Talks may include possible ways to develop image of professional contractor

No response yet from PHCC-NA’s Partners For Professionalism

Georgia PHCC’s Business Management Training Council may be model

An executive from HD Supply will meet with the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association board of directors next month to discuss how the two groups could work together.

Ike Casey, executive director of PHCC-NA, wouldn’t tell us too many details of what’s on the agenda other than possible ways to develop the image of the professional contractor. He did add that he has already had a preliminary meeting withFrank Gracia, president of plumbing and HVAC for HD Supply, the executive who will be at the January meeting. The meeting is a regularly scheduled event for the board and other association activities will be discussed.

Casey said both groups rely on techs to grow their businesses, so some type of relationship would profit both.

“They are the biggest supply house in the world,” Casey said, “and they are going to be a part of our industry.”

If the outcome of the meeting remains to be seen, so to does reaction from the traditional channel of distribution. For example, Casey said he has sent a letter announcing the meeting to the manufacturers that make up the PHCC-NA’s Partners For Professionalism. This program offers PHCC members co-branded products with enhanced features and warranties that are distributed exclusively through the traditional supply channel.

At the time we talked to Casey in November, he hadn’t heard any feedback. “I certainly would like to hear from them,” he added.

How the Georgia PHCC worked with HD Supply may be one possible outcome of the national meeting. Home Depot made one of its first big moves into the professional market with its acquisition of Apex Supply, Atlanta. The Georgia PHCC and HD Supply (then known as Home Depot Supply) eventually organized the chapter’s Business Management Training Council, a set of educational courses designed to help the contractor become better at managing the financial side of the business.

Home Depot Supply invested money to underwrite the program, but the association also received financial support from manufacturers, such as Kohler Co. and Moen Inc., as well as some local manufacturers’ reps.

Buddy Wallace, an Apex executive who went on to work for Home Depot Supply, helped develop the idea after he joined the Georgia PHCC board of directors in 2004.

“I was astounded that he was on the board of directors,” saidJo Wagner, PHCC-NA president, after meeting Wallace at a chapter meeting. “But times change. HD Supply can’t be ignored.”