Stop apologizing for being plumbers and your customers might automatically see you in a different light, said Joe Ivey, president and CEO of Encompass Service Corp., at a meeting of the Construction Contractors Alliance, Feb. 21-23, in Orlando, Fla.

"Our services make America work," Ivey told the 58 members attending the meeting. "And America has come to depend on the services we provide. In our hearts we need to understand that what we do really is valuable."

Unless you feel this way, Ivey added, customers won't appreciate your skills and will price your services as a commodity. Feeling valuable on the inside is the first step in presenting valuable services to the outside.

Ivey described four dimensions of business value as the following:

  • Profits
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Plus, deliver all three within an ethical framework

One all-purpose way to tie this pursuit together is to continually ask yourself just one question - "What do my customers currently value?"

Contractors who find the answers to that question must then also have the courage to make the changes needed to provide what customers really want.

"The only businesses that last are those that deal with changing environments," he said.

Besides Ivey's keynote speech, the convention also featured consultant Kerry O'Brien, who discussed how pre-planning and material handling can help contractors run more profitable jobs.

Also, CCA members Greg and Gary Kozan, Ridgeway Plumbing, Boynton Beach, Fla., gave an overview of their residential construction business, including, prefab operations, fleet management, and employee training and incentive programs.

In other news, Bill Jones, Raven Mechanical, Houston, Texas, was elected CCA chairman. The remaining members of the CCA trustees are: Ron Capilla, Can-Am Plumbing Inc., Pleasanton, Calif.; Jim Golub, Golub Mechanical Contractors Inc., Akron, Ohio; Tom LeDuc, LeDuc & Dexter, Santa Rosa, Calif.; Rod Robbins, Nova Plumbing, Santa Ana, Calif.; and Terry Self, Interstate Mechanical Contractors, Knoxville, Tenn.

During a Feb. 23 membership business meeting, CCA members elected two new trustee-designates: Bob Kinning, Expert Mechanical Services, Englewood, Colo., and Dickie McCurdy, MMM Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, Amarillo, Texas. The two designates will spend a year of orientation before becoming full trustees in the Fall 2002.

The next CCA meeting will be held in conjunction with the PHCC Annual Convention, Sept. 12-16, in Reno, Nev. The next standalone meeting will be Feb. 5-8, 2002, in San Antonio, Texas.

CCA, an enhanced service group of PHCC, serves larger contractors specializing in residential, industrial, commercial and institutional construction. For more information, call 800/533-7694, or e-mail