Established in 1997, the Professional Product Line provides PHC contractors the opportunity to consolidate efforts in the purchasing, marketing and advertising of quality products, services and expertise, while creating a positive relationship with consumers and suppliers.

In November, Harry Massey became the executive director of the Professional Product Line for the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association. Before accepting this position, he was Manager of Member Relations for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) in Arlington, Va., and Membership and Program Director for National Grange in Washington, D.C. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from East Carolina University.

In the following interview, Massey shares his views on the future of the PPL, and its implications to the changing industry.

PM: Many of our readers have heard about PHCC's Professional Product Line, and some have sold the products, or installed them. But for those who haven't had personal experience with the PPL, tell us about the program and its purpose.

Massey: The product line gives professional plumbing-heating-cooling contractors the opportunity to purchase, market and advertise quality products, services and professional expertise. They can do this whether they're members of the national association, or not. And what we're seeing is that, by participating in the program, contractors are creating a positive relationship with consumers and within the industry.

This happens because our PPL products are not only the best quality and have the best warranties available, but they're not sold in home centers. This strengthens the traditional distribution channel, helping to maintain the role of wholesale distributors and their relationships with professional contractors.

PM: Give us a few examples of what makes these products different.

Massey: As I've mentioned, the products have better and/or longer warranties than standard products. They have upgraded features whenever possible. The products are sold by wholesalers only to professional plumbing-heating-cooling contractors. To differentiate them, the products are also labeled with the PHCC logo.

PM: How does your background apply to your PPL responsibilities and mission?

Massey: My mission here at PHCC - an exciting extension to my 20 years of trade association work - is to improve the partnerships between contractors and manufacturers. Our manufacturer partners offer contractors the right tools to distinguish themselves in a competitive market. Within any industry, it's essential that a trade association help its members grow their business by building partnerships.

That's where PHCC and its Professional Product Line come in. Hundreds of contractors around the country consider PPL products their own private line. They give contractors an edge in their market. PPL helps them reach new clients, and keep current customers satisfied.

PM: What are your plans for PPL? How do you plan to market the message?

Massey: We have to take PPL to the market. Our members and partners have told us we must create some excitement and enthusiasm for the line and reach more contractors with the message that "Quality Products Equal Quality Installation and Service."

During the past 12 months, PHCC has reached out to the thousands of contractors attending trade shows across the nation. Many of them are aware of the line but need more information about how they can use the line to add value to their business.

Our key message to contractors, wholesalers and manufacturers is that PHCC provides the necessary tools and opportunities to grow business. Through PPL, PHCC is committed to providing our members and all contractors with the opportunity to enhance their purchasing and marketing of quality products and professional expertise.

PM: Why do you think it's important to take this direction?

Massey: We need the industry's support to build a full line of products. With that support, manufacturers, wholesalers and contractors can reach new clients. After all, our ultimate goal is to provide contractors with an arsenal of new tools. To do this, we need a full line of products, and the support of manufacturers and wholesalers. Their involvement will positively impact sales - and it all circles back to a good concept with benefits for all participants, from manufacturer to homeowner.

PM: How have contractors responded to the PPL program mission?

Massey: It's been very exciting to watch the enthusiasm for the Professional Product Line over the past 12 months. Contractors are looking for new and better ways to market their services. This is where PPL really makes a difference. A key advantage is that PPL products offer extended warranties, and often enhancements within the product - advantages they can "sell" to their clients.

PM: What about wholesalers?

Massey: There's no doubt that wholesalers play an important role in growing the Professional Product Line. Participating wholesalers are excited about contractors who come in and ask for a product from the line. Many see it as a way to solidify their relationship with professional contractors. By carrying PPL products, wholesalers are joining an industry partnership that strengthens the industry's three-tier network.

During the next few months, PHCC will be reaching out to wholesalers and inviting more to join in the PPL partnership.

PM: What are participating manufacturers telling you about the PPL program?

Massey: Our manufacturer partners are excited about the new campaign as well. They believe there is tremendous potential for all participants: manufacturers, wholesalers and contractors. Several manufacturers have referred us to other candidate partners. It's exciting to hear from our partners about the increased sales and industry recognition they receive because of their involvement with the Professional Product Line.

PM: Are there any plans to recruit other manufacturers? Any newcomers?

Massey: At PHCC, we do see the need to offer a complete line of products in order to reach consumers. For that reason, we are reaching out to a broad range of manufacturers, with special intensity during the next six months.

Today, our partners include Anaheim, Bradford White, Hammond Valve, Ward Mfg., Delta Faucet, PlumbMaster, Glentronics and Water by Design.

We expect it to get even stronger, soon. But I can't yet say who some of the new candidates are.

PM: As PHCC sees it, what are the chief PPL incentives for a) contractors, b) consumers, c) wholesalers, and d) manufacturers?

Massey: For the contractor, to provide professional contractors with a competitive edge, PPL offers products with enhanced benefits, features and warranties. Developed in cooperation with leading industry manufacturers and wholesale distributors, the product line provides consumers with a selection of unique, quality products not available from the retail home center. Purchased from a professional contractor, the products are conveniently purchased and installed in the comfort of the home or business.

Wholesale distributors benefit from PHCC's Professional Product Line through increased sales and improved contractor relations. It offers wholesale distributors a unique, exclusive product and maintenance of their contractor customer base while supporting the growth of the industry.

For the manufacturer, there's improved access to PHCC members, since PHCC Professional Product Line booths at each state show display their product line. There are added benefits that include direct mail marketing to PHCC members and non-members; special PPL promotions at PHCC-National Association events and meetings; distribution of PPL newspaper inserts; and our e-Newsletter to all Partners with the latest PPL industry and marketing information.

Also, participation in PHCC's bold, new advertising and PR campaign focused on trade audiences. And, finally, PPL promotions on, and product-training programs conducted by Professional Product Line Partners.