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Clarification

PM would like to clarify that CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) pipe and fittings used in water distribution systems are assembled with readily available, inexpensive tools. Solvent cemented joints - proven with more than 40 years of successful service history - assure the reliability of the system. No torches are required to sweat the joints as implied in the article "Plumbing With PEX" (March 2003).

CPVC solvent cement conforms to ASTM F 493. One step CPVC solvent cement was developed in 1995. The one step solvent cement does not require the use of a primer. One step solvent cement is permitted per the current editions of both the Uniform Plumbing Code and the International Plumbing Code.

Always Take Your Medicine

I was attending a Lennox "Focus on the Future" seminar that featured the best talent in the HVAC industry. I was new to marketing and trying to learn all I could.

A crowd formed around one of the speakers and I tried my best to worm my way into the room. No luck. It was standing room only and as a Lennox employee, I wasn't allowed to take up space when contractors were waiting in the halls for this speaker.

It was sort of surreal to me. I could barely see a man with a gravelly voice chastising a room full of contractors who were hanging on his every word. This guy wasn't pulling any punches. He was harsh about the business practices of contractors.

I thought there was going to be a revolt at any minute, yet his audience ate it up. This was my first glimpse of Frank Blau.

Years later, I got a chance to talk to Frank. I'd read much of his writing. I'd listened to tapes of him from seminars. To me, meeting Frank was like meeting a rock star.

"Hi Frank," I said when he answered his phone.

"Did you read my book?'" he asked abruptly.

"Uh, yeah," I answered (he'd recently mailed me a copy).

"What's the price if my cost is $1,000 and I want a margin of X?" Frank proceeded to quiz me. I nervously answered each question. Finally, Frank grudgingly assented that I passed.

Frank was giving me a taste of his coaching. I don't think I've been that nervous since. There's something about Frank that makes you desperately want his approval.

Frank is truly a giant in the plumbing world. However, despite his stature, Frank is imminently approachable. He's among the first to take the time out to help anyone. He's provided counsel to literally thousands of business owners over the years. Yet, Frank won't waste time on people who aren't willing to help themselves.

Frank is an agent of change. He's willing to spoon out medicine to anyone who needs it, but you have to be willing to swallow it. Those seeking Frank's help better be prepared to DO something.

Frank is not without his critics. That's not surprising. Pioneers always have arrows in them. Unfortunately, too many of the arrows are sticking in the back of the pioneer. People, it seems, are often jealous of the pioneers, the innovators. Yet, it's the pioneers - the visionaries - who persevere and make the world a better place. Frank is just such a pioneer and visionary.

A few months ago, Frank announced his retirement to become a land baron, buying up rural Wisconsin. He's even stepped down from his monthly column at Plumbing & Mechanical magazine (which has been filled by my friend, Randy Hilton).

With Frank's retirement, the contracting world is less colorful, more sedate, less challenged, and less full of laughter. Yet because Frank gave the industry so much recorded wisdom through the years, he's still helping those who are willing to swallow the medicine.

Frank's career is a lesson in innovation. If you want to innovate, to lead, to get out in front of the pack, you will have critics. Get ready for the arrows. But like Frank, if you innovate, you will have a better view.

Frank also demonstrates that "the way it is" is not "the way it has to be." If people tell you that something can't be done, that you cannot make a decent living, that it's impossible, don't listen. It's only impossible if you think it's impossible.

It's interesting; when I think of the giants of the industries I'm most familiar with, all are like Frank. All give far more than they could hope to receive. Yet, none of them see it that way. All of them consider themselves blessed. Hmm. Maybe that's something to think about. What have you given back?

During his career, Frank Blau fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. He deserves to become a land baron, hunting, fishing and playing golf.

Thanks Frank, for all you've taught to me through your writing, your seminars and your one-on-one counsel.

Matt Michel
ServiceRoundtable.com