We all know there's a shortage of plumbers. Inevitably, that will lead to a shortage of plumbing contractors.
Carl Cullotta, vice president and senior partner of the Chicago-based sales and marketing consulting firm Frank Lynn & Associates, addressed this issue at the spring meeting of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute (PMI), held April 9-12 in Albuquerque, N.M.. Among his key points:
Points Of ContentionI might quibble with a few of Cullotta's conclusions. A synonym for problem is opportunity. For instance, although Hispanics may be slightly underrepresented among plumbing contractors, that doesn't mean they will be so in the future.
Same with his bleak outlook for unions. If they play their cards right, the UA could find its outstanding training programs more valuable than ever. Unions may not have much appeal to young people, but I think that refers more to unions in general that stifle individual initiative. The UA and other construction unions have more to offer than collective bargaining and political muscle. Their training programs are the pipe trades' version of an Ivy League education, and thus appeal to the brightest and most ambitious apprentices.
Trouble is, the best and brightest tend to gravitate toward the biggest dollars in the commercial-industrial pipe trades. Finding and training people to become residential plumbers will be more difficult.
Most disheartening to anyone who cares about this industry is the devaluation of the plumbing trade. It's understandable why manufacturers may need to “dumb down” their products, but what's that say about the future of the trade? Many people working today as “plumbers” are in reality low to moderately skilled assemblers who know how to connect certain nuts and bolts but have little grasp of the overall dynamics of a plumbing system.
Don't miss Jim's program, “50 Simple Tips To Boost Your Business Writing,” to be presented at this year's ISH North America trade show in Chicago, Sept. 28-30. “It's guaranteed to freak out some English teachers,” Jim says.