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Reap What You Sow

I have a rebuttal for the person who withheld his or her name (“Hiring The Future,” Letters To The Editor, July 2005). I am a female-owned commercial plumbing and HVAC contractor with 32 years in the business. My father was a plumbing contractor before me.

My crew, which totals about 60, are 95 percent Hispanic, and some of the finest craftsmen you'll find anywhere in this country. We also do multistory condos, but the majority of our work is in the medical field. All of our journeymen are medical gas certified, and proud of this addition to their licenses. We are highly respected in our fields of endeavor, especially for hospital work, and we don't have to give our men connect-the-dot plumbing. They fully understand plans and specifications, and consider our motto of “Your work is your signature on every project you do” to be something they hold great pride in.

We praise great workmanship with loyalty, caring and decent money. The old adage “You get what you pay for” is as true today as it was 30 years ago. We take the time and the money to train our people to be everything they can be, to uphold a profession that has treated my family very well over the years.

If you refuse to put into this industry the same time and effort it took to make you a good craftsman, then you as a professional will soon cease to exist. Especially once your employees realize there is more to life than connect-the-dot plumbing, plus working for a person who has no respect for them as potential craftsmen.
Jo Rae Wagner
CTO Inc.
Harlingen, Texas

Wake-Up Call

Jim's July editorial was one of his best (“Challenges For Service Firms,” July 2005). I've been selling to service plumbers for the past 31 years. Here in Connecticut I can count on my fingers great service companies and the rest are a bunch of dopes.

Out of 3,000 service plumbers in Connecticut, for example, only 110 are members of the Connecticut Association of PHCC. There are another 6,000 that do service plus other types of work for a grand total of 9,000. But 110 guys changed the way contractors are educated in the state. For the first time, it's the law that contractors have to go back to school for retraining on our changing times in the crafts.

Boy, was that a wake-up call. The nonmembers of PHCC cried, “Foul.” Education is a new experience for these guys. Meanwhile, the PHCC in Connecticut built a school for training and hired instructors. All it will take is one day per year out of a plumber's life for continuing education. Naturally, a group is fighting the idea.

I suggest they read Jim's editorial over and over until the message sinks in. The handwriting is on the wall.
Name Withheld

Year-Round Electric

I just read the article “The Electric Bathroom,” in the July issue. It is a very good article and gives people a lot of pertinent information about electric floor-warming systems.

However, the article mentions that electric floor warming can be used as a primary source of heat in the spring and fall seasons. In most cases, electric floor warming can also be used as the only heating source all year long. While most electric floor-warming systems are sold just to warm a bathroom tile floor (for comfort and luxury), our company has sold plenty of systems that are used as a main heat source, and these systems are successfully operating even in the winter season.

To determine whether the electric floor-warming system will generate enough heat, subfloor information is critical. A heating system installed over a cold cement slab will have a hard time keeping the floor warm enough (82 degrees and higher) to generate heat for the whole room. In rooms with a cement slab, we advise the use of insulation systems such as WEDI (insulated cement backer boards) or cork.

If the room is over a heated space, such as a basement or a kitchen, there's no need for additional insulation - even for primary heating purposes.

It is also important to make sure that contractors install a 15-watt per square foot system. Some systems on the market are only 10 or 12 watts, which is not quite sufficient. In most cases, the 15-watt per square foot system will work very well as a primary heat source in the wintertime.
Nicolas Mottet
Buffalo Grove, Ill.