare anyone to question our professionalism, integrity and commitment to excellence.

Harry A. Chargois, Jr.
U.S. Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning
Warrenton, Va.

I Second That Emotion

I just finished reading Ellen Rohr's column, "Have I Told You Lately?" (July 2001). I've been saying everything that Ellen said in her column for years! It was great to hear someone else who feels the same way.

I come from a family of tradesmen, and am married to the most wonderful HVAC professional there is. He is certainly underpaid, and under appreciated. He has worked 15 very hard years (so far) at a university that treats all of its tradespeople like second-class citizens.

We are a family of four and he still needs to work a second job in order to support his family. Oh, and the appreciation for 15 years of outstanding service your wondering? A pewter mug with the university name on it. That's it! And with all the lack of appreciation and suitable pay, these same people are the first at our door begging for relief and help for a heating or plumbing problem.

It's a disgrace and breaks my heart. I know how very hard my husband works and the pride he takes in the job that he does. A piece of him goes into everything he does. And no one seems to care just as long as they are comfortable.

The lack of compensation is tough, but I think the lack of appreciation is tougher to take at times. Tradespeople are a special breed. As Ellen writes, they are the ones who get it and know true honesty and where the baloney is.

Tradespeople should be making the money movie stars, athletes, doctors and lawyers make -- a statement I have been making for years. I hold my husband and his co-worker plumbers, carpenters and the like very high on a pedestal. Their families appreciate, love and thank them. Thanks for being a part of the "tradespeople-loving" society!

Janet Brosious
South Meriden, Conn.

Out Of The Question

I am a mechanical engineer working as an estimator for a large mechanical contractor in Philadelphia. I rarely read anything in magazines, but about two years ago I caught Dan Holohan's column and have read every column I could since.

I think I have an answer to the boiler room in a box question -- especially in Philadelphia ("I Think It's Time For This," August 2001). The guys putting the stuff in want to keep working and if I buy the boiler room in a box to save labor, they won't have as much work to do. They, as a whole, don't care how the company makes money as long as they are working as much as possible in doing so.

In Philly, the unions rule, and they have a big influence on codes, specs, etc. Perfect example: The Philadelphia Plumbing Code still will not allow PVC drainage pipe. What's worse, you still have to use lead and oakum joints for bell and spigot pipe. Our plumbers have told me that the wise men have lobbied the code that way and kept it for so long just so they have more work.

I agree with Dan though -- get the job done as efficiently, and cost effectively to the customer as possible.

Name withheld upon request

Hard To Believe

First of all I'd like to tell you that PM is the best trade magazine out there. I've been reading it for years and now that I'm getting out of the field and getting into the office more, it's become a very useful tool in my effort to learn more about management and finding ways to provide better service to my customers and a better place to work for my technicians. I have PM sent to my technicians, and I encourage them to read it since there's so much good stuff in every issue.

I read the letter "The 'Going' Rate Costs Plenty" (Letters To The Editor, August 2001) and even though this is an industry-wide problem that's been going on for years, I still can't believe there are experienced, hard-working guys like this out there who are working for companies that don't offer any kind of benefits, good pay, and generally any reason to want to work for that company long term.

The letter says that he is considering relocating to Texas, if he would consider moving to the Monterey Peninsula in California, I would definitely like to talk to him about working for our company. We're a full service plumbing company and we're still involved in high-end residential new construction. We became members of Plumbers Success International two years ago and are gradually moving away from new construction and focusing more on service work.

Even though the Monterey Peninsula is an expensive place to live, there is a lot of opportunity out here and someone with his experience and a good work ethic could earn a very good living if they're working for the right company. If he does decide to move to Texas, I could recommend several PSI companies down there that I'm sure would like to talk to him.

Whatever he does, I hope that he stays in this great trade of ours and that he finds a company that really appreciates people like him.

John Etter
Etter Plumbing
Monterey, Calif.


This letter regards Dan Holohan's column, "The Contractor Congressman," published in the July 2001 issue and particular about Congressman Gary Miller's Building a Better America Caucus.

MCAA has participated in some discussion with that group, primarily concerning its MERIT proposal to supplant Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (now called Office of Apprenticeship Training, Employer and Labor Services) and state apprenticeship council administration of apprenticeship program approval procedures, and some aspects of the so-called Skilled Workforce Enhancement Act (SWEA).

MCAA, along with its partners NECA and SMACNA in the Mechanical/Electrical/Sheet Metal Specialty Construction Alliance, has raised numerous substantive issues pertaining to both bills, neither of which we (MCAA) support.

Proponents have used those comments to redraft the proposals, which nevertheless still remain in MCAA's view very far off the mark of improving the status quo without impairing established and proven bona fide apprenticeship and training programs that have proven so effective in our sectors of the industry. To the extent that we are "champions" of SWEA, is inaccurate. Thanks for the correction.

John McNerney
Executive Director, Government and Labor Relations MCAA
Rockville, Md.